In 2006, the web site wikileaks.com was founded to serve as a platform for whistle blowers regarding subjects that are of a “political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest“. But it wasn’t until April 2010, that the site gained the most attention, when it published a 39-minute unedited video and an 18-minute annotated version of U.S. military footage from a helicopter as it gunned down 12 unarmed people, including two Reuters journalists when military personnel mistook a shoulder mounted video camera as a rocket launcher.
The video came as a great embarrassment to the US military and since, the alleged source of the video is under arrest “without charges” in Kuwait and the Australian founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange has been warned not to visit the United States for fear he may be detained by the military.
It’s not unusual for there to be a backlash against whistle blowers, a persecution in the form of ‘shooting the messenger’. Even though most of the celebrated scandals in Western history have been found by whistle blowers, still today, there is little protection for whistle blowers in the United States (see Garcetti v. Ceballos /2006) as well as in Canada.
Assange’s biggest supporter is Daniel Ellsberg who himself leaked the now famous Pentagon Papers nearly 40 years ago that showed the public that the Johnson administration had lied to the public and Congress over the Vietnam war to save face. As a result, much political conspiracy was set in motion to discredit Ellsberg thanks to the cronies surrounding Nixon.
So it should come as no surprise that one of the most powerful governments in the world might have a vested interest in saving face yet again.
Political treachery is best served through freedom of the press.
The Web Host Industry Review, a consumer web hosting directory published an article written by full-time writer David Hamilton who also writes for Canada’s conservative National Post personally attacking Assange. Apparently Hamilton believes that whistle blowers have nothing to fear despite a lack of historical fact and that because a non-profit loose organization didn’t renew their SSL certificate, it all falls on Assange’s head.
The article’s title is what drew my attention: Increasingly Suspicious Website, Wikileaks, Fails to Pay SSL Bill
SSL is used to secure communication from sender to receiver and would be a deciding factor against someone submitting sensitive information if it weren’t for the already fact that Wikileaks is naturally a target for hackers. It should be said that Wikileaks has had their funding problems because it’s volunteer-run and for unknown reasons Paypal suspended its account in January 2010 for a few days, causing financial problems. Perhaps Hamilton is suggesting that non-profits should be run and funded like corporations, somehow.
Hamilton references Jason Mick from Daily Tech who feels that today’s Ellsberg should have loads of free time on his hands because he didn’t get the response he wanted, yet sees this response from Assange as a “a vague threat which [Assange] refused to elaborate on”:
The allegations are false. If you continue to print false material, there will be repercussions. Mr. Lamo is by no means a credible source. It is disturbing that you entertain him.
This response of course would imply that Mick made some sort of implication prior to said requested interview. The bias is listed when Mick refers to the founder of a web site as “the director” implying distinctly that Assange controls the content on a ‘Wikipedia-like’ web site.
Hamilton again references Mick’s assertion that Assange personally lied about its board members because someone wrote on the Wikileaks Facebook group that Noam Chomsky was involved in the project. Really? You’re referencing what someone wrote on Facebook as a sustained fact from the founder himself?
Next up on the attack list, apparently Assange is at fault further because he was stopped by customs leaving Australia and his passport was canceled because ”it was looking worn”. Australian authorities would have you believe that it’s just a coincidence that they happen to be a partner in the Iraq war, or that this has nothing to do with the fact that Wikileaks was the source of the blacklists that the Australian government used to block access to over 10,000 web sites including Wikipedia which prompted political embarrassment.
It’s been suggested that the filtering proposal, something that only 15% of Australians supported, was the last nail in Kevin Rudd’s political career as leader of the country that led to his resignation last month.
Now this issue is a whole other bag of hammers; Australian authorities have been trying to block a list of web sites promoting child pornography, illegal content, hate speech and pro-suicide web sites, but have included anti-abortion web sites and sites that mirror content similar to the gunning down of civilians aforementioned.
For example, the iconic death of Neda Agha-Soltan caught on a cell phone video which Time magazine called “probably the most widely witnessed death in human history” and was the rallying point for those fighting for free elections in Iran last year. The video was the 2009 winner of the George Polk award for videography. Yet the Australian government deemed this “prohibited content” and threatened any web site which linked to the video with daily fines of $11,000.
Just imagine if this video was blocked by the government as well.
But worrying about censorship is just paranoid thinking, asserts Hamilton.
Assange was the winner of the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award for exposing extrajudicial assassinations in Kenya with the investigation The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances. Not long after this, six gunmen tried to enter his home there but were scared off by a bodyguard.
There isn’t much criticism against Assange except what Hamilton says, what Mick says and what trashy gossip site Gawker.com (which Hamilton references) says. Gawker.com claims that Assange stated this was an assassination attempt (yet fail to reference it) yet they are sure it’s just a normal robbery attempt because they have a lot of experience in Kenya. I should note that Gawker’s main argument against Assange is that he has wild hair and looks like a hobo.
Oh, and the government isn’t too pleased about leaks.
Ellsberg could tell you a bit about a robbery.