Thursday, July 29, 2010

WikiLeaks Collaborated With Mainstream Media on Afghan Leaks After Previous Scoops Failed to Win Enough Attention

I mentioned Julian Assange's TED interview previously. It's about 20 minutes long, so grab a cup of coffee if you're up for it (the last few minutes are the most intriguing, so if pressed for time, scroll ahead toward the end). By now it's no longer a mystery the kind of agenda Mr. Assange is working. Interesting is that he sees himself as a "journalist," although clearly not of the old school "objective" kind (if there ever was one). The boys and girls on JournoList would no doubt welcome the likes of Assange into their ranks.

Also, at Wall Street Journal, "
WikiLeaks Rolled Dice to Raise Its Profile":

WikiLeaks, frustrated at the lack of splash of recent leaks on its whistle-blowing website, has rolled the dice to try to raise its profile by teaming up with news organizations in its latest dump of classified documents.

The site's secretive founder Julian Assange surfaced in London on Monday to give a rare news conference as part of that new strategy. The white-haired Australian computer hacker schooled a packed room of reporters on how to navigate the 76,000 documents just released, arguing they contained evidence of war crimes and could work as "deterrents" to further abuses.

WikiLeaks was launched in 2007 by self-described Chinese dissidents and Internet hackers as a warehouse of leaked documents. Through its bare-bones site, it has landed big scoops, including its most infamous disclosure—video footage of American soldiers shooting down a group of people in Iraq in 2007. Representatives for the site have repeatedly declined to say how they obtain their material and their activities have prompted investigations by federal authorities

People familiar with the matter say Mr. Assange is frustrated that some of the site's other disclosures, such as a database of military procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't garner more attention. Some senior members of the group also want to combat the perception that the site is veering into the realm of opinion, one of the people said. The site took flak from some commentators for editing the 2007 Iraq video and for dubbing the video "Collateral Murder."

Mr. Assange launched a new plan this summer in a Brussels cafe. He offered a U.K. newspaper, the Guardian, advance access to documents the site planned to release about the war in Afghanistan, according to the Guardian's account. They came up with a password for accessing the trove based on the logo on the cafe's napkins.

Monday, the Guardian, along with the New York Times and German weekly Der Spiegel, published a flood of stories based on mostly raw field reports, citing WikiLeaks as the source. They say they weren't told how the site obtained them but tried to verify them independently.

A spokesman for WikiLeaks said the group didn't pay for the leaked documents.

Mr. Assange told reporters on Monday that he limited his outreach to these three organizations out of expediency and that more collaborations with traditional media are on the horizon. "We had hoped to partner with a network to do a more significant investigation, but limited time and resources eclipsed that," he said. "We do hope to do that next time."

Readers know my position. Assange and his media cohorts are way past any "good government" or "transparency" motives. These actions put lives at risk, no matter what your thoughts are on the continuing rationale for our fight against the Taliban.

RELATED: At Sister Toldjah, "The Definitive Smack Down of WikiLeaker Julian Assange" (via Memeorandum).

BONUS EXTRA: Boston Globe, "Pentagon Studies Possible Risks to Afghans From Leaked Documents."


Dennis said...

This is the best description I have read about this lowlife: "With his bloodless, sallow face, his lank hair drained of all color, his languorous, very un-Australian limbs, and his aura of blinding pallor that appears to admit no nuance, Assange looks every inch the amoral, uber-nerd villain, icily detached from the real world of moral choices in which the rest of us saps live. Call him the Unaleaker, with apologies to the victims of Ted Kaczynski."