Greenwald has a pretty good summary of the philosophy of Wikileaks (start here) — but he misses something I think is critically important. I find this transcript of Assange’s Berkely video a lot more informative than the famous “state terrorism” essay Greenwald cites. From the essential @zunguzungu of course.
Julian Assange in Berkeley
This is from a forum Julian Assange participated in when he was in Berkeley in April of this year. It’s quite illuminating — after his initial somewhat unfortunate effort at humor — sufficiently illuminating, in fact, that I’ve transcribed it and pasted the transcript below.
Moderator: The question has to do with the shift, alleged shift at Wikileaks from simply posting the material, having it crowdsourced, and people interpreting it, to actually interpreting what it means. Is that a change?
Julian Assange: No. That’s part of the right-wing reality distortion field (some laughs in audience). Mother Jones has had some changes in the past few years.
No, there hasn’t been a change, whatsoever. Although of course it was our hope that, initially, that because we had vastly more material than we could possibly go through, if we just put it out there, people would summarize it themselves. That very interestingly didn’t happen. Quite an extraordinary thing.
Our initial idea — which never got implemented — our initial idea was that, look at all those people editing Wikipedia. Look at all the junk that they’re working on. Surely, if you give them a fresh classified document about the human rights atrocities in Falluja, that the rest of the world has not seen before, that, you know, that’s a secret document, surely all those people that are busy working on articles about history and mathematics and so on, and all those bloggers that are busy pontificating about the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries and other human rights disasters, who are complaining that they can only respond to the NY Times, because they don’t have sources of their own, surely those people will step forward, given fresh source material and do something.
No. It’s all bullshit. It’s ALL bullshit. In fact, people write about things, in general (if it’s not part of their career) because they want to display their values to their peers, who are already in the same group. Actually, they don’t give a fuck about the material. That’s the reality.
And its true. So the Russian acquired DNC leaks presented Assange with a unique opportunity– a ready made citizen megaphone of low-information Trump supporters, easily churned by Alt-right edgelords and neonazis and the Russian troll army.
Here is another important part of WL philosophy– WL doesnt hack– they receive leaked data and maximize the impact.
But, we’re also, we’re an activist organization. The method is transparency, the goal is justice. Part of the method is journalism. But it is our end-goal to achieve justice, and it’s our sources’ goals, usually, to also achieve justice. So, when they give us material, what we promise is not just that we will protect them, but we will try and get maximum impact from the material. Whether that’s working with other journalists, whether that’s summarizing things ourselves, in the case of the video, whether that’s putting context in the initial part of the video, even if we then also provide the full thing.
In this case, working with Russia and the Trump election campaign. Julian Assange’s idea of justice is not the same as yours.
Assange has predicted that data overcollection and overclassification will ultimately ossify the OODA loops of the US covert ops system and cause US to become a police state on the way to nonlinear system collapse. Certainly (post Snowden & WL) USG has been wholly focused on internal leakage and paranoic spying on its own citizens– prioritized over Russian and Chinese attacks. Assange wanted Trump to be elected for the same reason that Russia and KSA and ISIS did– to accelerate the NLS collapse of American government.
Moderator: The raw data…
Julian Assange: You cannot do it. It will just fall into the gutter. In cases where I’ve understood the material is more complex, or other people in our group have understood the material is more complex (especially military material which has lots of acronyms), you understand, it’s not even enough to do a summary. You have to do an article, or we have to liaise with other journalists to give the material to them, some sort of exclusive basis, or semi-exclusive basis, to get them to extract it into easily understandable human readable form. Otherwise it goes nowhere.
In the run-up to the election Assange discovered an audience he didn’t need to summarize or curate for– low-information Trump supporters, massive consumers of fake-news. An audience that became a megaphone.
So no, Julian Assange is not your friend. And he may be correct in his prediction. Perhaps he had noble goals in the beginning…or perhaps not. But WL has evolved to maximize penetration and spread of selected data— and its brilliant how he got the red tribe to be his megaphone. Assange’s exploitation of MAGA is actually a stealth plan for destroying US democratic institutions, a long term goal of Russia, and a new goal of Assanges.