Friday, 17 December 2010

Dinner with(out) Julian Assange

Several days ago, at dinner with friends in London, I was asked what I thought Julian Assange of Wikileaks motivation was.

To me, his motivation is not the issue. There are several players in this story:

22-year-old private Bradley Manning who as an intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq has – it has been reported - managed to access, download and export 250,000 classified State Department documents. He has been incarcerated without trial in apparently inhumane conditions at a US Marine base in Virginia.

Julian Assange who runs Wikileaks and has not been accused of anything other than some unconnected rape charges. Assange’s supporters - and there is a growing number of those - firmly believe that these are trumped up charges. Some even suggest that the Swedish women, who had sex with Assange before going to the police, work for the CIA.

The newspapers that print the leaks and probably increase their circulation and profits as a result are just net gainers. I am glad that it’s the Guardian and not one of the Murdoch papers.

And the real culprits? What interests me is not Assange's motivation but why we have not heard about the imprisonment of the real culprits? Are they in a cell so deep that no one can reach them? Or have they already been secretly executed?

Why was it possible for a junior, very junior soldier stationed in Iraq to have access to so much classified material that in no way could have been relevant to whatever his work was? Why was secret material downloadable? Why is it possible to transfer secret documents to external systems? Who created the programs that were meant to prevent that? What were the specifications? Who was in charge?

I actually believe that civil servants should be able to correspond without thinking that everything they say or write will be available to the general public. It is neither the soldier who stole the documents nor anyone who makes them available that are responsible to ensure the safety of this system. Those whose responsibility it was have betrayed the confidence entrusted to them by their country. These are the people who should be in the solitary confinement cells.

This, of course, will not happen. They are – in all likelihood - all chums and I expect that the Head of the emotionally named Department for Homeland Security, the enormous apparatus that has evidently failed in securing the Homeland continues to play golf with the director of the FBI, the head of computer and system security of the State Department and the CEO of the company that supplies the clever programs that allowed all this happen.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for your insights/thoughts - many of which I find too true for comfort.