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The truth about Wikileaks

30 November 2010

8:22 AM

30 November 2010

8:22 AM

Isn’t he a character that Julian Assange? With his shades, white hair and globe-trotting antics, the founder of Wikileaks is the perfect 21st century villain or hero depending on which side of the embassy cables debate you find yourself. 

I have met Julian a few times and worked with him on stories concerning the Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. I can say no more than that because of the writs that fly from Mr Auchi’s lawyers, Carter-Ruck, when any journalist who tries to write about him. But I can say that I always found Julian professional and honest in all my dealings with him. But he is a freedom of information fundamentalist and anyone working with him should realise this. 

I sympathise with his approach.

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Governments and the intelligence services always argue that they are best qualified to judge what should remain secret. How can journalists tell if something they publish will damage national security or put agents or soldiers in danger, they say? Leave that to the grown-ups. This is an argument for never publishing anything and journalists should retire if they start to heed it. 

Recent experience should demonstrate that the sky rarely falls in when secrets are revealed. One lesson from the Hutton inquiry was that vast amounts of classified information can be made public without doing damage to the business of government. 

Disclosure can be fetishised just as much as secrecy. Sometimes confidentiality really is important. But in the case of the Wikileaks embassy cables it strikes me that the US government was not being serious about secrecy. Considering the scope of the circulation list, it is frankly amazing that this information stayed secret for so long.

I agree with the former secretary of the D-Notice Committee Nick Wilkinson, who said that all information collected in the name of the public should be made public. The only question is when.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Your view is nice.

  • Pingback: Why did Pete Townshend play the finale to the Olympics? » Spectator Blogs()

  • Herbert Thornton

    I must say, Patricia Shaw seems to have an aptitude for choosing suitable words & expressions.

    In this case, where there is a question of a man not wearing a condom, defending him “to the hilt” sounds hilariously apropos.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Apparently the rape accusations are not to do with consent, but on whether he wore a condom or not!

    Journalists should be making this obvious, and defending this man to the hilt, even the right wing Palinites.

    He does your jobs for you!

  • Augustus

    Yes, but what will he do next?

    He’s now lying low somewhere in SE England and: “Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has received the so-called ‘red notice’ – an international arrest warrant – but has so far refused to authorise the arrest of Mr Assange.”

    Perhaps he’s a hero after all. But somehow I’ve never liked people who steal their neighbours diaries and then show them to the whole neighbourhood. But then again, politics is different I suppose.

  • In2minds

    “Governments and the intelligence services always argue that they are best qualified to judge what should remain secret. How can journalists tell if something they publish will damage national security or put agents or soldiers in danger, they say? Leave that to the grown-ups. This is an argument for never publishing anything and journalists should retire if they start to heed it”.

    Oh how I agree with that! Some reporters are playing it straight and simply relaying the more memorable tit-bits. For others this is a heaven-sent opportunity to get on their high-horse. This is so hypocritical-going-on-funny it’s hard to know where to start.

    We may wonder what these, and other reporters would do, if they were in sole possession of this data? The MSM loves to portray itself as the natural outlet for secrets that the public have a ‘right to know’, are they a little miffed that Assange got there first? Generally the MSM lives in the same bubble as the people, especially the politicians they report. The political folk, and their hangers-on, may be bothered by these leaks but more sensible types, taxpayers, voters and buyers of newspapers could not give a stuff.

    So three cheers for Assange who is no more *a self important and potentially dangerous gimp* than people who are named in the leaks, or those like the reporters, who are not.

    *With apologies to Rod Liddle for nicking one off his lines*

  • dg

    Is Mr Assange involved with Hilary Clinton’s ‘Media Matters’ pressure group?

  • LibertarianLou

    No more right to privacy then? Anyone can publish anyone’s private conversations?

    Law-breaking is a matter for courts. If laws aren’t broken, don’t diplomats still have the same right to privacy as anyone else?

  • Alex R

    “The truth about Wikileaks” – because you are the arbiter of truth…..

    Seriously Martin, you need to tone done your headlines!

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