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International Herald Tribune, France

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WikiLeaks: From 'Torch of Democracy' to Anti-American 'Cudgel' (Die Presse, Austria)

 

"WikiLeaks set out to be the torch of democracy - but instead became a digital cudgel for America-haters. ... And in view of the behavior of Julian Assange, one must to conclude that this development was not mere coincidence - but by design."

 

By Michael Laczynski

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Translated By Ulf Behncke

 

August 18, 2012

 

Austria - Die Presse - Original Article (German)

The idea was an deceptively simple and the beginnings were promising: A "news service for the people" was envisioned by enthusiastic idealists who, in 2006, started a digital postal service on the World Wide Web. The WikiLeaks Web site was designed to be a point of contact for whistle blowers around the world who, under the protection of anonymity, wanted to expose alleged abuses by institutions, enterprises and governments.

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took on the role of itinerant preacher in this staunchly committed and secretive online community, spoke of the blessings of total transparency and the democratizing effect of pure, unfiltered information. It is not without reason that WikiLeaks' slogan is "We Open Governments": government secrecy was to be consigned to history.

 

This idealism was initially well received. WikiLeaks published documents from the Scientology sect's inner circle, produced evidence of corruption in Kenya including confidential documents from a Swiss Bank. With Assange, Internet activists found a new prophet, media theorists found ample material for scientific research papers, columnists nodded approvingly - and that's how it would have remained, had WikiLeaks not posted a video in 2010 entitled Collateral Murder, which has now been deeply etched into our collective memory, that showed the use of a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship against unarmed civilians in Iraq [video below].

 

 

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It was foreseeable that the video's release would trigger a violent reaction from the U.S. government - and that was probably part of the calculus. According to Assange's view of the world, the United States would reveal itself for what it was: a brutal hegemon responsible for all the ills of the planet. Washington obliged and promptly declared WikiLeaks a threat to national security. One could argue the point as to whether or not the U.S. reaction was appropriate - or whether it would not have been better to factually investigate the allegations the video presents, instead of trying naive idealists like Bradley Manning for treason, who provided the video to WikiLeaks. Certainly, however, as a result, WikiLeaks and Assange have experienced a massive surge in popularity.

 

But the result of releasing Collateral Murder had an additional side effect: the aura of impartiality, which up to then had surrounded WikiLeaks, was gone. What followed was a genuine information war against the United States: documents from Afghanistan, military records about the Iraq War, diplomatic dispatches, internal e-mails from an American security firm - anything Assange could get his hands on that could damage the United States, was posted online. That in the course of this campaign the identities of American informants were revealed was written off as collateral damage. WikiLeaks set out to be the torch of democracy - but instead became a digital cudgel for America-haters.

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And in view of the behavior of Julian Assange, one must to conclude that this development was not mere coincidence - but by design. Those like the WikiLeaks boss, who under orders of Vladimir Putin engage in flattering interviews with champions of democracy like as Hezbullah's Hassan Nasrallah, can only regard the United States as the "Great Satan." For Assange, it is only logical to flee to Ecuador under the protection of diplomatic immunity. It is now up to President Rafael Correa, who himself tends to put unwelcome journalists on trial, to speak further on the benefits of freedom of expression.

 

What has once again been clearly demonstrated is that information can be collected and deployed as a weapon - and the fact that whistle blowers who expose serious malfeasance must carefully consider who they provide that information to. Their trust in WikiLeaks was certainly misplaced.

 

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:

La Hora, Ecuador: Assange-Correa: 'The Heart has Reasons which Reason Knows Nothing of'

El Pais, Spain: WikiLeaks: The Assault on 'Big Brother' Begins

Dagens Nyheter, Sweden: Sweden's Image Smeared by Missteps and Accusations

Hoy, Ecuador: Ecuador's Embassy - and All Embassies - are Off Limits to British Police

El Universo, Ecuador: Assange Grateful to Ecuador for Taking Up His Asylum Request

Gusrdian, U.K.: Embassy Cables Did Not Harm U.S.: Assange Will Not Be Extradited

Telegraph, U.K.: Why do We Buy Julian Assange's One-Man Psychodrama?

BBC, U.K.: Ecuador Ruling on WikiLeaks' Assange Due 'on Thursday'

SMH, Australia: Assange Threataned with Arrest

El Universo, Ecuador: If Only Our President Would Have Dinner with Reporters

SMH, Australia: Australia Letter 'Spurs' Assange Flee

Guardian, U.K.: Assange Asylum Move is 'a Tragedy' for His Accusers: Lawyer

Guardian, U.K.: Julian Assange Requests Asylum at Ecuador Embassy - Live Coverage

Le Monde, France: Le Monde Names Julian Assange Man of the Year

Vremya, Russia: Good Riddance to the 'Zeroes': When the Nineties Turned Ugly

Die Zeit, Germany: If Only WikiLeaks Existed Before the Iraq War Began

Folha, Brazil: Testimony of Sex Charges Against Assange Don't Belong in Public

Guardian, U.K.: Ten Days in Sweden - The Full Allegations Against Assange

Libération, France: WikiLeaks: A War, But What Kind of War?

Le Monde, France: Le Monde Names Julian Assange Man of the Year

El Mundo, Spain: Julian Assange: The 21st Century 'Mick Jagger' of Data

Novaya Gazeta, Russia: An 'Assange' on Both Your Houses!

El País, Spain: Cables: Brazil Warned Chavez 'Not to Play' with U.S. 'Fire'

El Heraldo, Honduras: The Panic of 'America's Buffoon' Hugo Chavez

Jornal de Notícias, Portugal: If West Persecutes Assange, it Will What it Deserves

Correio da Manhã, Portugal: WikiLeaks: A 'Catastrophe' for Cyber-Dependent States

Romania Libera: WikiLeaks Undermines Radical Left; Confirms American Competence

Le Figaro, France: And the Winner of the Bout Over WikiLeaks is America

News, Switzerland: Assange the Latest Fall Guy for Crimes of World's Power Elite

Libération, France: Who Rules? Hackers, the Press and Our Leaders - in that Order

Tal Cual, Venezuela: If Only WikiLeaks Would Expose President Chavez

Berliner Zeitung, Germany: Assault on Assange Betrays U.S. Founding Principles

El Universal, Mexico: WikiLeaks Revelations a Devastating Shock to Mexico

L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon: WikiLeaks Makes 'Mockery' of 'U.S. Colossus'

Jornal de Negócios, Portugal: More than We Wanted to Know. Or Maybe Not!

DNA, France: The WikiLeaks Disclosures: A Journalist's Ambivalence

Global Times, China: WikiLeaks Poses Greater Risk to West's 'Enemies'

FAZ, Germany: Ahmadinejad's Chief-of-Staff Calls WikiLeaks Cables 'Lies'

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Saudis Ask: Who Benefitted from WikiLeaks Disclosure?

Guardian, U.K.: Cables Portray Saudi Arabia as a Cash Machine for Terrorists

El País, Spain: Cables Expose Nuance of U.S. Displeasure with Spain Government

El País, Spain: Thanks to WikiLeaks' Disclosure, Classical Diplomacy is Dead

Guardian, U.K.: Saudi Arabia Urges U.S. Attack on Iran

Hurriyet, Turkey: Erdogan Needs 'Anger Management' Over U.S. Cables

Saudi Gazette, Saudi Arabia: WikiLeaks Reveals 'Feeling, Flawed' Human Beings

Frontier Post, Pakistan: WikiLeaks Reveals 'America's Dark Face' to the World

The Nation: WikiLeaks' Release: An Invaluable Exposure of American Hypocrisy

Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina: Without Hypocrisy, Global Ties Would Be Chaos

Kayhan, Iran: WikiLeaks Release a 'U.S. Plot to Sow Discord'

El Universal, Mexico: WikiLeaks and Mexico's Battle Against Drug Trafficking

Toronto Star, Canada: WikiLeaks Dump Reveals Seamy Side of Diplomacy

Guardian, U.K.: WikiLeaks Cables, Day 3: Summary of Today's Key Points

Guardian, U.K.: Leaked Cables Reveal China is 'Ready to Abandon' North Korea

Hurriyet, Turkey: American Cables Prove Turkish Claims on Missile Defense False

The Nation, Pakistan: WikiLeaks: An Invaluable Exposure of American Hypocrisy

Kayhan, Iran: WikiLeaks Revelations a 'U.S. Intelligence Operation': Ahmadinejad

Novosti, Russia: 'Russia Will be Guided by Actions, Not Leaked Secrets'

Guardian, U.K.: Job of Media Is Not to Protect Powerful from Embarrassment

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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Aug. 22, 1:09am]

 

 







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