Saturday, February 12, 2011

Leaking WikiLeaks

Everyone knows that the highly touted "Bank Revelations" that Julian Assange promised would be released by WikiLeaks soon after the New Year have essentially disappeared from the radar screens of WikiLeaks and the WikiLeaks partisan community. These days, the tout is that WikiLeaks is behind all the Revolutions in the Mid East.

Most people who followed the Assange drama last December were aware that the sudden official (private and government) hyper-interest in "getting" Assange and shutting down WikiLeaks coincided with Julian's claims in December about the upcoming release of the "Bank Revelations." Up to that point, the cat and mouse, spy vs spy gamesmanship between Julian and his pursuers was almost casual. WikiLeaks was never actually shut down, and the cyberwar against WikiLeaks seemed to peter out when Julian turned himself in and agreed to be held to answer for alleged sex crimes in Sweden. At the same time, WikiLeaks changed its MO, no longer accepting leaks online, and changing its operations to emphasize its journalistic assertions.

Meanwhile, a plethora of other leak sites has arisen, including one at Al Jazeera which published a trove of documents from the Israel/Palestine negotiations that demonstrated there were no real negotiations at all during nearly the last ten years, that in fact, Israel wasn't interested in peace with the Palestinians, and the whole "peace-process-road-map" was an ongoing fraud in which the United States was neither an honest broker nor a power player. Israel simply stomped all over everyone and then ignored the wreckage.

These incendiary documents are likely to have a stronger long term effect than anything WikiLeaks has put in the public domain to date though the overall effect of the Palestine Papers remains to be seen.

Comes now the release of "Inside WikiLeaks" a book by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former WikiLeaks spokesperson and close ally of Julian Assange. It is reviewed by Laurel Maury at Truthout and Truthdig..

I have no personal desire to read this book, but I was interested in the review, not just for what Domscheit-Berg had to say about Julian and WikiLeaks, but for what reviewer Laurel Maury had to say about the book. She does not engage in the smear tactics that are routine for WikiLeaks/Assange partisans. For that failure, I'm sure that she and Truthout/Truthdig will be subject to intense propaganda campaigns and smearing by WikiLeaks/Assange partisans, some of which is already apparent in the comments to the review. The level of partisan animosity toward anyone and anything that doesn't follow the correct propaganda line about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is sometimes thoroughly bewildering Stalinist. It is as if WikiLeaks/Assange partisans are completely brainwashed to believe whatever Julian says, and to believe that everything that WikiLeaks leaks or publishes or Julian says is Absolute Truth -- as long as it confirms pre-existing opinions and prejudices, of course. There can be no deviation from the Correct Line whatever, and nothing but praise for Assange can be allowed. Even if partisans acknowledge there might be something "off" about Julian, the correct line is that it doesn't matter. It is pure personality cult and propaganda, but because so many WikiLeaks/Assange partisans are incapable of critical thinking under the circumstances, they don't even recognize they are parroting propaganda and worshiping the image and personality of an individual.

It really is bizarre sick-making.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg aims to tear down some of the personality cult and propaganda that surrounds Assange/WikiLeaks through what seems to be a fairly straighforward telling of what he saw, participated in and experienced as an insider. It's not a pretty picture, but neither is it surprising to anyone who has been paying attention and has maintained any critical thinking ability at all

One of the most interesting aspects of Daniel Domscheit-Berg's story is that when he left WikiLeaks last September, he and another unnamed employee deliberately crippled the organization.

The author claims that he and this man, whom he calls “the architect,” before their departure shut down the platform WikiLeaks uses to accept submissions, essentially locking the door to new material and walking off with the keys. He says the system still isn’t fixed and implies a fix isn’t likely.

This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that WikiLeaks no longer accepts online submissions.

Perhaps more germane to the overall picture is Domscheit-Berg's assertions that the WikiLeaks operation and especially Julian Assange is immersed in lies.

It must be remembered that “Inside WikiLeaks” is written by a man who admits to lying a great deal and who claims that the principal character of his book, Assange, is an arch-liar.

Again, anyone who has been paying attention and has maintained any sort of critical thinking skills at all during the repeated media frenzies that have arisen due to WikiLeaks and the antics of Julian Assange is well aware not just that there have been lies upon lies disseminated by Assange and WikiLeaks, but that propaganda -- a somewhat more subtle thing than straight out lies -- is Assange's and WikiLeaks' stock in trade.

Back in December, Michel Chossudovsky published an examination of WikiLeaks and its origins titled Who is Behind Wikileaks? at that covers in much greater detail some of the speculation I and others engaged in last year regarding the origins and motives of WikiLeaks' operations. Even with Domscheit-Berg's revelations, the picture is no where near complete, and what is really going on -- or meant to go on -- with the media phenoms of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is still mysterious.

The release of the State Department cables -- very slowly, almost all through media partners (in this country, exclusively through the New York Times, on the schedule and with whatever spin and emphasis the Times chooses) seemed to indicate that Julian and WikiLeaks had been tamed, brought into the fold of the mainstream as it were.

But at least since the episode last December when Julian threatened the Banks and all holy hell broke loose to chase him down and shutter WikiLeaks -- holy hell that abated promptly when Julian was run to ground we ought to note -- WikiLeaks essentially became sidelined while Julian's drama became the sole matter of public interest.

Other leak sites have arisen in the interim, some publishing explosive revelations, and the revolutionary spirit sweeping the Arab autocracies and the Middle East has simply eclipsed the plodding pace of whatever might come from the State Department trove WikiLeaks and its media partners were featuring.

The issue is supposedly government and corporate secrets. Domscheit-Berg is offering some secrets about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for balance you might say. He is being actively smeared by WikiLeaks/Julian partisans because that's what they do. Whether he's telling the truth or not, few of us have any way of knowing. Nor do we have any way of knowing whether WikiLeaks is what it purports to be.

This uncertainty is part of our new reality, as is the tendency to believe rather than rationally -- and critically -- consider. We've passed into another universe, perhaps without even noticing.

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