WikiLeaks: From ‘Torch of Democracy’ to Anti-American ‘Cudgel’ (Die Presse, Austria)
Is anti-Americanism on the part of Julian Assange at the heart of WikiLeaks? For Austria’s Die Presse, columnist Michael Laczynski asserts that what seemed to have begun as an effort to give whistle blowers a safe place to expose corruption and malfeasance, the behavior of Julian Assange shows that ‘this development was not mere coincidence – but by design.’
It was foreseeable that the release of the video Collateral Murder – showing the use of a U.S. Apache helicopter gunship against unarmed civilians in Iraq – would trigger a violent reaction by 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 hedgemon 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 for treason naive idealists like Bradley Manning, 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.
And in view of the behavior of Julian Assange, one must to conclude that this development was not mere coincidence – but by design.
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