Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

Summary: Assange is, essentially, a terrorist. He needs to be stopped. He needs to be treated by the allies in the same way we'd treat any other terrorist.

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On Friday, the rogue Web site Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military documents about the Iraq war. This is the single largest leak in military history.

Remember our friends at Wikileaks? Previously, I wrote:

The question I've been asked is this: what do we do about it? I've previously explored the question of whether the site is "good" or "bad". As I discussed previously, it's reasonably clear that the site could well be a force for good, but because of its founder's quest for glory over right, Wikileaks is, instead a danger to us all.

The problem is obvious. This is a Web site located outside the United States that has received stolen classified U.S. government information, and not only is releasing it to the public, but also is conducting a wide-spread PR campaign in the process.

So, how should we treat Julian Assange, the site's more-than-loony founder?

Well, think about it. What type of activity is hacking into U.S. systems and stealing information, hiding it online and mirroring it from server to server to avoid the authorities? That's the typical modus operandi for an online pirate or cyberterrorist. It's not the behavior of a solid citizen.

Assange doesn't really have a home. He's on the run -- not just from U.S. authorities, but from pretty much all Western governments. He's not a terrorist in the sense that he didn't fly a plane into a building, but cyberterrorism doesn't work in quite the same was as meat-space terrorism.

Cyberterrorism has second-level effects, meaning that the actions of cyberterrorism don't, in and of themselves, cause damage or death. Instead, the cyberattacks create the environment where damage can occur.

Here's a good example. Assange's release of confidential data won't, as part of the action itself, kill anyone. After all, all he's doing is copying a pile of files up to a server. But, once certain people get ahold of that data, they'll get names of confidential informants, for example, and then go hunt down and kill those people.

It's still terrorism. It just works a little differently.

So, Assange is, essentially, a terrorist. He needs to be stopped. He needs to be treated by the allies in the same way we'd treat any other terrorist. He needs to be captured, arrested, tried, and probably jailed.

Since Assange is such a publicity hound, maybe they'll televise the trial.

So, is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden? I guess that depends on how many people die based on Assange's actions.

[poll id="50"]

Topics: Government US, Government, Security

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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191 comments
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  • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

    Have you ever thought that maybe what US is doing is not good by everyone's standards? Just because he opposes official politics of US, doesn't mean he is terrorist.

    You think that Bush would have any second thoughts of releasing internal Iraqi documents to the public (maybe he even did release some, I have no idea) if he thought it would benefit him? Does that make him a terrorist? Should he be treated like such?

    The only difference is that you think that what US is doing is "good" and what Sadam was doing was "bad".

    But then again, who are you (or Bush or me) to judge?
    whatisreal
    • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

      @whatisreal Its one thing to oppose official politics of a country. Its a very different thing to hack into their systems and steal information that will cause the deaths of many people.
      cdrevolution8
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 He didn't hack it, it was another person that hacked it, get your facts straight, same goes to the author.
        m3kw9
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 : Is it good for the US and West to kill scores of innocent civilians in the name of "War against terror", terror that they created against the Russians?
        Ziyan-Junaideen
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 Leaking the information will most likely save lives, those of innocent civilians.
        The only way to stop unnessecary deaths is to remove all allied troops.
        I Hate Malware
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 I find it interesting how both the writer of this article and you fail to account for all the variables of this situation. The Pentagon has internally reported that none of wikileaks prior 90,000 documents affected military operations at all. If anything, information keeps people safe. The more the better. Hidden agendas are what sprouts differences between peoples and perpetuates the systemic military industrial complex's grip over information and who is deemed the savior at the end of each global conflict. The U.S's agenda is no more filled with certainties than any other nation's. Furthermore, most of the people we've had pegged as enemies herded goats before our intervention in their states to rape their resources. The gluttony and hypocrisy of these emerging political systems only can lead to one direction and honestly, the internet is the greatest resource ever conceived to change the divide in the war for information. "Worse than Osama Bin Laden" he kills 3,000 of us, we bomb the hell out of a country that has nothing to do with it and kill about a million. Then we bomb afganistan.
        Wikileaks serves as the first step in the process of destroying and rebuilding the status quo within the western hemisphere, period.
        zenumasu
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 that's right...get the US CITIZEN who leaked the docs in the first place...and oh, by the way, which person was it that was killed/murdered by virtue of these wikileaks?
        Go blow bubbles my friend, far more useful than your editorial.
        Bradish@...
      • An eye for an ey, Ziyan-Junaideen?

        By your thinking, if a terrorist blows up a bus of kids in another country, that country should be wiped off the face of teh earth, innocents and all?

        If what you say is true, how does leaking info that willget others killed any different.

        Oh and Assange is on the run from rape charges.
        Some "hero"
        John Zern
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @cdrevolution8 That is a huge over exaggeration. He has never been accused of hacking into anything he received anything from someone who originally had access to them. That shows even more problems in the government but they won't focus on that they would rather focus on someone who is doing the public a huge favour and spend more tax money on useless bullshit.
        Kennypoopoo
    • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

      @whatisreal one of the definitions of terrorist is "the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization. " and he is producing a state of fear. That not even the point, first of all he is obtaining and posting documents that could put the lives of our troops in danger, not himself, not his company, other people's lives. there is no way he went through all 400000 pages to see exactly what he posted, so I am sure even he has no idea, he is doing this purely for publicity, not to protect the people from the government, and since I dont believe in god, I can judge him. If he was doing this to prove some point about illegal activities, or uncovering some conspiracy then maybe I can see it, but he's not, in fact its already been said that even with those 400000 pages no new information is being released, just the details like names and places. so yes, this man is a terrorist, he is trying to scare the people of US and that my friend is terrorism.
      nickdangerthirdi@...
      • Julian is only a symptom...

        @nickdangerthirdi@... What you should be more concerned about is who is the mole, that is passing intel out... And if our cyber space is being hacked, well then perhaps our Government needs to spend more on intrusion detection, and secure data access. Flush out the mole, secure our intel, and then Julian will just go away. Solve the problem, not the symptom.
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @nickdangerthirdi@... Don't get me wrong here, I support what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, but your definition of terrorism would much more easily apply to US foreign policy.

        Also, as far as their effort at removing identifiable information from the files, there are a number of document compliance packages that do this.

        In another way, he's doing the US a huge service. Perhaps now we will take information security more seriously. How could this have happened not once, but twice? If wikileaks is making an honest effort to protect individuals, then why would our protections for the press not apply to him?
        caspianhiro
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @nickdangerthirdi@... You might also consider another possibility like CIA psyops. Why? Here's my reasons:
        * He is still alive and moves freely in London and Europe, despite the US policy to kill anyone who presents danger to the US. The release has been known in advance for a few month.
        * He has a huge media publicity that is known to suppress such information unless powers that be want to release it.
        * The docs show nothing new or what we were not aware of.
        * The docs put blame for killings on insurgents and friendly fire maintaining a picture of insurgency. No mention of such things: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/124278-British-Government-s-Agent-Provocateurs-Exposed
        * The docs reduce the number of war death from 900 000 (UN accepted number) to 100 000.
        * Blame on the next targets: Pakistan and Iran.
        * Learnt on previous case "Pentagon papers" they play this one by their rules.
        All this PR seems to plant new info of future targets, maintain picture of "war on terror" and suck the world anger that may spill out somewhere where they don't expect it.
        dimichzn
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @nickdangerthirdi@... nick your defintion is silly; it is a totally subjective as to whther someone is in a state of fear. Julian, for example, could say that the US Government creates a state of fear, and is therefore a terrorist organization. The at wouldn't be correct.

        Julian is dedicated to nonviolence and is a deeply moral person.
        eee_eff
    • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

      @whatisreal
      There is a fine balance to be walked here. The US has, according to the media, covered-up/classified systematic torture, violence and possibly outright murder by US soldiers against the people of the occupied/invaded nation and ignored the evidence and therefore justice has not prevailed.

      Is this right that this can occur? Is it right it is covered up? Doesnt that make the US as bad as any oppressing dictator?

      On the other hand... If the acts described above were handled behind close doors, so justice is carried out but it isn't in the public domain... then I have no issues for the documents to remain classified to protect the innocent soldiers from retribution... until an event occurs (end of the conflict/withdrawal) that means that the soldiers are not in harms way.

      Disclosing classified documents is a serious matter and the people who are involved should be protected by similar whistle-blower laws where the leaks are responsible. However simply leaking all the documents to the Internet without first releasing to the powers of the country in question so justice can occur is in my opinion, simply irresponsible & wrong.
      But unfortunately secrecy, even reasonable are required secrecy, will always breed distrust.

      The reality is that international laws have not kept up with the pace of change in the world.
      richard.e.morton@...
    • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

      @whatisreal

      Do the 100,000 plus dead Iraquis get a vote? In the end, soldiers are authorised killers. If you are given that sort of responsibility then you better make sure you do the right thing and you prosecute those who don't. Unfortunately, soldiers occasionally make mistakes, exercise bad judgement or get lazy or scared and deaths and war crimes happen.

      It's an insult to the honorably serving soldiers to allow war crimes to go unpunished. Thanks to Julian Assange (and no thanks to those keeping these reports secret) and others like him we can find out the truth and take appropriate action.

      The truth will set you free. Just try and handle the truth ;-)
      tonymcs@...
    • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

      @whatisreal bush is/was a terrorist. He invaded Iraq under false pretenses of WMD...how many innocent people (men, women and children) did he kill....thousands....
      Bradish@...
    • But then again, who are you (or Bush or me) to judge?

      @whatisreal <br>Iraq war II left no fewer than 500,000 orphans in its wake. <br>Let them judge!
      @hiraghm
      we reap what we sow!
      what do you mean with "finished the job"? If the job was to sow hatred, so congratulations, mission accomplished! Or do you mean "finish with the rest of the world"? The guy with the funny mustache in the 30ies was even more effective in this matter.
      VMeier
      • RE: Is Wikileaks Julian Assange worse than Osama Bin Laden?

        @VMeier

        That's a shame. That's 500,000 Iraqis our children may have to fight, since we haven't finished the job
        hiraghm@...
    • Who said he was bad? Who said we had to be good?

      @whatisreal I just want him dead, ASAP.
      Tommy S.