Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

Summary: Beyond the details of documents and device thickness is a much bigger story, an epic tales of almost Shakespearean (or comic book) proportions.


This has been a very strange week in geopolitics and technology.

On one hand, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues his fight against extradition for alleged sex crimes in Sweden.

On the other hand -- Wikileaks (the site, not the alleged sex offender) -- has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

On still another hand, Bradley Manning, the young Army soldier who many believe passed classified information on to Wikileaks -- and who, effectively, put Wikileaks and Assange on the map -- has been charged with 22 counts of giving aid to the enemy by the United States military.

And, on still another hand, Steve Jobs managed to get himself up on stage to present the second coming of the iPad, completely clogging the entire media world with his reality distortion field.

There are, of course, actual security, political, and technological factors involved in all of these events. But beyond the details of documents and device thickness is a much bigger story, an epic tale of almost Shakespearean (or comic book) proportions.

These three men -- Assange, Manning, and Jobs -- have captured the world's imagination. While Jobs has been on the world's stage for more than three decades, we're just beginning to get to know Assange and Manning.

We know a lot about Jobs' personality. We know he has almost maniacal attention to detail. We know that as a young leader, he was brutally hard on employees, yet extracted an almost unbelievable level of performance. We know Steve has been fighting a serious illness, yet has still managed to imprint his personality on all that Apple does.

But we don't know Manning at all, other than some small details. We know he was a soldier in Iraq. We know he got paid all of $1,950 per month (PDF) for his service in the Army. We know he's charged with giving aid to the enemy. But we don't know anything about Manning's motivation for betraying his nation and his fellow Americans.

And then there's Assange. If we didn't know he was a real person, you'd almost think he was a villain dreamed up by Stan Lee to star in a comic book. With Assange's flair for the dramatic, his strange balance of right and wrong, and his extreme level of media whoring, he's a strange duck indeed, the chaotic neutral of our story.

Here's a guy who founded an organization nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, who blackmailed Amnesty International, and who is reported blaming Jewish journalists for the media firestorm he's been facing.

Because Manning and Assange have captured the imagination -- and because we don't really know either of them -- people across the world can paint them with whatever brush suits their preconceived beliefs.

Some, like me, have demonized them. Others, like Salon's Glenn Greenwald, have deified them, painting Manning with the Jesus/martyr archetype.

I, of course, take the law and order approach. That means that I believe the leak of confidential documents should be punishable by the full force of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I also believe that Wikileaks, by publishing that material, is putting international stability at risk -- far from worthy of a Nobel price for peace.

But that's my opinion. I'm right, of course, but it's still just my opinion. It's up to a military court to determine Manning's guilt or innocence. It's up to nations across the world to determine how they want to handle Wikileaks and whether they consider the site a threat.

So there you go. Big, big stories. Inside those stories, though, are the stories of three men. Not gods, not heroes, not martyrs. Just men.

The thing is, for good or bad, "just men" (and women, of course) can change the world. I think Manning probably committed a capital crime, but his actions will change the world -- probably for the worse. Jobs, quite clearly, is just a man, but he's had an impact on nearly every aspect of technology for 30 years. And Assange, whose peccadilloes may prove his undoing, is also quite clearly just a man.

Alex Haley famously said, "History is written by the winners," meaning how we interpret events is based on who is doing the interpreting.

So who will tell the definitive story of these men? How accurate will that story really be? If The Social Network is any precedent, that story will be told by Aaron Sorkin, it'll be a heck of a story, and it'll be more fabrication than fact.

Crazy, huh?

So what do you think of these three men? How are you going to change the world? TalkBack below.

Topic: Apple


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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  • Cue Hollywood Dog -

    he been given so much to write here with this latest blog, I hope he doesn't miss the opportunity to appologize for criminals once again!

    That is if the security sweep of his basement and keyboard come up negative for traces of CIA keystroke loggers, back doors, decrypters, wire taps, ect.

    It's all a conspirecy, they're all out to get him and Assange!!
    Will Farrell
  • Well this here...

    [i]Here?s a guy who founded an organization nominated for a Nobel Peace prize, who blackmailed Amnesty International, and who is reported blaming Jewish journalists for the media firestorm he?s been facing. [/i]

    proves he can't be all bad.
    • Assange employs Jews as Wikileaks representatives, but some other Jews do

      @klumper: not like that. Since Assange's Jew shares different views on some problems than other Jews have.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

      @klumper : How does the Nobel prize council nominate a guy who is stirring up more tense - get nominated for the prize? Something is definitely wrong. Adding his anti-semetic remarks doesn't help either [whether or not he has Jews in his compasny is irrelevant - they may not know his real views are to Jews or anyone else - for all we know he could be anti-cats].
      Gis Bun
  • We do know Manning's motivations...

    If you believe that snippets of chat logs brought to us by way of sometime-prisoner and mental hospital inmate and government informant Adrian Lamo. Glenn Greenwald weighs in on this well today.

    Lamo asks Manning (allegedly) why he intended to Wikileak the documents rather than try to sell them to a foreign power. Manning tells him: "because it's public data. . . . it belongs in the public domain ... because another state would just take advantage of the information? try and get some edge - if its out in the open . . . it should be a public good"

    "Lamo: what's your endgame plan, then?. . .
    Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] - and god knows what happens now - hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms - if not, than [sic] we're doomed - as a species - i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens - the reaction to the [Baghdad Apache attack] video gave me immense hope; CNN's iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded - people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video? David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . - i want people to see the truth . . . regardless of who they are . . . because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public."

    The legal theory that this leak amounts to communicating with the enemy because the Taliban ultimately received it also would apply to leaking anything to the NY Times as well.

    Greenwald: "In sum, if one believes the allegations and the chat logs, Manning's actions have already led to many of the "reforms" and increased awareness he hoped to achieve. Thus do we have the strange spectacle of Americans cheering on the democratic uprisings in the Middle East and empathizing with the protesters, all while revering American political leaders who for years helped sustained the dictatorships which oppressed them and disdaining those (Manning) who may have played a role in sparking the protests. More revealingly, American political leaders responsible for grave atrocities ... are treated like peace-loving statesmen and honored dignitaries, while those who heroically risk their lives to expose and end that wrongdoing (Manning, and Ellsberg before him) are thrown into a cage, threatened with death, and scorned by All Decent People.

    Part of what explains that is just the standard authoritarian mindset: even heinous acts committed under sanction of officialdom are treated as inherently legitimate, while those who challenge those authorities are scorned. But there's something broader that accounts for the almost universal disdain directed at Manning: these leaks showed us the true face of American conduct in the world. Those who reveal truths which most people would prefer to ignore are typically hated, and are often those most severely punished."

    I like Mr. Gewirtz even though I think he's terribly misguided. He is the subject in the Milgram experiment: pushing the buttons he thinks are shocking the screaming victim in the next room because someone in authority is telling him to do it. He even is doing this with great enthusiasm and vigor, cheerfully serving the guy in the white lab coat, or with a badge, or whatever.

    This kind of person exists, has always existed. But they aren't the real villains. They are in fact victims.

    Google "Authoritarian personality" - there's been a lot of great research in to this phenomenon since 1950. "These traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression).[1] In brief, the authoritarian is predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values."

    Add reruns of the A-Team and you have Mr. G. (Who's writing I enjoy I might add, even though I don't share his views.)
    • Holy calony ( i have other swear it store but it will end up as ****)

      Sir i rise my hat to you ... raise my glass ( i hope you have a cold one next to you )

      I could not have said it better myself wow what a post.
      truly magic.
      So SIR i salute this post and you raise that glass cheer
    • Interesting information

      Thanks for the information. I have not heard of any CIA agents being killed or outed due to the information release. I do find that the leaked cables were more embarrassing to countries than a security breach. If Assange is only being extradited to answer questions but not being extradicted to answer for wikileaks, then this is an example of state hysteria.

      The classic whistle blower is not out for money but to let people know what is going on. We have a need to know what our elected and selected officials are doing in our name; incompetance and malfeasance should not be given secret status to hide corruption.
      • He is a whistleblower

        @sboverie@... Manning claims that he was assigned to hunt down 'insurgents' in Iraq. The people he was set after were doing nothing more than circulating a report about official corruption of their government - stealing money. Manning alerted his superiors and was told shut up, and find us some more insurgents to kill (defining insurgent as anyone involved in disclosing corruption).

        He disclosed that Hillary Clinton ordered UN diplomats to spy on other diplomats in violation of our treaty obligations, and that she sent the order *over her own name*. Corruption in our government is so out of hand they order it now in their own names without even bothering to try to conceal it.

        Not to mention the disclosures of other governments wrongdoing - that the Social Democratic Party of Sweden told voters, 'vote for us and we'll pull troops out of Afghanistan' and then ran over to the US Ambassador to inform him it was a lie, they had no intention of doing it. Swedish citizens have the right to know this, I think.
      • In the name of national security....

        @sboverie@... <br><br>The US government can keep its citizens completely in the dark about its activities. Is such a thing compatible with the alleged freedom that we supposedly enjoy in this country?<br><br>Mr. Gewirtz is misguided. US citizens are providing the financial support for this government in the form of our taxes. We have every right to know what this government is doing "in our name." We will be the ones who suffer the backlash for the policies of our government. Not those in power who make the decisions and put their powerless fellow citizens in harm's way. When the spit hits the fan, they will go to their underground bunkers and leave us to our fate. <br><br>But, then again, I consider myself a patriot of the United States, the Republic. NOT of the United States, the Empire. And I have been unhappy with the policies of my government for a very long time.
        sissy sue
      • Whistleblower and national security

        @HollywoodDog, @sissy sue
        A relevant question would be "is a whistleblower engaged in civil disobedience?" Civil disobedience is usually done knowing that arrest and prosecution is certain and relying on the courts to clarify the legality of disobedience. Military law does recognize that some orders may be disobeyed for reasons of battle tactics or because unlawful order.

        National security tends to be the ultimate trump card used to secure information. It makes it hard to argue against releasing information if it might compromise the safety of the nation. It is also over used to hide shameful actions by officials in governments.

        Wikileaks can be seen as a security breech or it can be seen as journalism. This is not something that should be settled in the court of public opinion. This needs to be done in public view in a court of law.

        Civil disobedience can have harsh consequewnces but when done correctly can act as the conscious of the nation.
    • And of course you have all the links to prove what you say.


      That's what i thought. And I don't believe the story you'll tell about the captured Alien spacecraft that they're hiding either.
      Will Farrell
      • Are you taking any prescription medication?

        @Will Farrell ... what links do you need? Nothing I wrote needed any links, and much of it came from the article linked by Mr. G in his story.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

      Beautiful! Couldn't have said it better myself.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

      Great response. The best reponse I have ever read on the internet.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!


      Thanks for putting that snipet here. I'm familier with the article you are quoting from. The fact is, it shouldn't be rocket sciencefor people to see that if it was his goal to "betray his nation" as Mr. Gewirtz suggests, he would have sold the documents to the Taliban or some other nation. He didn't do that because he is a Patriot and he wants people to see the truth for themselves. Sadly the MSM isn't getting this out there. Thankfully, we have independant journalists like Glenn Greenwald.
  • It does bear noting as well

    that "alleged sex offender" is not appropriate here. If you believe the women, they only wanted the authorities to compel Assange to have an STD test, they claim they did not want him arrested or prosecuted, so they are not alleging him to be a sex offender.

    The prosecutors in Sweden are not alleging him to be a sex offender either, they merely want to interview him and he is not in the country so they are seeking extradition, for which they are not obliged to provide the British courts with any evidence. So the prosecutors, if you choose to believe their legal position, aren't alleging anything.

    So in all fairness, Mr. law-n-order is himself alleging Assange to be a sex offender, and no one else (except every other authoritarian who hates Wikileaks).

    My favorite Arab proverb says "The man who speaks the truth is chased out of nine villages." So you may commence telling me how ugly I am and that my mother wears army boots.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

      The man who speaks the truth is chased out of nine villages

      is that supposed to tell us something about telling the truth, or about Arab villages? ;-)
  • well Mr Gerwitz you are a geek

    GEEK geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekk.....
    but that a good thing , geek have more brain cell that usual idiot.
    A geek could be master of the world if he could stop playing D&D and stop watching re-run of sci-fi show .....
    As geek grows older he as less and less time .....
    Kid , family, the wife ,the job , ..... we end up with no time to plot the take over the world ( evil maniacal laugh).
    We end up on mr gerwitz blog trying to use our bored brain to debate the right and the wrong of our world .......
  • 90%

    "These three men ? Assange, Manning, and Jobs ? have captured the world?s imagination."

    Such hyperbole!
    In all likelihood 90% of the people on this planet, who have an imagination, will never have heard of any of these men. Of those who have heard of them, they've most likely forgotten the context in which they heard the names.

    Sadly, only the media and those directly involved really care. The rest of the world is more concerned in finding their next meal, clean water to drink and shelter from climate change, incompetent bankers, corrupt government and ineffective law enforcement agencies.

    As far as I can tell, none of these three fine fellows nor David Gewirtz has ever had any real impact on any of the matters that worry people in the "real" world.
    • RE: Wikileaks saga continues: Peace prizes, sex offenses, and indictments. Oh, the humanity!

      Well said. My life runs pretty well without Jobs (can't afford him), Manning (like, who? he wants to save the world?) and Assange (now I am rolling with laughter). Some peoples lives are indeed a little too basic for this to matter.