This has been a hot topic for the last couple of weeks. Mr. Assange has been both reviled and hailed as a martyr of sorts for free speech. Although I think it’s pretty easy to make a case against Mr. Assange’s choice to release classified information obtained via questionable means, I also think government officials need to come to grips with the simple notion that privacy is an illusion.It’s also time for Big Brother to realize that he, too may be spied upon. We live in an all-media-all-the-time age, and there’s very little that can’t be discovered about an individual or a group these days, unless the person or group lives entirely “off the grid” without credit cards, bank accounts, utilities, realty leasing or ownership.
In short, it’s fine if the U.S. government wants to sue Mr. Assange and wikiLeaks, but I have to side with critics who cry foul at the closure of his bank accounts and PayPal accounts without due process. The reason given for the closure of Mr. Assange’s bank account was laughable at best – because he lied and gave a bad address? Would this bank like to produce all of its applications in the last 10 years to see how illegible or inaccurate some address entries have been ? Should every person in the world who lies have his or her bank account closed? How would THAT help boost our economy?
There are a few other things that are driving me a little crazy about this case is that people are behaving as if Mr. Assange WERE WikiLeaks. Hello, people, this website and the organization behind it, is far bigger than one man. It’s also maddening to think people in government believe that C could not be arrived at once A and B are known; round up the housekeepers and nannies of any five diplomats and I’ll bet you might get some juicy tidbits. Why the information leaked so far has been considered otherwise undiscoverable, I’ll never know. Government officials need to get up to speed on how much is already out there and how other people can learn whatever secrets they have. The other thing I can’t understand is why some people think that all threats to our information security would end with the demise of WikiLeaks. Do you really think that would be terrorists aren’t taking notes on this and panting for the chance to collect intelligence and imitate WikiLeaks?? We’ve given our enemies a wonderful idea on how to shake us up and keep us on the defensive. Law enforcement officials frequently give interviews which reveal our “soft targets” and which weapons/chemicals have been used in previous attacks, so I don’t see why this pushing of the envelope really comes as much of a surprise.
The only surprise should be that it’s taken this long for classified information to be leaked to the public. The U.S. military and government agencies have had laptop computers go missing or stolen several times in the past five years. (See also).