In the very week in which Julian Assange is in court to block being extradited to Sweden to stand trial for sex crimes, a tell-all book titled “Inside WikiLeaks” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former associate who grew estranged from the WikiLeaks founder, will be released in Germany and in the USA. As might be expected, the author has been given ample coverage in the bourgeois press. His charges against Assange are obviously intended to accelerate the process of destroying WikiLeaks. In addition to his accusations against Assange, which jibe with NY Times editor Bill Keller (paranoid, etc.), Daniel Domscheit-Berg has launched his own website called OpenLeaks that promises to be more “responsible”. I, for one, am in favor of irresponsibility—at least as defined by people like Keller and Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
Given the steady drumbeat of bad publicity, it is not surprising that even the left has piled on. In Truthdig.com, a ‘zine that has written favorably about Assange in the past, you can find a review of Domscheit-Berg’s book that I find credulous. The author is one Laurel Maury, who is described as having written for the LA Times and NPR in the past—something that sets off an alarm for me right off the bat.
The review takes Domscheit-Berg’s accusations at face value:
The litany of lies, low-level abuse and social transgressions that the author attributes to Assange is disturbing. He claims that this notoriously peripatetic soul has always been deeply paranoid. His accusation is probably true; in reacting to an article on WikiLeaks that ran in Wired, Assange accused the article writer of calling for his assassination. And if Domscheit-Berg’s retelling of facts is correct, the WikiLeaks founder has a “free and easy relationship to the truth,” and is cagey and secretive concerning money. He’s also sexually profligate, and turns vicious toward anyone who criticizes him, even when that criticism is well-meaning and constructive, and he seems to have difficulty relinquishing control.
To Truthdig’s credit, they have a rather lively commenting community—far better than anything I have seen on the leftwing of the Internet by far. I have put in my own two cents from time to time, especially after I read some particularly annoying pro-Obama piece by E.J. Dionne. Here is a representative comment on Maury’s article:
The article states that the author of this book himself claims to have sabotaged Wikileaks’ ability to receive documents. If true, then the author has sabotaged one of the world’s most vital journalistic enterprises. If false, then the author is a liar who is trying to undermine the credibility of…one of the world’s most vital journalistic enterprises. Yet the author of this review fails to point this out, and in fact seems to promote the book as some kind of credible “insider’s view.” How distressing that such a review should appear on a site called “TruthDig.” Does the author think that this name means “dig a hole for the truth and bury it there?”
At least one website has failed to be as impressed by Domscheit-Berg’s accusations as Ms. Maury. The Raw Story reports:
Daniel Domscheit-Berg accuses WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of many things in his book presented Thursday, but perhaps the oddest allegation is that he abused the former insider’s cat.
“Julian was constantly battling for dominance, even with my tomcat Herr Schmitt,” Domscheit-Berg says in his book “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website.”
“Ever since Julian lived with me in Wiesbaden he (the cat) has suffered from psychosis. Julian would constantly attack the animal. He would spread out his fingers like a fork and grab the cat’s throat.”
Well, who knows. Maybe the cat reminded him of Paul Wolfowitz.
With respect to the charge of espionage above, Ms. Maury reported:
Also, WikiLeaks was turned into a strong, secure system not by Assange, the book alleges, but by the mysterious architect, whom Domscheit-Berg described as the real “in-house genius.” It was the architect who locked up the submissions platform and left at the same time as Domscheit-Berg. A perceptive reader might suspect that, if these two men used high-end encryption protocols and locked up documents as well, it may be that the WikiLeaks system must be rebuilt from the ground up, and that some leaked data will be forever lost to the site.
No wonder Domscheit-Berg is getting such favorable attention in the bourgeois press. What the CIA and its friends worldwide could not accomplish, these creeps managed to pull off: a locked-up submissions platform.
For the best report on how Domscheit-Berg seeks a housebroken version of WikiLeaks, I refer you to a blog entry by Andy Greenberg on Forbes Magazine, a publication that obviously has a vested interest as a “capitalist tool” in shutting down WikiLeaks. Greenberg writes:
The German Domscheit-Berg, along with several other former Wikileaks staffers, plans to launch a website they’re calling OpenLeaks as early as next week, Domscheit-Berg told Forbes in an interview. Like WikiLeaks, the new site will allow leakers to anonymously submit information to a secure online dropbox. But unlike its parent site, it won’t publish that information itself. Instead, it will allow the source to designate any media or non-governmental organizations he or she chooses and have that information passed on for fact-checking, redaction and publication. That difference, argues Domscheit-Berg, will allow OpenLeaks to accomplish much of the transparency achieved by WikiLeaks, without drawing the same political fury and legal pressure.
Without drawing the same political fury and legal pressure? Right. Just what we need now. Why put up with all the street demonstrations in Tunisia that were triggered in part by Wikileak revelations on the profligacy of the country’s rulers. The revolt in Tunisia only served to provoke “political fury” in Egypt and we can’t have that, can we. I can just imagine OpenLeaks turning over a bunch of leaked documents to the New York Times about, for example, the CIA operating secretly in Venezuela and saying, “Here, Mr. Keller, please considering publishing this if it passes muster. I am sure your readers would be vitally interested in finding out the truth.”
Make no mistake about it. The powers that be do not want anything like WikiLeaks operating out there. Not only does the CIA want to put it out of business, so do major corporations who worry about their dirty linen ending up on WikiLeaks. So desperate they are to keep things secret that they have effectively organized their own private CIA to subvert the whistle-blowers, as today’s New York Times reports:
A fight between a group of pro-WikiLeaks hackers and a California-based Internet security business has opened a window onto the secretive world of private companies that offer to help corporations investigate and discredit their critics.
This week, hackers said they had penetrated the computers of HBGary Federal, a security company that sells investigative services to corporations, and posted tens of thousands of what appear to be its internal company e-mails on the Internet.
The documents appear to include pitches for unseemly ways to undermine adversaries of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, like doing background research on their critics and then distributing fake documents to embarrass them.
The bank and the chamber do not appear to have directly solicited the spylike services of HBGary Federal. Rather, HBGary Federal offered to do the work for Hunton & Williams, a corporate law firm that has represented them.
Considering the impact that Wikileaks has had on world affairs in the past few months, there is little question that something like it is needed. Whatever Julian Assange’s sins, he had the foresight to launch a whistle-blowing outlet that has had a role in massive social change. The left has a responsibility to support him in his ongoing efforts until someone more credible and more mature comes along. Considering the willingness of OpenLeaks to accommodate itself to the status quo, it is urgent that people with technical skills step forward and help overcome the temporary damage that Domscheit-Berg and his co-conspirators have wrought. We are at a moment in history when the ruling class has shown how vulnerable it is to the truth. With the failure of the bourgeois press to fulfill its responsibility to its readers, we need an alternative media with WikiLeaks in the vanguard.