Assange as bin Laden

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 7 2010 9:39 AM

Assange as bin Laden

On the Daily Show yesterday, on a leg of his book tour, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton got asked about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. He didn't hold back. "In my opinion," he sais, "it constitutes a greater threat to our national security and the reputation of the United States than Osama bin Laden does."

 

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Well, here's a difference between Assange and bin Laden. Assange has turned himself in to police over the sex crime charges leveled against him in Sweden. But the two men are similar in how little they matter as people in the operations they run and the movements they represent. WikiLeaks has announced that more cables than usual will be leaked today, just to show everyone that Assange's setback doesn't hurt them a bit. Al Qaeda has operated continuously since 9/11, even though bin Laden has been sidelined and is constantly being declared dead. Both men matter as publicity "lightning rods" for their causes. But their causes succeed or fail based on the way America responds to them -- in the case of WikiLeaks, how diplomatic and classified information is protected. Insofar as information can ever be kept secret, it will be because people like Bradley Manning can't access it, not because a certain hacker exists who wants to leak them. The hackers will always be there; declaring one of them a terrorist or shutting down his server doesn't solve your problem.

For what it's worth, Assange explains himself in the Australian -- lots of throat-clearing and pride, no new revelations.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics