Opinions & Editorials

Wikileaks founder Assange tempts fate, proves relevance of WikiLeaks

By Kwame Opoku-Duku
The Guardsman

If Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had any questions about whether his website would change the way governments did their business, I think he got his answer this past week after releasing more

In the two days since, Interpol has curiously put the WikiLeaks founder on its most-wanted list, for what it claims are sexual charges originating in Sweden. The WikiLeaks website has been the target of continuous distributive denial of service attacks. And multiple U.S. and world leaders have called for Assange’s assassination.

Still Assange has hinted at upcoming leaks, possibly involving Russia and a major U.S. bank. There is little doubt that governing bodies are prepared to up the ante to keep state secrets and other damning information from the general public.

The fight to undermine WikiLeaks is already underway. In a bipartisan-supported letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has called for the organization to be classified as engaging in terrorist activities. This would supposedly allow the freezing of WikiLeaks’ funding.

Clinton, who has the authority to classify WikiLeaks a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has refrained from using the label thus far, but has called the leaks “an attack on the international community.” This kind of language more than leaves open the possibility of WikiLinks being labeled an FTO in the future.

No matter what you think of Assange, one thing is sure: His organization has the potential to change the world forever (if it hasn’t already), and catapult us into a global society where no government secrets are safe.

Assange—currently in hiding—seems unaffected by the barrage of criticism. The “martyr” label seems to fit him. He makes no apologies for his life’s work. Openly challenging world leaders to prove any wrongdoing on the part of Wikileaks, he promises to keep releasing documents until the world’s governments are truly transparent.

But with the vast majority of the cables unreleased so far, the burning questions is: “Where, when and how will this end?”

Upon first learning of the leaks, I vacillated between giddiness—learning of Lybian leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse, and uneasy resignation—learning Secretary Clinton continued the Bush administration practice of ordering diplomats to spy on members of the United Nations.

It has been said these leaks are nothing more than a cause of embarrassment to state officials. But while Assange’s legend grows in notoriety, the true crimes of the U.S. government have not been questioned by any of the politicians calling for Assange’s murder.

I see several problems with WikiLeaks, which could explain why the organization does not enjoy universal support.

The first is the potential for a modern-day Pandora’s Box. Because leaks of this magnitude have never occurred in the past, only time will tell if these secrets coming into the public light will actually harm the U.S. and its allies. Any other speculation is just that.

Secondly, because so little is known about how WikiLeaks is funded, it is impossible to know the political ambitions, or targets of Assange and his group. A candidate for TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year, Assange has kept a pretty high profile this year, often sending advance warnings to groups he plans on exposing.

He portrays himself as an idealist, working for the good of the common man, and yet all of this seems to be benefiting his celebrity more than anything.

Lastly, Assange claims these leaks will force governments to work in a more open manner. If he believes that, then his naivety could be more dangerous than his ambition.

Does he really believe the U.S. government’s “top brass” would let that happen? Does he think they wouldn’t do everything in their power to stop it? If anything, governments will use this as a catalyst for operating in a more efficiently covert fashion.

I’m a little nervous. The strange-but-true story of WikiLeaks is the stuff that movies are made about. But I just can’t see this ending well for Assange. With every cable released, every secret exposed, he garners more enemies.

The global attack on WikLeaks is constant and unflinching. The bloodlust Americans are so famous for, is driving conservatives into a frenzy. And in the end, I just don’t know if the world is big enough for him to hide, especially if he insists on doing his business outside of caves in the Middle East.

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