Dec 4, 2010

Is Julian Assange a coward or a hypocrite?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange  (Photo: GETTY)
Information provider: Julian Assange (Photo: GETTY)
Julian Assange, Editor-in-Chief of WikiLeaks, is gracing the Guardian website with his answers to questions submitted by its readers. Most of them are gushingly approving, with a good few so crawling that they rival Lisa Simpson during the gubernatorial election in Springfield.
Assange, of course, is happy to answer. Yet there’s one reader who gets slightly shorter shrift. It’s a shame, because the question from “JAnthony” is so pertinent that it’s worth quoting at length:
Julian – I am a former British diplomat. In the course of my former duties I helped to coordinate multilateral action against a brutal regime in the Balkans, impose sanctions on a renegade state threatening ethnic cleansing, and negotiate a debt relief programme for an impoverished nation. None of this would have been possible without the security and secrecy of diplomatic correspondence, and the protection of that correspondence from publication under the laws of the UK and many other liberal and democratic states…  My question to you is: why should we not hold you personally responsible when next an international crisis goes unresolved because diplomats cannot function?
Strangely, Assange – the great champion of freedom, openness, transparency and information provision – refuses to answer. Instead, he gives this magnificently pompous response:
If you trim the vast editorial letter to the singular question actually asked, I would be happy to give it my attention.
Given that he’s perfectly happy to answer questions of only marginally shorter length, as long as they’re gushingly positive, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that a) he’s a coward, b) he’s a hypocrite, c) he has utterly failed to address or acknowledge the central moral question raised by his actions, or d) all of the above. But which is it, Mr Assange? As you say over and over again, the public has a right to know…

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