What Glenn Beck and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange have in common
The philosophy that appears to drive WikiLeaks' Julian Assange lies in a deep-seated distrust of governments – something that bridges any left-right divide.
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"Since 2006, we have been working along this philosophy that organizations which are abusive and need to be [in] the public eye. If their behavior is revealed to the public, they have one of two choices: one is to reform in such a way that they can be proud of their endeavors, and proud to display them to the public," he told Time. "Or the other is to lock down internally and to balkanize, and as a result, of course, cease to be as efficient as they were. To me, that is a very good outcome, because organizations can either be efficient, open and honest, or they can be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient."Skip to next paragraph
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Other writings of Assange make it clear he sees himself as something of a revolutionary.
In a Nov. 2006 essay called "State and Terrorist Conspiracies" (which begins quoting Teddy Rosevelt as saying "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsbility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of statesmanship"), Assange writes: "to radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly.... We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that emoblden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not."
In this text, he appears to believe that personal liberty is severely threatened by government secrets. "A man in chains knows he should have acted sooner for his ability to influence the actions of the state is near its end," he writes. "To deal with powerful conspiratorial actions we must think ahead and attack the process that leads to them." He then advocates the use of misinformation, as well as "throttling" information flows within a regime by, say, leading it to increase its own internal secrecy.
That essay makes no mention of the US – referring generally to authoritarian regimes and their "conspiracies." But the primary target of his releases so far has largely been the United States, which as the sole-remaining superpower is a good target for someone who wants to upend what they see as an unjust international order.
In Assange's public statements and methods there are also shades of "crypto-anarchism," an approach popular in hacker circles that aims to use computer networks and encryption to both evade controls by states and to release information that they want to keep secret, all in the service of maintaining an Internet beyond the reach of any international laws.
Assange himself is a renowned writer of encryption software and a hacker who almost went to jail for his activities as a young man.
His lawyer says Assange has distributed massive, 1.4 GB encrypted file to thousands of supporters that will be decoded and released as a sort of "thermonuclear device" is anything happens to him.
(This article was edited after posting to change the word "charges" to "allegations.")