Personally, I go backwards and forwards on WikiLeaks.
First and foremost, a sound political system requires strong checks and balances on those who wield power. And in Australia, our judiciary, our parliament and freedom of the press are all a part of that.
WikiLeaks is fundamentally a whistleblowing organisation and protection of the rights of whistleblowers is another critical element of those checks and balances. So the idea of those protections being in any way compromised, doesn’t sit well with me.
On the other hand, Wikileaks make no judgement about the internal and confidential documents they release. They are not about calling those in power out for any particular purpose or cause or political agenda, or indeed for some kind of greater good. WikiLeaks is about transparency for transparency’s sake.
And I truly believe that good international diplomacy does require a level of confidentiality to be effective and that WikiLeaks has quite likely jeopardised the safety of people’s lives by compromising that.
But there is one thing I don’t go backwards and forwards on. And that is Julian Assange.
Julian Assange is what my mates and I would call a jerk.
Now that may not sound tough enough for this international man of mystery, worshiped by some, regaled as a criminal by other, labelled as a terrorist in some countries, hailed as a hero in others.
But for my mates – that is about as bad as it gets. Just as being a ‘good bloke’ is the universal male label for awesome and is apparently a sound defence to all criticism – being a jerk is the female signal for: do not waste your time.
Yesterday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange took to the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and delivered an Evita-style speech, bemoaning his fate and calling for an end to the US ‘witch hunt’ against him and WikiLeaks.
It was yet another all-about-me moment, as Assange stood above his adoring fans, looking down benevolently as he spared them a few moments of his precious time.
The man clearly considers himself to be some kind of demi-god. But what for? He doesn’t stand for a cause, those cables weren’t released for any grand purpose. He isn’t saving lives, he isn’t defending the oppressed – he’s just trying to look after his own arse.