More on Egoleaks

Now that I have become public enemy number one in some quarters for daring to question all those who are so intent on defending Julian Assange, I might as well go the whole hog, and risk even more criticisms and rebuke. Let me divide this into two parts, with the second half looking at biblical concerns (for Christians only).

Firstly, I continue to argue that this narcissistic egomaniac is causing far more damage than good. While every single lefty and America-hater seems to have gone wild with gushing praise for and defence of Assange, a few voices have dared to point out some obvious contrary truths. One of the most telling and incisive commentaries on all this is by Theodore Dalrymple.

His entire piece is well worth reading but let me offer some key parts of it to you: “WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism.

“The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.

“The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness. WikiLeaks will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be increasingly unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but also in the private sphere, which it works to destroy. An Iron Curtain could descend, not just on Eastern Europe, but over the whole world. A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people would say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.

“The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres was one of the great aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people’s e-mails is not different in principle from opening and reading other people’s letters. In effect, WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed by it, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.”

Finally a bit of fresh air in a debate that is often characterised by obfuscation, muddled thinking, and cloudy moralism. Brent Bozell has also offered some rare clarity of thought on this whole episode. He too I quote in part:

“On Dec. 7, the notorious radical mastermind of WikiLeaks turned himself in on a sexual assault charge in London. But in the liberal media, the condemnations are few. There are no real enemies to the media elite’s left, especially if they can be (very loosely) identified with journalism. Julian Assange may be highly motivated to cripple American ‘imperialism,’ but his relentless efforts to disrupt American foreign policy is a good thing when the media are manipulating the government’s reaction by choosing which leaks they will publish and promote.

“Time magazine editor Richard Stengel, for example, told Charlie Rose on PBS that Assange is an ‘idealist’ that ‘sees the U.S. since 1945 as being a source of harm throughout the planet,’ but he’s not really opposed to him. He put Assange on the cover of Time with an American flag gagging his mouth and feigned a position of balance.

“In his ‘To Our Readers’ letter, Stengel conceded Assange is out to ‘harm American national security,’ but there is a public good unfolding, in that ‘the right of news organizations to publish those documents has historically been protected by the First Amendment’ … Americans the world over could die because of these intelligence betrayals. But hip, hip, hooray for the freedom of speech that got them killed?

He concludes, “In this good vs. evil narrative, the Pentagon is forever lying, and the idealistic liberals and leftists are forever exposing them with the ‘sensitive truths.’ It doesn’t even matter if the government is now operated with the ‘Audacity of Hope.’ If someone is being ‘gagged by the flag,’ as the Time cover of Julian Assange artistically implies, journalists can’t really be opposed to him.”

More can be said, but let me address my many Christian critics for the remainder of this piece.

Biblical concerns

To be honest, I have been somewhat dismayed at some of the reactions by believers to all this. I have noticed several unhealthy and unbiblical tendencies. One concerns a relatively poor understanding of the role and place of government. It seems some of these believers have bought into the line that government is always bad and always wrong, or have bought into the various grand conspiracy theories where everyone plus your dog is out to get you, or have imbibed in too many anarchistic values.

The truth is, it is God who has ordained government. Government is his idea, and it is given to us for our good in a fallen world. So too is authority. As always, biblical balance is needed here. Governments of course should be open, transparent, accountable, and responsive to its citizens. No one denies this. And of course there are many lousy, evil and tyrannical governments.

But of course there are limits to how open a government can be, and there is a legitimate place for keeping some information in house. There is not one family in the world that would want every single conversation, argument, or private internal matter splashed to the whole world.

There is a place for privacy, and a place for secrecy, both in homes and in governments. Getting the balance right here will always be tricky. Police states have no openness and no accountability structures. But the answer to that is not anarchy, or recklessly looting government information.

Another concern is what seems like almost a celebration of rebellion. Some seem to want to turn this guy into a hero, or martyr, or saint. Given how often and how strongly the Bible speaks against rebellion, I find all this a bit strange, and sad. The American radical Saul Alinsky dedicated his 1971 book, Rules for Radicals, to ‘the world’s first rebel, Satan’.

Rebellion is the very essence of sin, and we are clearly told that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. God nowhere gives a good word for rebellion. Yet so many people want to see Assange as another “hero”, a Ned Kelly. Perhaps Australians have always celebrated rebellion and resistance to authority, so maybe it is in their national blood.

Of course balance is again needed here. No one is saying there is no place to question things, to take a stand, to speak out, to rattle some cages when needed. But as I have said often now, I simply do not see Assange as some noble hero, doing the world so much good.

I see him as someone who thinks far too highly of himself, who has admitted to his hatred of America, and has made it clear that he wants to damage its interests. He is a radical and a rebel. I don’t see anything virtuous in that. In my books, he is on a par with someone like David Hicks.

But at the end of the day, this is just one man’s opinion. And I have only given it because a number of people asked me to share my thoughts on all this. So I have. But I will not go to the wall over it. This is an area where believers can agree to disagree.

I will go to the wall over the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some things are certainly worth living for and dying for. But this is just a political debate. It is an important political debate, and it raises many issues. And many biblical principles can be appealed to here.

But as I say, at the end of the day, this is just another contentious social issue. If you don’t like what I have to say, that is fine. Indeed, you don’t have to come to this site if it becomes upsetting to you. Indeed, you can start your own blog, and push your own opinions (and be prepared for all the grief and flack that will inevitably come your way!).

This site is just one person‘s attempt to try to think Christianly about some of the hot issues of the day. I will not always get it right. Perhaps I will be wrong more often than I am right. And we may just have to go our separate ways on some of these topics if that is the best course. But thanks for hearing me out.

www.city-journal.org/2010/eon1202td.html
townhall.com/columnists/BrentBozell/2010/12/08/assanges_media_allies

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53 Replies to “More on Egoleaks”

  1. Could wikileaks be the internet’s 9/11? and do the opposite for free speech over the net, by nations reaction to the leaks – introducing tighter laws on the net?
    Jim Garlick

  2. Thanks Bill for you balanced and informative comments. I really appreciate your ability to place a Christian centered commentary on topical events. Keep up the good work and don’t let the detractors get you down. They are mostly either ill informed or generally contrary of anything that appears “conservative”.
    Ray Moran

  3. Wow. What a tricky and contentious issue! On the one hand, as a strong democracy and nation we should believe in free speech. The ability to speak for or against government(s) should be protected. It is also important in a robust democracy that the community should have access to independent media that is not biased or owned by a conspiratorial corporate agenda. The truth should have legal safeguards to it, so that no legitimate reports should be gagged.

    On the other hand, the chief problem with all of this is that it seriously undermines the work of creating inroads in the legitimate diplomatic solution to problems. As Mr Muehlenberg implies, countries can’t work together for good easily without the covering of diplomatic discretion.

    I don’t think it’s worth trusting in the Government to tell us the truth; but I think it is just as dangerous in believing in someone who is a loose cannon, who may be committed to a government’s downfall. At the end of the day, having a government is preferable to outright anarchy. I believe we as a nation and a world need to get back to good old-fashioned prayer and reading our Bibles. The Bible says “the Truth shall set you free”, (John 8:32) not Julian or some government, and lets remember, like it says in Isaiah, that one day the government shall be on HIS shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). May the Lord teach us to believe on Him.

    Ben Mathewson, UK

  4. Watching the trends on the forums, it seems support for Wikileaks is growing by the minute. Some of the posts from American posters towards Obama and the US government are vile to say the least. Even Julia has copped a few.
    As I mentioned in a post on your previous article and what Jim has mentioned above, I don’t think this bodes well for the freedoms on the net.
    Digital revolution..maybe, who knows, most likely not in our favour. I think this will end in tears for everyone.

    Maybe the US and some of the other governments and the corporations did a bit of a Streisand effect on themselves. It may have been better not to say anything.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

    Jeffrey Carl

  5. You wrote a fine article there Bill.
    Incidentally, I often have lunch with three of my mates- about once a month at the Irish Club in the city. We are all media letter writers and would you believe me if I told you that we often talk about politics? One of my friends, whose name should be withheld, in order to protect the guilty, made a statement the other day, which I thought made a lot of sense. He said “Show me, for example, a person who is in favour of partial birth abortion on demand and I’ll tell you (without inquiring) their views on just about every controversial subject on the planet.”
    So it is with the Wikileaker supporters and like my friend I could tell you (within a 90% point of accuracy) (1) how they vote;(2) how much they hate America; (3) how any friend of the enemies of America, would be friends of theirs; (4) that they hate capitalism and big business and so on.
    Also, I have received some information from contacts in the USA, that there is a good chance that monetary help for Assange is coming from Hungarian born American communist billionaire George Soros. Soros also supports Obama financially. This would account for Obama’s reluctance to act publicly, and privately I assume, against Julian Assange. Obama’s largest support financially comes from trial lawyers, which is why Obama doesn’t support tort reform in the US.
    Frank Bellet, Petrie Qld
    P.S. I receive about 15 commentary e-mails daily, from the best political brains in America.

  6. Frank – I do not believe in abortion, let alone partial birth abortion – I am a Christian conservative; but on Assange, even though the far left is a dancing, I think the opposite of Bill & yourself. Why? It is the power of the internet & free disemmination of information that is making a difference. Case in point is climate change – the lame stream media said CC/GW was a fait accompli, all over red rover – but it was the Net that allowed the truth to flourish and the MSM, Corporations and Governments were defeated. If anyone now tries to control the net, people will bypass it and more information, real & true, false & misleading will still get out. I am a supporter of the USA, but is the USA reaping what it has sown? The USA funded dictatorships and the CIA knocked off people and I know that Britain, the Soviet Union and all the great superpowers did this, but the USA is, at the moment the ONLY superpower left – but it is middle aged and has some really serious health problems. Radical surgery, diet and exercise are needed to get the big fella back to health. Also, to state that I am against the ‘elites’ and that I believe a cabal of uber wealthy & politically powerful try to control nations does not make me left wing – Soros is part of that cabal and I believe that Assange has information on these types of people, we will see. Lastly, as with us all, Assange will reap what he has sown, but in his sowing, others are also reaping due judgement? I think so.
    Neil Innes, NT

  7. It is a tricky issue, Bill. We live in such a dysfunctional world and unfortunately the authorities we live under don’t deserve much respect. I guess that’s why, as Dalrymple says, we love to see them ‘slip on a banana peel’. I guess it boils down to ‘what would Jesus do?’
    Dee Graf

  8. Bill, appreciate what you are doing and what you stand for, keep on going strong!
    We must “appreciate” the fact that we can argue and agree to disagree, that’s priveledge.
    Just my view that the US must takes responsibilities in being a very bad “Christian” country if they still consider themselves as Christian countries for the many chaos and atrocities that they have created for their own interests and greed, these leaks are evident of that, hence that they are upset.
    Other Governments must do the same, change the way their practice and conduct of foreign policy, be truthful and encourage other countries to develop and prosper.
    Jeffrie Trika

  9. Thanks Jeffrie

    Complex and important topics like this are always difficult to properly discuss in short comments. It sounds like we need to meet somewhere and have a chat.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. Frank,
    The specific issue you cite regarding partial birth abortion as being a pointer to other views is really a subset of the more general issue of worldviews which some teach, and which my experience leans toward accepting, is based on your theology.

    All theologies are reduced to a belief in zero, one or many gods and whereas atheists usually argue they don’t have a theology, the UN has provided a definition of religion to include those not believing in any god.

    Obviously you will get many variations within these three basic categories, and whereas I would agree with Neil that it is not 100% accurate, I too have found that I can predict, with a very high success rate, people’s views on all the controversial subjects based on their theology, including, I might add, those of people in Christian circles.

    We can all have our opinions, and while a debate is centred on those, there is rarely any winner. To me, we should always be trying to determine what biblical principles are involved and so I was pleased to see Bill bringing this issue back to just that.

    Again, we can sometimes miss, or get wrong, just what principles are involved, and at the risk of upsetting those in favour of the leaks, the word ‘gossip’ came to mind. So, I just did a quick Bible search on this word where the first reference in many ways sums up the remaining ones: “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Prov 11:13)

    Roger Birch

  11. “The American press publishes secrets all the time. But newspapers, whatever one makes of their occasional reckless treatment of classified information, very seldom in our history can be said to have operated with criminal ‘bad faith.’ That is a major reason that prosecutors have left them unmolested. WikiLeaks is something else. It is not informing our democracy but waging war on its ability to conduct diplomacy and defend itself. If Mr. Assange were tried before a jury and sent to jail, our security would be enhanced and our cherished freedoms not abridged one whit.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703814404576001921148451638.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  12. Bill – I know that Assange and his supporters are as happy as pigs in the mud with the supposed damage they are causing – especially the anti-US sentiment. I have asked myself, am I anti the USA?, like so many in the media, Europe and the Left? I would have thought not – but then I’m seeing the USA that is throwing off constraint as never before morally – it is a damning indictment that the most viewed Australian show is two & a half men, a comedy about an immoral man who leads his brother & son in law astray constantly (perhaps justifiable of millstone stuff, teaching the teen all about sexual immorality?) I know Christians that watch this show and say it’s just a laugh – let alone unbelievers! Hollywood is a sea of liberal perversion and I dont say that lightly and it does pollute the world. The greed of Wall Street is shocking; but it got the vulnerable into debt, that should never have occurred (sub loan crisis). The war, was it part of keeping the industrial-military complex going? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure about is that the USA has a chance like Europe & Australia currently does not – that is that Christian’s can rise up once again and take the USA back to Godly standards of righteousness. What wikileaks has done is embarrass the USA and hopefully it will be enough to shake it from it’s apathy and address the liberalism & progressivism that is the real cause of the USA’s malaise. I hope so. A misquote to finish with, one mans rebellion, is another mans freedom fighter – God used the Assyrians and the Babylonians to carry the Jews away and judge them; I think he is using another ‘enemy’ to judge those in power, as a wake up call to get it’s act together – a megaphone as C.S.Lewis has said.
    Neil Innes

  13. Thanks Neil

    And as I say, no government is perfect, including the US. And openness is vital, but so too is national security, and a balance is needed. I am not sure however that I can baptise a group of anarchists who are hell-bent on destroying America and the West as part of their socialist revolution.

    The fact that God can even use pagan nations like Assyria to achieve his purposes is not being disputed. But in the same passage (Isaiah 10) we also read about God judging Assyria after he allowed them to be his tool to judge Israel. That God may use an Assange to accomplish his purposes is one thing. To claim any moral or spiritual kudos for his actions is quite another.

    But as we say, we may just have to agree to disagree here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  14. I totally agree that Assange and all his far left buddies will get judged; either here or at judgement. It is interesting to note that Assange was homeschooled and he belonged, with his Mother to the new age group, the family, run by Ann Hamilton-Byrne, who was later charged by Police with various offences. The Family was a mix of teachings on christianity & hinduism, so Assange has been messed up and deceived for most of his life. It is very sad.
    Neil Innes, NT

  15. Diplomacy requires security, confidentiality and, let’s face it, some dissembling. What would the world be like if all diplomatic discussions and cables were completely public? In a world already overloaded with information and misinformation, the material would be largely ignored. The best you could do would be to cherry pick some saucy bits in the service of some agenda. Assange is not seriously interested in freedom of information in a democracy. He wants to wound those he hates. Yet they will spare his life and if they prosecute him, give him a fair trial. If he pulled that stunt with Iran or North Korea he would be dead by now.
    John Snowden

  16. Interesting debate here, but it all comes down to trust. Would we entrust Assange with our private financial and tax details? No. Would we vote for him if he was a politician? Hardly. Everytime we privately gave him our inevitably bad reasons for doing so, they would be all over the Internet. Would you hire him as ambassador to North Korea, the most secretive nation on the planet? He’d probably start a war. He’s supposed to be honest, open, idealistic, righteous, but would you trust him near the nuclear trigger? I wouldn’t even trust him near my daughters.
    John Snowden

  17. I am minded of McCarthyism and the play called “The Investigator” produced in 1954. It is a satirical play about a man for whom no one is too high to investigate.

    The irony is that those criticising Assange are accused of acting like McCarthy, ie., wanting to shut down freedom of speech, whereas in truth, by relentlessly invading our privacy he is doing precisely that: destroying all communication that depends upon personal relationship and trust. We will all become self- censoring.

    Muslims must love him of course and whilst people say, Oh yes he has exposed Islamic governments as well, no one seems to have noticed that Assange goes no where near exposing Islam itself, or putting himself at personal risk in the same way that Theo Van Gogh and Gert Wilders have done.

    Assange is out to destroy America’s first Amendment and is succeeding.

    May I recommend the “The Investigator.”
    http://www.albany.edu/jmmh/vol3/investigator/investigator.html

    David Skinner, UK

  18. Thank you for courageously wading into this issue, Bill.

    Having continually heard stuff about this on the radio for the last 10 days, I have done some thinking about it. I can appreciate the arguments made on both sides, but I have come to share your view that what Wikileaks/Assange has done is wrong and harmful. Some of the pro-Wikileaks arguments are really atrocious. Here are a few thoughts:

    1. People say that Assange is championing “freedom of speech”. That’s nonsense. Free speech means freedom for you to publicly say whatever you want to publicly say. Free speech does not mean freedom for you to eavesdrop on what other people are saying in private, and to disclose it to the whole world. There is a huge difference between these 2 things. The latter is what gossip magazines, the sensationalist media, and paparazzi do.

    2. People seem to have a screwed conception of “democracy”. It seems many people have come to think of our elected representatives as mere extensions of our own selves. They are more or less puppets or proxies belonging to the voters. This is not what democracy is. Democracy is a system of choosing leaders, based on representation. But those chosen are still leaders. Leaders have authority and responsibility. Leaders are in a position to make critical decisions that ordinary people are not in a position to make, and to exercise powers that ordinary people cannot exercise. And to do their job, they must have access to privileges and classified information that ordinary people do not have access to. It is not possible for 23 million people (or 300 million people in the case of the US) to simultaneously govern a country.

    3. People say that this is about governments “hiding” information from people. That’s not true. This is about frank and candid discussions conducted in private. People in positions of responsibility need to make complex decisions, and this inevitably involves weighing of pros and cons, examining things from different angles, playing devil’s advocate, wrangling over contrary opinions, etc. It is not necessary for all this information to come into the public view, where things will be taken out of context and distorted, leading to confusion. Ordinary people do not have the time and resources to analyse things to the degree that our elected officials do. Therefore, it is not appropriate for us to be fed every single small piece of data. When the Government delivers information in a packaged and summarised fashion, this does not imply that they are deceiving us or censoring the truth.

    Jereth Kok

  19. One more point, on the issue of privacy:

    4. Every married couple talks about other people who they know—friends, work colleagues, bosses, clients, church pastors, family members, neighbours, business partners etc. Not everything that a couple says about other people in the privacy of their own home is positive, in fact, it is quite normal to sometimes criticise and complain about other people’s opinions and behaviours. There is nothing inherently wrong with this – it is part of every functioning marriage to process their relationships with other people. (I challenge anyone who is married to state that they do not have these sorts of discussions with their spouse!!) But clearly, this has to happen in private—if everyone knew all the negative things that were said about them by others, it would sour otherwise good relationships. In the same way, 2 strongly allied countries (eg. Australia and the US) will naturally have critical and negative things to say about other countries (eg. China) with whom they are not strongly allied. It is fine for these things to be said in private, but once made public, it may jeopardise the peaceful relations between nations. What Wikileaks has done is akin to making a secret tape recording of a married couple when they are having a private discussion about their friends, and then going to those friends and playing the tape.

    Jereth Kok

  20. What would Jesus say concerning Assange?

    The book of Proverbs has many quotes:

    With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbour, but through knowledge the righteous escape… A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. 11:9-13

    He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. 11: 12-13

    An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. 16:27-28

    He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. 17:9

    The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.18:8

    Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another: Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away. 25:9-10

    Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross. He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. 26 :20-27

    James 3:5-6 more of less sums it up : The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

    David Skinner, UK

  21. Jereth, yes, Balise Pascal said: “I lay it down as a fact that if all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.”

    David Skinner, UK

  22. Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing those Proverbs. They are very relevant!

    I think that Assange (and perhaps “peace, man” lefties in general) seem to be rather naive about how fragile international relations are. History and common sense say that the world stands perpetually on the brink of war. It probably does not take much to undermine the good faith that years of diplomacy has built up.

    Jereth Kok

  23. Thanks Jereth

    Many Christians not only have a woeful understanding of the biblical teaching on government and politics, but most would have almost no clue as to how international relations and diplomacy are conducted in the modern world.

    And worse yet, many seem totally ignorant of what is in their own Bibles. While I have been appalled at some of the things Christians have said in defence of Assange, the most incredible and farcical thing I have heard so far is for one person who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian to seek to argue that Assange is doing just what Jeremiah the prophet did. I kid you not!

    I am gobsmacked to hear such things coming from the lips of those who say they are evangelical Christians. You expect such idiocy from atheists and socialists, but not from those who claim to be followers of Jesus and students of Scripture.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  24. Thanks guys

    There are many reasons why these leaks are morally wrong, but the main one is all the lives which are being put at risk by this. “WikiLeaks posted classified information about U.S. technology used to protect against deadly improvised explosive devices – the No. 1 cause of death and injury to American and coalition personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. When confronted about the disclosure, Assange acknowledged he and his colleagues might get blood on their hands.” http://townhall.com/columnists/OliverNorth/2010/12/10/protecting_our_protectors/page/2

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  25. “Assange is plainly a micro-megalomaniac with few if any scruples and an undisguised agenda. As I wrote before, when he says his aim is ‘to end two wars’, one knows at once what he means by the ‘ending’. In his fantasies he is probably some kind of guerilla warrior, but in the real world he is a middleman and peddler who resents the civilisation that nurtured him. Recently, in two separate news reports, The New York Times described his little cabal as an anti-secrecy and whistleblowing outfit. Such mush-headed approval at least can be withheld from the delightful Assange, even as we all help ourselves to his market of ill-gotten goods.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/christopher-hitchens-on-julian-assange/story-fn775xjq-1225969087171

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  26. Well swipe me down with a feather. I would never have thought that I would witness the day when Tony Blair, (remember ex Prime Minister of Britain), would say something wise. A few months ago he said of himself, “You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/opensecrets/2010/09/why_tony_blair_thinks_he_was_a.html

    But the truth is that the Freedom of Information Act is not open to all and the more the mass of people are disenfranchised from the political process, the more they foolishly see someone like Assange as a hero.

    C.S. Lewis said ‘The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse (such as the demand for freedom of information) of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity (or freedom of information) in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice and truth you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials ‘for the sake of humanity ’, and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man’, Mere Christianity, Chapter II.

    David Skinner, UK

  27. Some people bang on about Freedom of Information as if it is a moral absolute. They ignore the fact that FOI is counterbalanced by the right to confidentiality. We all know, intuitively, that confidentiality is important. No one wants their medical records, or tax statements, or financial records, published on the internet for everyone to access. Australians have always resisted attempts to centralise personal information, eg. by means of a national ID card, because of a feared invasion of privacy.

    The prevailing opinion among secular elites is the more information, the better. They see information as the cure to the world’s problems — if we all just knew more facts, we’d be a kinder, fairer, more civilised, more tolerant, more respectful, more virtuous society. They do not believe, as Christians do, that humans are inherently sinful. Therefore while information can sometimes liberate, it can sometimes do great harm. Information can be used for the purposes of blackmail, it can be used to trap and control and coerce others.

    Therefore a right balance needs to be struck between free access to useful information, and hiding information which is sensitive or harmful if fallen into the wrong hands. We also need to respect the fact that people say things in confidence that they would not say in public.

    Jereth Kok

  28. Interestingly, the very first sin of mankind was to reach for information (the “knowledge of good and evil”) that we should not have had!
    Jereth Kok

  29. Thanks again guys

    Here is another good piece:

    “WikiLeaks is an organization based on theft of classified documents that then reveals communications that could cost lives, crush American diplomatic efforts or cause wars. Then when Assange gets in trouble, he threatens to release more data, his so-called ‘insurance file’ of even more dangerous, but encrypted, information. That completes the circle by adding blackmail to his list of daily activities.”

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/dan-gainor/2010/12/11/gainor-column-media-cant-decide-whether-espionage-journalism#ixzz17s20i47G

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  30. Dear Bill, Thank you for your articles on Wikileaks which I have read with great interest. It is a huge subject and absolutely fascinating. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks has inevitably gained followers because like Hitler in World War 2 he has been perceived to have done some good. In his case he has embarrassed the world’s greatest power – the US who some think is the Great Satan. However, he is as you say, a rebel and rebelliousness is a mark of the devil. An awareness of his unconventional upbringing, [without God] coupled with his obvious intelligent, sensitive and curious nature it is not surprising that he has turned out to be an anarchist. Anarchy has been around since ancient Greece. He is simply using a comparatively new form of technology -the computer to further his anarchist ideals. Andrew Heywood in his book Political ideologies says that nineteenth century anarchists ‘expressed as much bitterness towards the church as they did in relation to the State’ so the Catholic Church [who keeps secrets] in particular usually get no sympathy from anarchists. However, I haven’t heard if Julian has said anything against the Church or God but I am assuming that like many anarchists the idea of God or a Supreme being is anathema to him because God ‘commands ultimate and unquestionable authority’ which they don’t believe in. Yet Heywood says that there is a ‘clear mystical strain’ within anarchism but it is not from God it is from a belief in the invincibility of human beings. That would seem to fit him perfectly. As for the rape charges he has been accused of. I wouldn’t believe them entirely because it is sometimes used by governments to discredit those considered a threat and he is considered a threat. Look at Malaysia for instance. They used homosexuality to discredit a leader of the opposition [whose name escapes me] in this strictly Muslim country. No doubt we will hear more of this. Let us hope that Julian Assange, finds some humility and has a conversion of heart because a loving God gave him his obvious intelligence and sensitivity and he could have used it much more discreetly for the common good. His pride leads him to think that he can get the better of democratically elected governments. He has heaps of intelligence but no commonsense or wisdom in my opinion.Let us hope and pray that this silly man is not quietly found dead under a bush somewhere.
    Patricia Halligan

  31. There are many interesting views here and I don’t pretend to be a strong theologian on the biblical interpretation. However, I’m still at a loss as to what Assange has done that is wrong. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

    The charges or sexual assault ought to be put through due legal process but the evidence that has been made public seems tenuous at best. It’s worth noting that Sweden has both the highest level of sexual assault reporting and lowest conviction rate of the western world. Given that Swedish authorities had actually stopped pursuing the charges and they were only reinstated after the leak ought to, at least, raise suspicion.

    As for Wikileaks – not one person in the world has been able to find a legal charge against him. Not the American, AUstralian or any other legal entity on the planet can find a legal fault. Rallying against governments and their authority is not biblically without precedent.

    Thus far, no one has found evidence that Assange’s release of diplomatic cables has resulted in a single life being put at risk.

    Anthony Caruana

  32. Thanks Anthony

    I have just penned two articles on what he has done wrong, so I will certainly not repeat myself here. If all that will not suffice for you, then there is obviously not much more I can further say. It appears that you have your mind made up already.

    And there would be plenty of possible criminal charges, such as the possession and distribution of stolen property, violation of the Espionage Act, and so on. But I will leave it up to the courts to decide just what he may be guilty of.

    But from a non-legal point of view, he is guilty of delusions of grandeur, pomposity, arrogance, being full of himself, a hatred of America and the West, a rebellious spirit, aiding and abetting the enemy, plus all the issues I raise in this article and the parallel one.

    And since you have already admitted that you are out of your theological depth here, please spare us comparisons of what this character is doing, and what we find in Scripture. There is not one action in all of the Bible that compares with what he has done.

    And given that Assange himself admits that he may well have blood on his hands as a result of his actions, in this case I will side with him, and not you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  33. Dear Bill, God bless & guide you always. Ever since this wikileaks issue began, the words, “you will know them by their fruits” has been on my heart. One only has to look at the fruit that is being produced by Julian Assange together within certain members of the MSM to see the truth. Reading the whole passage is even more astounding. Matthew 7:15-20 ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.’
    Mandy Varley

  34. Hi Anthony,

    This is certainly a complex issue, and there is some merit in what has been said by both Wikileaks detractors and supporters.

    It is certainly true that one of the foundation planks of democracy is that governments can be scrutinised by a free press.

    The question here is: is the release of classified high-level diplomatic material, obtained illegally, something that the free press is entitled to do?

    Another issue is the responsibility of the press not to cause harm. As I said in a post above, information can benefit people but it can also cause harm. The distribution of information willy nilly is not necessarily a good thing.

    It is a well known fact that the press deliberately under-reports information about suicide. The suicide rate in Australia is more than six times the Australian road toll, but we hear much more reporting on the road toll. The press also does not generally report on methods of suicide. There is an un-written agreement concerning this, between the press, the police and mental health experts, because it is known that publicity about suicide, and methods of suicide, encourages people to commit suicide. This is one example of where too much information is harmful, and the press exercises discretion in the public interest. No doubt, there are a lot of people who would enjoy some morbid reading about how people kill themselves, and a profit could be made from divulging this information; but the mainstream press chooses to act responsibly.

    All sides seem to acknowledge that the leaking of diplomatic communication may destabilise international relations and threaten world peace. Indeed, Wikileaks supporters seem to revel in this prospect. But most sensible people know that destabilisation of the world is not a desirable thing.

    So there is more to this than the question of whether Julian Assange is guilty of a crime. Having said that I would be very surprised if he isn’t ultimately charged with criminal conduct over the leaking of this information.

    regards,
    Jereth Kok

  35. How easily I was deceived. There was something sweet about the embarrassment of leaders with whom I disagree but it soon became less palatable when those of whom I approve as well as some innocents were affected. Upon reflection, there always was a sense of wrong throughout this torrid saga. Regrettably, the enticement of seeing proponents of some of our darker and hidden qualities exposed did suppress the light for a little while. I’ve learnt something – thanks Bill.
    Tony Morreau

  36. So many of us are indebted to both you Bill and fellow bloggers for this post.
    Stan Fishley

  37. Hi Jereth (and Bill and others)

    Assange can’t be charged with leaking the material as he didn’t actually leak it. He published it but that’s not the same. Newspapers and magazines published leaked material often and i believe that under the law of some western countries publishers can’t be prosecuted for publishing leaked material or for receiving it in the same way as prosecution for receipt of stolen goods can be prosecuted.

    It’s also unlikely that the Espionage Act will apply as the Wikileaks is probably protected under the First Amendment.

    I’m not sure if what Assange has done is good or bad. On that I have an open mind. However, I think that there’s a lot of focus on playing the man rather than the issue as to whether Assange’s actions are right or wrong.

    It’s worth noting that this apparently secret material was accessible by lots of people. According to some (for example, see http://www.smartplanet.com/technology/blog/thinking-tech/the-secret-government-computer-network-behind-wikileaks-cable-release/5701/) over 2 million people have access to classified material.

    What is clear is that Assange is not a Christian. For that we ought to pray that he finds a relationship to God through His son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I agree that government is a gift, given by God. However, we all know that government, like everything else given to us by God, can be corrupted by man’s fallen nature and that government can be overthrown by God’s will.

    Anthony Caruana

  38. Thanks Anthony

    I am not sure we are really covering any new ground, but just going over old territory, so we may just leave things, and simply agree to disagree here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  39. Thanks Bill, these articles have given me more clarity on the issue of Wikileaks.
    Many of my Christian peers are supportive of Julian Assange and supportive of public demonstrations put on in solidarity with him. You are right about Christians not applying biblical wisdom to political issues. A lot of young Christians feel a passion for justice, but without a clear understanding of what that means. I see a lot of simplicity and confusion, with people attacking authority on the one hand and then supporting strong statist government on the other hand. It seems sometimes that people would prefer to self-righteously wave a protest banner than think rationally about the issues.
    Conor Ryan

  40. And another good piece:

    “If Assange had unauthorized possession of any national defense document that he had reason to believe could be used to injure the United States, and he willfully communicated that to any person not entitled to receive it, Assange committed a felony, and it wouldn’t matter if he were Lois Lane, my favorite reporter.”

    http://townhall.com/columnists/AnnCoulter/2010/12/15/like_a_condom,_the_first_amendment_cant_protect_you/page/2

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  41. And yet another:

    “The truth of the matter is that Julian Assange is just lonely computer hacker with his eye on the main game—fame. There is nothing world-improving about what Assange is up to. Anarchy, like cyber-space, is always a place where the end results are unpredictable and uncontrollable, so anything can happen. If then, their actions cause chaos, all the better. If people get hurt, so what! Julian Assange’s world is one where he wants to be a sort of un-elected, un-accountable, Peeping-Tom-in-Chief, of no fixed address.”

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/qed/2010/12/wikiwanks

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  42. Also see this terrific piece by Melanie Phillips:

    “The whole world-view of the Left rests upon its iron-clad conviction that America is a global conspiracy of evil from which all bad things ultimately emanate. So the Left knew for a certainty that the rape charges were false and that Assange was a martyr. Assorted luvvies such as socialites Jemima Khan and Bianca ­Jagger, journalist John Pilger and film director Ken Loach noisily denounced a ‘politically motivated show trial’, while American writer Naomi Wolf claimed Assange was a victim of the ‘international dating police’. Doubtless this was the first many of us had ever heard of this particular and terrifying phenomenon.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1340101/MELANIE-PHILLIPS-Fancy-The-Left-war-Mr-WikiLeaks.html#ixzz18dDondx5

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  43. Wow, even the Age has now run a piece critical of the little egomaniac: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/assanges-slipshod-standards-20101221-194da.html

    Here are two quotes from the article:

    “At its best, WikiLeaks should be able to establish itself as a continuing force for greater accountability between and within governments, and in public life generally. But not if it degenerates into being a vehicle for the aggrandisement and deification of its founder, Julian Assange, who has dubbed himself editor-in-chief.”

    “Here we have the WikiLeaks leader, the champion of transparency and accountability, applying one standard to governments and a different one to himself. When WikiLeaks is the vehicle for the leaking of thousands of unredacted documents, its motives are pure and the world will be a better place. When police information about him is leaked to a newspaper, it’s automatically part of a malicious global conspiracy to destroy him and his web operation.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  44. Amazing: another Age article critical of the little megalomaniac: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/wikileaks-damages-free-expression-by-choking-private-talks-20101222-195hv.html

    “Even as a civil rights lawyer, I understood that protecting the confidentiality of sensitive government communications was vital to maintaining a free society, and confidentiality is entirely consistent with America’s and Australia’s bedrock commitment to freedom of expression.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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