I was flippant, stupid and wrong (and @ggreenwald is dead right) about #Wikileaks
“He was noted for his intellectual rigour” are not words likely to be found on my gravestone unless by the hand of a sarcastic tagger.
Indeed, I am cursed by a tendency to skim the surface of things and too often rush to pluck and devour the lowest hanging rhetorical fruit. (You might also notice I am prone to stuffing single sentences with multiple, often ill-aligned, metaphors).
Add to this mix an insufferably opinionated nature, and it is hardly surprising that I often find myself in the possession of viewpoints that I come to regret, often very soon after adopting them. This, along with hopeless alcohol dependency, explains my support for the invasion of Iraq, an opinion that I held for under three hours, and never while sober.
So it is with Wikileaks.
For whatever reason, the whole saga failed to grip me from the start. For one thing, I was pretty underwhelmed by the contents of the leaks themselves and found myself irritated with the feigned umbrage and shock! horror! antics of the media and political elites. This is not to say that the leaks are not important; just not especially surprising. This is my lot, I guess: I am more interested with how things are playing, than the thing itself. My old boss, Mike Moore, warned me about people like me: “spectators” he called us, and not nicely.
All that said, my assessment about the leaks was based on a fleeting glance at most. Digging deeper, or even reading the product of deep digging in the Guardian or NY Times, seemed like hard work so I took my cues from people I like, like Joe Biden and others.
Julian Assange’s persona didn’t help. He strikes me as a fairly obnoxious and unpleasant human being. His speech, post-bail, was enough to convince me that he was something not entirely unlike a fraud.
Yesterday, however, I took the cue from something I overheard at bloggingheads.tv and delved into the work of Glenn Greenwald at Salon. To be honest, my intentions weren’t exactly pure. My curiosity was piqued less out of a sincere interest in Wikileaks than the fact that Greenwald is in the middle of a spectacular war of words with the editors at Wired magazine. The “blog wars” /conflict aspect of the yarn drew me more the substance itself, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has read the preceding sentences.
Anyway, long story short: my flippant dismissal of Wikileaks was misplaced and plain wrong. Whatever I think of Assange — his grating personality and unctuous aura, his friendship with the vile and sanctimonious Pilger, his dreadful speechifying, his interminable hair-dos, not to mention his alleged (and serious) sexual misconduct — the work of Wikileaks warrants admiration and support.
Glenn Greenwald’s work on Wikileaks is immensely persuasive and deeply impressive. I tip my e-hat in his cyber-direction.
This video frames the debate pretty well.