Julian Assange: ‘How do you attack an organisation? You attack its leadership’

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Der Observer hat ein aktuelles Gespräch mit Assange veröffentlicht, in dem er noch einmal (nach seinem Manifest aus dem Jahr 2006) beschreibt, was die wichtigste Motivation hinter WikiLeaks ist. A Man with a plan:

Another criticism often levelled at WikiLeaks is that bursting the banks of information in this way will only lead to the construction of new flood defences by powerful institutions; in other words to more, not less, secrecy.

“The reaction by large corporations and government power,” says Assange, “to a substantial increase in disclosure to the public was thought about in depth in 2006, when we launched WikiLeaks.” The idea that powerful institutions would “go off record” in such a way is fanciful, he argues; discovering their behaviour will always be possible by obtaining internal records. “For instance, when I obtained the manual for standard operating procedure at Guantánamo Bay, I was surprised to see that it included not only many inhumane practices, but it instructed guards to falsify records to the Red Cross. [Because] there is no way for the centre of an organisation to reliably have its peripheral elements reliably carry out its orders… there is a clear, authorised paper trail. Any form of large-scale abuse must be systemised.” And the acquisition of that paper trail, he argues, is the way to expose the abuse.

In this situation, organisations have two choices, says Assange. One is to “engage in plans that the public will support if they are revealed”, meaning that they will have nothing to fear from transparency. The other is to “spend additional resources to keep those plans secret”. The second, more common, course entails a toll on the economic logic of the organisation, which Assange calls a “secrecy tax”. Also, “when an organisation acts in a more clandestine manner”, he says, “its own internal efficiency decreases, because information cannot flow quickly through the organisation. This is another form of secrecy tax.” For organisations to be efficient, they should be transparent, he insists.

I put it to him that all this is heading in the right direction from the point of view of persuading organisations of the virtues of transparency. “It’s not optimism”, he says, suddenly animated, “it’s part of the plan!”

 

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