Michael Sontheimer

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Not trusting your own government isn’t a good reason to trust Julian Assange. He’s full of shit, this Bill Cosby of whistle blowers, this unprincipled hack. Citizens disrupting government agencies surveilling us has great value, but they must have at least a modicum of scruples and the maturity to realize that in addition to black and white, gray areas actually exist.

Like a lot of assholes, Assange had the potential at one point to do some good despite himself, but this guy is no Daniel Ellsberg. Instead, he’s a self-aggrandizing bag of nuts. His apparent support of a Trump Presidency and his promised-but-not-delivered leak of a supposed trove of important documents are the latest signs of his utter unraveling.

Those still twisting and turning to support his nonsense in the name of some ideological argument are doing harm to themselves and their beliefs.

Two excerpts follow, one from a Spiegel Q&A conducted by Michael Sontheimer, and the other from a Mic piece by Emily Cahn about Assange’s bait-and-switch in regard to a Hillary Clinton bombshell he was allegedly sitting on.


From Spiegel:

Spiegel:

Mr. Assange, 10 years after the founding of WikiLeaks, the whistleblower platform is again being criticized. WikiLeaks is said to have put millions of Turkish voters in danger. What is your response?

Julian Assange:

A few days after the publication of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, an entirely false story was put out that we had published the names, addresses and phone numbers of all female voters in Turkey. It is completely false. And it was and is simple to check. Power factions fight back with lies. That’s not surprising.

Spiegel:

Quite a few German journalists have long sympathized with WikiLeaks and also with Edward Snowden. But they aren’t impressed with the publishing of the DNC emails. Are you campaigning on behalf of Donald Trump?

Julian Assange:

Our publication of the DNC leaks has showed that the Democratic National Committee had effectively rigged the primaries in the United States on behalf of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. That led to the resignation of leading members of the DNC, including its president Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Spiegel:

People within the Clinton campaign have suggested that the DNC emails were given to you by the Russian secret service.

Julian Assange:

There have been many attempts to distract from the power of our publications. Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win. As always, most media aligns with the presumptive winner even though their claimed societal virtue is to investigate those in power.

Spiegel:

The fact is, WikiLeaks is damaging Clinton and bolstering Trump. 

Julian Assange:

We’re not going to start censoring our publications because there is a US election. Our role is to publish. Clinton has been in government so we have much more to publish on Clinton. There is a lot of naivety. The US presidency will continue to represent the major power groups of the United States — big business and the military — regardless of who the talking head is.•


From Mic:

Julian Assange trolled the internet — and much of the world — Tuesday, getting thousands to tune into a glorified informercial for WikiLeaks and his new book by teasing he would be dropping a surprise in October on Hillary Clinton.

But Assange didn’t release any documents. Instead, he again moved the goal post for when new documents related to the election would leak — saying they’d come before the end of the year.

“We are going to need an army to defend us from the pressure that is already starting to arise,” Assange said via live video feed into a press conference to celebrate WikiLeaks’ 10-year anniversary, NBC News reported.

Top supporters of Donald Trump — including noted conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and political operative Roger Stone — had hyped Assange’s press conference, saying he would release documents that would end Clinton’s presidential bid.•

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Julian Assange, the alleged Bill Cosby of Wikileaks, can be a preposterous blowhard, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a useful part of the discussion about surveillance. At Spiegel, Michael Sontheimer has a new longform Q&A with Assange, in which they discuss what might be called Wikileaks 2.0, as well as the “digital colonization of the world” by Silicon Valley powerhouses, this era’s analog of America’s twentieth-century cultural exportation of Hollywood and hamburgers.

An excerpt:

Spiegel:

You met Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. Do you think he is a dangerous man?

Julian Assange:

If you ask “Does Google collect more information than the National Security Agency?” the answer is “no,” because NSA also collects information from Google. The same applies to Facebook and other Silicon Valley-based companies. They still collect a lot of information and they are using a new economic model which academics call “surveillance capitalism.” General information about individuals is worth little, but when you group together a billion individuals, it becomes strategic like an oil or gas pipeline.

Spiegel:

Secret services are perceived as potential criminals but the big IT corporations are perceived at least in an ambiguous way. Apple produces beautiful computers. Google is a useful search engine.

Julian Assange:

Until the 1980s, computers were big machines designed for the military or scientists, but then the personal computers were developed and companies had to start rebranding them as machines that were helpful for individual human beings. Organizations like Google, whose business model is “voluntary” mass surveillance, appear to be giving it away for free. Free e-mail, free search, etc. Therefore it seems that they’re not a corporation, because corporations don’t do things for free. It falsely seems like they are part of civil society.

Spiegel:

And they shape the thinking of billions of users?

Julian Assange:

They are also exporting a specific mindset of culture. You can use the old term of “cultural imperialism” or call it the “Disneylandization” of the Internet. Maybe “digital colonization” is the best terminology.

Spiegel:

What does this “colonization” look like?

Julian Assange:

These corporations establish new societal rules about what activities are permitted and what information can be transmitted. Right down to how much nipple you can show. Down to really basic matters, which are normally a function of public debate and parliaments making laws. Once something becomes sufficiently controversial, it’s banned by these organizations. Or, even if it is not so controversial, but it affects the interests that they’re close to, then it’s banned or partially banned or just not promoted.

Spiegel:

So in the long run, cultural diversity is endangered?

Julian Assange:

The long-term effect is a tendency towards conformity, because controversy is eliminated. An American mindset is being fostered and spread to the rest of the world because they find this mindset to be uncontroversial among themselves. That is literally a type of digital colonialism; non-US cultures are being colonized by a mindset of what is tolerable to the staff and investors of a few Silicon Valley companies. The cultural standard of what is a taboo and what is not becomes a US standard, where US exceptionalism is uncontroversial.•

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