The Australian‘s love-hate relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — possibly a little more co-dependent on The Oz‘s side — continues apace. Like much of News Limited, its right-wing columnists turned their guns on him early, before The Oz began a desperate attempt to acquire some of the “cablegate” cables after Philip Dorling began publishing reports of them in Fairfax (which disgraced itself as the only news partner unwilling to actually publish the cables in question).
This involved publishing an op-ed written by Assange in The Oz, which suggests the Grey Blur was able to play them like the cheap proverbial: according to The Guardian‘s new insta-book on WikiLeaks, Assange used this tactic to defang other right-wing outlets in the US.
Now The Oz must be in a grouchy mood, because it chides Assange in its latest editorial for not protecting an assumed Wikileaks source:
“If Mr Assange wants to be taken seriously as a journalist, styling himself as an editor-in-chief and publisher is not enough. Unfortunately, despite WikiLeaks’ boast about ‘an unbroken record in protecting confidential sources’, the organisation has failed to protect its most valuable source. Alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning, 23, the US private detained in chains in solitary confinement for nine months at a US military base awaiting court martial, was a low-ranking army intelligence analyst in Iraq when he allegedly downloaded classified material and passed it to WikiLeaks.”
The implicit accusation is absurd and simply wrong. Manning is an assumed source for WikiLeaks, not because of anything Assange did but because of what Manning did. It’s a matter of public record that he engaged in an online chat/confession with fellow hacker Adrian Lamo, in which he talked extensively about copying files from the US government SIPRnet onto a Lady Gaga CD.
Manning was lonely and isolated, something which trips a lot of whistleblowers up; Lamo was on probation for computer crime, and realised that not reporting the confession would eventually put him in line for very serious charges. The incarceration and psychological torture Bradley Manning is currently undergoing has nothing to do with WikiLeaks at all. Still it’s good to know The Oz‘s standard of source protection. If one of their sources screws up and talks in a bar, in prison, online, and blows their own anonymity, we can assume that Chris Mitchell is officially to blame. Or does that standard only apply to organisations that have pissed them off?