When I filed my TNR.com piece called “Everything Is Data, but Data Isn’t Everything,” I didn’t know that Wikileaks, Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and The New York Times had entered into what two AP reporters were to call “an extraordinary collaboration between some of the world’s most respected media outlets and Wikileaks.” Jamey Keaten and Brett J. Blackledge of the AP quote Sylvie Kauffmann, the executive editor of Le Monde, thus: “They [Wikileaks] are releasing the documents we selected.”
According to the AP, Kauffmann and editors of the other four papers helped vet Wikileaks’s complete cache of diplomatic cables, said by the Times to number neither more nor less than 251,287. Assange put it this way on the Guardian website on Dec. 5:
The cables we have release [sic] correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it. The redactions are then reviewed by at least one other journalist or editor, and we review samples supplied by the other organisations to make sure the process is working.
Now, I didn’t know about this remarkable arrangement because the AP piece ran at 9:35 pm, Dec. 3, long after I filed. Nevertheless, the widely read blogger Glenn Greenwald posted a piece on Salon emblazoned with the headline words “lies” and “propaganda” and accusing me of writing “an entire anti-Wikileaks column that is based on an absolute factual falsehood,” namely (quoting me) that “Wikileaks’s huge data dump, including the names of agents and recent diplomatic cables, is indiscriminate" and that Assange is "fighting for a world of total transparency."
Greenwald is freer with invective than with the substance of my piece, for he adroitly skirts my central point about Assange, namely that he is acting in pursuit of a theory. He favors “system-wide cognitive decline” as a step toward global enlightenment. I do not.
Thus the master of global hacking assures us his secrets are safe with his more than 100,000 collaborators—because they’re encrypted. “If something happens” sounds like a Doomsday Machine. Talk about indiscriminate.
I would hope that Assange’s down-the-line defenders might reflect on their slash-and-burn tone, and on the imputation of “lies” and “propaganda” to those who dare disagree with Assange’s modus operandi, however instructive are some of the revelations Wikileaks has bestowed upon us.