WikiLeaks has provided us all with a great deal of news of late. The videos below provide the background story to the organisation and while disturbing at times, is quite simply a must watch.
The documentary is made by Swedish SVT, a television network that has been following Assange and Wikileaks since the summer of 2010. Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist travelled to the key countries where Wikileaks operates and managed to create this wonderful film.
>>Interviewer: It’s been reported that WikiLeaks
more classified documents than the rest of
the world’s media
combined. Can that possibly be true?
>>Julian Assange: Yeah can it possibly be
true, it’s a worry isn’t it? That the rest
of the world’s media is doing such a bad job
that a little group of activists is able to
release more of that type of information than
the rest of the world has combined.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks have made public the
most extensive, classified, military and diplomatic
material ever. What they’ve released is challenging
and provoking governments with skeletons in
the cupboards all over the world.
>>Hillary Clinton: We should condemn the disclosure
of any classified information by individuals
>>Herbert Snorrason: The people who are in
power will not give that power away freely,
that is just unfortunately a fact of nature.
>>Geoff Morrell, spokesperson of the Pentagon:
The defense department demands that WikiLeaks
return immediately all versions of documents
obtained directly or indirectly from the Department
of Defense databases or records.
>>Narrator: It’s only now that the true story
behind the development of this closed organization
is coming to light, but while the world is
discussing whether Assange is a rapist or
a saint, WikiLeaks continue to pursue their
own political agenda.
>>Assange: Every release we do of material
has a second message and that is: we set examples.
If you engage in immoral, in unjust behavior,
it will be found out, it will be revealed
and you will suffer the consequences.
>>Narrator: What we have here is a new breed
of rebel, I.T. guerillas without a national
base, student digs, coffee bars and server
rooms, these are their command and control
centers spread all over the world and the
battle has already started.
>>Assange: The general in charge of 120 advanced
intelligence agency personnel targeting this
institution and its products.
[CAPTIONS BY OPERATION LEAKSPIN. HTTP:\/\/OPERATIONLEAKSPIN.ORG]
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks have become a global
force to be reckoned with in record time.
It may not be easy to grasp at first, but
the release of classified information is just
a small step in a long term political and
ideological battle, and that leaking classified
information is a weapon and not a means unto
>>Assange: The public has a right to know
materials and the historical record has a
right to have materials of diplomatic, political,
ethnic or historical significance. If something
is interfering with that process, we will
>>Narrator: He’s been called The Scarlet Pimpernel
of the computer age. If one were to judge
him on his looks alone, you could call him
a chameleon given the frequency of his change
of hair styles during the six months we’ve
been following WikiLeaks. But if you look
under the surface you’ll soon discover that
Julian Assange has been revolting against
the powers that be for a long time. As a teenager
in Australia he called himself “Mendax” and
got a name for himself as a highly skilled
hacker. By the age of 21 he found himself
in court pleading guilty to some 20 different
charges of hacking.
>>Assange: Yeah, I mean we had a back door
in the US military security coordination center.
This is the peak security body controlling
Milnet, the US military internet. We had total
control of this for two years.
>>Journalist: The US space agency, NASA is
one of the victims of the melvin??? computer
hacking syndicate. American investigators
including the FBI contacted Australian authorities
with their suspicions.
>>Second Journalist: The court was told the
man even tampered with the police investigation
into hacking of the ANU.
>>Narrator: The judge seeing Assange as just
an inquisitive young man, fined him a symbolic
sum and released him, however the trial added
further fuel to Assange’s feelings about the
importance of unrestricted information. Together
with some friends he sets up one of Australia’s
first internet suppliers and gives people
with politically sensitive viewpoints a platform
from which to publish their opinions, but
when one of his customers publishes secret
Scientology manuals this prompts aggressive
efforts to censor him.
>>Assange: Moxon and Kobrin, one of the lawyers
for scientology in California sent me letters
trying to attack us and they ended up hiring
a private investigator to try and track me
down, who did manage to get hold of my silent
telephone line and called me up and just as
a sort of threatening maneuver, I ended up
tracking down how they did that.
>>Narrator: Those efforts to censor the site
strengthen his conviction that something has
to be done against those withholding important
information from the public at large.
>>Assange: What the problem was, they needed
to use more actions that created positive
reform effect, more actions that would adjust
and corrective to injustice.
>>Narrator: Assange sees disclosures as a
preventative instrument, it warns those involved
in morally questionable or criminal acts that
they’ll be found out and will have to face
>>Assange: I understood the significance of
disclosures for quite some time, I mean I
registered [wiki]leaks.org in 1999.
>>Narrator: In 2006, Assange and a group of
like-minded people start building up a special
internet service wikileaks.org exclusively
for people wishing to blow the whistle on
abuse of power. His fellow conspirators comprised
of hackers and mathematicians, they’re located
around the world and communicate via a restricted
mailing list. From this platform they start
defining their thoughts of building up a worldwide
movement to mass publicize classified information.
They affirm that this is the most cost effective
political weapon and that they intend to place
a new star on the political firmament of man.
>>Assange: Any reform that is large scale
must be based upon information because, what
else can spread other than viruses only information
can spread and achieve large scale reform.
>>Narrator: Inspired by Wikipedia, WikiLeaks
distribute the leaked information to anonymous
volunteers to check its authenticity and eliminate
any traces of the sender’s identity. It turns
out that the majority of the general public
has neither the time, interest or resources
to analyze WikiLeaks’ material but there are
professionals to turn to.
>>Assange: In 2006 we hoped that the general
public would write analysis articles collaboratively
and [this proved] not at all true.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks had come to the conclusion
that media are the only channels that have
the resources and motivation required to create
a real impact. In 2007, WikiLeaks in association
with the British daily newspaper, The Guardian,
published evidence of former president Daniel
rap Moi having embezzled massive sums from
Kenyan state funds. Shortly after that they
release a report about the Kenyan police’s
use of death patrols. This disclosure causes
a great stir, but as an organization, WikiLeaks
continue to remain unknown to the general
public, however the word spreads among activists
far and wide on the net, eventually reaching
the German Chaos Computer Club, the biggest
and oldest club for hackers in the world.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: I heard about it
in late 2007 from a couple of friends. I started
reading a bit more but I started to understand
the value of such a project to society.
>>Narrator: The political engaged chaos computer
club has been fighting a long-term battle
for free access to information. One of its
members, Daniel Domscheit-Berg is quick to
recognize the common ground between his view
of society and that of WikiLeaks. He quits
his job as a computer consultant so as to
devote all of his to the new organization.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: The question is the
attitude. What attitude do you have to society.
Do you, do you look at what there is and you
accept that as god given, or do you see society
as something where you identify a problem
and you find a creative solution for that
problem. So it is a matter of are you a spectator
or are you actively participating in… in
>>Narrator: The computer club has put the
skills of some of the sharpest hacking talents
in the world at WikiLeaks disposal. What’s
needed now is a physical haven. Hackers linked
to the Swedish file-sharing site Pirate Bay
have what they need. Considerable technical
skills in a place where freedom of speech
is unusually free.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: A lot of the countries
of today’s world do not have really strong
laws for the media anymore. But.. a few countries
like for instance Belgium, also the United
States with the first amendment, and especially
for example Sweden have very strong laws protecting
the media and the work of investigative or
general journalists. So, from our perspective
this is something, if there’s any Swedes here,
you have to make sure that your country is
really one the strongholds of freedom of information.
>>Assange: Sweden has an enviable, although
far from perfect record in protecting publications.
It has a practical record within the past
few years of protecting internet publications
>>Narrator: And it’s precisely Sweden’s unique
freedom of speech laws that prompts WikiLeaks
to locate their main site in this unpretentious
basement, in one of Stockholms inner suburbs.
>>PRQ (Swedish ISP) Spokesperson: At first
they wanted to tunnel traffic through us to
bypass IP bans in places that don’t like WikiLeaks.
But later they put a server here.
>>Narrator: PRQ offer their customers total
secrecy. Their systems prevent anyone from
eavesdropping either WikiLeaks chat pages
or finding out who send what to who.
>>PRQ Spokesperson: We provide anonymity services,
VPN tunnels. A client connects to our server
and downloads information. If anyone at the
information’s source tries to trace them,
they can only get to us, and we don’t disclose
who was using that IP number.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: PRQ have a track
record of being the hardest ISP you can find
in the world. There’s just no one else that
bothers less about lawyers harassing them
about content they’re hosting. And it’s just
the attitude that, let’s say, works very well
with what WikiLeaks was set out to do.
>>Narrator: One reason why WikiLeaks need
PRQ is that their operations are protected
by Sweden’s strict freedom of expression laws.
Laws which PRQ exploit to the full.
>>PRQ Spokesperson: We accept anything that
is legal under Swedish law, regardless of
how objectionable it is. We don’t make moral
judgments. This is a ticking information bomb,
instead of conventional weapons. Hopefully
this information can somehow stop some conventional
>>Narrator: And we aren’t talking about any
old information. It’s from these servers,
at PRQ, that WikiLeaks has, for example, made
public a manual from the United States Guantanamo
bay detention center.
>>Journalist: A military manual leaked on
the Internet, is revealing details of the
way terror suspects are being treated at the
US naval base at Guantanamo bay in Cuba.
>>Narrator: It tells of the use of solitary
confinement and humiliation to break down
the detainees mentally. Human Rights Groups
have for years been asking the US administration
for access to this manual.
>>Assange: If you censor important material
of this type, we’re not just going to criticize
you. We’re going to take the material you’re
trying to censor, and we’re going to spray
it all over the world. And we’re going to
stick in our archives in a way that it’s never
going to disappear, encourage everyone to
get copies of it.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks battle against censorship
knows no geographical frontiers. The next
step is to publish an internal report commissioned
by the multinational trading company Trafigura
who are alleged to have dumped toxic waste
in the Ivory Coast that caused tens of thousands
of people to seek medical care.
>>Assange: The Guardian newspaper was going
to produce a big story on this. And as a result,
they were gagged. The company obtained a secret
order, in court, to gag all the press in UK
from reporting anything related to the content
of that report and the fact that they had
>>Narrator: In the US, hackers discover that
the republican presidential candidate “Sarah
Palin” is apparently bypassing US transparency
laws by using a private email account to conduct
government business. WikiLeaks publishes her
>>Narrator: After just two years the sites
made public over a million secret documents.
But WikiLeaks as an organization that continues
to be largely shrouded in secrecy. Only Julian
Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg appear in
public, the latter under the pseudonym Schmitt.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: Okay, Hello everybody
my name is Daniel Schmitt, this is Julian
Assange, we’re here to make a short presentation
about the WikiLeaks project. According to
The National, which is something that we are
kind of proud of… This is one of our last
quotes. The National has said that we have
produced more spooks in our short existence
than the Washington Post in the last 30 years.
>>Narrator: Their publication activities soon
lead to counter-attacks, when WikiLeaks released
lists of censored websites, internet service
providers in a number of countries including
Thailand, China, and Iran shut them down.
The more sensitive the material they publish,
the more often WikiLeaks becomes the object
of lawsuits and threats. WikiLeaks now attracts
the attention of the US Intelligence, who
in a classified report, claim the site is
a threat to national security, and suggest
ways of shutting it down.
Priority is put on finding the individuals
leaking the information. The U.S. Intelligence
however only managed to keep the report secret
a short while before it is leaked to WikiLeaks.
It now becomes obvious that WikiLeaks need
to find more and safer havens from which they
can publish their information. A sequence
of events now starts on an island in the middle
of the North Atlantic, which, while it leads
to more censorship efforts, would also create
new opportunities for WikiLeaks.
>>Smari McCarthy: October came, October 2008,
and the Icelandic banking system imploded,
it lost 17\/18th of its mass over the course
of about a week or two, it was essentially
one bank per week went bankrupt.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks obtained material that
show how Icelandic catastrophic bank system
collapses were partly due to cronyism or favoritism,
careless and secretiveness. When this highly
detailed document is put out on the net, the
bank launches a counter-attack.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson: Well, the first time
I ever heard of WikiLeaks was beginning August
2009. I was waking up to a report on (TV)
when I got a tip that this website had an
important document, just posted online. The
document was the high exposure loan book for
the failed Kaupthing bank.
>>Smari McCarthy: It was essentially “all
of the regulators had been derelict in their
duties, all of the bankers had been lying
about the actual state of affairs.”
>>Narrator: The bank’s management react in
panic to the revelations, and in a desperate
move, force the Icelandic judiciary to resort
to extreme measures.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson: I was the first one
to actually break that story, but the bank
reacted in a manner that was quite interesting.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson: They got a gag order
on the state television, actually the first
and only one in the history of Iceland state
>>Narrator: The leak lays bare the disastrous
effects of the cronyism inherant in Iceland.
>>Smari McCarthy: We had failed as a country
because we had not been sharing the information
that we needed. We were in the middle of an
>>Herbert Snorrason: That sort of…. eventually
lead to this… let’s just get the WikiLeaks
people here, and when they were here, we just
went ‘hmm, ok, is there anything you want
us to do?’, and obviously there was.
>>Host: Welcome to this program.
>>Assange: Thank you.
>>Host: You mentioned to me, a dream, that
we in Iceland should become a vanguard of
>>Assange: Absolutely, absolutely…
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: And they were presenting
this idea which they call Switzerland of Banks,
which was basically to take the tax haven
model and transform to the transparency haven
>>Assange, TV SHOW: Why doesn’t Iceland become
the center for publishing in the world? Because
it’s going to be…
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: Julian and I, we
were just throwing that idea out, just declaring
on national television that we thought this
was the next business model for Iceland, so
that felt pretty weird. Then realizing that
the next day that everyone wanted to talk
>>Assange: Iceland has seen some of the problems
that happen when society becomes too secret.
>>Smari McCarthy: WikiLeaks gave us the nudge
that we needed. We had had this idea but we
didn’t know what to do with it, and they came
and told us. And that is an incredible valuable
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks now teams up with Icelandic
activists and parliamentarian and together
drew up a proposal that would transform Iceland
into a haven for journalism.
>>Smari McCarthy: Herbert and I, [Inaudible],
and Julian Assange, the five of us sat in
this hotel room for about four or five hours
and wrote the entire proposal from scratch.
>>Narrator: The proposal is adopted unanimously
by Iceland’s Parliament.
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: Just getting a bill
accepted in the Parliament is nearly impossible.
And this is a huge victory for the Parliament,
to have a proposal of this nature to pass
through the Parliament with everybody saying
>>Narrator: It’s also a victory for WikiLeaks,
who are now not only using disclosures as
a weapon, but also directly influencing freedom
of expression laws. The entire hacker world
behind WikiLeaks is growing increasingly confident
that their vision will lead to an improved
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: I think people that
are dealing with systems, and technologically
oriented people are dealing with systems,
they understand systems pretty well. If you
look at society, that’s just yet another system,
people involved with WikiLeaks are exactly
the same as me and the other people who are
fighting this fight, and they are information
activists first and foremost. They believe
in the power of information, and power of
knowledge, and the importance of allowing
everybody to have both laws.
>>Narrator: Perhaps it’s similar convictions
that prompt a young former American hacker
to make one of the most crucial decisions
of his life. Bradley Manning, serving as an
intelligence analyst for the US army in Iraq
in early 2010 has, just like millions of other
Americans in the military or civil service,
access to a massive database of classified
information. He discovers indications of crime
and corruption and tells another hacker, Adrian
Lamo about it.
[Cell Phone Beeping]
>>Narrator: Manning writes that he sent hundreds
of thousands of military and diplomatic reports
to WikiLeaks, the biggest leak ever.
[Cell Phone Beeping]
>>Narrator: Manning puts his faith in WikiLeaks.
However, Lamo reports the chapter the military.
Manning now risks the fifty-two year jail
sentence. Many of the facts are still unclear.
One thing is certain: at this point in time,
WikiLeaks received documents for the same
materials that Manning is charged of having
>>Assange: We make a commitment to our sources
that we will represent their material to the
public to the best of our ability. And achieve
maximum political impact for the risks that
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks are in possession of
explosive material. Too big, in fact for them
to handle alone. Assange decides to stake
all of his resources in one move.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson: We were sitting in a
cafe and flipped open his laptop and told
me “Well, you’re going to see something interesting”.
I was quite shocked.This was something that
I recognized instantly as extremely important
and strong material.
>>Narrator: This is what the crew of an American
attack helicopter see while out on patrol
>>Soldiers on Helicopter Radio: See all those
people standing down there?
>>Narrator: There’s a group of men on the
street below. Two of them work for the international
news agency Reuters. The driver, Saeed Chmagh
and the Cameraman, Namir Noor-Eldeen.
>>Assange: What annoys me the most is when
people abuse their power and harm innocents,
and they didn’t actually need to do it.
- Hotel 26, this is Crazy Horse 18, have individuals
with weapons. Request permission to engage.
- Roger that, we have no personnel east of
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: For me, person who
sent it and put so much effort into trying
to stop this war that at least, if this would
be shown to people, that it might give people
enough motivation to try to stop the next
- Alright, clear to engage.
- Roger, go ahead.
- I can’t get them now because they are behind
- What shocked me with the video was the high
resolution, the quality of it, the eh,
the excessive use of force to shoot people
with hollow thirty millimeter bullets designed
to penetrate armored vehicles and techs basically
shot to pieces.
-Let me know when you get them.
-Light em’ all up.
>>Assange: Different people argue that it
was right for the United State to be in Iraq,
or wrong to be in Iraq, but nonetheless in
this incident, even if you argue that it was
right for the United States to be in Iraq,
even if it was right for them to be in that
suburb, at that time, with a helicopter, overlooking
this wounded man crawling in the street. It
was not helpful for the United State for that
wounded crawling man to be shot.
-We got one guy crawling around down there
[Censored Cuss Words]
>>Narrator: The Reuters employee, Saeed Chmagh
has been seriously wounded.
- He’s getting up.
- Does he have any weapons in his hands?
- No I don’t see one yet.
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: It’s very important
to offer a voice to the voiceless. Nobody
really believes the people on the ground when
they’re trying to tell what war crimes are
So I offered to help with this in any way
- Dispatcher, Crazy horse, we have individuals
going to the scene, possibly picking up bodies
- We need to stop that [inaudible] down there!!!
- Picking up the wounded.
- Requesting permission to engage.
- Command, what to shoot?
>>Narrator: A father driving his children
to school catches sight of the injured man
and stops to help him.
We have a black bongo truck, requesting permission
Master 7, Roger. Repeat, Master 7, Roger.
One-eight, engage. Clear.
[machine gun fire]
[garbled radio transmission]
>>Assange: Why do it? Well, there are two
reasons. One: Because it’s fun to kill people.
If you’ve been in that environment, removed
from all the effects of killing people for
a long time. It’s a videogame, like in high
school. The other is they brag after a kill
streak. About how many people they killed,
and go back to base, and go, “Hey”, I killed
Oh yeah, look at that, right through the windshield!
[garbled] …coming about 12-50…
Hey, look at those dead bastards.
[garbled radio transmission]
>>Narrator: When the ground troops arrive,
they see that there are children in the car.
>>Soldier in Chopper: Well, it’s their fault
for bringing their kid into a battle.
- That’s right.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson: After viewing the video
hundreds of times, it became almost an obsession,
to get the identity of the people there. When
you get the identity, of, of [Arab name] and
[Arab name]. But for me, it was important
to establish the identity of the other people
there, especially the children in the minivan,
we decided it was worthwhile to go there and
>>Narrator: It turns out that the children
survived the attack. (REPORTER) flies to Baghdad
in search of more facts
>>Narrator: He traces the whereabouts of the
children, and shows the helicopter film to
the victims’ family.
>>Hrafnsson: I think we could fairly establish
very well from a journalistic point of view
the reason the minivan was there was basically
just a coincidence. The driver simply overlooked
seeing, he was probably just busy driving
his kids to school. [hard to transcribe]
>>Narrator: On the 5th of April, 2010, WikiLeaks
publishes the “Collateral Murder” film. The
impact is no less than extraordinary.
[Tape of news broadcast]
>>Journalist: Disturbing footage apparently
showing civilians being killed by the US military
>>Other journalist: It was leaked from within
the defense community to a website.
>>Narrator: By putting all their resources
into the helicopter video, WikiLeaks have
managed to attract the attention of some of
the biggest players in the news business.
This is exactly what Assange needs to help
him handle the rest of the leaked U.S. material.
>>Assange: I had been looking at this release
and studying it and understand how to come
up with a way to deal with such a tremendously
large volume of material that would simply
not drown any one organization.
>>Narrator: Assange proceeds to contact the
New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Speigel.
He manages to persuade the chief editors of
these globally respected papers to publish
his material in a co-ordinated fashion, with
Assange pulling the strings.
>>Assange: What is new is us forcing cooperation
between competitive organizations that would
otherwise be rivals. To do the best by the
story, as opposed to just doing to best by
their own organization.
>>Narrator: In late July, 2010, the Afghanistan
reports are published at the same time and
>>News Anchor: One of the biggest leaks in
US military history has exposed several cover-ups
over the war in Afghanistan.
>>Assange: The real story of this material
is that it’s war: it’s one damn thing after
>>Narrator: The publication of the material
is met with praise, as well as strong criticism.
>>Geoff Morell, Pentagon Spokesman: The Defense
Department demands that WikiLeaks return immediately
to the US government all versions of documents
obtained directly or indirectly from the Department
of Defense’s databases or records.
>>Narrator: For the first time, WikiLeaks
are now facing criticism that they find hard
to respond to. The material includes the names
of civilian Afghanis, putting them at risk
of being targeted by the Taliban.
>>Robert Gates – US Defense Secretary: The
battlefield consequences of the release of
these documents are potentially severe and
>>Michael Mullen – US Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff: Mr. Assange can say whatever
he wants about the “greater good” he thinks
he and his source are doing, but the truth
is they might already have on their hands
the blood of some young soldier or of an Afghan
>>Narrator: Releasing classified material
can be very risky. But Assange says that the
end justifies the means.
>>Assange: We would have had to release all
of this material without seperating out any
of it, or release none. The value, the extraordinary
value, of this historic record of the progress
of that war and its potential to save lives
outweighs the danger to innocents.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks now takes steps to avoid
making the same mistake again. In the next
publication, 400,000 military reports from
the Iraq war are painstakingly edited and
names removed. They also start reinforcing
their network of experienced journalists.
Here are two… [garbled]
>>Narrator: Iain Overton is the editor of
the independent, London-based bureau of investigative
journalism who are now going to analyze the
material and produce their own documentaries.
>>Iain Overton, Editor-in-Chief TBIJ: There
was a rush of getting the best people we could
onboard. We drew up a team of twenty-five
people over a weekend and my phone went red-hot
from calling people.
>>James Ball: It was Saturday night, in the
middle of August, and about five or six of
us from the bureau met with Julian. And at
the end of the meeting I ended up leaving
the place with a USB stick full of (laugh)
400,000 classified military documents.
>>James Ball: The material is essentially
an encyclopedia of this war, with reports
issued day by day, hour by hour, corpse by
>>James Ball: I absolutely have a feel that
these are the reports, written by people on
the ground straight afterwards. It’s kind
of the day to day war through their eyes.
And that’s new. We haven’t been able to do
that before, ever really.
>>Narrator: The material tells of tens of
thousands of civilian casualties, figures
that the US have withheld to date. And the
widespread practice of torture that the US
said they’d put a stop to is still being practiced
by their Iraqi allies.
>>Overton: I think there are stories, that
cause you, um, you know, to be filled with
>>James Ball: Some are incredibly heroing.
You do have children tortured to death or
shot in front of parents. It’s not material
you can read and not be affected by.
>>Overton: When I was reading the reports,
you read of a young American soldier writing
in a very, very bureaucratic, anodyne, sterile
way about a father who is driving his children,
to, back home and is going too fast. And they
open fire on the car. And the father, fearing
that the children will be hit, calls all the
children to lie on the floor. All of the children
are killed, his three children. And the way
it’s written up, it’s called an “escalation
of force”. Yeah, it’s not an escalation of
force, it’s a killing. It’s horrific.
[somber music ]
>>Overton: This isn’t anything truly new in
war. War is hell. Awful things happen. And
what these logs tell us is that war is hell.
They don’t hide from the truth. And they’re
not spun by a military spin doctor at all
in an air-conditioned conference room in the
green zone. This is visceral, unequivocal
death written in raw detail.
>>James Ball: 109,000 lives lost over the
course of these reports. We’re doing all we
can and this is something so huge that people
can and hopefully will study this data for
years. This is worth telling. This is worth
getting out there.
The lack of respect for human life runs like
a common thread throughout the material. These
images are of a helicopter crew who’ve just
received orders to bomb a building where three
enemy soldiers are thought to be hiding.
…one-eight to put a missile in that building.
>>Narrator: A passerby suddenly turns up.
But the crew doesn’t wait.
He fired the missile.
>>Narrator: The crew could have waited until
the man had passed. This is perhaps a measure
of how human life was valued in Baghdad. Private
cars being pursued by an attack helicopter.
The driver gets out of the car, and holds
his arms up in a gesture of surrender.
>>Narrator: The more horrific the discovery
the investigators in London make, the more
they get the feeling of being threatened.
It gradually becomes obvious that someone
is watching their office.
>>Overton: I do know that I’ve been listened
in to. Monitored. Um, by, forces, I don’t
know. I’ve recieved strange text messages
from anonymous sources. I’ve received death
threats, not very nice. Particularly the one
that talked about my children. That was a
>>Assange: here’s a bit in the Washington
Post saying that our personnel should be kidnapped
from Europe, uh, our sources, one of which
source (???), executed similar statements
by right-wing members of the US Congress.
>>Narrator: In Washington, the influential
public figure Christian Whiton is agitating
for the indictment of WikiLeaks members, saying
they should be treated as terrorists.
>>Christian Whiton, Foreign Policy “Analyst”:
There also has to be a clear punishment for
people who engage in what I would consider
a form of espionage, a form of rogue political
warfare. It’s not an act of, uh, um journalism
or transparency, but an act of, um, political
war against us.
>>Narrator: The US ups its efforts to stop
WikiLeaks. The payment service provider MoneyBookers
close down WikiLeaks’ account. American hackers
suspected of having links to WikiLeaks are
detained, questioned, and have their computers
>>Whiton: At the end of the day, things involving
the web I think you find are less mysterious
and new than they meet the eye at first. If
you just go beyond, uh, I’d say the surface,
you’ll find umm, telecommunications companies
that are hosting the servers or hosting the
companies that in turn post this information
and have made this possible. You’ll find banks
that provide banking services to these people.
You will find landlord who provide rent to
the individuals involved. So, to that extent
I’m pretty sure you can peel back the onion
and find exactly what this organization is,
where it conducts its activities and which
jurisdiction it’s subject to most directly.
>>Narrator: However, the stronger the attacks,
the greater the support WikiLeaks receives.
Julian Assange has been without a fixed address
for several years, but wherever he lands,
activists are on hand to offer him a place
to sleep and their services free of charge.
>>Assange: People love the idea of a, um,
an ounce of control, an investigative journalist
who’s trying to take on governments. The story…
[Source Footage Unavailable]
>>Overton: The story of some quasi romantic,
fleet of foot Scholar Campanella character
in the form of Julian Assange, darting in
the cyber shadows. It’s very, you know, appealing.
>>Assange: I am very pleased to be among so
many people I can respect. I don’t think I
>>Narrator: Assange is an ideal media figure,
he has been portrayed as the lone ranger of
the information age.
>>Narrator: Praise and prizes have been poured
over WikiLeaks. TIME Magazine has included
Assange on a short list for the world’s most
>>Assange: You should remember Solzhenitsyn’s’
words that in the right moment, one word of
truth outweighs the world.
>>Narrator: But all is not quite on the WikiLeaks
front. Assange is aware that the Iraqi material
that shortly to be released will generate
even more anger. In August he travels to Sweden.
He applies for a resident’s permit to obtain
the protection of the world’s most extensive
freedom of the press law.
>>Interview on Assange: Does this mean that
WikiLeaks is becoming even more Swedish?
>>Assange: I hope so.
>>Narrator: To start with, everything goes
well. Julian Assange is welcomed with open
arms. He’s invited to major political and
trade union venues. And there are calls that
he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
>>Narrator: A couple of days later the pictures
[Various news clips and jingles]
>>YT Clip: Swedish authorities have issued
an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks’ founder Julian
Assange. He’s accused of rape and molestation.
>>Narrator: On the 20th of August, Assange
is accused of rape. The alleged crime is immediately
leaked to the World Press. Behind the accusation
are two women who had casual relationships
with Assange. The women don’t make any public
statements. But the important evening paper
Aftonbladet publishes an anonymous interview
with one of them which states “that what started
as voluntarily sex subsequently became what
she described as abusive but she’s not afraid
of him and he’s not violent.”
[News clip in English]
>>Journalist: Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks
founder and the target of the rape allegations
joins me now on the line. Thank you so much
for speaking to us Mr. Assange. What do you
think about this?
>>Assange: Clearly, clearly, it is a smear
campaign of some kind.
>>Assange: Well I came to Sweden as a refugee,
uhm, a refugee publisher involved with an
extrordinary publishing fight with the pentagon
where our people were being retained. Where
there is an attempt to prosecute me for espionage.
So, I’m unhappy and disappointed with how
the Swedish justice system has been abused.
>>Narrator: Assange says he never forced anyone
to have sex and that the judicial system has
been misused. He implies that he is a victim
of personal revenge and US pressure.
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: That troubled a lot
of us that had worked with the Organization.
The way this case was mixed with WikiLeaks.
The way of course there must’ve been a party
at the American embassy in Sweden when they
read this news. Like “Yes, we don’t have to
do anything except to just pass this on.”
>>Narrator: But whatever the truth is, a shadow
is now being cast not only on his, but also
WikiLeaks’ name. The rape allegations lead
to a storm of protests from WikiLeaks.
>>Birgitta Jonsdottir: WikiLeaks has become,
uhm, the sensation because the two last big
scoops and the only scoops that have been
actually played into the hands of the mainstream
media are WikiLeaks vs the US or Julian Assange
vs the Pentagon. This is not what WikiLeaks
is about. It is a site that focuses on all
sorts of leaks from all over the world.
>>Daniel Bormscheit-Berg: It has weakened
the organization. That is my perception. Too
much focused on one person and one person
is always weaker than an organization.
>>Narrator: The difference of opinion began
when Assange decided to put all of WIkiLeaks
resources into the giant American disclosures.
And it has now grown into a serious source
of discontent regarding how the organization
should be run.
>>Daniel Bormscheit-Berg: I think the wisest
thing to do, would’ve been to, to do this
slowly step by step to grow the project. That
did not happen. What happened was to pick
out the biggest releases, to release these,
to put all efforts, all resources, everything
we had into producing these releases.
>>Narrator: Other voices join in the criticism,
some through anonymous media interviews. And
now it’s Assange’s turn to look for leaks.
This is an extract from a chat between Domscheit-Berg
>>Daniel Bormscheit-Berg: If you preach transparency
to everyone else you have to be transparent
yourself. You have to fulfill the same standards
that you expect from others. And I think that’s
where we’ve not been heading into the same
direction philosophically anymore.
>>Narrator: The argument ends with Daniel
and several others quitting WikiLeaks.
>>Herbert Snorrason: Eventually this ended
with me arguing with Julian about basically
his dictatorial behavior. Which ended in Julian
saying to me “That if I had a problem with
him I could just piss off.”, I quote.
>>Narrator: For those who quit the organization
build up their own site on the quiet. OpenLeaks
to be run without an authoritarian editor
and serve purely as an online distribution
service helping people deliver material anonymously
to the media.
>>Daniel Domscheit-Berg: Openleaks is a technology
project that is aiming to be a service provider
for third parties that want to be able to
accept material from anonymous sources.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson, Spokesperson WikiLeaks:
Well I’m not inclined to talk too much about
the people, the few people that have decided
that their interests are not with WikiLeaks
anymore. But what I hear is that some other
people are contemplating to open up their
own website with the same idea as WikiLeaks.
And I think that is an excellent idea and
I wish them well. I think it’s the more the
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks continues to pursue
its set strategy which leads to massive media
reaction when the next part of the material
>>Ian Overton: I can’t think of any case where
a satellite news channel, the BBC radio world
service, terrestrial channels, and broadcaster
and internet are all going to go at the same
time on the story.
>>Assange, PR: This disclosure is about the
>>Several News Clips: They’re the secret files
from the Iraq war.
Internet platform WikiLeaks…
>>US Gov Employee: Well let me just say with
regards to the allegations of not intervening
when, when coming across detainee abuse. Not
>>Narrator: The Iraq leaks hits the headlines
around the world. Thanks to Assange’s strategy,
the leaks have a huge impact and greatly boost
WikiLeaks’ resources. Now forty volunteers
are brought into more or less full time for
the organization with another eight hundred
people available for specific tasks. WikiLeaks
are well into planning future disclosures.
But first there is still the final part of
the US material to be released.
>>Assange: For this latest release we have
chosen a different methodology. We have tried
to pull it out over time. Rather than having
it all go out in one hit.
>>Narrator: This time however the new material
contains disclosures the consequences of which
are far harder to assess than previous releases.
>>Hillary Clinton: The United States strongly
condemns the illegal disclosure of classified
>>Narrator: In a storm of criticism, WikiLeaks
are accused of threatening world peace. Are
they and their media partners sufficiently
competent to gauge the consequences of releasing
hundreds of thousands of diplomatic dispatches
covering everything from Nuclear Reactors
in Iran to Saudia Arabian domestic policy?
Or is it again a matter of the ends justifying
For Christian Whiton things are much simpler
>>Whiton: I think Mr. Assange is actually
waging political warfare too. He’s not using
weapons, but he’s not using purely soft things
either like words. He’s using information,
wielding information against us if you will.
That to me is what political warfare is.
>>Iain Overton: By and large WikiLeaks is
a force for good. Um, I think that you just
can’t be absolute on this. WikiLeaks is very,
very powerful. And I think one has to be cautious
of anything that is very, very powerful.
>>Narrator: WikiLeaks’ website may disappear
again tomorrow or it may suddenly reappear
in a thousand other locations. History is
still in the process of being written. And
the rape allegations are a long way from being
settled. One thing is clear: whatever happens,
WikiLeaks has sown a seed. A thought that
is impossible to erase. It’s about news ways
and new channels of disseminating classified
information that’ll have a profound effect
on transparency not only on the Internet,
but in a broader global dimension.
>>Daniel Bormscheit-Berg: What I really learned
in the last three years is that a difference
can be made bottom up and not only top-down.
>>Smari McCarthy: Information does not respect
borders. States are going to have to rethink
how they approach information. Any state which
fails to do this will cease to exist.
>>US Gov Employee: Well you know if we’re
going to have a military and a defense policy
it’s predicated on having information that
is controlled. Of course we’re a democracy.
We’re one of the most open countries I believe
in the history of the world. But information
has to be protected in certain circumstances
and denied to the public.
>>Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks Spokesperson:
Democracy without transparency is not democracy,
it’s just an empty word.
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