On 3 March, the Guardian announced that Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks would be making "an investigative thriller in the mould of All the President's Men out of its book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy. I asked David Leigh, who wrote the book with Luke Harding, how much DreamWorks had paid the Guardian for the screen rights and what he expected to make personally. "No idea," was the puzzling reply of the Guardian's "investigations editor". The paper paid WikiLeaks nothing for its treasure trove of leaks. Assange and WikiLeaks - not Leigh or Harding - were responsible for what the Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, has called "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years".
[To do these parasites justice, they did have to read masses of fragmentary documentation and make some kind of sense of it.]
The Guardian has made it clear that it has no further use for Assange. He is a loose cannon who did not fit Guardianworld, who proved a tough, unclubbable negotiator. And brave. In the Guardian's self-regarding book, Assange's extraordinary bravery is excised. He becomes a figure of petty bemusement, an "unusual Australian" with a "frizzy-haired" mother; he is gratuitously abused as "callous" and a "damaged personality" who was "on the autistic spectrum". How will Spielberg deal with this childish character assassination?
[Actually, the book says a lot about Assange’s courage, brilliant brain and indifference to comfort and material possessions. When I’d finished reading it I admired Assange more than I had before.]
On the BBC's Panorama, Leigh indulged hearsay that Assange did not care about the lives of those named in the leaks.
Assange‘s indifference to the lives of those named in the link turns up on p111 of the book. The Afghan war logs in Wikileaks’ possession mentioned “names of informants or those who had collaborated with US troops. . ."
I [Declan Walsh, one of the Guardian team sifting through the leaks] told David Leigh I was worried about the repercussions of publishing these names, who could easily be killed by the Taliban or other militant groups if identified. David agreed it was a concern and said he’d raised the issue with Julian, but he didn’t seem concerned. That night, we went out to a Moorish restaurant, Moro, with the two German reporters. David broached the problem again with Julian. The response floored me. ‘Well, they’re informants,’ he said. ‘So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.’ There was, for a moment, silence around the table. I think everyone was struck by what a callous thing that was to say.
In the event the names were redacted.
As some commenters in the thread point out, Pilger misuses the word “hearsay“. David Leigh heard these remarks of Assange with his own ears. It wasn’t reported to him by someone else, which is what “hearsay” means. There were three other witnesses there who heard this as well, and in the thread David Leigh names them. However Pilger has been indulging in “hearsay” himself since he presumably is going by what Assange has told him what was said at this dinner.
As always with Assange and Wikileaks, there is a lovely irony in this. The creed of St Julian says “We believe in raw data, unmediated and unchannelled. Cover us with data, oh Lord, so we can save our souls.” In this instance Leigh is the man who holds the raw data bleeding and dripping in his hands, Pilger has had it cooked and processed.
Pilger also says:-
As for the claim that he had complained of a "Jewish conspiracy", which followed a torrent of internet nonsense that he was an evil agent of Mossad, Assange rejected this as "completely false, in spirit and word".
[Pilger, once a courageous reporter who would travel to war zones, evidently hasn’t been around the internet much. It’s perfectly possible that you will be attacked as an evil agent of Mossad because your leaks don’t deal much with the insanity-inducing obsession, Israel, while you agree with a view that has a fairly broad consensus, that the world is ruled by a Zionist entity via its partner, the USA.]
Pilger does not address the most damning charge against Asange’s political and moral judgement in the Panorama programme, his dealings with the obsessive anti-semite and general loon, Israel Shamir. A useful summary of this association can be found here by Nathalie Rothschild, though no doubt many will find her surname suspect.
The words “Julian Assange” are as reliable a nutter magnet as “Israel and Palestine“. In the Liberal Conspiracy thread on Private Eye’s revelations about Assange’s belief in a Jewish media conspiracy people turn up to say that (a) Private Eye must have been hoaxed or is telling lies; (b) Assange was only saying what’s true anyway. The same calibre of commenter turns up at John Pilger‘s thread saying (a) David Leigh was telling lies; (b) what’s wrong with killing informants anyway?