manyellens 09 April 2013 6:14pm
Is is because the Gibney film is coming out soon? Is that what prompted you to write this article? ...Alex Gibney is someone who gives the impression -- at least over Assange matters -- that he has a serious problem reading. He fails to grasp --- seemingly -- how anyone can begin to think that the title 'We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks' is about Wikileaks. . .stealing secrets. [Sigh] this point has been gone over before. However, Gibney has recently tweeted (8 April) that an 'Enemy of the State' hoodie is available on the Wikileaks website. Check the website and you will find that the available hoodie reads, in fact, 'Designated Enemy of the State'. Decidedly different meaning. The 'designated' indeed, is smaller than the rest, but Gibney clearly did not bother to look closely or care that, hey, he wasn't getting it right.
The two of you seem so basically miffed. Hard to fathom what is going on here. Whatever it is, it is sad.
JonnnyA 09 April 2013 6:00pm
Do we need WikiLeaks any more?
Is that supposed to be a joke? Are we supposed to leave it up to our utterly compliant and useless mass media? Are we supposed to leave it up to a body who are responsible for perpetuating the lies that haunt our society rather than asking the difficult questions. "Investigative", (from the old English phrase "investigative journalism") is a thing of the past in the halls and offices of our national newspapers.
How totally predictable that the mass media now start attacking one of few bodies who do ask difficult questions, and are not crippled by the fear of saying something outside the norm.
Real news exists on the Internet, not in our traditional mass media.
Middlengland 09 April 2013 5:38pm
MP's tried to cover up their criminality over expenses
The Security Services and Government have just voted to cover up their complicity in torture and rendition (with the "Justice" and "Security" Bill)
There are ever more brazen attempts to cover up wrongdoing in this country alone.
Wikileaks will do us all a service if it exists and assists in revealing criminality and war crimes
bongoid 09 April 2013 5:35pm
People like Assange are prepared to stick their necks out, Guardian journalists are quite patently not. For this reason Wikileaks will long be welcome among those that value truth, honesty and old time investigative journalism. The problem with many on the left is that the bottom line is their career, and its their career rather than moral issues that drives them on, such people cannot be trusted to investigate controversial ground breaking issues.
Mike5000 09 April 2013 5:27pm
The Grauniad took the raw data on thousands of tax avoiders, censored the records of everyone politically well-connected, and released maybe a dozen records.
Lame lame lame. We definitely need Wikileaks.
Squeeth 09 April 2013 4:54pm
Balls Ball. Where's your scoop about how the Graun sabotaged Wikileaks and betrayed Assange?
MarkThomason 09 April 2013 3:16pm
Do we still need Wikileaks? Who's "we"? The press -- no, they don't need competition. Government -- no they don't need exposure. The wealthy, no they need exposure even less.
But the general public? Yes. Note that in the just announced big leak by the mainstream press, most of the actual names are still not leaked. A great deal of information is not yet available, and may never be available. They guard it and use it sparingly.
Now Wikileaks may have just put up older material, but it is readily available and searchable. You can't say that for the recent press "disclosures" which remain mostly hidden.
Furthermore, you are comparing things to the least of what Wikileaks has done, during a time when it is crippled with its leader in hiding.
So yes, we need Wikileaks, as much as ever. We need it to be free and all that it has been.
And the sex charges against Assange stink of a classic US set up. The press would be hostile to the set up if it was not even more hostile to the Assange for reasons of its own.
Bolowski 09 April 2013 3:09pm
The mainstream media will only ever tell a tiny part of the story of corruption and plutocracy that is our governments. They have too much to lose from defying the D-notices, the threats of litigation and the imposed loss of revenue from their advertisers that open revelations would lead to. They also have an agenda, since they are often owned and operated for the most part by the plutocracy that they are supposed to police.
Wikileaks demonstrated that American soldiers were killing civilians with contempt for their targets and with impunity. They demonstrated the depth and extent of corruption in many respected so-called democracies, where leaders who are household names and who remain in power to this day, are trafficking drugs, arms and even human organs for the profit of themselves, their friends and their families. If we can rely on the traditional media to serve this function, then why were these facts not before us before Wikileaks' revelations?
We are now told that it is time to realise that these traditional protectors in the fourth estate should be trusted to hold the powerful to account, that they will know what "sensitive" information is worthy of publication and will recognise the "sensitive" information that is to be withheld, for our common good. They are to be our censors. But these censors are self-appointed and are accountable to no-one. The popular press with their "Gotcha" headlines have demonstrated their propaganda function on behalf of our plutocracies over and over and over again. Why should we ever expect that they will serve the function that they claim as theirs?
We should be grateful to Wikileaks for providing a portal into the information that our governments wish to keep obscured "for our benefit".
Julian Assange's predicament and personality are used as a smokescreen to veil the issue of state accountability. Assange may be innocent of a Swedish offence. Or he may be guilty. He is not guaranteed fair treatment, since no-one will guarantee that he will no face onward transfer to the USA, bypassing normal extradition proceedings. And most agree that Bradley Manning has not had fair treatment. But all of this has ensured that whistleblowers will be less willing to share their information with Wikileaks or others, that the mainstream media will return to their profitable status-quo and that the corrupt will be allowed to continue their activities without adequate scrutiny.
We are all losers, if Wikileaks and similar organisations meet their demise.
Jimmyji 09 April 2013 3:06pm
The grapes are sour, then?
There will be need for a Wikileaks as long as politicians and diplomants tell us they are in politics and diplomacey for our good. Don't listen to what they say, look at what they do. Better still, read what they said when they thought they would not be found out.
Salmanc 09 April 2013 3:01pm
Do we need wikileaks? Of course we do, even its mere existence is a poke in the eye at Governments who have continually lied to us for decades.
It is the result of excess, and excess needs to have SOME form of balance allbeit a tiny one.
You can not go round telling people you are a country that respects human life, loving human rights and democracy whilst your airforce is murdering people, sending unmanned drones to bomb villages, and doing secret backhanders with dodgy countries.
SteB1 09 April 2013 3:00pm
"Do we need WikiLeaks any more?"
I fail to understand the purpose of this article, or the question it poses. This is a classic false dichotomy i.e. logical error. The underlying assumption appears to be do you have Wikileaks, or do you have the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists? Yet the article fails to provide any cogent argument as to why it is one or the other.
There is this odd perambulation of an argument, which implies that because the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists release is more significant than Wikileaks latest data release, it now makes Wikileaks superfluous to requirements.
This is a very odd argument for a journalist. It's like another newspaper getting a scoop, which the Guardian failed to get, and then arguing that this means the Guardian is now irrelevant, and should cease to exist.
To be quite frank I think it is worrying that a paper of the Guardian's standing is misusing its position as a newspaper in some sort of personal or corporate battle with Wikileaks, and especially Julian Assange. There have been a number of these articles where it's not clear why the article was published, and what is newsworthy in it. I am particularly thinking of the stuff about Assange's personality, that he sometimes doesn't wash, and that he is supposedly a control freak.
I'm struggling to think of many other examples in the media where the personality or supposed traits of the reporter of the story, becomes more important than the story itself. In fact it is very unusual for one newspaper to say anything at all personally about another journalist, even if they work for a bitter rival.
I assume this is some sort of journalistic solidarity. Where journalists don't turn their guns on other journalists, unless it is directly related to the stories they have reported. Presumably they do this because otherwise newspapers would just be full of flame wars and bitter rivalries between journalists.
This is a bit of a worry because it implies that that this rubbishing of Wikileaks, and the character assassination of Julian Assange is in reality motivated by the fact that Assange is not a journalist, and that Wikileaks is not a conventional news outfit. In other words it's about parochial ring fencing. A sort of "get orf my land" type thing.
I'm struggling to think of any other journalist where I know anything at all about their private lives, apart from ones I've met. Yet despite being completely uninterested in Assange's personality I know all sorts of things about him personally, like he's a bad nightclub dancer. I have never read these books about Assange, or have taken any interest in him personally. I have just read these articles, and been left baffled as to why they've appeared in a newspaper.
I think the Guardian needs to have a good think about how this dissing of Wikileaks makes them appear. To anyone outside looking in, it seem petty, vindictive and personal, and certainly does nothing to enhance the Guardian's reputation.
I have probably been reading the Guardian close to 40 years, as I was first introduced to it by an ex-CND headmaster at school. It has always been my paper of choice. Not least of all because it tended to stick to the news and ignored the personalized articles with an agenda, which you saw in other newspapers.
"It's perhaps ironic that in the past week WikiLeaks has republished archive material while the mainstream media it so often attacks has published based on a huge, contemporary leak."
Ah, you've got me there, because I don't actually read Wikileaks or Julian Assange's opinions. So like perhaps 99% of the public I am not aware or interested what Wikileaks say about the mainstream media. However, I have seen a lot of attacks on Wikileaks and Julian Assange in the mainstream media.
The Guardian may be aware what Wikileaks/Assange has said about them, but I should remind the Guardian that the vast majority of the public are completely unaware of this. This is what makes the Guardian articles look incongruous.
matthewpringle 09 April 2013 2:38pm
Wikileaks may have had its time but we definitely need whistleblowers. The press really do not report anything like the truth. We are fed a daily does of political lies based on ideology while the real crimes and criminals go unpunished, some are ever media owners.
There is at least 2 whistleblower who is on Twitter now asking for help and being ignored. All the NHS whistleblowers were ignored etc... We need real investigative journalists and not some people who are paid to rewrite press releases.
seibu 09 April 2013 2:37pm
The professional jealousy which bleeds through when salaried journos write about Wikileaks is palpable. Yes, we need Wikileaks. We need as many unregulated sources of information as possible, because mainstream media have shown themselves time and again to be little more than mouthpieces for the rich and powerful.
Tonester7 09 April 2013 2:36pm
1) Julian Assange has not been charged with anything as far as I know.
2) Swedish authorities have requested that he attend for questioning. There is no legal obligation as far as I am aware - so they dont even have enough evidence to press charges. This is a storm in a teacup.
3) The "evidence" against Assange is non existant, there is none. There is an accusation only, which if you read the circumstances is highly questionable at best.
4) Julian Assange has repeatedly made himself available to answer any and all questions from the Swedish authorities - on neutral soil. The question therefore should be, why wont they just pop over to the UK if their questions are so important?
5) The USA want to extradite Julian Assange to put him in jail for exposing their frankly disgusting litany of immoral corruption.
6) The Swedish government refuse to provide a guarantee that they will not extradite Assange to the USA, as does the UK government.
A picture takes shape here that explains the situation. Whatever you think of wikileaks or Assange, there are ulterior motives behind the accusations against him and the Swedish authorities actions to date.
Do we need organisations like wikileaks, absolutely.
MikeDallas 09 April 2013 2:15pm
I just started using Wikileaks' PlusD search engine a few hours ago and I've already learned several very important things. Wikileaks has only been around for a few years and, during those few years, their progress has been greatly stifled by the powers-that-be, yet they've still managed to give us a great deal of incredibly valuable information.
If you don't agree with this, odds are you haven't been paying attention (or you're another shill).
It's not a question of whether or not we still need Wikileaks but rather: What can we do to help Wikileaks be even more effective? How can we pry these powerful, corrupt scumbags off their backs so that they can properly resume their work? What can we do to ensure that Wikileaks remains well-funded and uninhibited for a very long time to come?
martinusher 09 April 2013 2:14pm
The whole Assange affair has the feel of a organized hatchet job. It does have a fairly well coordinated strategy...
-- Associate Wikileaks with a person
-- Attack the person's character
-- Publish articles describing the website as irrelevant, can't be trusted and so on
A Wiki is a mediated blog intended for the public to exchange information. The quality of what goes into that site determines what comes out. It is not an 'alternative' CIA, its just a place for people to post data. I'd guess that the only unusual aspect of it is the techniques used to obsurfurcate the sources of that data. As for it having 'masses of low level data' that's the stock-in-trade of intelligence agencies -- they don't rely on big scores (although they'll take them if they get them), the vast bulk of intelligence is pieced together from myriad low level sources with much of it being public domain.
majavid 09 April 2013 2:00pm
I often think that the headlines of the Guardian are written by some disinterested marketeer rather than the author of the article himself. The question was not answered and the idea of "we" as posed has the effect of meaninglessness.
The article is not coherent and while vaguely informative, it doesn't provide anything worthy or definitive (to me). Perhaps I am too simple minded. Perhaps. "We" might not "need" Wikileaks, but I certainly appreciate their presence in the past, now, and in the future. Even if it does morph into something it no longer was or is.
Of course, the organization has been severely hobbled. But this exercise in hobbling is very telling in of itself. It has inherent value. In essence, it reminds "us" who "we" are and what "they" are willing to do to stifle transparency.
Whatever legal efforts, and I have no reason to believe Wikileaks has ever acted illegally (at least "they" haven't made a public case of it), a person or organization can do to assist governmental transparency, I think "we" "need" it. I am just glad that there are still people around who simply want it, transparency, that is.
When the forces of secrecy can convince or compel enough of "us" not to want it anymore, the need will be even greater, however futile Wikileaks-type efforts will then become. Which begs the question: James Ball, are you working for "them"?
I assure you, I am not. But I do pay taxes- for that you can make your own conclusions. But according to Clint Eastwood, "they" are working for "us".
Well, at least that part of the equation is straightened out. If the US government had given Manning a medal and treated Assange like a bona fide journalist, I think the sky between "us" and "them" would not be so large.
For me, I am not so interested in a lot of sky between me and government officials working for me. I'd rather have us all on the same page- a free and democratic society, completely transparent governance, and a government that makes personal privacy, and liberty, its top priority.
A secret government in which my entire life in open to constant examination saddens me a great deal especially since my efforts to remain peace loving and law abiding are unwavering. That is how much I care about my country and especially my fellow man. It was not the life I bargained for, nor was promised as a kid sitting in civics or history class. But if Manning and Assange have more guts than I do, I am certainly not the type to find fault.
Innocent until proven guilty still means everything to me. Bradley Manning fessed up to his guilt and is willing to pay the price and sacrifice his liberty so that people like me can know the truth about diplomatic hypocrisy and apparent war crimes.
I admire him. I hope there is no crime in that. He deserves to be treated with dignity no matter what crime he has committed. His treatment by my government is a disgrace. Mass murderers and corporate hooligans get much more respect than he does. It is patently unjust and unfair.
Assange seems admirable to me. Like Manning, he too, deserves to be treated with dignity. This does not seem to be the case. And, I'll leave it at that. In the future, Mr Ball, I hope you can make much more sense to people like me. The issues before us are that important. Your incoherence is like subterfuge. Knock it off.
Be a journalist. Don't just sit there and describe the profession. Go cultivate someone, do something, don't just talk about it.
hfakos 09 April 2013 12:56pm
If it hadn't been for Wikileaks, I wouldn't have learned of this gem from Kissinger: "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a bit longer."
ripteam 09 April 2013 12:55pm
Wikileaks may now have been starved of oxygen, funds, and platforms but it did boot the hornets nest, and kick the "investigative journalists" out of their stupor.
I will never forget the news coverage in the lead up to the Iraq war.
The politicians, cheney, rumsfeld and powell may have been point men, but the pandering news media were the enablers for that carnage. May there be many more wikileaks, or sons of wikileaks in the future.
TheIneffableSwede 09 April 2013 12:40pm
We need WikiLeaks because most so-called journalists are stenographers to power.
Exhibit A: The failure of the so-called "left" in the UK to write about the real Margaret Thatcher, that odious vulture who fed on human despair and misery and who ruined millions of lives. Because that wouldn't be "proper". While those on the "right" showed no such restraint when Hugo Chavez died, nor will they when Fidel Castro dies.
WikiLeaks is at least real journalism and does not genuflect to power nor is it housebroken.
aaroninky 09 April 2013 12:39pm
Do we need James Ball?
zigor 09 April 2013 12:33pm
Mendacious and mean spirited the Guardian is plumbing new depths daily. Just when we need a press with independence and a willingness to reveal the gross excesses and corruption of an elite that is more and more out of control we have the Guardian and here its wretched nightwatchman James Ball waving us away from the scene of the crime. Move along there's nothing to see here!
Nivedita 09 April 2013 12:30pm
Do we need WikiLeaks any more?
Any more? We need WikiLeaks always for ever. Really tired of the lying embedded journalists of MSM who are more of propagandists than honest scribes. The criminality of some civilized democracies revealed by the cables are shocking. I hope JA is able to work more freely in his war against dirty secrets of ruthless govts.
discuz 09 April 2013 12:28pm
Ha, James Ball, mainstream media rubbing it's hands in glee for poking Wikileaks in the eye? Very poor.
Where did this banking leak originate from by the way? Maybe I haven't read the right article, but the ones I have are very sient on the subject, inclusing yours.
callitwhatitis 09 April 2013 12:19pm
The Guardian's Ball does the equivalent of patting truth on the head and saying "there, there, are you sure you don't want to lie down or go back to your embroidery? We're fine without you. But we really appreciated what you did. It was a nice....effort. And we've learned a lot from you. Really, we have. We just need to...move on, you know?"
One reason not to trust most journalists: they may have fantasies about uncovering the truth, but really they are there to tell good stories. The truth, like Wikileaks, is the casuality of this storytelling.
BreeZee 09 April 2013 12:03pm
Oh dear, spitting wasps again, Mr Ball. Well, can't say I blame you. You go to all that trouble to trumpet how much bigger your no-source-documents-allowed 250 GB OffshoreLeaks was than anything Wikileaks had published, and then along comes 380 GB of fully searchable source documents on recent geopolitical history.
Dang! That must be sore.
AlPanto 09 April 2013 12:01pm
When lying, cheating and corruption is eradicated from the world then Wikileaks wont be necessary, until then it will have to do. The important point is that it puts raw unfiltered data in public hands
Case in point: The Guardian (as part of a consortium) recently obtained leaked records of offshore dealing 'http://www.icij.org/offshore', whilst this is undoubtedly excellent journalism in the public interest it is being exploited as journalistic output and I am not aware that it will be put in the public domain. Had this leaked data ended up with, say, the Times then the same information might have been put to very different use?
The distribution of raw data is key to maximising its usefulness and holding wrongdoers to account.
WikiLeaks undoubtedly has problems with presentation and Assange is not the least of this but this is an argument for improving open source access to data.