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18 February 2011

Wikileaks Stoned Again

18 February 2011

Hello Cryptome / Mr John Young.

I recently posted my research on some aspects of the debate surrounding Wikileaks and the concept of free information flow in general.

In my report I mentioned Cryptome. If you have the time and would like to comment on what I've written, I would appreciate it.

The Casting of Stones at Assange by the Disenchanted

Thank you for your attention.

Karl F. Stewart


Dear Mr. Stewart,

Thank you for pointing to your report. My responses which are substantiated by files here:

1. My agreed role in Wikileaks was limited to allowing my name to be used as registrant for the domain name (I have done this for several parties who wished to conceal their identity). This request came from an anonymous person.

2. I was subsequently placed on a private mail list without being asked. I offered comments there.

3. An unknown person posted a message on that mail list suggesting a target of up to $5 million dollars to be raised in 6 months. I objected to that stating that such a sum of money could only come that quickly from an organization like Soros or the CIA.

4. I also suggested a slow build-up of credibility before soliciting funds.

5. After contentious debate I was summarily unsubscribed from the mail list after I said I would publish the mail list contents, which I did.

6. There was little contact with Wikileaks for several years except for being sent an archive of its holdings during a period when it was under threat to be shut down.

7. Cryptome does not do what Wikileaks does and it is unfair to both and inaccurate to make that claim. Cryptome is not a leak site and resents being labeled that way for it distorts our purpose to be a library with no desire for publicity. We do not solicit press coverage, send out press releases, hold press conferences, make accusations, brag about our work, plead for funding. We do not attempt to keep our operation secret -- that would be a conflict with our role as a public library. We do not sell information or make deals with the media. We do not claim to be threatened by authorities although we have had visits from them. We do not consider Cryptome to be a journalistic endeavor and do not claim protection as journalists. We call ourselves public scholars, see the Wikipedia entry on Cryptome. We pay for Cryptome out of our pockets.

8. Since Wikileaks has received a lot of publicity with release of the gunship video and afterwards I have been bombarded with inquiries about Wikileaks. My attempts to deflect the inquiries were unsuccessful: most wanted information about Julian Assange and little about the operation of the initiative. Quite a few aimed to foster conflict between Cryptome and Wikileaks citing my early, very brief involvement and the mail list publication.

9. My critique of Wikileaks -- earliest and latest -- is intended to be constructive and to guard against praising a fledging operation due the weakening effect of excessive praise. Instead I believe Wikileaks needs greater, well-thought-out critique to assure it survives excessive glorification and demonization -- which I warned about in the earliest days and which will become more intense in the future. (I have given OpenLeaks the same advice.)

10. Focus on Julian Assange weakens Wikileaks for its purpose is more important that he is. It is a terrible trap to concentrate on him rather than Wikileaks, a trap often set by the media and those opposed to the creation of new forms of information flow. I urge you to learn more about the material published by Wikileaks since 2006, all of it, and avoid vacuous debate about Julian Assange. Julian has said the same, often. He knows that the attention paid to him is damaging Wikileaks and that that is the intention of those who do so, wittingly or unwittingly.

11. As you write, material published by Cryptome and Wikileaks is voluminous and hard to grasp, thank goodness for that burden as an alternative to easy fat food of the media. Most reporters who contact me claim they have not time to read the material, and go on to ask impertinent questions about Julian and me. They are ignorant fools working to attract eyeballs to advertisements. I hope you  are not.

12. You should withdraw your report due to its shallow comprehension of Wikileaks and Cryptome and its inane focus on Julian Assange. It shows a lack of intelligence and research, is too glib, too gossipy, too culled from and derivative of the exploitive headline flaunting media.

13. I suggest you spend six months or a year studying Cryptome and Wikileaks material, avoid trashy media brain deading, do library homework or else you will be just another exploiter and promoter of the public's as a mirror of your own ignorance. Tough comments, but that is what Wikileaks, Cryptome, you, the media and me deserve.

14. I agree the BBC Panoramo show was pure shit. I was interviewed for that and told John Sweeney, the interviewer, that BBC was ill-prepared to report on the topic. I told him BBC should do serious research before doing the show. And beyond that I told him a lot more which I assumed would never be aired the same way most of those who have interviewed me omitted the best material to report what had already decided to say.

15. I know John Sweeney to be a crook and liar. That is no secret. Pathetic that BBC allows him on the property.

This message is not private.

Best regards,

John Young