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WikiLeaks' complicated 'hero': Defending Julian Assange
Politicians call Assange a terrorist and want to shut down his troublemaking data-dump website. But should we be thanking him instead?
Julian Assange lost a major source of revenue for his "whistle-blower" website when PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account, citing a violation of policy.
Julian Assange lost a major source of revenue for his "whistle-blower" website when PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account, citing a violation of policy.
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ikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is struggling to keep his controversial website running as he faces mounting hostility from politicians and business partners. PayPal recently cut off WikiLeaks' account, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Assange a "high-tech terrorist" who should be prosecuted for doing "enormous damage to our country" by releasing thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables. Meanwhile, others say Assange did the world a favor by shining a light on the shadowy world of diplomacy. Society is in big trouble, says Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), when "truth becomes treason." Is the WikiLeaks mastermind a menace or a hero? (Watch a CBS report about Assange's life on the run)

Assange is the good guy: The "official intimidation and threats" against Julian Assange are a disgrace, says David Samuels in The Atlantic. The U.S. government hasn't attacked a journalist like this since Richard Nixon went after The New York Times over the Pentagon Papers. Even fellow reporters are calling Assange "bad names" when they should be praising him for exposing "a burgeoning secret world whose existence is a threat to democracy."
"The shameful attacks on Julian Assange"

The man is no hero: The Pentagon Papers these are not, says Ted Van Dyk in Crosscut.com. The documents Assange has leaked are just everyday diplomatic cables — some of the commentary is embarrassing, but that would be the case if any country's documents were sent "flooding onto the Internet." There's no clear public benefit from releasing such a "massive" and "undifferentiated" pile of information. Clearly, Assange's motives were "destructive."
"WikiLeaks: A gusher of information for no apparent public purpose"

Assange has gone from hero to egomaniac: "Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were cool once," says Joe Weisenthal in Business Insider. "The Iraq, Afghanistan, and Collateral Damage leaks were powerful." But Assange is just exploiting his latest bombshell to get people to listen to his "lame" Sarah Palin jokes and to justify his calls for President Obama's resignation. Prying secrets from close-lipped governments "is awesome. Combining that with tired politics is just boring."
"Remember when Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were cool?"

If Assange believes in openness, he should come out of hiding: "While I applaud the aims of WikiLeaks," says Suzanne Moore in Britain's Daily Mail, it does seem like Assange is using his creation to bolster "his image as a shadowy international man of mystery." If he believes so fervently in transparency, maybe he should reveal who's funding his website and answer the sex crime allegations he faces in Sweden. "Of course governments should be accountable. But so should those using the technology to make them so."
"The King Geek could try a bit of openness himself..."

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