I asked Adrian if it was OK to quote that email, and he agreed. He also added the following comment, which I've edited for space:
If I could comment on it, I'd just note that this letter displays Assange's immediate and personal concern with Manning at a time when he denied any knowledge of his activity, and also at a time when Assange was still denying any knowledge of the stolen diplomatic cables and defense information.
Perhaps more pointedly, it also shows the disassociation between Assange and the underlying facts, even then. No lawyers were ever sent to Kuwait. Assange contributed only a fraction of Manning's defense fund, far less than he had promised, and a great deal less than the donations which he took in which were allegedly for Manning's defense....
Lastly, the letter really shows what I felt was the case from the beginning - the man really believes light will bend for him, or so to speak, that his word will become form. This is dangerous in any leader, and is one of the big reasons he has alienated those around him in the course of this unique series of events.
A lot of readers want to know why I'm so down on Assange. I realize that to some folks -- especially young impressionable types -- Assange is some heroic figure, like a cross between the Matthew Broderick character in "War Games" and Woodward & Bernstein, with maybe a little Mother Teresa thrown in. I have a more jaundiced viewpoint than that.
For the record, I think the allegations of sex abuse against Assange were trumped up, and I still don't understand why the Swedes couldn't interview the man in England. However, I believe Assange took something that could have been a force for good in the world -- WikiLeaks -- and turned it into a force for ego.
I'm hardly alone. Even Anonymous has dumped him. The Anons were easily Assange's most fervent supporters; my hunch is that most of the documents published by WikiLeaks originally came from Anonymous.
But earlier this month the Anons publicly abandoned its support via Twitter (of course):
The end of an era. We unfollowed @Wikileaks and withdraw our support. It was an awesome idea, ruined by Egos. Good-bye.
Hackers have realized they don't need WikiLeaks -- they can do it themselves. In fact, yesterday Hacker News reported that some of the Anons are planning to launch their their own "WikiLeaks on steroids." Called the TYLER project, it's scheduled to go live on Dec. 21 -- which, not coincidentally, is also the day the world is supposed to end, according to the Mayan prophecy (and Hollywood).
That ought to be fun to watch. I'm sure Assange will be watching it too, most likely from his Ecuadorian space station. And I have no doubt that he'll use that occasion to get himself in front of the cameras, once again.
So have at it, Cringesters: Is Assange a publicity hungry hero, an egotastic evildoer, or both? Weigh in below or email me: email@example.com.
This article, "Julian Assange is the tech world's Donald Trump -- discuss," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.