WikiLeaks: A terrorist's best friend?

New disclosures by WikiLeaks list dozens of global facilities that may be targeted by terrorists. Cringely says the group and its leader Julian Assange have finally gone too far

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This list isn't about journalism or freedom of information or revealing secrets the world deserves to hear about. It's about payback. It's a veiled threat.

Remember, it's been a tough week for Assange and his team. His site got DDoS'd, ousted from Amazon after pressure from the U.S. Congress, and shunted over to a new Swiss URL that's also under attack. Rape charges against Assange have re-emerged, months after they were initially dropped. His Swiss bank account has been closed (though I understand he gets to keep the toaster he got for opening a Christmas account). And death threats against Assange are being issued, I'm guessing, on an hourly basis.

It gets worse: Assange's attorney has warned that if the 39-year-old Aussie is prosecuted or assassinated, they will unleash files they've been holding onto -- an electronic "thermonuclear device" of files containing the unredacted names of soldiers, spies, and informants. It's their "insurance policy."

Thus explaining the release of the current list -- it's just a small sample of the damage Assange and WikiLeaks could wreak, if they wanted to.

Assange and WikiLeaks have become a cause célèbre for many Netizens who rail against attempts at censorship. At press time, more than 70 mirror sites have sprung up, in case the newest WikiLeaks site goes down too.

The problem with this argument? WikiLeaks has moved beyond the role of whistleblower/journalist defending the public's right to know and moved closer to 4chan territory -- wreaking havoc just because it can.

By threatening to put people in harm's way in order to defend itself, it has gone too far. At this point, WikiLeaks is on the verge of becoming a terrorist organization in its own right. No matter how much you love freedom of information and hate governmental control, those kinds of tactics cannot be condoned. It's time for Assange and WikiLeaks to back off. 

Are WikiLeaks' actions defensible or reprehensible? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "WikiLeaks: A terrorist's best friend?," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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