The Unauthorised Autobiography
September 21, 2011 1:18 PM   Subscribe

"In a dramatic move, Canongate has defied Assange's wishes and secretly printed thousands of copies of The Unauthorised Autobiography, by Julian Assange, copies of which have been shipped amid strict security to booksellers in preparation for imminent release."

Canongate press release
Guardian article

Canongate: "We disagree with Julian’s assessment of the book. We believe it explains both the man and his work, underlining his commitment to the truth. Julian always claimed the book was well written; we agree, and this has encouraged us to make the book available to readers.

We will publish the unauthorised first draft which was delivered to us in March. It fulfils the promise of the original book proposal and is, like its author, passionate, provocative and opinionated. We are proud to publish it.”
posted by memebake (130 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
a huge load of iron just fell and crushed me
posted by jb at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2011 [24 favorites]


Assange's documents are being published against his wishes? The irony, it cuts so keenly.
posted by dersins at 1:24 PM on September 21, 2011 [44 favorites]


"All memoir is prostitution." Wow.
posted by koeselitz at 1:24 PM on September 21, 2011


They are also going to publish pictures of him on the toilet and a transcript of a conversation from his 23rd birthday when he was drunk and trying to pick up someone at a party by talking about his love of Kraftwerk.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2011 [18 favorites]


Ironic title as well. How fitting.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2011


Information wants to be free, Julian.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


In other news, studies show that male geese can benefit from the same dietary and exercise plans as are prescribed to female geese.
posted by not_on_display at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2011 [61 favorites]


"Once the advance has been earned out, we will continue to honour the contract and pay Julian royalties." ... apart from the fact that (apparently) he's worried the book might make it easier for the USA to get him, this is actually quite a neat way to get the book published. If it was 'authorised', it would have a ring of 'I wrote this to pay my legal bills'. Having it unathorised means its cooler, gets more publicity, and Assange gets to pocket the royalities while maintaining a discreet distance from the whole thing. Interesting.
posted by memebake at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


Metafilter is my unauthorized autobiography.

I can't wait for this book to hit the torrent sites to complete the circle.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


In other news, studies show that male geese can benefit from the same dietary and exercise plans as are prescribed to female geese.


Before applying sauce to a bird of either gender, ensure that your goose is cooked...
posted by howfar at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or Assange's lawyers get to pocket the royalties. is more likely, I suppose.
posted by memebake at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2011


The biggest revelation? Turns out he actually is an excellent house guest.
posted by found missing at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Hah, this is about as satisfying as Shepard Fairey's building getting graffiti'd and him having to buff it.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Assange gets to pocket the royalities while maintaining a discreet distance

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face.


posted by CynicalKnight at 1:43 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I was wanting to draw attention to my book I'd denounce it as well. In fact, once I do release my book consider it pre-denouced as it'll be crap!
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is the understanding of fear." - J. Assange
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


It'd be hilarious if the book is actually full of deep dark reveals about things like Bank of America and News Corp, and everyone is playing along to make sure it gets the widest, most unstoppable release possible.

I'd laugh anyway.
posted by quin at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


[T]he publisher and Assange have been locked in a bitter dispute since then over the contract and his £500,000 advance, which he has not returned. Assange, requiring funds for his legal fight against extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault, is understood to have placed the advance in escrow, meaning that his legal team have first claim on any assets.

So Assange wishes to keep the money and stop the publication of the book? Good luck to him.
posted by rtimmel at 1:50 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Turns out he actually is an excellent house guest.

Except when you find your water bill online a month later!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's only one quote I can think of in situations like this:

"Haaaaaa Haaaaaa!"

- Nelson Muntz
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2011


It'd be hilarious if the book is actually full of deep dark reveals about things like Bank of America and News Corp, and everyone is playing along to make sure it gets the widest, most unstoppable release possible.

I'd laugh anyway.


A man can dream...
posted by codacorolla at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2011


Wikileaks has always been about exposing institutions and their hidden agendas, not the private lives of individuals. If anything, Assange & Co are cypherpunks. If Assange sued his publisher it wouldn't violate any of the principles that Wikileaks was founded on.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:53 PM on September 21, 2011 [28 favorites]


Was thinking he's too young, surely, but seems he's older than Woody was when he wrote Bound for Glory, so fair dos, I suppose.
posted by Abiezer at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2011


The irony here is a thing of magnificent beauty. I almost thought it came from The Onion.
posted by VicNebulous at 1:59 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Biggest surprise in the book: Assange constantly quotes Nickelback lyrics in conversation.
posted by jbickers at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given the usual naming conventions, will this be called Canongategate?
posted by tommasz at 2:05 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, Canongategate?
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2011


Damn your handsome hide, tommasz!
posted by Eideteker at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Petard, meet hoist.
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks has always been about exposing institutions and their hidden agendas, not the private lives of individuals. If anything, Assange & Co are cypherpunks. If Assange sued his publisher it wouldn't violate any of the principles that Wikileaks was founded on.

Except that while doing that, the names of private individuals have been released to the public and to the security apparatus of some of the more repressive states of the world, such as China. Amnesty International and other rights groups were concerned about these releases.

In addition, the voices and names of US soldiers have been released to the public as well. See this extended interview with Colbert a few months after Colbert was in Iraq. Colbert slipped out of character to criticize Assange for letting the personally identifiable information of the pilots in the helicopter video.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:12 PM on September 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wikileaks has always been about exposing institutions and their hidden agendas, not the private lives of individuals.

People have always been more focused on Assange as an individual, rather than the corruption and criminal activities that he and his colleagues have exposed. It's shameful, really, but what can you do?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:13 PM on September 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


My opinion is that in order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. However, in order not to turn this into Assangrar, I'm sure he's perfectly aware of irony.
posted by rhizome at 2:13 PM on September 21, 2011


The Unauthorised Autobiography

What? Is that like when you get too drunk and you make an unauthorized vomit all over the floor.

Wow. That dude must have been SOOOO wasted when he did that unauthorized autobiography.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2011




Except that while doing that, the names of private individuals have been released to the public and to the security apparatus of some of the more repressive states of the world, such as China. Amnesty International and other rights groups were concerned about these releases.


Bungled or not, there is a difference. Wikileaks had a political agenda, and was targetting a specific kind of information.

This is, apparently, just an an autobiography being published against the wishes of the subject.

Unless there's some political framing here I've missed, the snark really is off base. (Although the snark is easy, and I'll be the first to recognize the temptation of easy snark.)
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


HE RELEASES INFORMATION THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLIC IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE IT'S FROM SUPPOSEDLY OPEN GOVERNMENTS AND NOW THEY ARE INVADING HIS PERSONAL PRIVACY IT'S THE SAME THING GEDDIT????
posted by DU at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2011 [21 favorites]


Ah. To drop the political angle entirely, this seems to be a contract dispute. Nobody involved in the dispute seems to be shouting "information wants to be free" or "haha!" Or that's what the article is about, did anybody else read it? :)

Here's some key points:

Assange signed a high-profile deal, reportedly worth a total of £930,000, with the Edinburgh-based publisher and the US firm Alfred A Knopf in December. The manuscript was subsequently sold in 35 countries. Assange said at the time he believed the book would become "one of the unifying documents of our generation".

But after seeing a first draft in March, the WikiLeaks founder told his publishers that he no longer intended to write the book, believing it could give ammunition to US prosecutors seeking his extradition over possible espionage charges relating to the WikiLeaks cable release. He formally withdrew from his contract on 7 June.

According to the Independent, which has announced it is to serialise the book, starting tomorrow, the publisher and Assange have been locked in a bitter dispute since then over the contract and his £500,000 advance, which he has not returned. Assange, requiring funds for his legal fight against extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault, is understood to have placed the advance in escrow, meaning that his legal team have first claim on any assets.The Independent said Andrew O'Hagan, Assange's ghostwriter, had asked for his name to be removed from the book.

posted by Stagger Lee at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bungled or not, there is a difference. Wikileaks had a political agenda, and was targetting a specific kind of information.

This is, apparently, just an an autobiography being published against the wishes of the subject.


But how is that a distinction? Yes, their goal was not specifically to release private information, but they did, and it can and likely did have real consequences for private individuals.

It seems as if they've taken a pretty cavalier attitude towards private information in their general campaign (the in order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs that rhizome expresses above). If you're going to take that approach to private information, than the distinctions you're trying to make between political and personal break down.

If it's okay for your group to collaterally harm individuals by releasing their information without regard, why isn't it okay for you to be harmed by release of your information?
posted by Sangermaine at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]



If it's okay for your group to collaterally harm individuals by releasing their information without regard, why isn't it okay for you to be harmed by release of your information?
posted by Sangermaine at 2:20 PM on September 21 [+] [!]


The simple answer is that the press is really playing up the subterfuge and politics here. It's really just a legal debate about the publishing rights to a half-finished ghost-written book.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:25 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that while doing that, the names of private individuals have been released to the public and to the security apparatus of some of the more repressive states of the world, such as China. Amnesty International and other rights groups were concerned about these releases.

Bungled or not, there is a difference. Wikileaks had a political agenda, and was targetting a specific kind of information.

This is, apparently, just an an autobiography being published against the wishes of the subject.

Unless there's some political framing here I've missed, the snark really is off base. (Although the snark is easy, and I'll be the first to recognize the temptation of easy snark.)


Actually, you're conflating two separate cases. If you'll remember, (and see from the date of the CNN story I linked), in the first set of releases, before the unredacted diplomatic cables were released via a bungle this summer, Assange just released info regarding persons working with rights organizations without redaction. Indeed, he made demand upon them that they review thousands of pages of information and do the redacting, despite the fact that it was his actions of publishing the information that put the persons collaborating with Amnesty International and other organizations at risk. When they responded that they lacked the resources to do so, he blew them off and published the information without redactions. He only later turned to newspapers after he was roundly criticized for his actions--mainly because they had the resources to review and redact the names from the documents. This was one of the bases for the criticisms of Daniel Domscheit-Berg which resulted in him taking the Wikileaks submission application and data away from Assange.

So the snark is quite well placed.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:27 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unless there's some political framing here I've missed, the snark really is off base. (Although the snark is easy, and I'll be the first to recognize the temptation of easy snark.)

The snark is kind of bizarre to see, I do the same head scratching when people act like the Guardian had no responsibility to hold to their agreement with Wikileaks on the handling of the leak materials. Wikileaks didn't steal any data, a source gave it to them, they are not operating outside the law.

It's funny how selective everyone wants to get about contracts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:27 PM on September 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


He only later turned to newspapers after he was roundly criticized for his actions-

...and then of course, one of the newspapers decided to publish a confidential password and helped cause the release of all the unredacted data anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:30 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Colbert slipped out of character to criticize Assange for letting the personally identifiable information of the pilots in the helicopter video.

Which helicopter video is that?
posted by inigo2 at 2:31 PM on September 21, 2011


Wikileaks just tweeted a link to the book on Amazon (Amazon of all places!), so my guess is that Assange isn't too bothered. This could solve a lot of his legal/financial issues.
posted by memebake at 2:31 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


HE RELEASES INFORMATION THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLIC IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE IT'S FROM SUPPOSEDLY OPEN GOVERNMENTS AND NOW THEY ARE INVADING HIS PERSONAL PRIVACY IT'S THE SAME THING GEDDIT????

No, I don't geddit. Any chance you could express your sarcasm a little less subtly?

Anyway, they're not "invading his personal privacy" -- he agreed to write an autobiography and kept the money. "Personal privacy" isn't an inviolate right -- people can and do consent to the disclosure of private information, either voluntarily or in exchange for financial incentive. Assange consented to the disclosure by signing a contract -- and that consent was more than ratified by his retention of the financial incentive. Nobody's "invading" anything.
posted by pardonyou? at 2:44 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Indeed, he made demand upon them that they review thousands of pages of information and do the redacting, despite the fact that it was his actions of publishing the information that put the persons collaborating with Amnesty International and other organizations at risk.

Everybody always skips over the fact that Wikileaks routinely does this -- gives the organizations they are doing releases on the chance to redact identifiable names of individuals who might be harmed by the revelation. And the organizations refuse to do it, apparently because they don't want to lose the ability to criticize Assange/Wikileaks for endangering people.

Obviously Pentagon and State had the resources to redact names.
posted by zipadee at 2:47 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Obviously Pentagon and State had the resources to redact names.

And the responsibility to do so as well, we saw what happened when Wikileaks went with the newspapers instead. The more people you give access to the unredacted information, the more likely security will end up screwed up somewhere along the line.

The best way to protect the sources would have been for the government to play ball with Wikileaks. I know it's embarrassing and sets a bad precedent, but I doubt this kind of large scale release is every going to be a common occurrence.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:53 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


*ever
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:54 PM on September 21, 2011


Live by the sword, reap royalties by the sword.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:54 PM on September 21, 2011


I hope the book includes the houseguest story.
posted by mark7570 at 2:56 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Assange said at the time he believed the book would become "one of the unifying documents of our generation".

Holy shit the balls on this guy.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:07 PM on September 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


A just comeuppance for History's Greatest Monster!
posted by Trurl at 3:08 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


They are also going to publish pictures of him on the toilet and a transcript of a conversation from his 23rd birthday when he was drunk and trying to pick up someone at a party by talking about his love of Kraftwerk.

No biggie. He posted that stuff on Facebook.
posted by chavenet at 3:09 PM on September 21, 2011


"All memoir is prostitution."

£930,000 -- slightly more than in town.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


ZOMG IRONY, BECAUSE THIS IS LIKE THAT THING HE DID!
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:28 PM on September 21, 2011


HE RELEASES INFORMATION THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLIC IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE IT'S FROM SUPPOSEDLY OPEN GOVERNMENTS AND NOW THEY ARE INVADING HIS PERSONAL PRIVACY PUBLISHING MATERIAL HE GAVE HIM IN EXCHANGE FOR A LOT OF MONEY AFTER HE REALIZED IT WOULD BE BAD FOR HIS PERSONAL IMAGE... IT'S THE SAME THING GEDDIT????
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2011


AP review finds no WikiLeaks sources who say revealing their names put them at risk

WikiLeaks outing of Chinese sources fails to spark retribution – so far

However, a few days later this was reported:

Ethiopian journalist ID'd in WikiLeaks cable flees country
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


To be fair, this is far more ironic than rain on your wedding day.
posted by found missing at 3:34 PM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remind me not be around you people if a mob breaks out.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's like rain on a rainy day
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Assange has helped accelerate some pretty awesome social changes, well maybe the organizational corollary of facebook. I doubt I'd learn much from him pontificating though. I'll wait for the wikiquote.org abridged version most likely.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:47 PM on September 21, 2011


Colbert slipped out of character to criticize Assange for letting the personally identifiable information of the pilots in the helicopter video.

Which helicopter video is that?


This one.
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on September 21, 2011


Colbert slipped out of character to criticize Assange for letting the personally identifiable information of the pilots in the helicopter video.
You've repeatedly made that claim. If you're talking about the Assange interview, that is completly ridiculous. COlbert never "slipped out of Character" He said exactly the the things his Character would have said. The difference is, in this case Ironmouth agreed with what he said so to him he was "out of character"

Who knows what colbert really thinks. That's the genious of his show: If he say something you agree with, he really thinks it. If he says something you disagree with, he's in character. That's why many conservatives think he's actually conservative.

Colbert might not have been happy about the release, but he did not drop character.

If you're talking about something else, feel free to link to it.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


The snark is kind of bizarre to see, I do the same head scratching when people act like the Guardian had no responsibility to hold to their agreement with Wikileaks on the handling of the leak materials.

Are people really complaining because The Guardian leaked the leaked material to another newspaper?

Either information wants to be free, or it doesn't. Do make your mind up.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:53 PM on September 21, 2011


Either information wants to be free, or it doesn't. Do make your mind up.

Information wants to be free in general means that it will leak when cracks occur, it's no so much that it should or should not. Wikileaks had no agreement with the US Government to refuse whistleblowers from within their military, they were not party to any NDA with them. So, why do you feel the comparison is relevant?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:06 PM on September 21, 2011


Wikileaks had no agreement with the US Government to refuse whistleblowers from within their military, they were not party to any NDA with them. So, why do you feel the comparison is relevant?

Goodness gracious, that's some confused ethics. NDA's change everything? What gave wikileaks some kind of unique claim to that information anyway, and why should they have possibly thought they were entitled to one? Rediculous.
posted by Thoth at 4:18 PM on September 21, 2011


"But after seeing a first draft in March, the WikiLeaks founder told his publishers that he no longer intended to write the book"

The guy is a genius. The heroic leaker of everyone else's secrets pockets half a million quid to pretend to write a book which he then doesn't want published because the content might embarrass him, keeps the money anyway and people still line up to defend him. Brilliant.
posted by joannemullen at 4:23 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, this is just hype. This is still Assange's book, he still makes money if it's sold. "Unauthorized" just means he's going to make money

All you Assange haters laughing about this are really being dumb.
posted by delmoi at 4:28 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Information doesn't necessarily want to be free, but it has an irrational fear that something more interesting is happening where it isn't, and then when it gets there it kind of wishes it had just stayed home, had some soup, and watched Glee, even though every time it watches that show it wishes it hadn't.
posted by found missing at 4:35 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Assange's documents are being published against his wishes? The irony, it cuts so keenly.

Governments are not individuals, but they are composed of individuals and derive their rights from individual consent. The rights of a government should be severely limited in comparison to keep the State from abusing its power. So, while I should have the right to see where my Senator was last week, he has no right -- without obtaining a warrant -- to see where I was last week. (Sorry, strike that, it's no longer the case since he began defending my freedom with the PATRIOT Act.)

In fact, everything a government does should be with the consent of their populace. All government activity should flow through a system of checks and balances to ensure transparency and accountability, so that all people are treated as equally as possible, and none suffering more than others due to hierarchical tyranny, either directly imposed by the state or aided with state corruption. And since there will always be tyranny and corruption, there should be a third party diligently exposing government misbehavior at all costs, because without them, the government could simply make dissent more or less illegal and begin to infringe on the basic rights of individuals. (Imagine how awful that would be. What couldn't a corrupt, secretive state do to a powerless individual?)

Some time ago, people even founded a country around the principles of transparency, accountability, and limited government rights designed to end tyranny and aristocracy and secrecy. I can't remember what it was called.
posted by notion at 4:43 PM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Canongate isn't a very big firm, is it? I would imagine that losing half a million to Assange's lawyers, with nothing to show for it, would cause them a serious financial crisis.
posted by Azara at 4:49 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some time ago, people even founded a country around the principles of transparency, accountability, and limited government rights designed to end tyranny and aristocracy and secrecy. I can't remember what it was called.

The Commonwealth of England. It only lasted 4 years before it got taken over by a bloodthirsty ideologue, though.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:52 PM on September 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Goodness gracious, that's some confused ethics. NDA's change everything? What gave wikileaks some kind of unique claim to that information anyway, and why should they have possibly thought they were entitled to one? Rediculous.

What? Someone gave it to them, they weren't entitled to anything.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:53 PM on September 21, 2011


you are less than a 10th the human Assange is

Coincidentally, this is the title of Chapter 2.
posted by found missing at 5:16 PM on September 21, 2011 [20 favorites]


Assange's documents are being published against his wishes? The irony, it cuts so keenly.

Equating the private life of an individual with the secret actions of various state agencies is a pretty specious source of irony, in my opinion.
posted by mhoye at 5:27 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Coincidentally, this is the title of Chapter 2.

Out of all the GRAR that was actually funny. How ironic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Either information wants to be free, or it doesn't. Do make your mind up.

Government information wants to be free. It should be free and available to the people that paid for it - the citizens, the taxpaying public. That's Assange's point.

Personal information want to be free? I don't think Assange would argue that. And nor would anyone else if they value any sort of civil society, and think that privacy is a part of it.

If you want corporations to just steal your work and violate your copyright, so be it. But you won't like the results.

But for the record, this just looks like some smart marketing to me - claim that they are publishing without authorisation and build on the existing mythos of Assange. He get paid a truckload of cash monies, the hype sells the book, and the interwebs gets to explode in a fireball of snark. Everyone wins.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:44 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


What gave wikileaks some kind of unique claim to that information anyway, and why should they have possibly thought they were entitled to one?

People are entitled to the information held by their governments. After all, they paid for it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on September 21, 2011


My point was was that Wikileaks was on shaky ground when they obstructed other parties (namely the media) from also releasing that information.
posted by Thoth at 5:59 PM on September 21, 2011


Everybody always skips over the fact that Wikileaks routinely does this -- gives the organizations they are doing releases on the chance to redact identifiable names of individuals who might be harmed by the revelation. And the organizations refuse to do it, apparently because they don't want to lose the ability to criticize Assange/Wikileaks for endangering people.

Obviously Pentagon and State had the resources to redact names.


State and the Pentagon were never asked. Ever. Read the links. Amnesty International was told they had the "opportunity" to spend thousands of donor dollars to hire people to redact the names of people working with them.

Read the stories.

Government information wants to be free. It should be free and available to the people that paid for it - the citizens, the taxpaying public. That's Assange's point.

So, the names of people in working with Amnesty International in repressive countries also needs to be free? Again, read the links. No tax dollars, the names of people your private donations paid to be kept secret were disclosed. All of this despite the fact Amnesty and other organizations protested--some publically in an open letter--to Assange. Read the links. He acted incredibly recklessly with data even the most ardent supporter of Assange would agree should be kept secret.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:01 PM on September 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I still wonder if Assange's real motivation is to make some people on Metafilter have frowny faces.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:09 PM on September 21, 2011


Meanwhile Wikileaks is still having interesting consequences.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:18 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


In addition, the voices and names of US soldiers have been released to the public as well. See this extended interview with Colbert a few months after Colbert was in Iraq. Colbert slipped out of character to criticize Assange for letting the personally identifiable information of the pilots in the helicopter video.

I just re-watched that and did not see what you're referring to. It did not seem that he dropped out of character, nor did he criticize Assange in that manner. Perhaps I missed it. Do you have a timestamp?
posted by odinsdream at 6:43 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point was was that Wikileaks was on shaky ground when they obstructed other parties (namely the media) from also releasing that information.

Ah. Yes, agreed.

So, the names of people in working with Amnesty International in repressive countries also needs to be free?

No, of course not. I'm not defending Wikileaks in this context. i was responding to the idea that the pithy tagline "information wants to be free" includes personal information and IP like an autobiography, when it clearly relates to government information - information that belongs to the public.

Obviously, where there are good reasons to keep information secret - such as when the release of the information will get people killed - it should not be released. But if a government is keeping information secret merely because it would embarrass it if the information was released, that's not a good enough reason.

The best thing about Wikileaks is that it has brought to light the bad acts and lies of certain governments. But there is no question that, on several occasions, they have been terribly reckless.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2011


Meanwhile Wikileaks is still having interesting consequences.

Ooh, I like it when folks post great little informative links like that one, instead of the usual snarkfest. Thanks, Obscure Reference. And thanks to homunculus, too. Additional useful information is so much more fun to read than the same arguments from the same people hoping to score the same imaginary victories all over again.
posted by mediareport at 7:20 PM on September 21, 2011


[Cool it with the "fuck you" stuff.]
posted by cortex at 7:20 PM on September 21, 2011


In other news: Appeals Court OKs Challenge to Warrantless Electronic Spying
posted by homunculus at 8:05 PM on September 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best thing about Wikileaks is that it has brought to light the bad acts and lies of certain governments. But there is no question that, on several occasions, they have been terribly reckless.

To the best ability of regular journalists, and even by admission of a top-level Navy officer, no one has been hurt or hunted down. The worst part of these threads is not, somehow, the obsession with Assange's private life, which is really just creepy and childish, but the complete fabrications about how WikiLeaks has hurt and killed people. They offer to redact info by working with the US, which refuses, and this is somehow the fault of WL. The Guardian releases info unfiltered and this is the fault of WL. The same ridiculous, already-falsified lies get trotted out in these threads by the same people, every single time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point was was that Wikileaks was on shaky ground when they obstructed other parties (namely the media) from also releasing that information.

I know what your point is, it's just that your argument for it makes no sense. Someone who was authorized to view the data decided to give it to an outside group. Wikileaks broke no agreements with anyone, why would agreements made with them suddenly be invalid because of that?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:32 PM on September 21, 2011


Wikileaks broke no agreements with anyone, why would agreements made with them suddenly be invalid because of that?

So they had a bunch of information that was not theirs, which they justified releasing based on a political philosophy of information freedom, yet they would only do so encumbering it with a bunch of NDA's? What?

I don't believe the information they were holding onto they had any particular unique claim over (politically the whole thrust behind releasing it), and if people are going to break NDA's to get it out there I'm not particularly sure why that's either a huge problem, or really that inconsistent with what Wikileaks encourages people to do themselves when leaking data to them.
posted by Thoth at 9:49 PM on September 21, 2011


To the best ability of regular journalists, and even by admission of a top-level Navy officer, no one has been hurt or hunted down.

Recklessness is not defined by whether someone actually gets killed. The risk is enough.

but the complete fabrications about how WikiLeaks has hurt and killed people.

Just for clarity, I didn't allege that WL caused people to get killed. I said that they were reckless. It's possible to do good things badly. It's also possible to think something is good, while conceding it could be better.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:02 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So they had a bunch of information that was not theirs, which they justified releasing based on a political philosophy of information freedom, yet they would only do so encumbering it with a bunch of NDA's? What?

I have no clue what you are trying to say here. All journalists get information from sources, are you saying none of their legal agreements are valid?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:08 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best thing about Wikileaks is that it has brought to light the bad acts and lies of certain governments. But there is no question that, on several occasions, they have been terribly reckless.

If they had taken their time and been careful, they could have got the information out without risking the names. That's the point. There was no need to take the risks that they did.

Put another way, why is Assange personally attacked? Because he risked the lives of others when it was not necessary to advance a personal, egocentric agenda. Why is this dude's appearances on TV so important? If this was about the information, why is he even on TV? Julian Assange and Julian Assange only made this about him. He could have released it and let the information speak for itself. His own incompetence and attention-seeking made it about him. If he had stayed in the shadows, it would have been the government defending itself, not him. His theatrics drew away from his point.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:14 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have no clue what you are trying to say here.

In that case I am sorry, because I'm not going to restate it another time.
posted by Thoth at 11:38 PM on September 21, 2011


Here's a bit from the book out today: Julian Assange: 'I did not rape those women'
posted by dabitch at 11:45 PM on September 21, 2011


Julian Assange: 'I did not rape those women'

He's a hilariously awful writer. I'm not at all surprised his ghostwriter wanted his name off the front cover.

I had no reason not to trust her, and no reason, when she pointed out that there was only one bed and would I be cool sleeping with her, to believe that this was naught but a friendly suggestion.

Yeah, word jazz, baby. Swing it.
posted by Wolof at 11:56 PM on September 21, 2011


Recklessness is not defined by whether someone actually gets killed. The risk is enough.

The idea that journalists should not publish materials that are in the public interest — such as the Pentagon Papers or Cablegate — because it puts government officials at risk of embarrassment or criminal proceedings, is pretty much antithetical to the notion of what journalism is (or used to be, rather).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


If they had taken their time and been careful, they could have got the information out without risking the names.

Ironmouth, if you would ever one day own up about your own repetition of lies about WikiLeaks, there is no mechanism or circumstance by which they could operate that would satisfy any such imaginary criteria you have now just invented. Be honest, for once.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had hopes for Wikileaks. With the capitulation of the mass media and overall decline of organized journalism in the last decade, and the corresponding rise in government secrecy, I feel there is a place and a need for a grassroots independent organization to publish evidence of government corruption and wrongdoing. That could have been Wikileaks.

Instead we have the Julian Assange show.

I don't know if this because of an actual effort to discredit him by media, the government, the CIA, or whatever, or if he's half crazy and craves attention. I can't tell and that's the facet of this story that puts me off the most. It's like, either way, now I read about Assange in the news and not about Wikileaks, and I feel like that's no accident. Looking back, its as if something like this had to happen.
posted by cotterpin at 1:56 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth, nobody is as eager as you to jump down the precipice of tyranny. Your effort shows.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:21 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


cotterpin, you are like a Titanic passenger saying "let's wait for a nicer lifeboat".
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:23 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The release doesn't matter. By now, there is no path from where things stand now to any scenario in which Julian Assange lives to an old age in freedom. Either he will die in US custody (at the Colorado supermax penitentiary or an extraconstitutional offshore facility) or something will happen to him (by his own hand or otherwise) before that happens.
posted by acb at 2:23 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not waiting for a nicer lifeboat, I'm waiting for the next big leak that never happened. The one that they hyped about a-yet-unnamed American bank.

Instead Wikileaks has been reacting for the past year to the impact their last major leak caused. They're dealing with sources' names being released, internal fighting, documents stolen from them and released independently, and then defending Assange. It appears like they have been driven off their goals.

I don't care if Wikileaks isn't perfect, but I do want to know why I am reading about Assange's unauthorized autobiography instead of about embarrassing government secrets.
posted by cotterpin at 3:01 AM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Independent are serializing the book (first segment is his account of what happened in Sweden) and the Guardian have a live-blog about it.
posted by memebake at 3:04 AM on September 22, 2011


A couple of nights later, A—— had arranged a crayfish party, a traditional occasion at that time of year in Sweden, and I went along to meet up with her. This was the day after the day she later claimed I had raped her. A—— was there at the party and seemed totally happy, laughing and drinking with me and my friends and her friends until late. We were sitting outside the party and she sent a tweet saying she was "with the coolest people in the world".
Oh god, he really is a shitty writer. It's a shame that this book is going to be released unfinished and (apparently) without proper editing, because I was looking forward to it. I'd imagined it as something like a cross between Snow Crash and Ecce Homo but it looks like this dream is never going to be realised.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:23 AM on September 22, 2011


cotterpin nails it
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:27 AM on September 22, 2011


As far as I can tell, the book is ghostwritten by Andrew O'Hagan, based on taped interviews and discussions with Assange. O'Hagan subsequently asked Canongate to remove his name from the book.

So Assange didn't write it, but I guess O'Hagan would have tried to write it in Assange's style.
posted by memebake at 3:31 AM on September 22, 2011


An FT journalist has posted this quite long press release from Assange about the book.
Interesting bits:
- The publisher has not been given a copy of the manuscript by Andrew O’Hagan or me. Rather, as a courtesy they were shown the “manuscript in progress” by Andrew O’Hagan’s researcher, as an act of generosity, and for viewing purposes only – expressly agreed to by Canongate. Canongate physically took the manuscript, kept it, and did not return it to Mr. O’Hagan or me.
- Contrary to what The Independent reports, I did not pull the plug on the deal, nor was I unwilling to compromise ... [Canongate] is acting on a contract that both parties agreed to terminate, but is, in any event, in breach even of that contract.
- Although I admire Mr. O'Hagan's writing, this draft was a work in progress. It is entirely uncorrected or fact-checked by me. The entire book was to be heavily modified, extended and revised, in particular, to take into account the privacy of the individuals mentioned in the book. I have a close friendship with Andrew O'Hagan and he stands by me.
- The advance was paid direct into my former solicitors' (FSI) bank account wholly without my consent ... The outcome of this dispute is pending, but a favourable finding would release the entire advance, which has not been touched, back to Canongate and Knopf.

There's also an explanation of how Canongate warned him they were printing and gave him five days to get and injunction, but he couldn't get any lawyers to take the case because he had to show he was in a position to pay damages if he failed.
posted by memebake at 3:51 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't care if Wikileaks isn't perfect, but I do want to know why I am reading about Assange's unauthorized autobiography instead of about embarrassing government secrets.

Oh, I'll tell you why. Because a lot of money was spent on making sure you would be reading about something other than the secrets the rich and powerful wish to keep. Wikileaks and the people behind it were attacked from all sides, in many ways, and with vast resources.

Like schoolyard bully wannabes, you turn on Assange. If only he had held out against the real bullies, and managed to release some other secrets that now matter to you, then he would have fulfilled the ever-shifting criteria of your approval.

I say that those who rot in idleness and look down upon the acting man are not worth the oxygen they consume.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:09 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Assange would be getting taste of own medicine if he was a government, say experts.
posted by seanyboy at 4:12 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


But he's not a government so the comparison is sensationalistic and dumb.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:19 AM on September 22, 2011


Seanyboy's link is satire, btw
posted by memebake at 4:20 AM on September 22, 2011


Doh.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:23 AM on September 22, 2011


No. Assanage has never singled out an individual - he releases information on public institutions, such as government agencies and corporations. So this is not "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander", it's just the publisher being a dick and breaking a contract.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:01 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Recklessness is not defined by whether someone actually gets killed. The risk is enough.

The idea that journalists should not publish materials that are in the public interest — such as the Pentagon Papers or Cablegate — because it puts government officials at risk of embarrassment or criminal proceedings, is pretty much antithetical to the notion of what journalism is (or used to be, rather).


This isn't about government officials. Its about locals, working with NGOs, including Amnesty international, in places where that's a little more than a "no no." He was reckless.


Ironmouth, if you would ever one day own up about your own repetition of lies about WikiLeaks, there is no mechanism or circumstance by which they could operate that would satisfy any such imaginary criteria you have now just invented. Be honest, for once.

If you have a link to a report of a wrong fact in the CNN or WSJ stories, I'd think that would add to the conversation greatly.

Leaks are important. They are sometimes good sometimes bad. Mass document dumps? Not good.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:31 AM on September 22, 2011


a transcript of a conversation from his 23rd birthday when he was drunk and trying to pick up someone at a party by talking about his love of Kraftwerk.

I always pegged him as more of a Amon Düül guy.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:31 AM on September 22, 2011


it's just the publisher being a dick and breaking a contract

No, it's a dick not wanting to be published and breaking a contract.
posted by Shave at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2011


In that case I am sorry, because I'm not going to restate it another time.

Well okay, you go on believing journalists can't use a NDA because people give them unauthorized information I guess. It just would have been nice of the Guardian, as more experienced journalists, to let Wikileaks know that instead of signing the documents.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:04 AM on September 22, 2011


it's just the publisher being a dick and breaking a contract

No, it's a dick not wanting to be published and breaking a contract.


As a technical aside, they both appear to be breaching. He's hanging on to an advance he's contractually required to return. They're publishing it without the rights.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:23 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The advance was paid direct into my former solicitors' (FSI) bank account wholly without my consent. The money sits unspent in FSI's “Julian Assange” client account. FSI has refused to release the money to Canongate as a result of a legal fees dispute (FSI initially agreed to handle my extradition case “pro-bono”, or without fee). The FSI fees have been audited by an independent costs draftsman. The audit shows extreme over-charging. One of the firm’s solicitor’s has resigned, in part to protest the issue. The outcome of this dispute is pending, but a favourable finding would release the entire advance, which has not been touched, back to Canongate and Knopf.

I'm still confused by this bit. He hasn't returned the advance because FSI won't release it, and they won't release it because they're in dispute with him over what he owes them - but he didn't give Canongate permission to give the advance straight to FSI in the first place? Were FSI dealing with Canongate on his behalf, and instructed Canongate to pay the advance straight to them before he knew what was going on? This is all kinds of weird.
posted by Catseye at 8:15 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Catseye

it's not weird. all his bank accounts and assets seem to be in limbo, so his lawyers are handling all his finances for him.
posted by liza at 9:00 AM on September 22, 2011


Yeah, but he's saying the advance was - without his permission - paid straight to his lawyers rather than to him and that's why he can't repay it, whereas Canongate are saying he signed the money over to the lawyers 'to cover his escalating legal bills'. Those can't both be true.
posted by Catseye at 9:05 AM on September 22, 2011


Nick Davies, publishing director at Canongate (not to be confused with Guardian journo of same name), writes:
There have been countless other twists and turns to this extraordinary story. But the reason we've decided to publish the book – against Julian's will, but with clear forewarning – is this: with no prospect of ever seeing Julian's advance repaid to us, and with little chance of convincing Julian to engage with that first draft, we had only one sensible option – to publish the draft that we felt was so strong and which conformed so closely to the original brief.

There is a financial imperative, of course. We hope that in publishing the book we will recover some of our losses. But we are also immensely proud of the book itself. It is a compelling portrait of one of the most mercurial figures alive today.

As for that much commented-upon subtitle, The Unauthorised Autobiography, it is definitely a publishing first. And given we're talking about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks there is, of course, a sweet irony to it too.
posted by memebake at 9:31 AM on September 22, 2011


If you have a link to a report of a wrong fact in the CNN or WSJ stories, I'd think that would add to the conversation greatly.

If you ever have any citation whatsoever for the strident, unsubstantiated claim you make in ever fucking WikiLeaks thread, namely that Assange is personally responsible for people getting hurt or killed for being mentioned in a cable, that would help bolster every bit of nonsense everyone calls you out for in every same thread. For starters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it's been said before here, but I'd also like to add that I'm disappointed that every story about Wikileaks and the cables is about what Assange had for breakfast, and nothing about documented evidence that our government is doing horrible things on our dime, what the bank reveal is, why a whole lot of people aren't going to jail and/or losing their government positions, and what's up with poor Brad Manning.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:50 PM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyone leaked the original contract? Just so we could get a sense of who's in violation?

I'd also like to add that I'm disappointed....

Well, the fellow does rather invite it, doesn't he? I mean, go to the website and there's his sexy mug shot gracing every page, with such shrinking violet also-rans like John Pilger, Alan Dershowitz, and even, God help us, Larry Flynt getting mere honorable mentions.

And though fair enough about modern attention spans (Bradley Manning is sitting in jail awaiting trial and presumably will not be newsworthy again until his trial begins), what I think interesting is how relatively little they've actually come up with, given all the hype. I mean to say, there's a whole hell of a lot of naughty out in the world these days, and these guys are bragging about - Sarah Palin's email? Norm Coleman's campaign contributors?

Pretty thin gruel.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:42 PM on September 22, 2011


“Julian messed with my pigs”
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on September 26, 2011


State Department Employee Faces Firing for Posting WikiLeaks Link
posted by homunculus at 4:37 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine that's simply the State Dept. going after Peter Van Buren for his book criticizing them, homunculus.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:58 PM on September 28, 2011


I agree. And here's an excerpt from the book: How the American Taxpayer Got Plucked in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 9:02 PM on October 3, 2011


U.S. issues secret, warrantless court order for email data of Wikileaks' volunteer
posted by homunculus at 9:14 AM on October 10, 2011


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