The fall of Wikileaks

Back in November 2010, WikiLeaks was unfairly accused of indiscriminately dumping the entire cable data-set by numerous observers, and lots of us spoke up to correct that mistake. Yochai Benkler made rebutting that error a central part of his highly useful monograph on “WikiLeaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate.” But now there’s no way to deny it. WikiLeaks has now indiscriminately dumped the whole cable set into the public arena, and in doing so it has tossed away whatever claim it might have had to the moral high ground. The argument that others were doing it already, or that bad actors were already getting access to the leaked master file and thus this was a mitigating step to reduce coming harms, or that it’s somehow The Guardian’s fault for publishing what it thought was a defunct password, doesn’t absolve WikiLeaks of its large share of responsibility for this dump.

People are human; to err is human. But refusing to admit error, that is hubris. Assange, like Icarus, thought he could fly to the sun.