Julian Assange: Supervillain

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

The recent WikiLeaks release of documents from the depths of the State Department’s files, seven times larger than the Iraq dossier, will certainly touch the lives of some Fletcher grads and maybe some current students. Since WikiLeaks’ spokesperson Julian Assange’s coming-out party – the Iraq helicopter video ‘Collateral Murder’ – I’ve kept an eye on him, and now that he is impinging on my sphere, I need to broadcast my theory about him: Assange is the world’s first supervillain.

Some may say that there have been supervillainous dictators and mass murderers in the past. I won’t disagree. I just think that Assange is a James Bond-style supervillain, the first person to challenge the international establishment from the position of a non-state, individual actor, working from behind firewall fortresses with a phalanx of hackers and free-speech politicians. He even has a conception of the common good, a better world, in mind: “Imagine a world where companies and government must keep the public, or their employees, or both, happy with their plans and behavior. That is the world we are striving to create.” None of us think that transparency is a bad thing; most of us probably think that bringing it to the extreme is.

Every supervillian needs a superhero to counter. Who will this be? Does State have some genius anti-hacker hot on the trail of Assange, showing up just two minutes too late at the Icelandic bunker of Assange and his crew of information pirates, digital handcuffs out and State-issued warrant in hand, only to learn that the leakers have left the building? Certainly Adrian Lamo, the journalist who deceived the Afghanistan file-leaking Army Private Bradley Manning into admitting guilt, is no superhero. Are there any hackers in the Fletcher community who will take up the cape and challenge the subversive Assange? Or do others feel that he is the superhero, a voice of reason in an all-too-closed world?

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