I think Assange makes a ton of good points. First that it's a false issue to question whether Wikileaks is or isn't a journalistic endeaver, particularly when many of the releases where implement in complete co-ordination with and vetted by the New York Times and the Guardian.
Let's remember that it wasn't that long ago when the Right Wing and Bush Administration called for similar New York Times Editor Bill Keller a "Traitor" when his paper revealed that Americans were being illegally wiretapped?
ill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, sat on a couch in the Oval Office of the White House, three feet from President George W. Bush, and listened.
For a meeting without historical precedent, the president of the United States had called the Times to the White House to personally try to prevent a state secret from appearing in print—an exposé of the National Security Agency’s efforts to monitor phone calls without court-approved warrants that the Times had held back on for over a year. Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. sat in a wing chair facing Bush, while Keller and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman sat across from Bush’s lawyer, Harriet Miers, and national-security adviser Stephen Hadley. General Michael Hayden, the then-director of the National Security Agency, sat alongside Bush with a thick briefing book in his lap.
After stiff pleasantries, Bush issued an emphatic warning: If they revealed the secret program to the public and there was another terrorist attack on American soil, the Paper of Record would be implicated. “The basic message,” recalls Keller, “was, ‘You’ll have blood on your hands.’ ”
Here's a typical example of what the Right-WingNut-o-sphere had to say about it at the time.
Once again treason is in the air as the fifth estate (or should that be fifth column?) led by the Treason Times under the tutelage of the worm-like ‘Pinch’ Sulzberger and the terrorists’ fellow-travelling Bill Keller do what they can to aid and abet America’s barbaric enemies in their endeavours to murder as many US citizens as possible, particularly if they are troops.
The fact that what the Bush Adminstration was doing was a clear crime in violation of the FISA Act never seem to occur to these people.
All members of the Press, and the good American people who believe in Freedom, and the good foundation principles of the Revolutionary Founders have to pull together to resist the attack on the First Amendment
Just as Keller was attacked then, Assange is being attacked now. It is interesting to note - as Assange openly admits - the technology of Wikileaks is one where they don't even know who their sources are as files can be uploaded to their servers by Whistle-blowers annonymously which does present a problem of accuracy and Vetting. This is a subject that was brought up by Rachel Maddow while discussing Wikileaks with Michael Moore last night.
Rachel makes an excellent point that the one element that hasn't been seriously considered is that Wikileaks may be an excellent tool for spreading Disinformation, just a Scooter Libby was able use Judith Miller to spread WMD Disinformation about Iraq and attempt to reveal the ID of a Covert U.S. Operative through the pages of the New York Times - yet we hardly ever hear the Right Wing complaining about those Traitorous Illegal Leaks now do we?
People who argue that Richard Armitage was the first source for Robert Novak ignore the fact that Armitage only discovered that information because of Libby and the fact is that Libby gave Classified informatoin WMD and Plame to Judith Miller a month previously. The only reason Miller didn't scoop Novak is the fact that the Timees spiked her story. Legally, Libby was the first source of the leak, regardless of who was the first to publish. IMO both he and Cheney (who told Libby about Valerie Wilson connection to the CIA in the first place) should be in the military brig right now under solitary confinement right next to Bradley Manning - for Treason.
They only escaped because Libby commited perjury and obstruction of justice to save Cheney.
Assange responding the Joe Biden calling him a "High Tech Terrorist".
Assange: Let's look at the definition of terrorism. The definition of Terrorism is a group that uses violence of the threat of violence for political ends. Now, no one in our four years of publishing covering over 120 countries has ever been physically harmed. And that's not just us saying that, that's The Pentagon Saying That. That's NATO and Kabul saying that. No one, not a shred of evidence.
Beleive me, if they could find or even easily manufacture evidence of this they would be doing that immediately. So it's clear whoever the terrorist are here - it's not us.
But, we see constant threats from people - Republicans in the Senate trying to make a name for themselves, Sarah Palin, to Shock Jocks on Fox and unfortunately also members of the Democratic Party - calling for my Assasination. Calling for the illegal kidnapping of my staff.
Just a few days ago on Fox, that was the phrase used. "Illegal." "He should be illegally murdered, if neccesary. Assasinated by the law if possible. If a not, lllegally."
What kind of message does that say about the rule of law in the United States? That is conducting violence in order to accomplish a political end. The elimination of this organization,or the threat of political violence to eliminate a publisher. And that is the Definition of Terrorism.
Cenk: How do you respond to Mike Huckabee - "Anything less than execution is too kind for you". Or Sarah Palin who says "We should persue him as we would al Qeada"?
Assange: (He's) Just another idiot trying to make a name for himself (and herself). If we are to have a civil society, you can not have senior people on making calls on national television to go around the judiciary and illegally murder people. That is an incitement to Commit Murder, that is an Offense. That is not a Country that obeys the rule of law. Does the United States obey the rule of law, because Europeans are beginning to wonder...
When people call for the illegal murder, deliberate assasination and kidnapping of others they should be charged for incitement to commit Murder.
In all honestly, regardless of whatever his own current legal problems are in the sexual misconduct case, he makes a serious point. if some hyped up wingnut does make at attempt on Assange's life, or attacks is staff - which would be a bit difficult considering the fact they are in Europe - would not that put people like Huckabee and Palin far beyond the bright Brandenburg Line for incitement of violence?
If they're going to carelessly toss the "T-Word" at him for simply sharing information, he has every right to toss it back with double-strength based on their own words - especially when it fits.
He also goes on the make the point that it's like that Bradley Manning may be being held in long-term solitary confinement largely to get him to flip and give up information against Assange for inticing him to commit treason.
If that's true - that horrifying. That's coercian, and further - as Assange points out - they Don't Solicit Classified Information, the point of his site is that much like Wikipedia, the information is provided voluntarily by the public, not solicited by their members.
But then again, anyone could theoritically put up a website with illegally gather classified information could they - only they would fail to have what Wikileaks provides, a bulwark of annonymity and confidentiality and a connection to various mainline journalists such as the Times who can provide vetting and validation of the information.
Even Wikipedia doesn't provide that.
Update: While I was typing this Cenk posted the entire transcript.