Video: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks Official Trailer
Director Alex Gibney released a documentary about the WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning saga in May 2013 called We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. It is a very political documentary, and nobody comes out looking particularly good, however it does provide a great overview of the situation better than any documentary or TV exposé I’ve previously seen on the subject.
The key subjects of Gibney’s (Freakonomics, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) documentary include WikiLeaks founder Australian Julian Assange, and former US Military Officer Bradley Manning and how their stories became so intertwined following the release of classified US documents.
The film explores how Julian Assange encouraged people across the world to provide their whistleblowing material to WikiLeaks and how it will be entrusted to the organisation “anonymously and untraceably”. Assange is shown touring the globe spruiking his open and accountability message, and moving residencies regularly to keep from preying eyes (an easy start would be to dye your hair Julian!).
We see Bradley Manning as a confused and troubled Military Officer battling with gender identity issues, who starts a private online chat with a journalist, Adrian Lamo to help him decide if he should handover the confidential military documents he has in his possession. Lamo ultimately decides to break Manning’s trust for the sake of the “many” rather than the few.
Manning appears to have full comprehension of the repercussions that might face him upon handing over thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Despite his personal crisis, he seems to have been a very smart guy. It sounds like he didn’t stumble across 750+ open networks haphazardly, but that he used his technical prowess to actively source a mountain full of documents and walk them out the door on a burnt CD-RW supposedly full of Lady Gaga tunes!
We hear from Guardian Editor who is said to convince Assange to share the publication of the 90,000 classified documents made available to WikiLeaks with a number of newspapers across the world. Despite sharing the publication of the classified documents Assange remains the only one in the cross-hairs of the US Government with their “blood on his hands” type comments.
A former WikiLeaks colleague is astounded when the thousands of documents are handed over by Assange to be published without one redaction of the names of the informants, this is despite Assange’s open invitation to the US Government to assist in the redaction process in the eleventh hour who choose to pass as well.
Manning is detained but left in trial limbo for well over 3 years, and is supposedly mistreated while serving his time in prison (24 hours of light exposure in his cell, not afforded blankets or pillows, and kept in solitary confinement for over a year). Not a very humane way to treat one of your citizens, perhaps?
The sexual allegations against Assange are provided in an interview with one of the alleged Swedish victims, and a former colleague of Assange who was present during the unfolding of the situation. Assange supporters have been lobbying against this documentary for a number of reasons, but to me this is not a pro-Assange/Manning or US Government documentary, and nor should it be. I think the film shows that the decisions made by parties on all sides are worthy of a 2 hour plus investigation.
The documentary raised a number of questions for me:
- Why do 4 million public servants in the US have access to “classified” documents?
- How can a US citizen be left without a trial in the USA for more than 3 years?
- Why hasn’t Julian Assange been ‘charged’ with rape in Sweden if they are to seek his extradition?
- Why does Julian Assange charge $1 million dollars for an interview?
Since the documentary:
- A few short months after the film was released Manning would receive a guilty verdict and faces a maximum sentence of 136 years. The final sentence is still pending.
- Julian Assange is running for a Senate position in the Australian Government this September 2013. Meanwhile, he remains holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in London.
- Edward Snowden finally leaves the Moscow airport after being in-transit for over a month (with all your Facebook updates) … oh wait, that’s a story for another documentary…
All I can think of to sum up the entire story is this is one-fucked-up situation. See it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
In the meantime, grab yourself a copy of George Orwell’s book 1984 and prepare yourself for more newspeak!
Previously on Sampling Station: