Saturday 25 November 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Leaks can never be contained

With technology out of control, the truth is that no information can be kept secret, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

ClichEs, like stereotypes, usually accurately reflect some aspect of reality. Certainly, there's little point in denying that truth is stranger than fiction. Consider, for a start, Private Bradley Manning (23) and Julian Assange (39), at present discomfiting governments around the globe through the mechanism of Wikileaks.

Manning had a troubled childhood (divorced parents, bullying, rootlessness and so on). Thrown out by his soldier father on being revealed to be gay, he joined the army and fell in love with a drag queen. Deployed in Iraq as an intelligence analyst, he kept a fairy wand on his desk, and struggled with a gender identity crisis. Gloomy that his relationship had broken up, he took a Lady Gaga CD into the office, wiped the music but pretended to lipsynch as he downloaded 200,600 or so confidential and secret diplomatic files that were also accessible to around 2,000,000 employees of the American government. He then bragged about it to another gay hacker, who blew the whistle on him.

Julian Assange, who set up Wikileaks in 2006, is coy about his childhood in Australia, but it seems to have involved dozens of schools and six universities as well as a breakdown and fathering a child at 18. As first a hacker and then an expert in computer security, he became obsessed with disseminating information for the greater good.

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