I'm retired, busy with volunteer radio and (with my wife) going to the theatre and enjoying 'fine dining".
Angels or Demons - Manning and Assange
Dealing as it does with the stories of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning this documentary is very timely. I saw it in the week when we learned that most of our emails are being observed, and in the week when the Manning show trial began.
In the film we see Julian Assange becoming the public face of Wikileaks, as it releases embarrassing diplomatic emails from the US – documents about Icelandic banking frauds - and the chilling sequence where we see an American helicopter gunship killing innocent civilians.
The film explores who Assange is. Alex Gibney, the film-maker and narrator, clearly aims for fairness, but the picture of Assange that emerges is less than flattering. We see the idolised "rock star" making public appearances, and watch excerpts from his media interviews. Assange may have been acting for the good of humanity, but he seems less adept in relating to real people.
Then comes the alleged sexual misconduct. Gibney makes us wonder whether, by submitting a DNA swab when he was requested to, Assange might have put the whole matter to rest, instead of having it escalate into his seeking asylum in the embassy of a nation with a poor civil liberties record. Gibney makes good use of the comments of perceptive observers such as Professor Robert Manne.
There are many paradoxes and inconsistencies in Assange's story. A crusader for transparency who wants his employees to sign non-disclosure agreements. A champion of liberty, seeking asylum in the embassy of a corrupt regime.
In many ways a much more tragic figure in "We Steal Secrets" is Bradley Manning. Troubled, geeky, and damaged Manning struggles to do what he believes to be the right thing, and in his loneliness confides in Adrian Lamo. Manning's emails to Lamo scroll across the screen, showing his insecurities and his hurts. We then see Lamo, in tears, telling us why he turned Manning in. It is perhaps no great surprise that the film is being attacked by Assange and his supporters.
Hagiography it is not. But it is a detailed, meticulous and moving account of flawed individuals following their own understanding of ethics. Davids are seen taking on Goliaths, and Davids don't always win.
It's pathetic that whistleblowers have to live in fear in a democratic world where free speech is allowed.
They are just reporters publishing news worthy information containing truths.
The stuff that is swept under the carpet.
The governments have nothing to fear if they have done no wrong.
The governments have everything to fear if they are doing wrong.
Just because your a government it doesn't allow you to break laws.
Is this why they fear the whistleblowers?
Governments spy on people, why can't people spy on governments?
Like the now defunct Australian Democratic party slogan, "Keeping the bastards honest"