Many observers have understandably raised concerns for the safety of confidential informants whose identities are revealed in the full, unredacted copy of Wikileaks' State Department cables that was made public this week in a Keystone Kops farce. But the biggest victim of the latest disclosure is Julian Assange, who no longer has a reason to demand your attention.
Assange has long posed as secret-killer and martyr for transparency. This is a lie: For two years, he jealously guarded hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, taking great pains to prevent the public from accessing the vast majority as he dribbled out select ones in tiny increments. He refused for years to release detainee files from Guantanamo Bay, publishing them only when the New York Times forced his hand by obtaining and releasing its own copy%E2%80%94and even then, he insisted on a slow, one-by-one reveal. He has held back on a long-teased batch of internal Bank of America files. He declined to release cockpit video of a U.S. airstrike in Garani, Afghanistan, that killed civilians. And he held back 15,000 Aghanistan war logs that Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence officer who leaked most of Wikileaks' jewels, is rotting in jail for handing over.
The reason Assange held on to these prizes is clear: Without them, he is little more than a poorly groomed blowhard under house arrest. Wikileaks stopped functioning as a whistleblower site more than a year ago. If I had video of Dick Cheney personally torturing Pakistani children, I'd have no way to get it to Assange. The site has no submission system. The only leverage he had over the media, the only claim to his international-man-of-mystery schtick, are the undisclosed secrets lurking in his laptop.
And now his wad is blown. His crown jewels are available for download on Cryptome. The Garani video has apparently been destroyed by his archrival Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The 15,000 Afghan documents are presumably still in his possession, but then again they've been in the possession of the Guardian and New York Times, too, so any juicy tidbits have already been presumably extracted. He's got the B of A stuff, but it's aging rapidly. And his bizarre behavior and series of idiotic screw-ups have more than ensured that no one in a sensitive position will ever risk their jobs or lives to leak information to him again. And he's just about worn out his welcome at his current digs.
So you've got no reason to pay attention to Julian Assange anymore. There's nothing left there to see. Bye, Julian.