Nondisclosure Nation

A History, from Richard Ober to Julian Assange.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a prickly message from Julian Assange’s Twitter account, @WikiLeaks. It was in response to an article I’d tweeted about how Assange had made his WikiLeaks colleagues sign non- disclosure agreements. The penalty for breaking the contract was reportedly $19 million. Julian was not amused:

@wikileaks @Mark AmesExiled We used to like your writing in Exiled mark. Exiled also had the best book review “The Revenge of the Second Banana.”

(The book review Assange referenced was Ramon Glazov’s brilliant takedown of Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s tell-all memoir, “Inside WikiLeaks,” published in The eXiled in 2011.)

Yep, Julian Assange nailed me with the ol‘ “your first album was your best” zinger—been getting zung with that one for a good 15 years already.

If you’re in the business of offending people, it goes with the territory.

But judging by his bitchy tweet, it seems Assange misunderstood my complaint about his non-disclosures. He assumed I was merely “gotcha”-ing him, catching him with his hand in the hypocrisy jar. And, yes, it is a glaring anomaly that a leader of a guerrilla movement dedicated to waging war onsecrecy suddenly turns around on his own WikiLeaks comrades, and enforces censorship and secrecy contracts that threaten them with ruin should they dare live by the same high ideas about openness demanded of everyone else.

The hypocrisy is annoying, but Assange was seriously missing the point. When it comes to radical projects and politics, I’m less bothered by hypocrisy than a lot of people are— hypocrisy is undoubtedly offensive, but every successful radical project fighting against overwhelming Death Star odds has to adapt and mutate, sometimes almost unrecognizably so, but only if that mutation has been fully fleshed out and worked into the bigger politics.

Far more serious than the question of whether or not Assange is a hypocrite in the general sense is his use of non-disclosures, in particular, as a tool of secrecy and oppression.

Adapted from NSFWCORP Print, issue #5, published July 25, 2013.

Purchase the full feature

Nondisclosure Nation

A History, from Richard Ober to Julian Assange.

A report by Mark Ames

  1. Buy from Amazon