Julian Assange--Found!

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Jeff Brown's picture
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Julian Assange--Found!

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Julian Assange, the Robin Hood of computer hackers, has been on the run for months. From the time he was young, his life has always been one of moving from one place to another, including thirty-seven times by age fourteen. Since founding Wikileaks in 2006, he has continually changed addresses and appearances. Extremely gifted, certainly charismatic, and in his own words “extremely cynical,”1 39-year-old Assange has become one of the most well-known people in the world. Convicted of computer hacking in 1995 and given a minor penalty, the Australian native and his organization have posted documents about Guantanamo Bay detentions, Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo email account, and extrajudicial killings in Kenya and East Timor.2

Now he has taken on the US military and State Department. To many, including Daniel Ellsberg, Assange is a hero of extraordinary proportions. Time Magazine has nominated him for “Person of the Year.”3 To others, including an increasing number of his fellow Wikileakers, he has begun to lose touch with reality.

Assange sees the United States as the greatest political threat to the world—to the point that many of his co-workers say that he is obsessed with America.4 Far beyond the illusory dream of Woodrow Wilson, Assange believes that by taking on America via Wikileaks, he is making the world safe for democracy.5

But Assange has not achieved what he set out to attain. True, he leaked the information that a US gunship fired on the wrong target in Baghdad and killed, among others two journalists. But his leaks also produced little-known information about how America’s foe, the Taliban fighters, have repeatedly beheaded their enemies.6 And who would have expected that Wikileaks would have revealed that Saudia Arabia and Bahrain—not (US supported) Israel—are the real hawks in the Middle East against Iran? James Ruben writes in The New Republic that the disclosures “undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.”7

In the process of leaking information, Wikileaks has endangered lives and angered a host of nations. The conflict Julian Assange has begun is equivalent to taking on several grizzly bears in a fistfight. He doesn’t stand a chance.

If you look carefully enough, you can find people like Julian Assange in the Bible. For example, here:

An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. (Prov. 16:27-28)

Diplomatic fallout has been enormous on account of Wikileaks’s most recent posts. Anne Applebaum says rightly, “Don’t expect better government from these revelations; expect deeper secrets.”8 People will not share things with you if they know that tomorrow the secrets will become front-page news. One need not defend all that has been said by diplomats and heads of state to understand that relationships between many persons in various governments have been seriously damaged, if not destroyed altogether. The rage over the offenses caused by these diplomatic revelations has only begun to play out among politicians around the world. Julain Assange (who apparently has his own list of other sins following him9) may not have begun with twisted thinking, but the Bible would say his thinking is twisted now. He has helped humans to think of one another in a more ugly way than before.

You do not have to be a computer hacker to play the game of sowing strife and separating friends. People have done it for centuries. Christians have done it for centuries as well. So let’s think for a moment about ourselves instead of Wikileaks.

It is hard to read Proverbs 16:27-28 without remembering something you did yourself in the past. Of course you were justified to tell those stories, and of course it was for a righteous cause! But these are precisely the motivations and arguments employed by Julian Assange.

Perhaps the most distressing part of evil speaking about our friends and enemies is that Christian leaders have often tolerated this practice in their ministries. Nearly as bad is the fact that Christians love to continually listen as radio commentators trash their mutual foes. The first time that Proverbs 16:27-28 struck me vividly was after listening to a Christian leader run down a number of other Christian leaders on a radio report. “That is enough of that man for me,” I thought. “I cannot point to a lot else, but this passage tells me I am listening to a wicked man.” Within a year the same individual was out of the ministry because of adultery.

Yes, the Bible tells stories as well, like the tale of Noah’s drunkenness, Judah’s incest, or David’s adultery. The images of those great men are terribly damaged by such revelations. But there is a great difference between how the Bible talks about the sins of sinners and saints and how we transmit a damaging report about someone’s friend. It is one thing to warn about the distortions of truth and wicked lifestyle of false teachers. It is something else again to disagree pointedly with a brother in Christ, and afterward broadcast to others in blackest terms what he is doing wrong.

When God reveals sorry details in His Word, it is always to 1) affirm His own righteousness, 2) point out the reach of sin in the human heart, 3) call us to avoid doing the wrong others have done before us, and 4) reveal the incredible greatness of His grace. When we broadcast ugly secrets, it is usually to assassinate character. Or perhaps we want to pump our own ego. Maybe we do it to win people to our cause we otherwise could not. Likely it is all three. By contrast, when God’s Word gives us the gory details it is because we need in the worst way to hear them.

James says, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). As I contemplate these words and those of the Proverbs, I begin to feel that I still need more bridling. If the Bible has found out people like Julian Assange, it has found out me as well. As we think about the sins of the creator of Wikileaks, we should also think about our own, some of which might differ from his only in magnitude. With all this in mind, we need to pray for the man himself and the people he has misled—not because he has done well or achieved a great name. He has done neither. But Assange is loved by the Best and the Greatest, who came to earth to die an atoning death for people just like him.

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Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. For many years, in the name of fundamentalist separatism, I shot my brothers and sisters in Christ first and asked questions later, ignoring my own wicked heart before the Lord.

Things are changing by God's grace but I still have a long way to go. But as the songwriter indicated, the grace that's brought me this far is the grace that will lead me home.

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Difficulties

I think the article illustrates the difficulties in governing speech. We are criticizing Assange in order to make a case for not speaking critically. But the case is valid, because there's a time to speak critically and a time not to.
And various factors go into determining when it's evil speaking and when it isn't. (Factors like motive for speaking critically, what potential benefit there in speaking critically in a particular case, how the speaking will be perceived, and more).

The answers aren't all that easy to pin down, but I think most of the time the problem is that we are not asking the questions. So I appreciate Jeff raising some of them here.

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You've gone from preaching to meddling!

Great post, Jeff.

Reminds me of how we try to disguise gossip as a "prayer request" or some other sort of announcement.

This article was a great example of how to use current events and persons to illustrate the Bible.

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Pastor Joe Roof wrote: Thank

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
Thank you for this article.

Thank you, Joe for being so transparent. There is as much instruction in your few words as in my whole article.

The past president and current president of my mission organization have been excellent examples of how to handle your (believing and unbelieving) opponents. I am still learning from them.

Jeff Brown

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B-Lowry wrote: Great post,

B-Lowry wrote:
Great post, Jeff.

Reminds me of how we try to disguise gossip as a "prayer request" or some other sort of announcement.

This article was a great example of how to use current events and persons to illustrate the Bible.

Thanks, Bill. And thanks for your own demonstrations of discretion that I have witnessed personally.

Jeff Brown

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Questions

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I think the article illustrates the difficulties in governing speech. We are criticizing Assange in order to make a case for not speaking critically. But the case is valid, because there's a time to speak critically and a time not to.
And various factors go into determining when it's evil speaking and when it isn't. (Factors like motive for speaking critically, what potential benefit there in speaking critically in a particular case, how the speaking will be perceived, and more).

The answers aren't all that easy to pin down, but I think most of the time the problem is that we are not asking the questions. So I appreciate Jeff raising some of them here.

I hope, Aaron that someone is interested in the questions, and I am sure you are interested in interacting with them.

BTW, in case someone reading this thinks that some of the discussions here have provided me with inspiration, I have to disappoint you. I had no one on this site in mind. However, I did write to and for this website community.

Jeff Brown

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Makes me just shake my head

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1336778/Wikileaks-Desperate-Hous... Wikileaks: Desperate Housewives does more to combat jihad than US propaganda

Quote:
Satellite broadcasts of hit US shows including Desperate Housewives, Late Show With David Letterman and Friends are better at persuading Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars worth of US propaganda, informants have told the US embassy in Jeddah.

The shows, which are broadcast uncensored and with Arabic subtitles on the country's MBC4 channel, are being permitted as part of the Saudis' 'war of ideas' against extremist elements. Rotana, a channel part owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is also proving popular.

And according to a Wikileaks cable entitled David Letterman: Agent of Influence, they have had a greater influence for good than the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel

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Kind Of Makes Me Feel Sorry For Assange

Moving 37 times by the time you are 14? Wow. That sort of thing would mess a lot of people up mentally and emotionally. However, he still needs to be held accountable for his crimes, including his 2 alleged rapes.

As far as "sowing strife" goes ... Christians should pray twice (or three times) as often as we speak or act. That would solve a lot of problems.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
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So, Using One Type Of Sin To Combat Another

Jim Peet wrote:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1336778/Wikileaks-Desperate-Hous... Wikileaks: Desperate Housewives does more to combat jihad than US propaganda

Quote:
Satellite broadcasts of hit US shows including Desperate Housewives, Late Show With David Letterman and Friends are better at persuading Saudi youth to reject violent jihad than hundreds of millions of dollars worth of US propaganda, informants have told the US embassy in Jeddah.

The shows, which are broadcast uncensored and with Arabic subtitles on the country's MBC4 channel, are being permitted as part of the Saudis' 'war of ideas' against extremist elements. Rotana, a channel part owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is also proving popular.

And according to a Wikileaks cable entitled David Letterman: Agent of Influence, they have had a greater influence for good than the US-funded al-Hurra TV news channel

On one hand, they will turn against Muslim extremism. On the other, they will turn towards pornography, child molestation, homosexuality, and abortion. Satan doesn't care which evil a nation turns to so long as it picks one (or two or three). And we can't say "at least they won't be a threat to us", because liberal nations, through the U.N. and other NGOs, have been exporting evil to other nations for years ... going to third world countries and pressuring them to legalize abortion and gay "marriage." Al Qaeda kills people with bombs, the UNFPA kills people with abortions. Six of one, half a dozen of another ...

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
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JobK wrote: However, he still

JobK wrote:
However, he still needs to be held accountable for his crimes, including his 2 alleged rapes.

While Assange is not born again, and many of his actions are condemnable, I think it's only fair to point out:

  1. It's still unknown whether he actually broke US law. Publishing classified documents is not illegal in the US, except maybe under the vague Espionage Act. (On the other hand, whoever gave them to Assange did break the law, because he was contracted to secrecy.) He has not been formally charged by the DOJ last I checked, and the New York Times also published many of the same diplomatic cables with no repercussions. What he has done is made a lot of powerful people very upset.
  2. The rape allegations are certainly false. (He was with several women he is not married to, but that didn't create the sort of scandal the Swedish government wanted.) A former lawyer for Assange http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/12/02/when-it-comes-to-assange-r-pe-case-t... explains it concisely [caution ].
  3. Assange wasn't missing. His location was fairly well-known; there was just a big to-do about what to charge him with so he could be arrested.

    I often quote whoever said, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant," but I'm really not sure what to think about Assange. Can you universally condemn muckraking based on Proverbs 16:27–28? Is that passage talking about gossip or public declamation? Can we rightly call WikiLeaks gossip, since it is extremely public?

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Golden rule

It's not really about muckraking. It's about taking the contents of conversations that occurred between individuals when they believed they were having a private conversation and then making them public. I guarantee the hacktivist community does not want this done with the contents of their conversations.
They are fond of declaring that "information should be free" (as in, unrestricted), but they do not want--for example--their names, locations and bank account numbers published.

The whole thing is hypocrisy in one of its ugliest forms and about as un-golden rule as one can get.

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"Public" office is different

I appreciate Wyatt's perspective and questions.

There are a few things about this situation that set it apart from a normal discussion of privacy or gossip.

When someone takes "public" office, they voluntarily submit themselves to a certain amount of public scrutiny. Let me first say that I think the media takes this too far most of the time. However, it is impossible for "we the people" to run our government if we are kept in the dark about what is really happening. Obviously there is a certain amount of secrecy that must be maintained in certain cases, but government officials usually take that principle and apply it much too liberally. Organizations like Wikileaks give us a glimpse into what is actually taking place in "our" government.

“Don’t expect better government from these revelations; expect deeper secrets.” This statement is pure conjecture and, I think, ignores the fact that the founding fathers WANTED a system where the government was held in check by "free press".

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applying the golden rule

I also appreciate wyatt's comments. The US has involved itself in the affairs of about every country on the planet. If they are violating people's rights and engaged in criminal activity that should be exposed (the Bible allows for criminal investigation). I think it's likely Assange violated some people's personal rights as well, which I don't condone. The golden rule definitely applies in that situation. There are situations when it doesn't apply (e.g. if I'm suicidal). But it also applies for the US. NOT exposing criminal behavior violates the golden rule for the victims in the case.

My blog is [url=http://wisdomexp.com/]Wisdom Exposition[/url]

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Not my intent

I wrote this article using the current Wikileaks controversy as an example of the reality of Proverbs 16:27-28. The real aim of my writing is to focus on a genuine difficulty that Christians have with our speech in telling too much, and for the wrong purposes. We have a problem that perhaps should call us to the mourner's bench. It is inevitable I suppose, that people would want to discuss the merits and demerits of Wikileaks. There are venues for that all over the internet. Perhaps this is a valid topic for Sharperiron as well but I would like to ask that it not be done here. Joe Roof caught what I was after in my writing, as did Aaron. If there is any further discussion, I would hope it will go in that direction. There is nothing wrong with mentioning Wikileaks, but if the discussion continues to focus on that subject, I would like to ask Aaron to lock it up on this article. He was very good about letting me introduce this somewhat controversial topic. Thanks Aaron!

Jeff Brown

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plot vs. dig up

niv and esv use "plots evil" in verse 27 instead of "digs up evil" like nkvj, nasb & hcsb. what is the merit of translating the verb as "plot" vs. "dig up" and how does it affect the meaning of this passage?

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is "dig up" a hebrew idiom different than the english one?

the first part of this piece seems to be about comparing assange "digging up dirt" with the "dig up evil" in prov 16:27, but is releasing formerly secret documents in an attempt to call governments to account even within the scope of the verse? is some of the confusion between the differences of "dig up" in english and hebrew?

Garrett, Duane A. (1993). " http://books.google.com/books?id=p88xjLZQXP8C&pg=PA157 ]16:27–30 ". Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs. (Volume 14 of The New American Commentary). p. 157.

Quote:
Verses 27–30 describe the man who has evil schemes and are another thematic unity. Verses 27–29 concern the evil machinations of the scoundrel, the perverse man, and the violent man, and v. 30 is a conclusion or commentary on those three descriptions. The winking eye and pursed lips of v. 30 may be taken either as signals among conspirators or as a general statement of shiftiness in the facial mannerisms of scheming people. The point may be that the reader should learn to read the faces of others in order to spot the three kinds of evil men described in vv. 27–29.

Jeff Brown wrote:
…Christians love to continually listen as radio commentators trash their mutual foes.
is assange's work the same as partisan spin that is always looking for a way to say something bad about someone else? i have a much easier time understanding how partisan mudslinging fits within the scope of this passage than assange's work.

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ChrisC wrote: niv and esv use

ChrisC wrote:
niv and esv use "plots evil" in verse 27 instead of "digs up evil" like nkvj, nasb & hcsb. what is the merit of translating the verb as "plot" vs. "dig up" and how does it affect the meaning of this passage?

You raise a valid point, Chris. There are two ways of translating karah in this this verse, according to BDB (BDB seems to favor 'plots'), and as is obvious in English translations (I work primarily with German translations. All the ones I own translate the equivalent of "dig up"). Here is the comment of Allen P. Ross, a very good OT exegete, on verse 27 (EBC)

Quote:
Scoundrels plan ways to slander people. this verse is in formal parallelism, the thought continuing from one colon to the Next. The 'scoundrel' is literally a 'man of belial' . . . . This is a wicked person, for he 'digs up evil.' The meaning of koreh (NIV, 'plots') is that of bringing evil to the surface (cf. 26:27; jer 18:20). What he finds he spreads; his speech is like scorching fire . . .

Ross thus explains the idiom. "digging up" is obviously a legitimate translation of the word and fits in the context.

There are morally correct venues for bringing up the subject of evil that people have done (for instance, going through a concentration camp and reading the history of what was done there). The man in verse 27 pulls up whatever he finds useful that might put someone else in a bad light. His aim is the ruin of the person or institution he dislikes or hates (as leading Athiests do when they cite the Crusades to discredit the whole of the Christian faith). Christians need to make sure they are not following the motivation and method of the man in Proverbs 16:27 if they ever are convinced some particular truth needs to be brought to light, particularly when talking about other brothers in Christ. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

Jeff Brown

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