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.