SUNDAY, JUNE 02, 2013
"We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks"
Universal and “Focus World” (of Focus Features) and
director Alex Gibney, give us an extensive documentary of the history of
Wikileaks, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks”. It’s long (130 minutes),
and despite major corporate sponsorship, it’s opening only on one theater in
the DC area, the AFI in Silver Spring, which usually emphasizes festival films.
Should this film have appeared in “AFI Silverdocs”?
The film moves back and forth between Julian Assange
and Bradley Manning, telling complete stories of both, with many live shots of
both, making them both into movie stars.
But it is Manning;s
that seems tragic. He is always likeable
on camera, and it’s not that apparent that, while in the Army, gender identity
became such an issue for him (to the point that he wanted hormone
replacement). It’s a little hard to sort
out at what point he decided to release all the information he had gathered
after being placed in military intelligence, almost out of the Army’s
“convenience”. Manning’s detailed
history is available on Wikipedia here.
Manning’s behavior, as presented by the film, is
disturbing enough that it would seem that it could have been used by opponents
of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and the military gay ban. However,
people deployed in Iraq, including an out lesbian soldier who supervised him,
really didn’t care.
The story of his betrayal by another hacker Adrian Lamo, whom the film describes as somewhat eccentric himself
and having Aspergers, and living in his own world, is
The behavior by the US Army disclosed in the leaks is
indeed shocking. This film shows
enhanced clips form the original "Collateral
Murder" ("cf" blog, April 7, 2010; the US government
hasn't complained to me about my embedding the 40-minute film on my own blog).
The excerpts include dialogue where helicopter soldiers say, when children are
shot, that it's their parents' fault for bringing them into a combat zone.
Supporters of Bradley Manning (there is a “Bradley Manning Support Network)
held a protest at Fort Meade, MD on June 1, WJLA story here. The Obama
administration seems to be "tougher" on the leaks issue with Manning
than Bush would have been (although Bush kept a civilian in a Navy brig for
months as a "combatant").
Assange’s early history is amplified by interviews
with Daniel Domshceit-Berg. One of the earliest activities involved
disclosing the financial chicanery by banks in Iceland. Later, the film details the history of the
attempts by governments to set him up.
Were the sexual assault charges in Sweden a set-up? If he was innocent, why did he resist going
back to Sweden? Was he sure that he would
be railroaded? One interesting observation is that Assange (in contrast to
Manning) had apparently fathered several children with different women. He comes across physically as an attractive,
In the end, Wikileaks had to contradict its own
values, demanding secrecy agreements itself.
The official Facebook is here.
See related PBS Frontline “WikiSecrets”,
June 15, 2011. See also films here April
11, 2013; September
29 and June 25, 2012.
Update: June 3
CNN is reporting the first day of Bradley Manning's
trial at Fort Meade. MD;
he was portrayed as craving "notoriety" and of having,
through Wikileaks, given Al Qaeda information that showed up in Osama bin
Laden's compound in Abbottabad, according to Navy Seals, CNN story with video
I spent one weekend at Fort Meade myself in 1969,
while in the Army, for the Armed Forces Chess Championship (scored 3.5 out of
6). The National Security Agency adjoins
has his own interpretation of the Manning trial in the Huffington Post here.
The New York Times has an account June 4 of the
testimony of Adrian Lamo, story by Charlie Savage,
Bradley Manning is now known as Chelsea Manning after
sexual reassignment treatment for male-to-female transition.
Posted by Bill Boushka at 5:50 AM
Labels: DADT, indie documentary, political LGBT, pre
9/11 drama, Wikileaks