Assange was also interviewed about this by CBS’s Katie Couric. Here’s the transcript:
Julian Assange: Our technology means we don’t know who is submitting us materials. But the name Bradley Manning was first heard by us when we read an article about his arrest in Wired magazine.
Katie Couric: So neither you nor WikiLeaks provided any technical assistance to Private Manning before he exfiltrated this information?
Assange: Well, I assume that is correct. Now, remember, we’ve never heard the name of Bradley Manning before. But it’s interesting you’re raising that particular question, because it’s something that appears to be coming out of attempts to conflate media activities with espionage. That’s a serious business.
No doubt, some prosecutors, seeking to gain their bit of fame and reputation by taking us on, but they’re going to lose.
Couric: Can you explain, Mr. Assange, to people who may not understand your motives or agree with you why you’ve done this? What you hope to accomplish?
Assange: Katie, we have a four-year publishing history. We have published materials provided to us by whistleblowers from 110 countries across the world.
And we simply have a very easily understood promise. Unlike most media organizations, we don’t arbitrarily choose what to publish or not to publish based upon the political or personal whims. We have a publicly stated policy, that, like lawyers, we are journalists that will assist sources getting out certain information to the public.
It is information that is of diplomatic, political, ethical, or historical significance. And this material is clearly of great human rights and political significance. Clearly of ethical and historical significance.
Couric: Some of the documents released-Mr. Assange, contained highly sensitive information, for instance, about sites around the world, particularly vulnerable to terrorism. What good comes from releasing that kind of information that could, in fact, cost lives?
Assange: Well, the facts are important, Katie. So, you mentioned a specific incident. So, let’s get past the spin, and look at the facts. That particular cable was one of a series of instructions given to diplomats to engage in espionage activities in their country.
And said explicitly to not consult the host nations, not consult the governments responsible for actually securing these facilities or the people around them.
It didn’t contain any information about GPS coordinates or security procedures used. Just the base names of some of these things. It’s really of significant interest, for example, that the center of U.S. power in the government, believes that a particular plant for producing iodine in Sweden, in case the U.S. goes to a nuclear war is important.
Couric: Are there certain secrets, classified government information that you believe should in fact remain secret? Because you do redact some material from what you publish.
Assange: We are an organization that attempts to promote human rights by revealing abuses that are concealed. So, of course, we never want to be in a position where through our releases we actually are causing harm to individuals. Or at least not more harm than the good we are causing.
Through our four-year publishing history, there has never been– an example of any individual– coming to any sort of physical harm of all that has been alleged. The U.S. government has made it clear, when it has been asked, that it is not aware of any single incident.
Couric: Julian Assange, thank you so much for your time today.
Assange: Thank you, Katie, goodnight.
Justin Raimondo concluded an essay today on how weird reactions to Assange and the WikiLeaks case are with this:
One’s response to WikiLeaks and its charismatic founder tells us more about the respondent than it does about the subject of transparency in government. Like a work of art, WikiLeaks evokes visceral emotions and brings out our true selves: “libertarians” (some of them) are outed as closet authoritarians, right-wing blowhards are exposed as libertarians at heart, and shameless hypocrites are impaled on a sword of their own making