If there is one characteristic that has defined Wikileaks proprietor Julian Assange, it is utter hypocrisy - his complete and total unwillingness or inability to abide by his own principles.
The man was complicit in an theft on an epic scale, but had the gall to criticize the UK Guardian for publishing government cables obtained by Wikileaks without the organization's permission. The grounds for his complaint: "he owned the information and had a financial interest in how and when it was released." Assange is also not a fan of media outlets publishing leaked information about him. He lashed out at the Guardian late last year for "selectively publish[ing]" police reports about rape charges against him.
And now, despite his active efforts to literally render the American government unable to function, Assange is invoking rule of law to protect his "property" (you know, all the stolen documents in his possession). He has reportedly forced Wikileaks employees to sign a draconian confidentiality agreement that would put them on the hook for roughly $20 million if they release Wikileaks documents without permission.
David Allen Green of the New Statesman, which recently acquired a copy of the agreement, wrote on Wednesday:
This blog has previously described the bizarre legal world of WikiLeaks where, for example, the organisation claims some form of commercial ownership over the information that has been leaked to it.
Today, the New Statesman can reveal the extent of this legal eccentricity as we publish a copy of the draconian and extraordinary legal gag that WikiLeaks imposes on its own staff.
Clause 5 of this "Confidentiality Agreement" (PDF) imposes a penalty of "£12,000,000 – twelve million pounds sterling" on anyone who breaches this legal gag.
This ludicrous – and undoubtedly unenforceable – amount is even based on "a typical open market valuation" for the leaked information that WikiLeaks possesses.
This phraseology is consistent with WikliLeaks's perception of itself as a commercial organisation in the business of owning and selling leaked information. Indeed, there is no other sensible way of interpreting this penalty clause.
James Jay Carafano aptly channeled the absurdities of these revelations in a blog post Friday:
WikiLeaks openly flaunts the rule of law, vacuuming up stolen goods (documents) from the US government, and then claiming protection under the rule of law from any employee who would steal the stolen goods from them. Wow...
WikiLeaks [sic] notion that stolen goods should rightly be deemed its “property,” and that the law should protect its ability to profit from possession of stolen goods is equaling stunning.
WikiLeaks was wrongheaded from the start. These latest revelations are just further proof that the organization lacks a moral compass.