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Schmitt Leaves WikiLeaks?

Dissension in the ranks?


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BERLIN (Rixstep) — Daniel Domscheit-Berg, aka Daniel Schmitt, thought to be a member of the formidable Chaos Computer Club and close associate of Julian Assange, is leaving the WikiLeaks organisation.

Schmitt says this is his decision; WikiLeaks Twitter says he was suspended a month ago.


'We all had an insane amount of stress in recent months', Schmitt told Spiegel. 'A few mistakes happened, which is OK, as long as people learn from them. For that to happen, though, one has to admit them. We have lost the faith that we are all pulling together.'

Schmitt wanted WikiLeaks to also concentrate on smaller documents of more local interest.

'I tried again and again to push for that, but Julian Assange reacted to any criticism with the allegation that I was disobedient to him and unloyal to the project.'

'There is a lot of resentment there and some others, like me, will leave.'

Which all sounds potentially damning. But there are a few points to be made.

  • Schmitt claims he hid his real name Domscheit-Berg up to now for fear of attacks. What makes him think he's in the clear merely because he'll leave the WikiLeaks organisation?

  • Dissension can happen. Especially in times of war. And don't look now but WikiLeaks is in the midst of a huge war. Julian Assange hasn't mentioned anything about dissension even though he's had ample opportunity. Those covered wagons are supposed to form a circle when the natives attack. If Schmitt feels loyalty to the cause of WikiLeaks above and beyond any loyalty and friendship to Julian Assange, and if he's not been compromised, then he'd be keeping his priorities straight and his mouth shut - at least for now.

  • Schmitt gains nothing (at least for the WikiLeaks cause) by 'going public' with this story. All he does is gain a bit of notoriety for himself and hurt the WikiLeaks cause. If all these people are going to quit WikiLeaks because Assange is behaving badly, then that's the only message they need send. As with Birgitta Jónsdóttir earlier, you're supposed to have the basic perspicacity to know you don't hang your laundry out in public and you never ever talk to one another through the media.

  • There are more people involved besides Schmitt. One must not forget the whistleblowers. The welfare and the lives of the whistleblowers - the true heroes here - are at stake with any publicly disclosed dissension in the ranks at WikiLeaks. There are also the lives of countless civilians and others that can be saved if pressure can be brought to end wars.

This WikiLeaks thing is not a hackers' game - it's deadly serious. Lives can already be at stake. So it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong in the current debacle - it might very well be Julian Assange! But what matters is you don't go public.

All of which Daniel Schmitt must fully understand. Are we watching a puppet on a string?

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