“Almost no one gets caught. The United States has how many million people? And how many prosecutions are we talking about? Five? Out of 300 million people. Almost no one gets caught. Almost everyone is successful in leaking the material. But the people who are caught become extremely visible,“ argues Assange. “And we are inspired by them. We promote their visibility. Similarly, people who want to stop leaks also promote the visibility of people who have been caught. So there is a sensory illusion that it’s actually very dangerous to do.”
Ellsberg raised the case of Thomas Drake, a recently indicted National Security Agency official accused of giving classified information unmasking a wasteful program to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun. According to the indictment, Drake had tried to cover his tracks by using a purportedly confidential e-mail system.
“The very fight you’re having now, over the video and the other things, probably will impress people, as it impressed me, that you really do have a technology that makes it hard for them to break into and that you’re not giving them access to, and over time, I hope that could give people confidence to use your approach,” said Ellsberg. “It’s the very video that brought you to peoples attention. I gave my first contribution to WikiLeaks having seen that.”
As the time allotted to their conversation expired, the participants waved goodbye over their video link. Ellsberg leaned into laptop where he’d been watching Assange.
“Let’s be in touch,” he said.
UPDATE, 3:40: Due to an editing error, several distinct quotes from Julian Assange were rendered as a single blockquote. The text has been corrected.
CORRECTION, 5:00: In his talk before PDF, Assange suggested the Ramparts article was published in 1973. In fact, it ran in 1972. The text has been corrected. WikiLeaks has more on this interesting story here.