July 26th, 2010
09:11 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Julian Assange

The former teen computer hacker who once broke into the Pentagon, and his community-based "media insurgency" known as WikiLeaks have released military documents about the U.S. war in Afghanistan that are so sensitive, the release is being likened to the 1970s publishing of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times.

Assange, Australian by birth, operates WikiLeaks from Reykjavik, Iceland, according to a June profile in The New Yorker. The organization achieved global notoriety this year when it released a 38-minute video of U.S. forces opening fire on unarmed civilians - including two journalists - in Iraq.

WikiLeaks has released material related to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the "Climategate" e-mails and Sarah Palin's private e-mail.

According to New Yorker contributor-at-large Raffi Khatchadourian, WikiLeaks has no paid staff or office, and Assange travels so much he has no home. A team of about five people dedicate themselves full time to the effort, using code names and encrypted online chat services to protect their privacy. Additionally, a network of 100-plus volunteers support the effort, the magazine reports.

The New Yorker article details Assange's childhood, featuring a broken home, and a mother who, despite little money, bought him a Commodore 64 computer sometime after his 8th birthday.

In 1987, by age 16, Assange had become a sophisticated hacker known as "Mendax" (Greek for "nobly untruthful") and had joined with two other hackers to form the International Subversives. The group broke into systems throughout Europe and North America, including the Pentagon and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to The New York profile.

By 1991, he'd been arrested by Australian authorities and faced 31 counts of hacking and related crimes. Three years later, Assange pleaded guilty to multiple hacking charges and paid a relatively small sum, the magazine reports.

Later in his career, Assange wrote a book with Sulette Dreyfuss called "Underground" in which he established the rules of hacking: Don't damage computers and don't change information; just share it.

By 2006, the magazine reported, Assange had surrendered his hacking career. He formed WikiLeaks as a form of moral imperative, he said. The organization receives some 30 submissions from whistle-blowers daily, according to Khatchadourian.

The New Yorker: No Secrets: Julian Assange's mission for total transparency

Tony Hayward

The BP chief executive may announce his resignation as early as Tuesday, according to a report in the British paper The Daily Telegraph.

At issue, however, is Hayward's severance package, which reflects his 28 years with the company and BP's $10 billion in profits earned so far in 2010, the newspaper said. Additionally, an overall report of BP's operational shortcomings could further raise eyebrows. The White House and U.S. regulators are convinced that Hayward is being paid "for failure," the paper said.

Hayward has a contract entitling him to his current annual salary of $1.6 million, along with benefits, including a pension exceeding $16 million, according to the Telegraph. Additionally, Hayward has significant stock options that will be affected by his departure.

Another factor in the negotiations is Hayward's age and when he can draw on that pension. At 52, Hayward must wait until he is 60 to receive his retirement, which would equal more than $900,000 annually, the paper reports.

The Daily Telegraph: BP's Tony Hayward will 'quit in days'

Vicente Fox

The former president of Mexico, along with former President George W. Bush, came the closest to achieving immigration reform between the U.S. and Mexico - only to be thwarted by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Since September 11, there has been no advance on reform, Fox told The New York Times Magazine on Sunday. "Xenophobes have taken over," he said.

Fox went on to criticize Sen. John McCain - who in 2005 introduced a reform bill - and is now supportive of Arizona's controversial immigration law. Fox said the demand for drugs in the United States is causing Mexico's crime wave, and he had cool words for the Obama White House.

"President Obama is committed to Hispanics and migrants," Fox said. "That's a promise I had from President Bush, and six years went by and nothing happened. I don't want to be negative, but I'm seeing the same story repeating again."

The New York Times Magazine: Questions for Vicente Fox

Marva Ways

The 60-year-old grandmother, Michigan native and 2005 Miss Wheelchair America runner-up tells the Detroit Free Press that before the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act people with disabilities had limited civil rights.

Ways, paralyzed in a 1976 car accident that killed her young son, is a prominent member of ADAPT, a national organization that continues to fight for disability rights and awareness.

Though her home state of Michigan was among the first to pass disability legislation in 1976, Ways said she felt the limits of her abilities most when traveling the country doing public speaking. Restaurant doors were too small to pass through, and curbs had no slopes.

"A lot of it had to do with attitudinal barriers," Ways told the Free Press.

"People didn't recognize us as the first-class citizens that we were."

Ways continues to lobby for awareness. In 2002, she was among a group of ADAPT members to appear before first lady Laura Bush to promote the issue of long-term care.

Detroit Free Press: Americans with Disabilities Act hits 20

Van Jones

The ousted White House green jobs czar has finally spoken out about Shirley Sherrod.

In a New York Times op-ed published Sunday, Jones admitted his own "vulgarity" led to his September 2009 firing. However, technology's effect on the media, partisans "who claim to be media" and the Washington "body politic" made it impossible to defend himself, he wrote.

The Sherrod incident shows how misinformation has hurt the media's ability to be "our national immune system" and made government employees at all levels too cautious "to protect and improve the country."

"The killer app to stop the 'gotcha bullies' won't be a technological one," Jones wrote. "It will be a wiser, more forgiving culture."

The New York Times: Shirley Sherrod and me

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. NoWay

    wiki poo* I think you have just been had – big time. Someone was finally successful to get you to fall for the hoax with all the manufactured junk they could create. Remember, there is more than one hack out there, and quite a few are smarter than the whole wiki put together.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. NoWay no brain

    LOL good try NoWay, little offended are we?

    July 26, 2010 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Thruthinator

      How is it? That this Criminal is still out of Jail? The CIA should give him a slow acting toxin.

      July 26, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Papa

    Wiki leaks touts itself on transparency, but they are putting transparency ahead of American lives. That is backwards. American lives should always be put first. Of course I would expect the lack of understanding from a non-American. Their argument would be, "but we are concerned about innocent lives lost in Afghanistan". If that is true, then wouldn't long term peace brought about by the removal of terror groups be a far better method than the feel good reporting of possible injustices that inevitably occur through war?

    July 26, 2010 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike Speakman

      This could be treason and as such the people responsible for this should hang, literally!

      July 26, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • SilverHair

      Wiki treason.

      July 26, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous Guy

      Uh, you do realize the person who leaked lot of this information was done by a US Army Intelligence Analyst. This story was covered over a month ago, it's just now officially published on the site, see this article: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/leak/

      I'm not sure how this is "un-american" or "treason", considering we were built on the principals of freedom and the idea that we as citizens should encourage one another to ensure checks and balances in our government, or see for ourselves if their causes are just (not just what the media tells you). Not saying that this war is or isn't just, but I'm speaking as a whole on what's right. Don't forget what kind of adversity we overcame with the British to be able to have rights like this, and what the alternatives were or we may end up with some messed up version of Orson Well's Animal Farm.

      July 26, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Da Professor

      Papa - I could not agree more. It is time for this group – guy to be taken down hard. This nonsense is borderline treason. I'd sick the CIA on him and make him bleed.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      BS. We cannot sell our agenda as a moral imperative and continue to do underhanded stuff. Other lives regardless of country are not disposable. No wonder they hate us so much.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LakeSaintClair

      American...this is spoken like a true 'German' a la 1940's variety...

      July 26, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Arod

    Reclous and treasonous. Should be struck as enemy combatant. His aim is not the truth. His aim is to undermine military objectives for his own personal ego trip. Just like his hacking days. I hope he dies...

    July 26, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • SilverHair

      Thank you.

      July 26, 2010 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      If he posted something about NO WMD in Iraq, it could have save more soldiers lives and a lot of money. We will not be in the financial we are in now. He's a patriot!

      July 26, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Codepwned

    You didn't read the full story obviously. MULTIPLE news organizations were given the SAME information on the agreement they didn't release it until after Sunday. There was no treasonous act. Unfortunately in the world we live in FORCED transparency is necessary to keep certain groups in line. Don't get me wrong, I'm no tin foil hat person, I'm quite far from it. Wikileaks is forcing those who get away with things to be culpable for their actions. Explain yourself, it often demands. I'm very glad it's around.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Bowerbird

      Julian Assange is an odious person. He is undermining the efforts of the US military and having a jolly good time doing so. Gullible readers will say that this exposure is democratic and what we need but think again...it is your country that you are helping to bring down.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew Messenger

    Under regular CIA protocol, when an enemy is identified, don't they usually quietly eliminate them?

    For the benefit of world security, it might be interesting to see if this guy accidentally disappears without a trace.

    Whether the data released is authentic or not, even misinformation in relation to war could be warranted as an act of terrorism. I hope our national security organizations have the backbone to resolve this quietly.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Fool

      you my friend are an idiot. This IS freedom of speech, the thing you hold so dear. We NEED to know these things, knowledge is power. Plus, he is an Australian citizen and not a US citizen...it would be murder, what gives YOU the right to 'get rid' of someone for saying something you don't like??? But obviously you agree with covering things up etc......you are either a fool or a republican or both.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • LakeSaintClair

      But if our intelligence agencies were to do as you say, those actions would be acts of terrorism...

      July 26, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. BrickellPrincess

    WikiLeaks does what all these coward American "news" organizations dare not do. They expose the empire's war machine for what it truly is!

    The day you realize the truth about your government will be the day you have woken up.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Amen to that.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • free plaestine

      soon wikilinks will expose all ugly israels crimes against humanity. End of israel.

      July 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WhisperingPines

    I'll bet you the US government will now feed WikiLeaks false information to try to discredit the site. That is, of course, what is being planned.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Truth

    You don't win a chess match when your opponent (and the rest of the world) has a history of all of your past moves and the confidential strategy behind them. I'm proud to live in a country where people have the freedom to post things like this, but the more confidential information this guy posts, the closer to losing that very freedom we all become. He's sabotaging the very soldiers that defend his right to post.

    Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't make it right.

    July 26, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • CaringFool

      A typical hater of anything that America holds dear – unfortunately, freedom of the press allows this jerk to do whatever he pleases. A globe trotter living off donations.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Sounds like you've never played a strong chess player.

      A good enough opponent will defeat you regardless of how well you know they're strategy.

      July 26, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • neonmadman

      He's not sabotaging the soldiers that protect his rights, he's not an American.

      July 26, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Payden

    Time for the CIA to earn their pay...

    July 26, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sherif

    Mendax is Latin, not Greek, and it just means a liar, nothing noble about it.

    July 26, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sam

    Awww all the blind patriots are offended!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      No Sam. Loyal American soldiers fighting under the orders of their Commander and Chief Barrack Obama are offended. Families of the soldiers whose lives are needlessly endangered because some guy wants to tell the enemy how we operate are offended.

      July 26, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • loyal American

      No Bob. Loyal American soldiers and their families should be questioning the futile mission they've been sent on, and loyal Americans should be more protective against the waste of life on all fronts. The sensitive nature of the information leaked by whistle blowers is a legitimate issue to examine, but so is the revealed duplicity on the part of our government officials and some of the reprehensible actions taken under the protection of the U.S. flag.

      July 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RuBand

    You are the man!!!

    July 26, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. floydfix69

    i but this guy is being hunted down thks guy for getting our troops kill. your next.

    July 26, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. Christine

    Unbelievable! This whole thing makes me sick. Back in the older days he would have been caught and hung for treason. They should get all of the personnel that are responsible for this leak.

    July 26, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • loyal American

      So you are more comfortable with the lack of knowledge that can promote continued dishonesty and dishonorable actions by our government operatives?

      July 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
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