It all began so innocently. I started hanging out with a bad crowd on the intertubes, digging into secret filez about energy wars and government corruption. The Afghan War Logs. The Iraq War Logs. Suddenly I was being called a "WikiLeaks groupie".
And it was true! Yes, I was revelling in this subversive counter-culture! I was spending hours and hours on my computer, chatting with other "groupies", posting my findings on Twitter, writing up stories the media was ignoring and governments didn't want people to know. I began writing for WikiLeaks Central and even got re-tweeted by Mr. @wikileaks himself - an intoxicating high for a crazy, deluded cyber-hippy like myself.
It was just a fashionable thing, obviously. It would have passed soon enough, I'm sure. But then along came CableGate, with over 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables just begging to be investigated. How could I walk away now? Ignoring my wife's futile pleas, I launched myself into the adventure like an alcoholic diving into a beer-filled swimming pool. Alas!
To make matters worse, the Arab Spring was spreading across North Africa and the Middle East. Even European countries began to witness mass protests with young people - obviously as foolish as myself - setting up camps in the centre of major capitals. When they cited WikiLeaks as an inspiration, I felt as if I knew exactly what they meant. There seemed to be some kind of connection between the growing pile of Cablegate revelations and the growing outrage on the streets. With retrospect, as the media kindly explained, we were obviously experiencing some kind of mass delusion!
Meanwhile, the voices of reason were growing louder. Julian Assange is a narcissist, they said. He's dangerous. He's putting innocent lives at risk. He's a criminal who should be locked up or assassinated! La la la la la! I blocked my ears, refusing to even acknowledge their logic. In fact, these voices only fuelled my determination to support the embattled WikiLeaks insiders.
When Daniel Domscheit-Berg split with Assange, taking a batch of secret files with him and crippling the all-important WikiLeaks drop-box, I cursed him as a traitor. When he published a book, sold movie rights, and announced his own "OpenLeaks" organisation, I ridiculed him as a contemptible opportunist. But when he told a Geman newspaper where to find a loosed copy of the entire Cablegate package, insisting that the password to the file had already been published, that was the last straw. I snapped!
Something inside my head must have broken right then and there...
I just couldn't understand how Domscheit-Berg could bring public attention to the full, unredacted Cablegate package and still argue that he supported whistle-blowers. And I couldn't understand how the German media could report this without condemning him.
I couldn't understand it, either, when Guardian editor David Leigh claimed that there was nothing wrong with publishing the full password in his rushed, tell-all WikiLeaks book. I mean, if it was OK for him to publish the password, how could he criticise Assange for lax security? Wasn't that hypocrisy?
Leigh even criticised Assange for not speaking up when the book was published. But what was Julian supposed to say? "OMG you just published the password and there's a rogue file floating on WikiLeaks mirror sites!"???
Things got even weirder when I read the newspapers the next day. Everything was Julian Assange's fault! Daniel Domscheit-Berg was barely mentioned. Leigh's password publishing was old news already. How was that possible, I wondered?
Formerly loyal WikiLeaks supporters began to peel away from the organisation. It was time to join them, to denounce Assange as "an Icarus who flew too close to the sun", then step back and watch him fall to earth with a thud.
But I couldn't do it. OK, clearly Assange should have been more careful in protecting that Cablegate file. He should have removed it from the hidden sub-folder and made a new password after Leigh downloaded it. But the WikLeaks site was under repeated denial-of-service attacks, his organisation was fending off accusations from all sides, they were working with minimal resources, and Assange himself was being set up (or so I foolishly believed) for sex crimes in Sweden.
Under the circumstances, the enigmatic Australian's mistake seemed understandable to me. From my twisted viewpoint, it hardly de-legitimized the entire WikiLeaks venture. But what did I know? I had already slipped from the tenuous grasp of "Assangeism" into a deep state of blind devotion to the WikiLeaks founder. I was gone, baby, gone.
So now I light my candles, bow to my little online altar, and send my daily missives out into the ether, praying to the gods of transparency, truth and light. It's madness, I know. But who will join me?