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We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

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We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

The story Alex Gibney tells here, that of WikiLeaks' founder, raconteur and alleged sexual offender Julian Assange, is outlandishly complicated, peopled not with clear-cut good and bad guys but mostly imperfect individuals who hover in between. There's emotionally fragile Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who passed sensitive military and diplomatic files along to Assange. And there are the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel, three newspapers that banded together to release information purloined by WikiLeaks-- and got off scot-free while Manning was imprisoned in abominable conditions. No one should look to documentaries for hard and fast answers, and in this case Gibney, a prolific and skilled documentarian, offers conclusions more murky than they are helpful. While he hints that the information revealed by those newspapers probably didn't endanger any American lives, he takes a less definitive stand on the basic principle that some leaks could endanger lives. Assange states that he doesn't care if innocent people die-- getting information to the public is the most important thing. When Gibney approached Assange for an interview, the fugitive demanded an exorbitant sum. (Information wants to be free; legal services don't.) Gibney refused, of course, but he did obtain footage of Assange tromping through the countryside in wellies and a hacking jacket, looking well accustomed to the life of a country gent. Meanwhile, Manning faces charges that could keep him in prison for 20 years, or possibly life. That irony isn't lost on Gibney, but he tiptoes around it too delicately as he navigates this whole sorry mess.

Stephanie Zacharek

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