Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks

With the Bradley Manning trial underway & PRISM whistleblower Edward Snowden mysteriously checked out of his hotel in Hong Kong, this seemed like a good week to see We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, Alex Gibney's new documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange & Bradley Manning, his most important leaker. Though the main characters are computer hackers, their complex story is driven by their ethical choices, not by technology. Assange is weirdly fascinating & comes across as cagey & impulsive. Unfortunately the filmmakers failed to get an exclusive interview with him. They disabuse viewers of the theory that the rape charges against Assange are politically motivated, but a curious interview with one of his accusers skirts the encounter in question.

Bradley Manning only appears through second-hand accounts, photographs, & his on-line chats, but he is the film's hero. It was heartening to see former State Department spokesman PJ Crowley gracefully resign after criticizing the treatment of Manning in military prison. Adrian Lamo, the controversial hacker who turned Manning in, receives an unflattering depiction, looking over-medicated & despondent. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA & the NSA, is a frighteningly clear-minded interviewee & is ironically the source for the film's title.

§ We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013)
dir, Alex Gibney
USA, 130 min

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