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What Glenn Beck and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange have in common

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"I don't support this guy. I don't support what he's doing, but I'm really torn on this story," Beck told his audience this week. "He is exposing the fact that our governments all around the world have been lying to us. It's been a job we've been trying to do but been pilloried over and over for doing it. I don't want a guy to go to jail or to be silenced for something he didn't do. Again, I don't support him. But I want you to the look into the crime that he committed to warrant an international manhunt."

Assange's motivations

What is it that Assange believes and hopes to accomplish?

Based on his writings and interviews in the year since he became an international celebrity – with Russia calling for him to be awarded the Nobel prize, famous journalist-activists like John Pilger standing up for him in court, and members of the US Congress painting him as something close to public enemy No. 1 – he is less a whistle-blower than a form of anarchist, someone who sees all government secrecy as dangerous.

A whistleblower in the true sense of the word reveals illegal or immoral behavior from within an organization, taking a stand against his corporate or national loyalties in service of exposing a rot within. The information they reveal is typically tailored to a specific crime or injustice. But WikiLeaks, with bits of scandal drowned in a flood of documents that range from the banal to the prurient to the enlightening, is something else again.

To be sure, Assange says he wants to shed light on dark secrets, but he also says he's happy if that leads to more secrecy, since it will weaken the systems of the US and other governments.

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