Given the recent discussion of WikiLeaks, etc. thought this an interesting view of WikiLeaks and its founder. This is from the Wall Street Journal Opinion Section, December 13, 2010

I added the bold font for emphasis

Thanks to former top aides to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, we now have transparency about Mr. Assange and his motives. No small irony: The leaks exposing WikiLeaks may spell the end of the organization.

The people who know Mr. Assange best have abandoned WikiLeaks to set up a new service, scheduled to launch today, called OpenLeaks. They pledge that, unlike WikiLeaks, it will be politically neutral. Their goal is transparency, not Mr. Assange's "regime" change in the U.S.

"We want to be a neutral conduit," OpenLeaks founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg tells Forbes. "That's what's most politically sustainable as well." He left WikiLeaks when Mr. Assange insisted on releasing 400,000 classified documents about the war in Iraq without bothering to redact names of informants whose lives WikiLeaks put in danger. He also criticized Mr. Assange for focusing his attention on the U.S.

In essays Mr. Assange wrote before launching WikiLeaks in 2007, he explicitly states that his goal is to restrict how information is shared among government officials, such as intelligence agencies and diplomats, in order to cripple America. As he put it, "An authoritarian conspiracy that cannot think efficiently cannot act to preserve itself."

The former WikiLeaks staffers last week told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that they will operate "without a political agenda except for the dissemination of information to the media." Under this new approach to leaks, "all editorial control and responsibility rests with the publishing organizations," OpenLeaks says. Leakers will designate newspapers or others as recipients, which will then have the responsibility to check facts, avoid harmful disclosures, and provide context about the data.

Having seen the shortcomings of unfiltered leaks, OpenLeaks seems to appreciate the journalistic function of adding understanding about what data mean. "As a result of our intention not to publish any document directly and in our own name, we do not expect to experience the kind of political pressure which WikiLeaks is under at this time," OpenLeaks sources say. "It is quite interesting to see how little of politicians' anger seems directed at the newspapers using WikiLeaks sources."

In other words, OpenLeaks seems to understand the need for some accountable institution to be held responsible for leaks. Mr. Assange's conceit was that no one would be responsible for the actions of WikiLeaks, especially itself. News organizations understand accountability, even if they don't always meet the highest standards, and they routinely apply judgment about how they work with sources and leaked material. If a media organization causes harm in dealing with confidential information, it loses the trust of its audience. This is why editors were so careful with stories based on leaked information such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.

This rival leaks group might have arrived in time to save defenders of Mr. Assange from digging themselves deeper by defending the claim that dumping stolen data is by definition heroic. What Wired magazine calls "Internet vigilantes" last week attacked the online operations of PayPal and MasterCard, which had stopped serving WikiLeaks. The Berkeley City Council considered a resolution declaring alleged leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning a hero.

The OpenLeaks approach is a reminder that whatever else it is, WikiLeaks is not a journalistic enterprise. It simply released unfiltered data provided, legally or not, by others. For that matter, Pfc. Manning is not a whistleblower. To qualify, there must be something to blow a whistle about. There are embarrassing disclosures in reports never intended to be public, but the documents generally show U.S. soldiers and diplomats doing their best.

Some pundits argue that WikiLeaks has replaced journalistic organizations. A measure of how far this is from the truth is to recall how the leaked information became known. Several large newspapers, including the New York Times and the London-based Guardian, collaborated to publicize the WikiLeaks material, even though they had limited discretion over how the information was released.

Under the OpenLeaks approach, news editors will have discretion. They will have to protect innocent people. They should be held to account if, in this new digital world, intelligence agencies stop sharing information or diplomats pull their punches for fear of their routine work being leaked. Unlike Mr. Assange, editors answer to someone, namely readers and viewers.

Media organizations should welcome this role; in an era of mass leaks, news judgment is even more important. Once burned by WikiLeaks, editors should prefer to work with groups, that, as OpenLeaks promises it will do, give them accountability for what becomes public, how it becomes public, and for deciding what information must remain confidential.