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Columnists

Surfers' paradise

Dixe Wills

Well, it had to happen some day. It's been an impressively long run - I've looked it up on the internet and it's actually a world record - but it seems I have, at last, got something wrong.

Sorry, I should made sure first that you were sitting down. Pick yourself up off the floor, pour yourself a stiff drink, and try to remember that we all live to have our illusions shattered. Oh, and put some clothes on, please - it's the middle of the afternoon.

The error (or The Great Blunder as historians are already calling it) occurred on 28th May 2007 (expect the date to be renamed Day Zero - the government is rumoured to be preparing a white paper even as I type), for it was then that I penned a Surfer's Paradise in which I doubted that the embryonic whistle-blowers' haven Wikileaks (wikileaks.org) would ever come to much. Indeed, I took great relish in quoting a technology expert (I shall spare his blushes by not naming him again here) who had declared, 'Even if the people behind it [Wikileaks] are trustworthy I do not think they can deliver the secure, anonymous and uncensorable site they promise.'

Well, it appears they can, or at least they have been able to do so thus far. What's more, the accusations when the site was launched that the CIA was behind it would appear to be a little wide of the mark given that the 90,000 classified documents on the Afghanistan war recently leaked to the world. Indeed, if a document that was wiki-leaked in March is to be believed, the CIA drew up plans to destroy the integrity of the site by publicly identifying the whistle-blowers who sent information to it. And lest conspiracy theorists begin to speculate that it must therefore be run by some other country's secret service, it's worth noting that the site has leaked documents pertaining to more than 200 countries - all the more impressive given that the planet only runs to 193 widely recognised sovereign states.

So if you want to find out what's going on in Slovakia or who's thinking what about whom in the Northern Mariana Islands, you're just a click or two away.
All of which must have landed Julian Assange - the editor-in-chief and public face of Wikileaks - with the most diverse set of enemies anyone has ever had in the history of the world. If anyone needed to wear a T-shirt bearing the legend 'Don't shoot the messenger' it's this former hacker from Townsville (yes!), Australia. What's more, like all the rest of the staff at Wikileaks, he's a volunteer, so he doesn't even get paid for being unpopular.

So I humbly tend my apologies to Julian and his colleagues for my lack of faith in their venture. In the meantime, I think we can all be pretty thankful that there's no Wikileaks equivalent going around publishing the dark and murky secrets of our personal lives. After all, the prospect of Judgment Day is terrifying enough - I have no desire to watch the trailers.