Marcela Gaviria’s documentary, which was first seen on the PBS series “Frontline,” pieces together the unlikely alliance between Julian Assange, the flamboyantly self-promoting Australian editor/publisher of the WikiLeaks website, and Bradley Manning, a maladjusted U.S. Army soldier who has been accused of passing nearly 500,000 classified government files to Assange. WikiLeaks’ publication of the classified information shed a new light on the U.S. military occupation of Iraq and exposed serious security holes within the military – most egregiously, the ability for Manning to copy top secret documents to a disk without raising any digital warnings of unauthorized data transfers.
Manning (who was not interviewed for this film) is presented as a loose cannon – uncomfortable in the military culture, he flaunted the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy by clearly stating his homosexuality on Facebook and confided his Assange connection to Adrian Lamo, a prominent hacker who ratted out Bradley to military authorities. Assange, who is interviewed on camera, comes across as a reasonable and articulate individual – a far cry from the vituperative comments offered by business associates and newspaper editors, who accuse him of being imperious and insincere.
“WikiSecrets” is destined to have a very limited shelf life, since Manning has yet to be brought to trial and Assange is facing his own high-profile legal battles. For the moment, though, it provides a comprehensive and objective view of a complex and often astonishing controversy.