We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013) (130 min)

March 5, 2014 - 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM

Directed by Alex Gibney – A WHISTLEBLOWER EVENT

As part of a series of events centered around Whistleblowers, Syracuse University has teamed up with the Government Accountability Project (GAP) to bring five modern Whistleblowers to both the university and the community during the month of March, culminating in a joint speaking event on Wednesday, March 26th at SU. ArtRage is honored to be in collaboration with SU & GAP to bring you related films and a public event with Whistleblower Michael Winston at the gallery. Stay tuned for more info on the full schedule of events both at ArtRage and Syracuse University.

The title of Alex Gibney’s documentary contains what sounds like a cheeky ad slogan for the embattled organization WikiLeaks. In fact, the phrase “we steal secrets” is spoken by General Michael V. Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, when he is explaining how government activities that involve secrets in turn require secrecy.

The unexpected source of the quotation is not just a curiosity, for it lies at the heart of WikiLeaks and the film’s twinned stories. The film describes what happened when Julian Assange led the WikiLeaks project to publish sensitive documents from anonymous contributors, and when a lonely Army private, Bradley Manning, took the opportunity WikiLeaks created to air the military’s dirty laundry (and much else besides).

It’s somehow appropriate that a film concerned with secrecy should make use of private chat messages. Private Manning sent them to a former hacker, Adrian Lamo, who has said he turned in the soldier for the common good. Alongside such personal dramas, the debate over the dangers and the responsibilities of secrecy plays out articulately with commentators like the reporter Nick Davies of The Guardian and General Hayden.

Drawing on the testimony of more than 20 witnesses, the film creates an astonishing picture of the complex new world of internet communications, intelligence and the ever-expanding web of post-cold war secrecy. It’s into this fragile, ill-managed china shop that Assange, Manning and Lamo, the raging anti-establishment bulls, so recklessly charged, raising enough moral and ethical issues to occupy philosophers and political scientists for decades to come.

Free to the Public