God, I had to stop reading.
So in three paragraphs, here's what I think of the important people in this exchange:
Julian Assange is a glad-handing, starfucking narcissist. He has been, however, a useful glad-handing, starfucking narcissist. It is my measured opinion that the Clinton and GWB administrations got in the habit of classifying shit that had no business being classified and that the Obama administration has accelerated this tendency. Democratic presidencies are almost always deep into cloak'n'dagger; Nixon never would have tried Bay of Pigs. The GWB administration, on the other hand, classified shit because they were doing some straight-up nefarious war crimes. Into this maelstrom throw an emotionally retarded hacktivist who likes to throw rocks from high places. He's no Daniel Ellsberg, that's for sure. I think it's telling that most of the cooperation between Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald has been mechanical in nature; Snowden's documents have not gone through Assange's pipeline.
Erik Schmidt is an unimaginative businessman. He hasn't an innovative bone in his body but he's very good at applying Edison-style (1% inspiration, 99% perspiration - "let's just drive every road if we want a better map" is archetypal Schmidt) thinking to problems. The book discussed in this piece - The New Digital Age - is a total snoozer filled with almost zero insight. It was pretty clear to me less than a third of the way in that Erik Schmidt barely understands the implications of the organization he heads and certainly doesn't trouble himself with connecting the dots given him by his advisors and colleagues. Bill Gates is a tinkerer. Steve Jobs was a perfectionist. Erik Schmidt is a bureaucrat. But
Jared Cohen is an interesting fellow. When I picked up The New Digital Age I also picked up Children of Jihad - which is Cohen's account of basically hitch-hiking around every middle-eastern hot spot there was in 2006 and hanging out with anybody who would party with him. He went to meetings with Hamas. He went to gay discos in Tehran. He took a taxi across Kurdistan and pulled up to the Green Zone in Baghdad. Children of Jihad is a deeply engaging, thought-provoking book by an interesting person with his eyes open. The New Digital Age is a total snoozer with no fresh insight. It had the effect of making me think that as dull as Digital Age is, it would have been that much duller without Cohen's input.
All of which leads me to believe that when Erik Schmidt and Jared Cohen went out to meet with Julian Assange, it was because Google was thinking of working with Wikileaks in some way, on some level, and Cohen put the kibosh on it. I suspect that Jared Cohen, who spent his college years eating McNuggets with Hezbollah (find me a more Jewish name than "Jared Cohen" without invoking yiddish), took the measure of Julian Assange and determined that he was an unsteady narcissist that was more trouble than he was worth. Which, incidentally, is probably about the assessment that Glenn Greenwald/Edward Snowden made as well.
The tenor of this article is largely "but enough about Google, let's talk about me." Wikileaks' releases tend to be entirely too self-congratulatory; they can't seem to break a story without being the story. I mean, do you really think you're going to meet with the CEO of Google without the State Department crawling all over it?
Nobody is that naive. Assange just assumes we are.