A Review/Synopsis of “We Steal Secrets”

This site is by no means meant to be a movie review site, but this film really should be seen as “We Steal Secrets” is a fantastic documentary. Aside from the sensationalized view of hacking (using rainbow tables to crack an NTLM hash is not sophisticated sorry) the movie is the most accurate depiction of multiple levels of the hacking scene that I’ve seen. WeStealSecrets

The movie takes you from the early days 80′s/90′s with Julian Assange and I guarantee you know this personality 100 times over in the scene. The self-righteous narcissist who thinks they are completely revolutionizing the world because they made a site with file upload capabilities. Then there is Adrian Lamo and Bradley Manning. Both personalities you feel really bad for and I’m sure know well also.

In the case of Manning, you see a poor young man struggling with gender confusion and his sexuality while living in a military community, which I imagine is not a particularly warm place for someone struggling with either. He seeks refuge within the hacking community by reaching out to Assange, who clearly takes advantage of him, and Adrian Lamo a hacker with a clear social disorder. Although Lamo sympathizes with Manning and is warm and comforting (there is an oddly powerful moment where he comforts a seemingly suicidal Manning with “just keep typing”). Though he ultimately betrays Manning’s trust damning him to imprisonment without charges and arguably torture.

In the end Assange uses the publicity to gain celebrity as a hero for the freedom of speech and knowledge, though he realistically did nothing. He uses this to duck prosecution for what seems to have been a fairly clear case of rape but not in the sense that most initially would think it is (and it is clearly not the US trying to set him up). Manning’s life is pretty much over, he is facing life imprisonment or possibly even execution. Lamo’s punishment is in many ways incredibly severe. He is labeled as a traitor and ostracized within the community probably for life, and the confliction/guilt of destroying the life of someone who sought him for help.

What may be even more sad is the lasting effects of Assange’s continuing misguidance. Consider, the movement that he figureheads and how many more people, many children, have ruined their lives as a result of his deceptions. Consider the many Anonymous arrests that came about as a result of the DDoS attacks when credit card companies and Paypal stopped processing donations for Wikileaks or consider the money that people donated to Wikileaks not knowing that it was really going to Assange’s defense funds.

This was a great movie documentary, from the clear depiction of hacker personalities and the scene in general, I encourage all to see it. It is currently on iTunes.

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