The crackdown on whistleblowers to protect national security is "neo-McCarthyist hysteria" and Julian Assange says he has the emails to prove it.
The WikiLeaks founder hit back hard at critics at London's Frontline Club on February 27 as his site unveiled an extraordinary cache of five million emails yanked from the servers of transnational spies-for-hire Stratfor.
The emails allegedly show that Stratfor's clients include a number of US military and state intelligence agencies while unmasking state and military officials as paid informants for Stratfor themselves.
Most emails remained off-limits to the public as of February 27, but researchers and affiliated journalists said executives had spent an estimated US$100,000 (A$93,000) per year on informants.
In one instance, vice-president of intelligence Fred Burton -- himself a former deputy chief of the US Diplomatic Security service -- signed off on a US$1200-a-month retainer to a "Geronimo", thought to be someone in an extremely high-ranking government role.
In other instances, however, researchers said they had found informants' names and credit card details passed around verbatim without even consumer-level email encryption.
Assange told the February 27 Morning Star (archived by Internet Archive 29/02/2012) that the emails highlighted how talk of endangering national security - "a criticism frequently levelled against WikiLeaks" - is only "neo-McCarthyist hysteria".
"Whenever this phrase 'national security' is used it should be immediately shot down," Assange said.
"Are we talking about the security of the entire nation -- all its people -- or are we talking about a particular social, economic and political sector?
"Because there is a tremendous confusion between these two and it is used time and time again to try and suggest that the security of all the people in the nation is the same as a particular sector of the economy -- namely, private intelligence agencies, organisations like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Stratfor and their government equivalents."
WikiLeaks material had in the meantime exposed hundreds of thousands of unlawful killings, he said.
Meanwhile speculation of endangering intelligence agencies' sources and operations had been proven "completely false, completely and utterly false".
"As for this material, we don't foresee any risks apart from those organisations that have committed wrongdoing and need to be taken down," he said.