By replying to this topic, it almost guarantees a rant from me of some kind.
The guy does seem like an ass, which means I'd never refer to him as a hero (I don't know of anyone I'd refer to as a "hero").
The problem is governments in general. Concentration of power is a bad thing. Now you have governments using the money of millions of people who have no choice but to pay to support whatever their government ends up doing (because it's almost impossible to align that many people for or against something). If they want to leave the country (something I'm trying to do soon), it's a long road ahead to get permanent citizenship and fully get rid of their US citizenship.
If you are a tax-paying US citizen, just change it to say "I helped kill hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians". If you're OK with that, support the US federal government. If you're not, do something about it.
These days, you can't voice your opinion against the federal government without many people calling you unamerican and anti-america. I could have sworn that was part of the point of the creation of the US. Honestly, the US federal government would hate to have the people who wrote the declaration of independence around. Lines like this would call for security monitoring of them or possibly all-expenses-paid vacations to Guantanamo Bay:
"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Or quotes like this:
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure."
These are the things the American citizens have forgot and apathetic toward.
The government has long since passed the point of "of the people, by the people and for the people". It is now of the government, by the government, and for the interests of the government. It's borderline (if not already classifiable as) totalitarian and authoritarian, and progressing further into that direction. Many people blindly support it country thinking "It's what my country is asking of me, so it's the right thing to do." This is a big problem.
What Assange did is a tricky thing to pass judgement on, and I don't think there's an answer. Should the US government go unchecked and do whatever they want? Should people's lives be endangered? As others have said, it probably should have been gone through and only had information revealed which was not immediately threatening people's lives. If it could have been avoided, which it could have, it should have been. This is not a hindsight problem -- unless he's an imbecile, he knew that it would put people in danger.
I honestly don't care, hence why I have plans to leave the country. I probably would not have had a problem fighting in the war of independence, since it was for a just cause, against oppression, and heading in the direction of civil liberty. It sickens me that people say that you have to fight for your country and if you don't you're a coward and unpatriotic. a) Patriotism is foolishness -- logically, it implies irrationality; b) perhaps fighting for the true purpose the founding fathers of the US had would be a better thing to fight for instead of wars which make no sense other than greed and revenge (some of humanity's most pervasive and base qualities).
I digress. I have no doubt the US will head into the depths before it might be reborn (perhaps not even as the US the next time around), and I don't think it's that far off (in my lifetime); this is opinion and assumption. Humans are in general very stupid and emotionally driven. This does not make a good combination for logical analysis of any situation. I've given up talking to people since it's impossible to even explain the simplest of concepts or have an open-minded debate without illogical rants and the equivalent of "it is because I say it is" arguments.
I'm always open to improving my understanding, and I'm not afraid to yield that I'm wrong; I understand that even if I am highly logical, rational, and analytical, it doesn't mean that I'm without fault. My ideal country is one in which the average intelligence is much higher than the current average (i.e., leave the stupid people to destroy themselves, and only take the intelligent ones after proving themselves), run by philosophers, scientists, and logicians, not politicians, only allowing people of intelligence and good moral character in. There is no place like this, and as long as there are greedy, war-mongering, oppressive, power seeking people, I don't see it happening.