Secret Watchdogs

WikiLeaks and similar sites are a check on institutional misbehavior.

You won't find WikiLeaks' biggest impact in any specific story the site has exposed. You'll find it in the bracing fear of what the place might publish next. That anxiety, more than anything else, explains the arrest of Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked that infamous video of the airstrikes that killed two Reuters employees in Baghdad. The government doesn't want to deal with a world where a disillusioned functionary can spill secrets so easily, and it's doing everything it can to bring back the days when leaking a story was far harder.

For those who tuned in late: WikiLeaks is an online operation that lets whistleblowers publish damaging documents without anyone—not even the people who run the website—learning who the leaker is. Besides the Baghdad footage, its revelations have ranged from the emails that set off the climategate scandal to the Standard Operating Procedures manual from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. The authorities arrested Manning after he told an informant that he had sent the site the video and a trove of other damaging information, including thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables. The cables have not yet materialized, and WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange says he doesn't have them.

It's not yet clear that Manning actually is the leaker, as opposed to merely being a braggart. But I hope he avoids a jail term either way. The Obama administration has brought an ugly double standard to the misdeeds committed during the Bush years. It has passed up opportunities to prosecute those crimes on the grounds that it wants "to look forward and not backwards," but it has shown no such restraint when it comes to prosecuting the people who exposed those crimes in the first place. Having brought charges against two other leakers, including NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, the feds now seem set to do the same thing to Manning. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks itself has been the subject of an Army counterintelligence report, which suggested that "identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, [or] legal action against" whistleblowers could "damage or destroy" the belief that WikiLeaks protects its sources' identities, and will thus "deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site." (We know about the report because it appeared—where else?—on WikiLeaks.)

WikiLeaks has attracted a wide range of criticisms, and not just from the knee-jerk defenders of the institutions it exposes. A similar public disclosure site, Cryptome, has published texts allegedly written by "A WIKILEAKS Insider," who accuses the organization of failing to protect its leakers and of misleading the public about its finances. But most critiques of WikiLeaks boil down to one of two complaints. The first is that it distributes information that shouldn't be spread; the second is that it distributes claims that aren't accurate. Put another way, people complain that it's too truthful and that it isn't truthful enough.

The second criticism hasn't come up as often as you might expect. When WikiLeaks publishes an article analyzing the documents on the site, the writer's claims are dissected and denounced as widely as any other arguments on the Internet. But with rare exceptions, the documents themselves tend to be accepted as legitimate. Pundits may debate the meaning of the Baghdad video, the climategate emails, or the Guantanamo prison manual, but their provenance has been well-established. Given the enemies that WikiLeaks has made, you might expect that by this time someone would have attempted to discredit the outfit by feeding it phony data. But if this has been tried, there's no sign yet that the site has taken the bait. As a means of distributing raw information, WikiLeaks works.

For some critics, it works too well. Many people argued that WikiLeaks went too far in 2008, when it posted the technical details of some of the jammers the military had used to stop insurgents from detonating IEDs in Iraq. The decision didn't necessarily put lives in danger—by the time the material appeared, the jammers in question had largely been superceded—but it's hard to see what it was supposed to achieve either. Exposing information can carry risks, and in that case the risk wasn't worth it.

But concealing information can be risky as well. Thanks to WikiLeaks, Chinese citizens have access to information about unrest in Tibet; thanks to WikiLeaks, Kenyans can read about the extrajudicial killings committed by their own police. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we have evidence of corruption in the Kaupthing Bank in Iceland, and of deadly toxic dumping off the coast of Africa. WikiLeaks has expanded our knowledge of how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo, how the CIA tries to manage public opinion in Europe, and how some prominent climate scientists talk about their critics. And if Thomas Drake had revealed the NSA's illicit surveillance program to WikiLeaks instead of the Baltimore Sun, he might not be facing a prison sentence today. You can complain about some of the editorial decisions that WikiLeaks' managers have made, but as with the free press in general, we're better off with the site than without it.

Above all, we're better off now that the large, hierarchical institutions where potential leakers dwell have one more reason to look over their shoulders. At some point, even the most thick-headed, slow-moving bureaucratic dinosaurs just might recognize that they're living in a new environment, one where corrupt corporations and government agencies are no more able to control the flow of embarrassing information than record companies can control the flow of digital music files. Just as the online MP3 swap meet continued to thrive after downloaders started landing in court and Napster was effectively destroyed, the revolution that WikiLeaks represents won't die even if Manning is imprisoned and Julian Assange's site shuts down. Thanks to the Internet, a new wave of grassroots journalists, and a global network of human rights activists, it's less risky than ever before to release incriminating information anonymously. The result will be a world where it's easier not just to expose misbehavior but to deter it.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Suki||

    *sigh* I love reason more when they are not apologizing for terrorist supporters.

  • Joe_D||

    I haven't followed this stuf... how does WikiLeaks support terrorists?

  • ||

    Don't pay attention to the JohnSukiBot, Joe.

  • dhex||

    worst alt/mental illness ever.

  • Old Mexican||

    Exposing murderers to the world is akin to "supporting terrorists" in Suki's (and Roland Freisler's) world.

  • ||

    I don't think they "exposed murderers". The tape showed a legal kill. Yeah, it sucks. But war sucks.

    And yes we classify too much stuff. But the tape was "classified". Should the Obama administration just ignore the law and say it is okay to leak anything? And further, what was the point of leaking the tape other than to give our enemies propaganda?

  • ||

    What made the kill legal (not sarcasm) ?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Mainer,

    What made the kill legal (not sarcasm) ?

    In Statistopia, anybody that roots for "the other guy" can be legally killed . . .

  • ||

    well...rooting for the other guy is "divisive", and that's just wrong.

  • Old Mexican||

    In Statistopia, it is . . .

    Roland Freisler had the exact same thoughts when he judged Sophie . . . he would have felt at home judging Wikileaks negatively.

  • ||

    Being Canadian, I can root for the other guy, more so since I'm not with you so I must be with the 'errorists! Boo!

  • ||

    I guess you haven't watched any videos of Canadian troops in Afghanistan on youtube.

  • ||

    That's Afghanistan, the "good" war! ;-)

  • Mikey||

    "What made the kill legal (not sarcasm) ?"

    What made it illegal? Seems to me those asserting the actions taken in that incident were illegal bear the burden of providing evidence supporting their position.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    Should the Obama administration just ignore the law and say it is okay to leak anything?

    I don't say I need to leak everything, John - just State-sanctioned murders. That's all.

  • ||

    But there is no murder here. There are a a couple of collateral kills who died because they hung out with people who pointed guns and RPG at soldiers. Nothing wrong happened in this video except that is showed there are way too many loopholes for US forces to jump through to actually fight the enemy. John does QFT as usual while the Glenn Greenwald types here shove their heads ever further up their asses, as usual.

  • Good for the Gander||

    If the government is innocent, then they have nothing to hide.

  • ||

    Perfect...I love it.

  • ||

    Can this be carved in huge letters throughout DC and Virginia?

  • ||

    "I don't think they "exposed murderers". The tape showed a legal kill. Yeah, it sucks. But war sucks.

    And yes we classify too much stuff. But the tape was "classified". Should the Obama administration just ignore the law and say it is okay to leak anything? And further, what was the point of leaking the tape other than to give our enemies propaganda?"

    *********************************

    If it's a good kill, then there's no reason to classify it. John and his ilk can patiently explain to all us naive folk why it's kosher, and how it's an unfortunate but necessary step towards our glorious future.

  • ||

    Killing civilians and rRtuters journalists is a "legal kill," only if you think the Geneva Conventions which the U.S. is a signatory party aren't legally binding, which they are. :( Beyond that even from a purely anti-statist perspective killing people without strong proof *first* they aren't civilians (which they were) is heinously wrong murder and a war crime.

  • ||

    When they are carrying RPGs and AK-47s in the same area where American forces are being fired upon, they are not "civilians". Go over there and take a few rounds yourself and you will see what I mean.

  • nobody||

    Good afternoon, Suki!

    Please go away!

    -nobody

  • ||

    Clearly, the Internet is a threat to national security and must be shut down.

    I'd be okay with some stuff being classified to protect things like spies and troop movements, but that's like a hundredth of a percent of classified material.

  • Jason||

    I'd be okay with some stuff being classified to protect things like spies and troop movements, but that's like a hundredth of a percent of classified material.

    I'd like to see declassifications for stuff like that after the participants have died (or the war is over).

  • BakedPenguin||

    And things like troops movements / order of battle have a pretty quick sell-by date.

  • GRRRR||

    There are plenty of other reasons that lead to classification.
    In the case of the video, it was most likely classified to protect tactics.
    The person that leaked this video swore to protect classified material, otherwise he wouldn't have been given access to the material or be involved with any missions that required classified target analysis or resulted in classified mission debriefs.
    He should be punished. If he didn't like what he was going to be ordered to do he should have never taken the job.

  • ||

    Seed troop movements to me, I'll post them.

  • ||

    Exposing government crimes is no crime, IMO Wikileaks and Daniel Ellsberg are heroes IMO. The government forfeits all legal protections when it engages in illegal immoral activity IMO strong opinion and the pledge to secrecy becomes no more binding than a mafia pledge to secrecy. The only difference is the government kills thousands of TIMES more people than the mafia.

  • GRRRR||

    The activity was not illegal. They believed that the people had weapons and that they were mobilizing. They made a mistake, something that is bound to happen in a stressful war zone.
    No one in the video said "That guy has a camera, kill him!"

  • cynical||

    Still, it's better to attack leaks from the Pentagon side (where such efforts will catch not only whistleblowers but also bona fide spies) rather than attacking a site that does more good than harm on balance.

  • GRRRR||

    I agree. They should go after the people providing the information and punish them to discourage other would be leakers. The site will run out of willing informers and fail on its own.

  • nobody||

    ohmygodareyoukiddingme?!?stop!

  • ||

    Hey, they deleted my insulting response to Brian's post along with his post. No fair.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Welcome to my world, Epi.

  • ||

    I don't think I could ever enter your world, Brian. I'm more than 12 years old.

  • Invisible Finger||

    If you entered it, you'd be a pedophile.

  • nobody||

    And mine got sent to server-squirrel heaven. Rest in peace, insulting response.

  • .||

    Yeah, they did mine, too. But if they're going to delete Sorgatz', they almost have to delete any responses to him. Otherwise the thread makes no sense.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Fortunately, people might still visit my blog to see what the fuss is about. I mean, it could happen that way.

  • Old Mexican||

    Nah. Too boring.

    Next!

  • ||

    They deleted one of your posts? Why?

  • .||

    Click on his name. Just don't say you weren't warned.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    I'm being a bit too controversial with my message and my way of stating it—even by Reason's open-minded standards. But I don't know what else to do to feel O.K.

  • T||

    Drinking heavily works for the rest of us around here, Brian. Give it a try. It can't make you any crazier or make your life suck any more, right?

  • Tony||

    even by Reason's open-minded standards

    Oh man I needed a good laugh today.

  • ||

    But I don't know what else to do to feel O.K.

    I may never stop laughing. This has got to be performance art- it's too good to be true.

  • ||

    Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.

  • ||

    Is this true?

  • ||

    Yes, it's true. This man has no dick.

  • ||

    Break it up! Hey, break this up! Break it up!

  • Old Mexican||

    Well, last I heard!

  • Ray||

    Couldn't be a more perfect context for a Peter Veikman line...well played.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    "Honor thy father and thy mother," says the Environmental Protection Agency. I have a better idea.

  • ||

    To repeat my earlier, deleted comment:

    They are going to ban you for this repeated blogwhoring, Brian. I may find your incredibly pathetic public displays of neediness highly amusing, but I doubt the reason staff does.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    You may be right, Epi. Unfortunately, I don't know what else to do anymore about the fires of anger and guilt within me. If only I had been a gutsier teenager, I wouldn't feel the urge to perpetrate these shenanigans now. But since I can't change the past, I have to agitate in the present, however dim the hopes are in doing so.

  • Jason||

    Go agitate at a liberal web site... they might listen to you.

    (I'd suggest a conservative one, but they'd kick-ban you in a heartbeat.)

  • ||

    Seriously, this is better than Clouds of Sin and Sadness.

  • nobody||

    Wait, what's that?

  • ||

    One of our trolls (Warty or Sug will remember which one) has an appalling blog full of the worst prose you've ever read. A different kind of tragic/horrifying/wildly entertaining.

  • ||

    Holy dirigibles! Mr. Sorgatz is still spreading his apathy? Seriously Brian, and I say this with all sincerity, I think you need help, and you aren't going to find it here.

  • James||

    You're thinking of Dan T. ( http://cloudsofsinandsadness.blogspot.com/ )

  • .||

    Dan T. is a real person?

  • ||

    Unfortunately, I don't know what else to do anymore about the fires of anger and guilt within me.

    Why don't you cut your own dick off, and feed it to a pelican. That would work.

  • oh no not this again||

    The pelicans need it with the time they've been having lately.

  • The Gobbler||

    Go get a fucking job and qhit wimpering like a little schoolgirl.

  • smartass sob||

    Unfortunately, I don't know what else to do anymore about the fires of anger and guilt within me.

    Get some psychological counseling - seriously. Also, take up some kind of physical fitness or sports training - something that will get you sweating and your heart pumping. Get a job of some kind - even if you don't need the money - and do something useful with your time. And stop doing things like what you've been doing here - because you're only going to end up hating yourself even more than you already do.

  • Emo Kid||

    Have you tried cutting yourself?

  • oh no not this again||

    If you are looking for a hand or validation, what the fuck made you think to look here?

  • ||

    People here are generally willing to help.

    If you look up the first time that Brian did this posters were generally positive(for an internet comment board).

    The blogwhoring, and generally juvenile behavior of Brian, got him more attention though(what I believe he truly seeks).

    Out of frustration and agitation, people here, me included*, are getting juvenile and mean with Brian.

    If he acted like this in high school it is no wonder that he was bullied, his peers probably had no other option.

    *No pelican should have to endure eating this man's penis, regardless of the pelican's recent troubles.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The Miami Herald learned of the Bay of Pigs plans prior to the invasion - the training camps had made the front page of a Guatemalan newspaper. Someone from the White House had a heart-to-heart with the Herald reporter who was trying to confirm the story, and got him to squash the story.

    Yeah, I bet our overlords hate WikiLeaks.

  • smartass sob||

    Back when Nixon was in the White House and Kissinger was Secretary of State, India and Pakistan were having a bit of dust up just before Christmas that year. Our carrier task force was ordered into the Indian Ocean to "tilt" in favor of one against the other - India - if memory serves. The US was supposed to be neutral about it, but somehow word of our mission got into the mainstream media. They say Kissinger almost had appoplexy over it - showed him up for the lying bastard he was.

  • ||

    Oh yeah, Henry's career track went right in the dumper after that. I think he wound up working a phone bank trying to move semi-precious stones.

  • ||

    heart-to-heart

    Euphemism for that scene in Temple of Doom?

  • Kolohe||

    Yeah, I bet our overlords hate WikiLeaks.

    Speaking of overlord, wouldn't have been awesome for some Corporal in Army Signal Corps at Ike's HQ to give the NYT all the dirt on the shit going down in Normandy before it happened?

  • BakedPenguin||

    They didn't print a story about one of the most fucked up "covert" operations ever undertaken by the CIA, yet you think they'd print a story about an assault against an enemy that attacked us?

    You've been a dick to me long enough, Kohole, go get fucked.

  • Kolohe||

    Back at you, sport.

    You're the one that seems to be displeased with both the 'heart to heart' and the Herald's ultimate decision.

    Greenwald said he'd have a story on the 'other side' of SPC Manning's story, so I'm waiting for that to make a more informed judgement, but from everything I've seen so far it's a real mistake for everyone to be reflexively carrying water for that guy.

    And the fact that nobody is questionned a pretty well done viral media campaign before the wikileaks release the 'collateral murder' video tells me that most people's minds have been made up, and they do want to be confused with the facts.

  • Kolohe||

    s/b do not be confused with the facts

  • BakedPenguin||

    My point was that there is a difference between valid military operations (say, in Afghanistan) and reckless adventurism (say, like the stuff the CIA pulled in Central America under Reagan).

    If a journo had a h-2-h with someone in the Obama administration who asked that they keep some info (such as an attack plan) secret that kept alive American troops in Afghanistan, I would not have a problem with that. If they had the same talk that suppressed a story about how we were colluding with the President of Kyrgyzistan to oppress his citizens so we could maintain a base nearby in Afghanistan, I would.

    There should be damn few secrets in a free society. What the CIA and NSA and their fans don't get is that freedom can't be won in the dark.

  • Mike T||


    What the CIA and NSA and their fans don't get is that freedom can't be won in the dark.

    What guys like you don't get is that the world is changing. Terrorists won't be stopped by large standing armies, they'll be stopped by intelligence agencies. The US, unlike most of the West, has a very tight barrier between military/para-military intelligence and domestic intelligence. The most we have to fear from them in that respect is embarrassment.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Terrorists won't be stopped by large standing armies, they'll be stopped by intelligence agencies.

    But they won't be stopped by back-door shenanigans or propping up dirtbag dictators like we've done for the past 100 years.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Also, my response to you was over the line, and undeserved. I apologize for that.

  • Joe_D||

    Ok, so WikiLeaks supports terrotists because it reveals secret technical or strategic information that can help our enemies fight us, and it shows Americans doing evil things and so can be used for propaganda by our enemies. Is that right?

  • ||

    I thought WikiLeaks had something to do with male incontinence.

  • ||

    At some point, even the most thick-headed, slow-moving bureaucratic dinosaurs just might recognize that they're living in a new environment, one where corrupt corporations and government agencies are no more able to control the flow of embarrassing information than record companies can control the flow of digital music files.

    Not likely.

  • smartass sob||

    I just finished reading the full article. Good one, Jesse.

  • ||

    This is why libertarians can't get more than one or two percent in an election. Put a fucking sock in it.

  • Mangler||

    If you libertarians want to be successful, why don't you be less libertarian.

  • ||

    The evidence I've been able to track down is clear -- Wikileaks was in need of new funding and it needed an inflammatory story. So it dredged up a 3-yo story and re-crafted it with editing and omission into an American atrocity story and flung it out there. The head of Wikileaks *admitted* that the video was edited for maximum "political impact" during an interview on the Colbert Report. So all of this is spin.

    As Pulitzer prize winning Washington Post journalist David Finkel recalls, he covered the story on the ground when it happened, "What's helpful to understand," Finkel says now of the video, "is that, contrary to some interpretations that this was an attack on some people walking down the street on a nice day, the day was anything but that. It happened in the midst of a large operation to clear an area where US soldiers had been getting shot at, injured, and killed with increasing frequency. What the Reuters guys walked into was the very worst part, where the morning had been a series of RPG attacks and running gun battles."

    http://www.mudvillegazette.com/033539.html

    Wikileaks does a *disservice* to the truth with a *heavily edited* video that does not provide its viewers with the full context of the event. The military has, btw released the audio, photos, AARs and other information. Oh, and watch the RAW video as well.

    http://www2.centcom.mil/_layouts/AccessAgreement.aspx

    Context, context, context…the shooting occurred in a Shiite neighborhood controlled by the Mahdi Army (loyal to Iranian proxy thug Moqtada al Sadr), called "New Bagdad." Those guys on the street with guns were part of the Shiite Mahdi Army that operated as basically crime bosses, kidnapping, extorting and brutalizing fellow Iraqis for money and power. Not "civilians" as Wikileaks claims.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdi_Army

    I feel sad for the kids in the van. After reading the circumstances the camera guys are at much at fault as anyone. They went out and embedded with insurgents in an area known to be contested, combat was happening in the area. From watching the tape, the helicopter crew thought the camera guys were holding rocket launchers --- that's what caught their interest, not really the guys with AKs and LMGs. I don't think any helicopter crew has forgotten what happened in Mogadishu, the Black Hawk Down incident, and there they saw two guys walking around with what looked like rocket launchers while surrounded by guys with assault rifles, RPGs and light machine guns. How do you think they should react to that in a combat zone while patrolling an insurgent contested area??

    And WTH was that "parent" doing transporting insurgents while his kids are in the van ?? In a contested combat zone?? No babysitter at home? "Honey, can you take the kids with you when you drop your cousin off for the ambush on Coalition forces?"

    Not murder. Awful, tragic for the kids, but not murder.

    Beslan, Mumbai, Moscow Tube? Murder. The bombs in Bagdad over the weekend that killed scores of men, women and children, injured hundreds? Murder. The 20 men and women executed in a village in Iraq last week by "insurgents"? Murder.

    It would be great to have this same "rights" group pay as much attention to the deliberate mayhem caused by terrorists as it does to accidental mayhem caused by the US. Oh, and I don't see any terrorists running to help their victims after the attacks, or try and rush them to a hospital.
    I really want the *full* story on things like this. I am perhaps overly cynical but whenever any group makes a dramatic claim I want to know what the backstory is. What's their angle? What do they have to gain? The group "Wikileaks" putting out this three-year old video has an inflammatory website and an obvious anti-American/anti-military spin. And I am reminded that Reuters has a history of hiring local stringers (cameramen, etc.) that have ended up being part of the insurgents/terrorists. The 2006 Lebanon clash, for example. Reuters was hugely embarrassed by its local 'reporters' who turned out to be Hezbollah agents that were caught staging 'atrocities' (like the rusty ambulance) and images (the photoshopped smoke clouds over Beirut).

    It is very likely these Reuters local guys were close to the insurgency. But then, I'm just guessing. Why?? Because the group releasing this video makes no attempt to inform, only to propagandize!

    What was the context of the US attack? Had there been fighting nearby or in that zone? The helicopter crew talked as if the area was known and hostile. The attack took place near a mosque -- the insurgents used Mosques as staging grounds since they felt sure the US wouldn't attack one. Was that a staging ground? Had the US been monitoring it? Who were the people on the ground? Why were they armed? Were they Mahdi Army? Were those guys mustering for an attack or coming back from one? What were they doing there? They guy who owned the van -- was he a bystander on a late-night errand who stopped to help? Was he part of the Mahdists and they called him out to help, and he put his kids knowingly into harms way?

    Wikileaks won't tell you, but it turns out this happened in a hotly contested area, a mosque known as an insurgent operations center, and even the van plays a part since a dark colored van had been seen by Coalition forces shuttling Madhist troops and supplies around. As far as I can see, the only two innocents in harms way were the kids in the van.

    So go peddle your “we report truth to power” line someplace else, Wikileaks, your spin discredits you and the integrity of any real watchdog group.

  • Sidd Finch||

    And you've now done more research than KMW. Congrats.

  • ||

    Hell, he's done more research than anyone in Reason. I'm not even going to bother reading the article here because this is vastly better than any of the pigshit Doherty has written on the subject.

  • ||

    I'm not even going to bother reading the article here

    What the fuck are you commenting on then?

  • Sidd Finch||

    TFA is fair and worth a quick read. It's not Walker's best work but still light years better than Doherty and KMW dogshit.

  • ||

    That is why I posted, Sidd.

    The article above is a general overview of wikileaks and not exclusively about the "Iraqi van incident". Maybe Easy eight could of saved himself a lot of time by actually reading the article before posting his screed, unless Easyeight's post is a cut 'n paste job, which I suspect it is.

  • ||

    "Maybe Easy eight could of saved himself a lot of time by actually reading the article before posting his screed, unless Easyeight's post is a cut 'n paste job, which I suspect it is."

    Sorry pal, it's called RESEARCH and REASON -- ain't that what this site is supposed to be about?? I'm all for keeping the powers of society under scrutiny to help prevent abuse of our freedoms. But this WikiLeaks stuff just pisses me off because it's partisan politics posturing as being a watchdog. They threw out this spin-crafted video to a a fund-raiser, and wrap themselves up in the "truth 2 power" flag. Sorry, its pure posturing and discredits them in my eyes -- they withheld information from us, edited the video to promote an emotional response in us. And you're ok with that??

    Here, watch the Wiki guy on Colbert for yourself:

    http://www.colbertnation.com/t.....-interview

  • ||

    So, what crime was committed? For what should the leaker be prosecuted if "The military has, btw released the audio, photos, AARs and other information."?

  • ||

    *sigh* He stole data and what he did wasn't legally authorized and was therefore against the law. You can't just steal stuff. With your logic the guys that tried hacking Obama's school records recently shouldn't be charged?? Now, I'd certainly like to see his school records since he's never released them -- and he should -- but does that make it right to hack a computer system and take them??

  • mad libertarian guy||

    That's good research, but only validates your concerns on this one story. It seems to me that as the world changes and we get access to information that even a few years ago we could never have had access to, sites like this will give government (and corporations) a reason to think twice about the actions in which they engage.

    I'm not saying that the helicopter gig was bad. It wasn't to my eyes, even if it was edited to inflame viewers. My outlook is that if you're going to go to a gun battle with guns (armed guards and cameras that look like rocket launchers), you deserve to get shot. But if sites like wikileaks make some government/military official think twice about approving a particular action for fear that it might go public (and hence tank his career, or worse), then it definitely serves a public good.

  • ||

    "But if sites like wikileaks make some government/military official think twice about approving a particular action for fear that it might go public (and hence tank his career, or worse), then it definitely serves a public good."

    How does it serve a public good when all it does it provide spin?? If you want to serve a public good and you are concerned that something is wrong, then lay out an HONEST CASE supported by your evidence. Don't throw out a bunch of heavily edited spin and then pretend it's truth! Wikileaks have admitted they heavily edited the footage for maximum political impact -- hardly the action of purveyors of truth. They abuse the truth by this action no less than those they purport to watch against.

  • ||

    "WikiLeaks and similar sites are a check on institutional misbehavior."

    And stops people joining the wrong political party by posting private details online when they do. Bravo Wikileaks. Why not tell us where Osama bin Laden lives? Or would that be Islamophobic?

  • RyanXXX||

    huh?

  • ||

    OK, I've just gone back through my long e-mail cache, here's the message I received:

    BNP membership list leaked
    "Wikileaks"
    Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:51 PM

    BNP membership list leaked.
    Your name, address and other details appear on a BNP membership list received by the whistleblowers site Wikileaks / Sunshine Press.
    We have sent you this note to let you know that these details are now public.

    Is that the behaviour of a “secret watchdog” through your eyes?

  • ||

    It's a long story, but back in 2003 when the left that I had long supported became openly and honestly anti-American and pro-Islamist I started shopping around (so to speak) and started subscribing to party newsletters and reading party material from the other mainstream parties and obscure and outsider parties too.

    One of the outsider parties whose newsletter I signed up for was the BNP (which turned out to be a borderline racist and traditional socialist party). It was around that time when I realized that all politicians in my country are cretins and became a libertarian as a result. Anyway about 5 years later when I'd pretty much forgotten I'd ever read their newsletter I got a mysterious e-mail one morning from Wikileaks (that I'd never heard of at that point) telling me my name and home address was going to be plastered all over the internet because I'd read the BNP newsletter (luckily as I was not actually a party member my phone number wasn't uploaded).

    I'm sure you didn't hear about it in the US but the BNP list was a major story in the UK and the mainstream press called for vigilantism and demanded that every citizen download the list and vandalise homes and pester and bully people for being on the list. Since the well adjusted people in this country are not thugs this mob never materialised and the story died down after a week but I've been pretty pissed off about the whole affair since it happened and have not held Wikileaks in high regard since then. I've always dreamed of a Wikileaksleak in which the cowards behind the site have their private details published on-line too. Then again as Ayn Rand said you don't fight an evil by adopting and practising that very same evil. Based upon the behaviour of Wikileaks I'd call the people behind it cowardly thugs not secret watchdogs.

  • ||

    From the context I'm sure it's pretty obvious, but just to clarify: I live in the UK.

  • ||

    I did read about this, NK. Several US websites covered this -- those sympathetic to right-wing causes, those that cover Wikileaks and related privacy/secrecy issues.

    Just curious: are you sure that the email actually came from WL, or were BNP's enemies spoofing their return address? I don't know that much about WL, but the thuggery sounds like the same tactics employed in US by "anti-racist" (stalinist) types like ANSWER.

  • ||

    No way to know for sure, but the e-mail came to me in the morning before the leak became news, so I can imagine that it was real.

  • ||

    Here's a printscreen of the e-mail so you can judge for yourself if it's from Wikileaks or simply a spoof from an impersonator. I think it's real.

  • ||

    legal kill my ass! that was MURDER, you fucking moron!

  • Rethuglican Jesus||

    Thank god we have people like you who can make judgement on such incidents 3 years after the fact from over half a world away with no basis for context except a single source. I look forward to more of your expert analysis (for me to poop on)

  • ||

    I wonder if leaking a membership like that, which had previously been kept secret, could open up Wikileaks to an identity theft prosecution. In Texas, it is a felonty to either "gain access to electronically stored material without the owner’s consent" or to obtain, possess, transfer, or use a person’s identifying information" so long as you have "the intent to harm the person."

    At the very minimum, I think you could bring a good faith prosecution of Wikileaks for obtaining and distributing the identification of thousands of people in this way.

  • ||

    If they weren't hiding behind the scenes we could. The prosecution of the person who leaked the list was farcical: he was on the dole at the time and so the judge wasn't allowed to charge him too much money and got off pretty much scot-free. Honestly.

    The reason he leaked the list in the first place is pretty farcical too: he felt the party was no longer racist enough as they tried to turn into a mainstream party when a void opened up in West Yorkshire, traditionally working class, with people feeling alienated from "New" Labour coupled with extremely violent Pakistani youths that seemed untouchable due to their skin colour (some of whom went on the blow up tube trains and buses) but were not comfortable with the BNP's racist image. That's right: the list was leaked because a top party member felt they were no longer racist enough. Honestly.

    If I remember correctly the list wasn't actually leaked directly to Wikileaks, but was uploaded to a site that was set up for the purpose of displaying the list but was quickly taken down because it was illegal. The good people at Wikileaks picked up the illegal list and uploaded it again and there was no way the site or list could be taken down after that. Although it was against the law to download the list in the UK a journalist was shown on TV holding the whole list in her hand printed out across a few hundred sheets. Honestly.

  • zip zip zip||

    DANGER: I would be careful posting to these sites. Some might be legit others might rat you out. A few might even be fronts for the government. The dummy seems to have been caught bragging. Loose lips sink ships.

    "it was most likely classified to protect tactics"

    Actually there are piles of Apache blows up an insurgent type videos. So that is probably a bogus issue. Most likely all videos are classified until they are erased, or declassified.

    Oddly their is no demand on the part of the congress to see all such videos in private.

  • Chase||

    I love you Libertarian nut jobs.

    Oh noes saying its not murder is statist!!!!

    Wait so a guy surrounded be people with Ak47s and RPGs happens to start looking around a corner which clearly the helicopter pilots thought was a RPG and the fact is that there was soldiers down the street where he was looking and was taking pictures of which let me iterate it again, surrounded by men with ak47s and RPGs. Yes he's a total innocent then add on the fact he was a obvious Muslim then add the fact hes taking pictures then add the fact he was probably showing them the pictures. Well.... sounds a lot like material support.

    Also, it doesn't have to have bad stuff on it to be illegal to leak, he joined the military and he knows damn well that it is the property of the military therefore giving it out is illegal.

    Corporations have NDAs, the military has the same thing, he was not AUTHORIZED to release it.

  • rainman||

    I watched the video and, although I oppose the war in Iraq, misleading and heavily editorialized. Wikileaks did itself a big diservise to itself by hyping it as a ground breaking story. They accused the pilots of acting like they were playing war on a computer game. The video speaks for itself showing the pilots communicating in a calm, rational tone. It will be hard for me to ever believe anything Wikileaks ever puts out again.

  • redefiler||

    Jesse Walker,

    I'm afraid you're full of crap pal. I think pompous idiots like you are trying to hype this latest Wikileaks thing into something to fit your ideology. I think it's about time you start reading and take a break from the activist journalism thing.

    Wikileaks is really just taking credit for someone else's leak. Whether that person was right of wrong to do so. These clowns are just the middlemen.

    I think it's a little ridiculous for anyone to point them out as some paragon of government oversight... its a just fucking website blog... that's it. There's no journalism going on there. This Assange guy is getting a lot of press, and taking a lot of credit for something he didn't do.

    What are "their" leaks worth?
    -totally boring and mundane Palin emails
    -routine military helicopter engagement against hostiles in Iraq
    ...snore....

    And Now... they present... the controversial secret documents concerning rather pedestrian assessment of Pakistan's intelligence services!
    -Almost the exact same details explained over several public press conferences by Donald Rumsfeld around 2003-04.
    -By the way, this 'info' about Pakistan's loose control over their agencies was speculated openly in the press, when the Afghanistan campaign began.
    -The idea that Pakistan has weak control over it's spook agencies is also a major theme of the 2005 video game 'Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2: Summit Strike'.

    Where's the meat exactly? Or is this all hype to make some talentless dweeb seem more important than he is? Seems like a lot of effort to twist nothing into various political agendas.

    Where's your explanation/defense of Donald Rumsfeld & Tom Clancy and their bold disclosure of government secrets and their noble service to public disclosure?

    Now if Wikileaks leak their own internal documents, that's courageous and bold... printing others' material... not so much.
    I'd suggest you save the parades for actual heros and progress. Back to school with you.

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