Wikileaks is a self-described “not-for-profit media organization,” launched in 2006 for the purposes of disseminating original documents from anonymous sources and leakers. Its website says: “Wikileaks will accept restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance. We do not accept rumor, opinion, other kinds of first-hand accounts or material that is publicly available elsewhere.”

WikiLeaks is a website where whistleblowers can deposit information anonymously. After receiving these files WikiLeaks checks for authenticity and tries to confirm their contents. If all is OK, they publish this for all the world to see (regardless of the content).

According to Wikipedia: A whistleblower is a person who tells the public or someone in authority about alleged dishonest or illegal activities (misconduct) occurring in a government department, a public or private organization, or a company.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen who is said to have served as the editor-in-chief and spokesperson for Wikileaks since its founding in 2006. Before that, he was described as an advisor. Sometimes he is cited as its founder. The media and popular imagination currently equate him with Wikileaks itself, with uncertain accuracy.

In 2006, Assange wrote a series of essays which have been tapped as an explanation of his political philosophy. A close reading of these essays shows Assange’s personal philosophy is in opposition to what he calls secrecy-based, authoritarian conspiracy governments, in which category he includes the US government and many others not conventionally thought of as authoritarian. Thus, as opposed to espousing a philosophy of radical transparency, Assange is not “about letting sunlight into the room so much as about throwing grit in the machine.”

Wikileaks has moved through three phases since its founding in 2006. In its first phase, during which it released several substantial troves of documents related to Kenya in 2008, Wikileaks operated very much with a standard wiki model: the public readership could actively post and edit materials, and it had a say in the types of materials which were accepted and how such materials were vetted. The documents released in that first phase were a straight dump to the Web: very little organized redacting occurred on the part of Wikileaks.

Wikileaks’s second phase was exemplified with the release of the “Collateral Murder” video in April 2010. The video was a highly curated, produced and packaged political statement. It was meant to illustrate a political point of view, not merely to inform.

The third phase is the one we currently see with the release of the diplomatic cables: Wikileaks working in close conjunction with a select group of news organizations to analyze, redact and release the cables in a curated manner, rather than dumping them on the Internet or using them to illustrate a singular political point of view.

By the way, Wikipedia is in no way connected to WikiLeaks.


Together We Can Survive Anything,

Dean Miller

American Survivor


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