Image URL: http://bit.ly/VXscV0
WikiLeaks was officially launched in 2007. It is a not-for-profit media organisation and their goal is to bring important news and information to the public (Wikileaks 2012). WikiLeaks (2012) also mentioned that they has sustained and triumphed against legal and political attacks designed to silence their publishing organisation, journalists and anonymous sources. It further explained that they has combined high-end security technologies with journalism and ethical principles and they accept anonymous sources of information. Wikileaks aim to create a better society for all people.
According to Benkler (2011), Wikileaks became the center of an international storm surrounding the role of the individual in the networked public sphere after its first document released. Wikileaks’s importance is showing that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this is why the accept anonymous sources. However, Wikileaks will investigate all the anonymous sources before they publish. The emerging of wikileaks may well impose serious collateral damage on some citizen journalists (Benkler 2011).
THE PROVOCATION: WIKILEAKS EMERGES AS A NEW ELEMENT OF THE FOURTH ESTATE
A. 2006-2009: Award-winning site exposing corruption and abuse around the world
Wikileaks is the winner of Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award (2008) and Amnesty International human rights reporting award (New Media) (2009). Wikileaks was an organization that seems to have functioned very much as it described itself: a place where documents that shed light on powerful governments or corporations anywhere in the world, or, in the case of the climate scientists’ emails, on a matter of enormous global public concern, could be aired publicly. The pattern of Wikileaks releasing information relating to a range of very different countries (Benkler 2011).
B. March 2010: Leaking the 2008 Pentagon Report on the threat of Wikileaks
Wikileaks released a 2008 Pentagon report arguing that Wikileaks is a threat, while recognizing the site as a source of investigative journalism critical of U.S. military procurement and its conduct in war. The Pentagon report provides significant insight into what Wikileaks was doing by 2008, and why the military was concerned about it. The 2008 Pentagon Report, then, sees Wikileaks as a journalistic organization whose structure and organization make it dangerous to the U.S. military. Wikileaks.org uses trust as a center of gravity by assuring insiders, leakers, and whistleblowers who pass information to Wikileaks.org personnel or who post information to the Web site that they will remain anonymous (Benkler 2011).
C. April-October 2010:Collateral Murder, Afghanistan, and Iraq
April 2010 marked the beginning of a series of four releases of documents embarrassing to the United States government. In July 2010, Wikileaks released a new cache of documents; these were war logs from the field in Afghanistan. In October, Wikileaks added one more major release. It consisted of war logs similar to those released in July, this time pertaining to the Iraq war. Benkler (2011) mentioned that Wikileaks posted close to 400,000 field reports from Iraq in what the BBC described as “a heavily censored form.” BBC news (2010) stated that the site released almost 400,000 secret US military logs detailing its operations in Iraq in October.
D. The Last Straw: The Embassy Cables
Another document was released on November 28 and it was more careful and selective than any of the prior releases. The release of the final batch was followed by a massive escalation of attacks on Wikileaks as an organization and website, and on Assange as an individual. It is the mismatch between what Wikileaks in fact did in this final round and the multi-system attack on it that drives the need for a deeper explanation.
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BBC news 2010, What is Wikileaks?, accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10757263
Benkler, Y 2011, A free irresponsible press: Wikileaks and the battle over the soul of the networked fourth estate, accessed 27/10/2012, http://www.benkler.org/Benkler_Wikileaks_current.pdf
Wikileaks 2012, About, accessed 27/10/2012, http://wikileaks.org/About.html