Will Wikileaks Revolutionize Journalism? Has anyone here heard of Wikileaks or read it before? I hadn't ever heard of Wikileaks before I read this article, but from what I've seen so far of it, it's a real treasure trove of information, including information that desperately deserves to be publicized and too often isn't.
By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet Posted on July 7, 2008
As popular a reference tool as Wikipedia has become, our newsroom policy doesn't allow for our reporters to use it as an official source for any story. And for good reason: anyone with access to a computer can edit entries.Through the various industry grapevines, I've ascertained that the Cape Cod Times
isn't the only news organization that considers Wikipedia to be a potentially polluted source. Wikileaks
, however, is a different animal -- despite the similar interface the fledgling whistleblower site shares with Wikipedia.
If you're not familiar with Wikileaks, you should be because, since it debuted last year, the international transparency network behind the site has forced governments and news media to take notice, most recently with the posting of whistleblower documents that indicate "thousands of sterilizations, and possibly some abortions, took place in 23 Texas Catholic hospitals from 2000 to 2003," as reported by the Catholic News Service in the wake of the leak.
The same day of the Catholic hospitals leak (June 15), Wikileaks posted the 219-page U.S. military counterinsurgency manual, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004).
Wikileaks investigative editor Julian Assange writes
that the manual can be "critically described as 'what we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places.' It's contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of U.S. Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, history making."
Students of U.S. foreign policy history, particularly guerrilla warfare history, will find no real surprises in the counterinsurgency manual, as eye-popping as it may be to some.
In February, Wikileaks posted the secret rules of engagement for U.S. troops in Iraq, which was followed by The New York Times
and prompted the Iranian government to hold a press conference, warning U.S. military planners about border crossings. The Washington Post
reported on leaked Guantanamo detainee policy documents first posted on Wikileaks that forced the Pentagon to respond.
Wikileaks describes itself as a site that's "developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact." (continued at link)