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ACM Opinion

Wikileaks Fails "due Diligence" Review


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In the past week, both the Washington Post and the New York Times have referred to WikiLeaks.org, the web site that publishes confidential records, as a "whistleblower" site. This conforms to WikiLeaks' own instructions to journalists that "WikiLeaks should be described, depending on context, as the 'open government group,' 'anti-corruption group,' 'transparency group' or 'whistleblower’s site.'"

But calling WikiLeaks a whistleblower site does not accurately reflect the character of the project. It also does not explain why others who are engaged in open government, anti-corruption and whistleblower protection activities are wary of WikiLeaks or disdainful of it. And it does not provide any clue why the Knight Foundation, the preeminent foundation funder of innovative First Amendment and free press initiatives, might have rejected WikiLeaks’ request for financial support, as it recently did.

From one perspective, WikiLeaks is a creative response to a real problem afflicting the U.S. and many other countries, namely the over-control of government information to the detriment of public policy. WikiLeaks has published a considerable number of valuable official records that had been kept unnecessarily secret and were otherwise unavailable, including some that I had attempted and failed to obtain myself. Its most spectacular disclosure was the formerly classified videotape showing an attack by a U.S. Army helicopter crew in Baghdad in 2007 which led to the deaths of several noncombatants...

From Federation of American Scientists
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