Wikileaks and Untraceable Document Disclosure

January 3rd, 2007 by Steven Aftergood

A new internet initiative called Wikileaks seeks to promote good government and democratization by enabling anonymous disclosure and publication of confidential government records.

“WikiLeaks is developing an uncensorable version of WikiPedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis,” according to the project web site.

“Our primary targets are highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia, central eurasia, the middle east and sub-saharan Africa, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations.”

“A system [that] enables everyone to leak safely to a ready audience is the most cost effective means of promoting good government — in health and medicine, in food supply, in human rights, in arms control and democratic institutions.”

Wikileaks says that it has already acquired over one million documents that it is now preparing for publication.

The project web site is not yet fully “live.” But an initial offering — a document purportedly authored by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of Somalia’s radical Islamic Courts Union — is posted in a zipped file here.

An analysis of the document’s authenticity and implications is posted here.

Wikileaks invited Secrecy News to serve on its advisory board. We explained that we do not favor automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records.

In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste.

So we disagree on first principles? No problem, replied Wikileaks: “Advisory positions are just that — advisory! If you want to advise us to censor, then by all means do so.”

While Wikileaks seeks to make unauthorized disclosures technologically immune to government control, an opposing school of thought proposes to expand U.S. government authority to seize control of information that is already in the public domain when its continued availability is deemed unacceptably dangerous.

“Although existing authorities do not directly address the subject, it appears that reasonable restrictions upon the possession and dissemination of catastrophically dangerous information can be constitutionally implemented,” suggests Stewart Harris of the Appalachian School of Law. See “Restrictions are justifiable,” National Law Journal, December 11, 2006.

8 Responses to “Wikileaks and Untraceable Document Disclosure”

  1. Tlaloc Says:

    “So we disagree on first principles? No problem, replied Wikileaks: “Advisory positions are just that — advisory! If you want to advise us to censor, then by all means do so.”"

    So then are you considering taking on the role?

  2. David Ferrier Says:

    I was surprised by the inclusion of the phrase “offense against good taste.” If “good taste” were to be made one criterion of what secrets to divulge, who would guard the guardians?

  3. Denis Mertens Says:

    Certainly a brilliant way to collect info without putting at risk those who are interested in the info…
    But! Who is really behind it? Will US-document disclosures be uncensored too?
    Our western civilisation more and more becomes judge and party. Isn’t this another tool in the trend?

  4. a user Says:

    Check out this url at cryptopme – http://cryptome.org/wikileaks/wikileaks-leak.htm

  5. Jose Says:

    Ah yes, “accountable editorial oversight” – the experts must rule in superior virtue and wisdom.

    So what is oversight, one may ask. Maybe it’s the New York Times’ excuses on warmongering about yellowcake and 45-minute windows. Mistakes were made yes yes we admit – but ha ha, our beloved CFR gets a splendid little war anyway.

    Now the editors instruct us our only prudent option is to “stay the course.” What a nice little editor’s world.

    Staffers with clearance are already trusted by definition. We have no choice. No one else CAN blow the whistles. If we do not provide a mechanism then we permit evil to flourish.

    Hesitation while WWIII looms seems trite. Let’s not await perfection.

    Oversight did not prevent the Valerie Plame fiasco. But wait, it turns out Mr. and Mrs. Plame were long since complicit in sordid evils having zilch to do with the people’s business. I’m talking coup d’etat and assassination across the planet.

    Ralph Schoenman compared her outing to the SS versus the SA. Cheney being SS, and Plame being SA. One faction of evil turns on another – maybe not such a bad result after all.

  6. Tomcat Says:

    Lets see, wikileaks collects dirt on everyone, and now America shuts it down. Hummmm. Very interesting…. Democracy in action. I do not see them shutting down other crackpots.

  7. Gene Douglas Says:

    The link doesn’t work, and I heard that a federal judge ordered the website taken down. However, I also heard that there are mirror sites all over the world. So how do I find a mirror site?

  8. dave Says:

    shame on you. You’re just looking for a quick buck and you don’t care who gets hurt. I will definately pass the word


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