News

Analysts: WikiLeaks Following New Strategy in Document Release

Homepage of Wikileaks (file photo)
Homepage of Wikileaks (file photo)
Gary Thomas

The activist Internet websiteWikiLeaks continues to post secret U.S. State Department documents, even as it comes under attacks from opponents, and newspapers partnering with the group continue to publish them. Analysts see the gradual release of the leaked documents as part of WikiLeaks' strategy to keep the story alive in the media. WikiLeaks is also portraying itself as a news organization.

This is the third time thatWikiLeaks has released secret government documents. But in the first two instances, which related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, WikiLeaks released government documents all at once. Now it is following a different strategy.

Only a fraction of the reported 250,000 documents in the organization's possession has been released and published - less than one percent. In an online session last week on the website of the Guardian , a British newspaper that is collaborating with the group,WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that his website posts documents after they have first been published by what he called "mainstream media partners."

Former Washington Post managing editor Phil Bennett, who now teaches journalism at Duke University, says Assange is parceling the documents out because he was dissatisfied that stories about the previous documents fell from public attention relatively quickly.

"He was unhappy about the way those stayed in the news and wanted 'more bang for the buck' [more attention over a longer period of time]," said Bennett. "And I think there's no doubt that they're parceling out the information in a way to keep the story alive and sustain interest in it."

This piecemeal release of classified cables has troubled U.S. officials.

Former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin says officials do not like surprises, and they are getting new ones every day.

"The fact that this is dribbling out, if you're in government now you have to wonder, 'What's next, and what am I going to have to cope with?' And it's likely to come at a bad time when you already have your hands full," said McLaughlin. "So it's another volatile factor in a world that's already too volatile."

The arrangement between WikiLeaks and the news organizations publishing the material - Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain, the Guardian in Britain, and Der Spiegel in Germany - is unusual. It links media organizations to a group that is under what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calls "active, ongoing, serious investigation."

But the newspapers are not publishing every document, focusing on what they consider interesting. One document, for example, listing infrastructure sites around the world that the United States views as critical was posted byWikiLeaks , but not by the media outlets.

Julian Assange says he is acting as a journalist and thatWikiLeaks is a journalistic institution. In a posting this week on the website CommonDreams, Assange said thatWikiLeaks has invented a new type of reporting that he calls "scientific journalism" in which people can read a news story, then click online to see its veracity.

But journalist Phil Bennett saysWikiLeaks has been secretive, which makes Assange's claim of journalistic status difficult to justify.

"There's not a lot of transparency to how these documents are being handled," he said. "And that is part of the problem in assessing what kind of organizationWikiLeaks is, what intent it has, and whether or not it's applying real journalistic standards to assessing, to verifying, and to discussing how to publish this information."

It is unclear how long the daily release of U.S. embassy cables will continue.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs