News / USA

WikiLeaks Organization Sparks Controversy

Multimedia

Audio

WikiLeaks is a website that posts formerly secret documents online in what its members say is the pursuit of transparency and accountability.  Its release of more than 75,000 U.S. Army and Marine Corps documents chronicling six years of events in Afghanistan has angered officials in Washington, Britain and Pakistan.

The WikiLeaks website says the organization began as a dialogue between activists who wanted to alleviate suffering.  It says the organization champions "principled leaking." 

Since 2007 WikiLeaks has posted thousands of documents on the internet.  Founder Julian Assange sees himself as an information activist whose main goal is to get information into the public domain.  He says he has a small, overworked staff, about 800 part time workers and thousands of supporters.  

"I suppose our greatest fear is we will be too successful too fast, and we will not be able to do justice to the material we are getting in fast enough," said Assange.  "That is our greatest problem at the moment."

WikiLeaks is non-profit and Assange says during the past few months there has been tremendous financial support.

"We have raised a million dollars from the general public.  As a result we are enabled to have a sort of fierce independence that larger organizations find more difficult.  That said, of course, we are also immediately accountable to the public because that is where our money comes from, directly from the public, not from advertisers or foundations," said Assange.

Simon Schneider, who runs a competition to find new internet technology to improve global security, says WikiLeaks main strength is protecting its sources.

"The fact that it is so controversial and the fact that so many people talk about it tells me that WikiLeaks touches on a very, very important point," said Schneider.  "And I think that this discussion between what should be private and what should be public touches a lot of peoples nerves, and I think it is important that we talk about it."

But former intelligence analyst Bob Ayers is not convinced WikiLeaks is a force for good.

"The fact that we have a bunch of liberal amateurs trying to do intelligence assessments of material does not give me a strong feeling of confidence," said Ayers.

Ayers cites WikiLeaks most recent revelations, the release of more than 75,000 U.S. military documents relating to Afghanistan.

"The information that was released is not a threat to the United States per se," said Ayers.  "It has the potential to be a threat to combatants that are fighting in the area, it has the potential to destabilize the trilateral relationships between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S.  And it has the potential to place the intelligence community at some level of risk if their sources are being compromised publicly."

WikiLeaks founder Assange says his organization has a harm-minimization process to identify, redact or withhold anything that might hurt a source or anyone involved in the documents.  Assange says for that reason, they did not release more than 15,000 Afghanistan-related documents, and he says because what they did make public was seven months old, he believed it contained no information that could harm NATO troops.  

Ayers disagrees.  "The fact it is seven months old is immaterial.  It is irrelevant.  They are not going to change their patrolling patterns in seven months, they are still going to patrol the same way.  So now what you have done is you have informed the enemy of information that can assist them in planning how to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan when they are on patrol," said Ayers.

Ayers believes the American government will have to do something about WikiLeaks.  Under U.S. law it is illegal to disclose classified information.  

"There is a real dilemma here as to how to deal with a site like WikiLeaks," said Ayers.  "Are they acting in the public good?  Are they acting sensationally? Are they endangering the public good?  Are they endangering lives by their actions?  And those are things that I think we will still see addressed and sorted out over the next six months or so."

To thwart censorship, WikiLeaks released the leaked documents in three jurisdictions, the United States, Germany and Great Britain.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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 Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
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.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs