As we all know that Daniel Ellsberg exposed the top secrets of government about Vietnam War to the world in 1971. Even though Mr. Ellsberg gave the New York Times a large number of the Pentagon Papers in1971, he decided to keep 4 volumes confidential because those were closely related to the diplomatic endeavors the US government had done to try to resolve the war by negotiating with other nations. His action was accepted as “good” while, on the other hand, Wikileaks was mostly doubted and considered as “bad” in 2010.
Different from the information revealed about the Pentagon Papers, the confidential information revealed on Wikileaks was not tailored to either prevent the uproar of people or the diplomatic concern of the nation. It simply showed the disdain of Wikileaks on the facts that government was keeping its dirty secrets from people.
Ironically, Assange could still escape from the legal punishment and the journalists helping disseminating and analyzing the sensitive information could be indicted as “willfully” communicating the information “relating to the national defense” according to Section 793 of the Espionage Act. However, no journalist was indicted under the circumstances.
The author Floyd Abrams (who is also a lawyer considered an authoritative figure in the area related to the First Amendment) clearly stated that “under that reading of the legislation, if Mr. Assange were found to have communicated and retained the secret information with the intent to harm the United States—some of his statements can be so read—a conviction might be obtained. But if Mr. Assange were viewed as simply following his deeply held view that the secrets of government should be bared, notwithstanding the consequences, he might escape legal punishment.” Because of the conflicting contents in the First Amendment and in the Section 793 of the Espionage Act, whether Mr. Assange should be convict for his “conspiratorial” action is called into question again.
In this editorial, the new Wikileaks Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) is being released to the world to see. The library boast of holding over 2 million records of the US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on Earth. The library holds data from the Kissinger table, which comprises of 1.7 million documents on US diplomatic information that has been classified as ‘secret’. Assange tagged this “the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published”. These documents are from the National Archives and Records Association (NARA), which evaluates and releases government documents to the public after 25 years. Wikileaks said that they made “a detailed analysis of individual fields” to “reverse-engineer” the PDFs and create PlusD, a database of these documents that people can actually search through.
This database relates to Assange’s principles that can be inferred from Raffi Khatchadourian’s article No Secrets. The article states that he had some altruistic motive and he acted on the belief that everyone should have access to everything. This was one of the reasons Assange started Wikileaks. With this transparency, he hoped to expose injustice to the world and the people can have an idea on the kind of data the government collects about them and also know what the government does with this data.
Compared to 2010, there has been a huge change in how the society reads Wikileaks today. In 2010, Wikileaks was a new establishment and many people especially the press doubted its credibility. Though all its sources were stated, people where just uncertain about it. It also received a lot of criticism about exposing confidential information. Most of these criticisms where made to shy Wikileaks away from exposing embarrassing information about the government. But now in 2014, Wikileaks has been embraced by the society as a very credible source of confidential information. Seeing that Wikileaks doesn’t break any legal laws, its critics have reduced though some still exist. Wikileaks has now been installed as part of the society and works as a conscience for the governments.
The blog post “Fighting for Which Future? When Google Met WikiLeaks” by Karine Nahon does a very good job of showing how WikiLeaks is viewed now, in 2014. In a short summary of how WikiLeaks is now used, it is as an example. The article itself is about the future of the internet. The discussion of the blog post is about how the internet should be managed in the future. It focuses on two specific possibilities, one is that the internet is corporate controlled and the other is government controlled. WikiLeaks is talked about in the argument about a government controlled internet. This is because WikiLeaks exposed so many government secrets that the government is now considered less trustworthy than before. When one thinks of the government most people used to think of a group that had their best interests in mind, but now with the WikiLeaks out and many government secrets being revealed people have started to question whether or not they can trust the government. The post also uses Google and WikiLeaks as models for the future of the internet and how each model has its own pros and cons. This article is import to the relevance of WikiLeaks because it has beena few years since the original uproar of the release of WikiLeaks. Most of the articles were very reactionary and polarized. The main two argument around the release of WikiLeaks was if the site’s creation was an act of trader or a patriot, but with the passage of time WikiLeaks has been accepted as its own entity. When just doing a simple Google search of WikiLeaks it is easy to see that very few articles focus on the website itself. There is a mix of gossip about Julian Assange and articles like “Fighting for Which Future? When Google Met WikiLeaks” which use WikiLeaks as an example. WikiLeaks has lost its focus in the national spotlight, with time. There are no more predictions about the effects WikiLeaks has changed how people think about the internet, but now that it has been out for awhile the actual website itself is much less in the discussion about the future of the internet
Supporters of WikiLeaks and Assange, alike, should find hope in this article. There is a unnamed Department of Justice official who believes that Julian may get away with his publications to WikiLeaks. There should only be a glimmer of hope, however, because this information is coming from an anonymous source that may or may not have correct statements. Even if this source was correct, this information “only deals with a small part of the grand jury investigation, [which] has been primarily concerned with trying to prove somehow that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were involved in a conspiracy with their sources”. Still, Assange escaping peril would be a small victory for him and his supporters.
This type of post, another post like this, or a leak would behave differently today than the Collateral Murder video that Assange unveiled in 2010 did. WikiLeaks hit its prime a few years after it was founded, so in 2010, the information was still relatively fresh and the leaks were still exciting. The government still had hope that they could put an end to Assange’s antics then, but now they are realizing that it might be harder than they originally thought to put an end to it. Also, people are much more involved in sharing information now than they were four years ago. With more and more people taking up social media, links are becoming easier to share and reach more people; consequently, more people are sharing them.
These factors contribute to WikiLeaks not being as effective as it was just a short period ago. The leaks aren’t being challenged as much by the government and they’re in-your-face, which doesn’t create the same impression on a person as it did when they were secretive. The leaks have just become plain and ordinary to people. If the same Collateral Murder video were to leak today, it would not be as effective. Even with the same message and that message possibly reaching more people, the leaks have become so commonplace that the effect on our culture has been corked.