WikiLeaks, Espionage & Whistleblowers
In 2006 a group of activists lead by Julian Assange, set up the wikileaks.org to publish information online supplied by whistle blowers.
What began as a few people and an internet connections became the biggest news story of 2012. Wikileaks supplied continuous news headlines. There have said to have transformed society today, or at least the way we listen and criticise the news.
Their aim was to expose authoritarian secrets to help create a ‘just’ state. The aim and funding model of Wikileaks is different to most mainstream media organisations. It is non-profit and supinely politically neutral organisation. Wikileaks is funded entirely by donations, with no advertising or commercial revenue -only five paid staff, the organisation otherwise release completely on volunteers.
Wikileaks focuses all their attention on leaks- Their service provides a secure and anonymous way for course to leak information. Wikileaks began receiving high amounts of confidential information, which they posted online raw and unedited for anyone to access.
In early 2012 Wikileaks received information of great significance, what have come to be known as the Collateral Murder video, the Afghan and Iraq war logs and much more. Assange found partnerships with key publishers from the mainstream media including the New York Times and the Guardian. The information included evidence of US war crimes. US officials accused Wikileaks of having “blood on their hands”.
This is important as the Espionage Act was actually written in 1917 to combat their involvement in World War 1. It was only updated once in the early 1950’s. The truth of the matter is that it was barely ever used. At least it wasn’t until BaraCk Obama became president. From 1917 to 2008, the Espionage Act was used only three times to prosecute individuals of aiding a foreign country in relate to terrorism.
President Obama’s Justice Department has charged nine individuals with espionage sincere became president. None of this individuals gave or sold classified information to a foreign power. None sought personal gain in any way.
Instead they were charged with passing what the state calls ‘national defence information’ to members of the press- Most of them were prosecuted in fact for whistle blowing. Wikileaks was ultimately the safe heaven for people to whistle blow on big cooperations or government bodies.
It was for people who feared their own life for exposing the truth. This brings me on to Edward Snowden and Bradley, or now Chelsea Manning, whose names are known worldwide. Edward Snowden is an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, and former contractor for the United States government who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 without prior authorisation
His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments. Edward Snowden is basically the person who revealed that the US was spying on the world without any permission from its citizens- This began the debate on privacy laws and rights.
The Justice Department decided to charge him with Espionage charges under the same accounts as Bradley Manning who I will get to in a second- This is a prime example of the Obama administration’s policy of using an iron fist against human rights and civil liberties activists.
In 2013 Bradley Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act. This was after disclosing to Wikileaks about three million classified or unclassified but sensitive military documents.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, Manning is a trans woman who desired hormone replacement therapy. He was diagnosed with identity disorder while he was in the Army. She leaked classified information to Wikileaks including material of the videos of the Baghdad airstrike. The leaked footage also included the Afghan war diaries and Iraq war logs.
This had major repercussions for the US military as it exposed the dark truth about their soldiers abroad. Many can argue that Julian Assange and such whistle blowers, like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning have exposed information that deemed dangerous. It was also seen as highly confidential and not for the eyes of the public.
The site are now receiving more than 10,000 Documents a day. “The History of journalism is the history of leaks. Maybe Wikileaks will push journalists to do their job better”, Julian Assange.
The US government was outraged, officials claiming the release could put lives in danger and threaten national security, the Taliban reportedly were examining the War logs to identify informant. However, Assange has yet to meet a US soldier or informant harmed with a direct link to publications.
The US Department of Justice is apparently under intense pressure to make an example of Assange. Investigators have been looking for evidence of collusion with Manning. The threat of the Espionage Act is the harsh reality foe whistle blowing. One might think twice before handing over information.