I just saw the Apache airstrike footage that recently exploded around the web, thanks to Wikileaks, a non-profit organization that serves as a repository for sensitive, classified or otherwise secret information from often anonymous tipsters.
While the video seems to reveal nothing newly horrific about the nature of war (those more familiar with military procedures and war crimes have been editorialising – rightly so – on that point eg Roger McShane of the Economist), it’s more the nature in which this story was broken that interests me. The tapes being classified, no traditional journalism organisations, including Reuters, has been able for three years to bring it to the public. Wikileaks did, and it is increasingly presenting a special sort of threat to governments and corporations around the world.
Foreign Policy on Wikileaks: Is this the future of Journalism?
At its best, the rise of Wikileaks represents the type of accountability journalism made famous in the 1970s by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of Watergate fame, and practiced today by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker and Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times — and Seymour Hersh in both eras.
The New York Times on Wikileaks: Pentagon sees a threat from Online Muckrakers
To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.
Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the Army’s report, to Mr. Assange, was its speculation that WikiLeaks is supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. “I only wish they would step forward with a check if that’s the case,” he said.