Wikileaks and the right to know.

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I’ve been asked about my opinion on Wikileaks so many times that I decided to write about it. I mean by this way I just refer them to this post and avoid the entire discussion and go to the point. Please do not misunderstand when I say avoid the entire discussion, of course I love to discuss any topic any time, but some times you have talked that much about the same topic, that is a good thing to write and just refer.

Well then, I will not write the entire history of the Wikileaks project, I think you can find more info even in places like Wikipedia. However, we can’t have an objective point of view without the right context, and in this case, the history of Wikileaks is important, even more because they are leaking “hidden” history. I will try to resume and set only the most valuable data about them. Here we go:

  • They began operations in 2006 and officially release 1.2 million of leak documents in 2007.
  • Their objective is to receive and expose any unethical behaviors from governments, religions, and corporations.
  • They use a modified version of Mediawiki, the same software of Wikipedia (PHP by the way).
  • Some people said the original team was formed by Chinese dissidents, writers, mathematicians, and entrepreneurs from US, Australia, Taiwan, Europe and South Africa.
  • One of their advisors and chief editor is the Australian Julian Assange.
  • The process of receiving information is not that simple as a normal Wiki site, they have some rules and process to assure the security of the leaker and the Wikileaks itself. They use free/libre tools like OpenSSL, Freenet, Tor and PGP.
  • Because of the kind of information they handle, the amount of traffic is huge, so is not an easy thing to move the entire site, but based on the recent experiences, they have learned very quickly to do it. Actually, as part of their strategy almost anyone can set a Wikileaks mirror to guarantee the availability of the information.

Now let’s mention at least the top five and most commented leaks.

  • On 24 March 2008, WikiLeaks published what they referred to as “the collected secret ‘bibles’ of Scientology”.
  • On 28 January 2009, WikiLeaks released 86 telephone intercept recordings of Peruvian politicians and businessmen involved in the “Petrogate” oil scandal.
  • On 16 July 2009, Iranian news agencies reported that the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization Gholam Reza Aghazadeh had abruptly resigned for unknown reasons after twelve years in office. Shortly afterwards WikiLeaks released a report disclosing a “serious nuclear accident” at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2009.
  • On 5 April 2010, Wikileaks released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.
  • On 25 July 2010, The Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs. Wikileaks released 391,000 reports from the Pentagon which cover the war in Iraq from 2004 to 2009 and Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009.
  • On 22 November 2010, Wikileaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.

OK, it was six not five, give me a break. So, here we are just at the edge of pronouncing a personal judgment about that thing Wikileaks is doing. But come on, really? I mean this guys are risking their life without payment, just because they want you to know what’s really going in the world, not just the “official” and filtered data common media usually releases, and we are going to judge them because of that, is not that Freedom? Is not that the backbone of democracy?

Yeah, yeah call me idealist, I have a lot of friends saying Wikileaks are just going to give us troubles to all of us, troubles? Really? Is not a trouble when governments have to hide information from their people because they are doing nasty things?

By example, if you neighbor has been kidnapping, torturing and killing people are you OK with that? If you know the right tools to expose him without risking your life (thanks to free/libre technology), by doing it, are you causing troubles to your neighborhood? Or are you just doing, not just the right thing, but a great service to your community?

Yes, I know we are talking about economies, and risking the believe of masses in the current “democracy”, but is not that why masses fought and died at civil wars and revolutions?, to avoid the bad governments and tirany? And just think a moment about it, is not a person who fight against bad governments and dictators what we usually called a hero?

At the moment I write this Julian Assange has been captured and arrested, for questioning on accusations of sexual offenses at Sweden. The warrant is believed to involve allegations that two women in Stockholm made to police and “friends”. One woman said that Julian Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use.

Really? Are they kidding? Is that a reason to be arrested? But OK, let’s think this is minor issue, obliviously you can go paying a bail. But wait he was refused bail by a UK court. Is not that a little bizarre?

As the Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said: “Wikileaks is still on-line. The full site is duplicated in more than 500 locations. Every day, the cables are downloaded more than 50 million times. Senator Joe Lieberman today attacked the New York Times for its decision to publish the cables, just days after calling for companies to boycott Wikileaks. And just minutes later, the State Department announced the US will host next year’s UNESCO Press Freedom day. The irony is not lost on us. We hope in future, UNESCO celebrates press freedom somewhere where it exists.”

This matter has no conclusion, the story is been writing every single day. My opinion? Wikileaks is a civilian tool, built on liberty to make truth this believe about freedom of speech and democracy. Is that problematic for someone? Is just like governments and corporations say: “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. It applies to them too, right?

Basilio Briceño

DevOps evangelist, SoftwareLibre activist, sometimes speaker & eclectic metalhead.

12 comments

  1. xabier   •  

    Loved the last sentence: It applies to them too, right?, who is the vigilant of the vigilant?Anyway, WL is an strong power, my generation is about to have it´s own “Free Kevin”…Great job Basilio, BTW, i´m as idealist as you, transparency for now on.

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