I realize just how out of touch I am with the "real" left -- the organizations disdaining vague, wishywashy liberalism as typified by the New York Times -- when I get messages like the following from better-connected friends:
I think WL is a front for the CIA or just a project of some other disreputable organization Fwd: [WL-Volunteers] Request: get ready for the flak machine
I don't get why this organization sends emails out so freely to people or why they offer to just have anybody write for them. I mean, I'm all for low access entry points for spreading information. But shouldn't they be more careful when we're talking leaked natural security information? And shouldn't they tell the writers that in this time of paranoia that they could have the US government kick their ass? Also, I'd think that a website dedicated to leaking ultrasecret (and presumably incriminating) information would maintain a more professional tone?
And, most importantly, why the hell is Wikileaks working with the equivalent of the Boston Herald? Their strategy seems very half assed.
Have you all heard anything about Wikileaks? I'm on their general email list out of interest, but I'd never ever volunteer to work for them. I'm really questioning their legitimacy and I don't think they'd protect my anonymity. Also, to be honest, I don't have the background in international affairs or journalism to do a good analysis of the information. Hell, I don't even have enough of a background in ethics to know if I endorse their project! More generally, I don't know my opinion on whether very select pieces of information should remain secret from the public. And I'm sure as hell not going to risk my neck or ending up on some terrorist watchlist unless I'm damned sure about the mission. Oh, also, I'm a wuss, so I'm not going to do anything that might land me on a terrorist watchlist anyway, especially if I'm uncertain of the cause. I like sleeping in and snuggling with the cats and not getting tortured and practicing my civil liberties; I don't think you can do that type of stuff in secret terrorist prisons. (Yes, perhaps some of my rationale for not participating is problematic, but I'm gonna give all the Powers that Be a wide berth of knowing they don't have any reason to blacklist my ass.)
(Also, hello intelligence officials that are probably reading this email! I plan to stay out of trouble! I am too spazzy for any real terrorists to let me hang with them, and in general I don't believe in super radical action as a way to cause change. Also, I'd prefer not to get raped or traumatized by a detention, illegal or otherwise. It would make me lose my faith in democracy and stuffs. K thanks bai.)
At any rate, the whole Wikileaks project is just some interesting food for thought.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jay < email@example.com>
Date: Sep 9, 2007 1:54 PM
Subject: [WL-Volunteers] Request: get ready for the flak machine
The New York Sun has broken our embargo on the Afghanistan article. We feel this was probably an accident, perhaps a confusion as to GMT, or on vs offline editions. It seems to be in good faith, because the article itself is very reasonable. The Sun is a right-of-center broadsheet frequently read by UN personnel stationed in NY. In
response we have released everyone else from the embargo.
It is quite likely that fox news types will soon be onto the story. So, everyone, please lead the debate, get it out there with the truth in it, before it can be twisted by Bill O'Reilly types!
Whistleblower Site Releases Secret Report on Military Equipment
By CHANNING JOSEPH
Staff Reporter of the Sun
September 9, 2007 updated 12:25 pm EDT
The whistleblowing Web site Wikileaks.org has unveiled secret military documents detailing the complete equipment register for all units managed by the American Army in Afghanistan.
The records -- which are believed to have been leaked by an unnamed government official -- list most of the equipment held in that country as of last April by American and coalition forces, and possibly even the CIA. According to Wikileaks officials, the authenticity of the material has been confirmed by military sources.
"The leaked documents help us to understand how war money is being spent and the nature of operations in Afghanistan," the site's administrators wrote on a Wikileaks page devoted to commentary and analysis of the leaked documents. "They provide a completely objective window into the functioning of various U.S. units from psy-
ops (psychological operations) to Kabul headquarters."
Wikileaks was founded to provide a way for ordinary citizens and government officials to shed light on corruption by anonymously leaking confidential materials to the public. Though the Internet site has not yet made its official debut, this is the second time in just a few days that the site has released a leaked document to the press. The first instance involved a report related to a $3 billion Kenyan government corruption case, which has been subsequently
covered in international news outlets, including a front-page story in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
"Wikileaks has not yet publicly 'launched,'" the site's staff wrote in a press release sent by e-mail. "However, we feel we would be remiss in our obligations to our source to sit on this material any longer."
The newly released Afghanistan documents indicate that the America is using two types of chemical weapons in that country, including 72 M7 grenade dischargers -- gas grenade launchers -- and eight FN303s, "which can fire pepper-spray impregnated projectiles," according to the unsigned Wikileaks article.
In addition, Wikileaks wrote: "Half of all equipment purchases have been diverted to dealing with homemade mobile phone and radio bombs. Not since the U.S. 1945–1951 nuclear buildup has there been such a decisive shift in military purchasing priorities."
The site administrators are encouraging visitors to examine the documents in even greater detail and to post their comments.
"There is much more to be found in this [equipment] list: huge numbers of vehicles, trucks, security equipment, radio equipment, detailed in some cases right down to the level of screws and washers," Wikileaks wrote. "This list, in fact, is a perfect example of the sort of leaked document that would benefit from a global analysis: Everyone can examine it, make comments, discuss what the various units, what their items are, and what they do, and come to conclusions about their strategic, political, and human rights significance."
The Wikileaks article on the leak is available here.