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WikiLeaks

My senior thesis presentation on the whistleblower site wikileaks.org.
by

Devin Schmit

on 15 April 2011

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Transcript of WikiLeaks

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT? American Citizens More specifically, AMERICAN TAXPAYERS
and their families. In this democracy, publicly elected government officials represent the population’s collective interests and desires. Therefore, tax dollars are spent in the citizens’ best interest. True In 2005, there were roughly 134.4 million taxpayers in the U.S. That means Americans shelled out an annual average of $927 for the wars since 2002. Therefore, information about two long-term wars and a top-secret detainee prison in Cuba would certainly be in the majority's public interest, correct? This public money ($1.21 trillion) funded our wars abroad. In reality, if you pay taxes, you own a piece of the war. Contractors currently make up 54% of the Department of Defense’s workforce in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are you also paying for the government’s private wars? Does anyone truly know what he or she is paying for? Iraq In October, 2010, WikiLeaks.org released classified battle reports that disclosed 109,032 violent deaths in the Iraq War. The majority of the deaths (66,000,
over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. Is this significant? The Pentagon deliberately underreported 15,000 civilian deaths... We were lied to after all… or THE PEOPLE What is the primary component of... 66,081 'civilians' 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents) 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces) That is an average of 31 civilians dying every day during the six-year period. The Espionage Act of 1917 Allows government to prosecute sources and censor or withhold information that poses a “clear and present danger” to American defense. (Schenk v. U.S.)

Now referred to as the "incitement standard" The Obama Administration has prosecuted three violators of the Espionage Act since 2009... Freedom of Information Act of 1966 Established the “right to know” philosophy and was designed to allow some secrecy in the government. Amended: The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002 MEMBERS ONLY
Prohibited disclosure in response to FOIA requests made by non-U.S. government entities either directly or indirectly. Amended: Executive Order 13292, Bush., March, 2003. THE RISE OF CHENEY
Authorized the Vice President, “in the performance of executive duties,” to classify information originally. Eased the reclassification of declassified records. Amended: Executive Order 13526, Obama, December, 2009. KEEPING SECRETS
Delayed the release of secret government information that was to be declassified at the start of the New Year The IAA made made the military more secretive than ever. The U.S. Government’s response to the Iraq war leak: According to Geoff Morrell, Department of Defense press secretary, there is a clear and present danger resulting from the leak. Sources’ (coalition soldiers’), as well as civilians’ lives are in greater jeopardy. JOURNALISTS Do you defy the government and its secrecy legislation, and print stories based on the leaked data? Or do you respect the government’s word and competence enough to not report the "traitorous" information? Would you consider the data "illegally obtained information"? The Associated Press obtained a Pentagon letter reporting that no U.S. intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the posting of secret Afghan war logs. Bradley Manning—hero or traitor? Has been held in solitary confinement by the U.S. government since May for leaking footage of an Army helicopter gunning down 2 unarmed civilians. The video was posted on WikiLeaks under the title, “Collateral Murder”. Manning is also a suspect in the Afghan War Diaries leak. He is being tortured and treated as a
criminal for reporting a war crime. “If Bradley Manning is shown by a unreasonable doubt by the Army to be the source, he’ll have my admiration,” said Daniel Ellsberg in an interview with Democracy Now!. Ellsberg said he believes the government’s “wrongful secrecy of information like this” has perpetuated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He believes that public knowledge of these incidents will shorten the wars. The Society of Professional Journalists state that journalists must
“recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is
conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.” The Sunshine Press, Wikileaks’ Publisher, Mission Statement “We have found that knowledge is suppressed because of its power to change and that only new knowledge brings meaningful change. Ultimately, the quality of every political, economic and personal decision depends on understanding the world and how it came to be that way. By revealing the true state of our world, through millions of pages of suppressed information, we are creating the primary ingredient for a better civilization.” Why is it important for journalists to criticize their governments? That's the equivalent of 22 September 11th attacks. Major Sunday-morning public-affairs shows—on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and CNN—largely ignored the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history in favor of the fast-approaching midterm elections. The story recieved attention on Saturday, especially
because of the press conference with Julian Assange,
WikiLeaks' spokesperson. The New York Times ran
several Iraq War Diaries stories on its front page. In the weeks that followed, American media paid very little attention to the leak. Where do you draw the line about what citizens should know? Is "datajournalism" ethical? "Who controls the past now, controls the future.
Who controls the present now, controls the past."
-George Orwell, 1984 Bob Woodward, Watergate Reporter Woodward believes that transparency is central to democracy. From the Duke Chronicle:
“What worries me most is secret government.... Democracies die in darkness,” he said. “All the other problems I think we’ll fix.... But look at history. If we don’t know what’s going on, we’re going to die.” Since 9/11 $802 billion for Iraq $455 billion for Afghanistan $29 billion for enhanced security $6 billion that cannot be allocated False ? From an editorial in the online magazine “Death and Taxes” The Author writes....But the world has changed. Whereas in Ellsberg’s time Assange’s revelations would have incited mass protests and indignant calls for accountability, now we find the substance of the leaks unsurprising and instead marvel at Assange himself, telling each other, “This guy is f****d.”

But the Times, Washington Post and other papers were accused by web publications and some bloggers of downplaying the extent to which the documents revealed U.S. complicity in torture and provided evidence that politicians in Washington "lied" about the failures of the U.S. military mission. The abuse of detainees in Iraqi custody Major American newspapers latched on to three core elements of the WikiLeaks Iraq documents: The role of private U.S. contractors in the widespread killings of civilians Iran's involvement in the war ? Diplomatic Cables Bradley Manning Voices From the Past Datajournalism On March 1, he was formally charged with 22 counts against
the US Army, including a capital offense. 1 charge of aiding the enemy John Walker Lindh, an American openly fighting for the Taliban, was captured by US forces during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and is now serving a 20-year prison sentence. 2 counts of computer fraud 8 counts of transmitting defense information
in violation of the Espionage Act Aiding the enemy is a capital offense
which potentially carries the death penalty. 5 charges are for violating Army computer security regulations. ? The SHIELD Act A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation in December that would make it illegal to publish the names of U.S. military and intelligence informants. ...more than all presidents combined. It would be a crime to publish information “concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community of the United States,” or “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government” if such publication is prejudicial to U.S. interests. -Wired.com The act is aimed squarely at publishers. Julian Assange "To understand what is really going on in a country, Washington policymakers need to know something about the personalities and the temperaments, who seems to be corrupt and who doesn't. If foreign leaders don't think they can speak with some confidence, we're going to be out of the game." Shaun Donnelly, a former ambassador to Sri Lanka
-npr.com On November 28, WikiLeaks began publishing on their website the first of 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

The contents of the cables describe international affairs from 300 embassies dated from 1966–2010, containing diplomatic analysis of world leaders, an assessment of host countries, and discussions about international and domestic issues. "As you saw during the presidential campaign and during his time in the White House, open and transparent government is something that the President believes is truly important. But the stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime." Press Secretary Robert Gibbs WikiLeaks made the initial data available to Spain's El País,
Der Spiegel, and the Guardian, as well as several other
European newspapers, but not the New York Times. WikiLeaks is publishing 80 new cables a day.
Their actions have been met with strong criticism. The enemy...? Would you consider these cables public information? Major American newspapers continue to
print daily stories. Fox News and MSNBC have covered WikiLeaks on their websites almost daily since the leak. With a steady flow of new data international newspapers
are covering WikiLeaks daily and printing entire cables. Do you respect diplomatic privacy? Or do you print the confidential information? "Guided by reporters with extensive experience in the field, [The New York Times] redacted the names of ordinary citizens, local officials, activists, academics and others who had spoken to American soldiers or diplomats. We edited out any details that might reveal ongoing intelligence-gathering operations, military tactics or locations of material that could be used to fashion terrorist weapons..." "...I was proud of what a crew of great journalists had done to fashion coherent and instructive reporting from a jumble of raw field reports, mostly composed in a clunky patois of military jargon and acronyms. The reporters supplied context, nuance and skepticism."
--Bill Keller, The New York Times “The government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”

--Justice Hugo Black, in his ruling on the Pentagon Papers "Well, there's a question as to what sort of information is important in the world, what sort of information can achieve reform. And there's a lot of information. So information that organizations are spending economic effort into concealing, that's a really good signal that when the information gets out, there's a hope of it doing some good."
According to Assange: WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices. From Der Spiegel's Website: "[WikiLeaks] could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act."
--Time Magazine Do you agree? *According to the Congressional Research Service After Schenk v. U.S., the Supreme Court introduced the "Clear and Present Danger" test, in which the court decides whether inflammatory speech will create "imminent lawless action". This standard is in place today. From WikiLeaks.org 5 counts of theft of public property or records
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