Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wiki Leaks Afghan War Diary

The leak of over 91,000 reports about the War in Afghanistan on will certainly change the world of information gathering and classified documentation., a Web site that publishes classified documents and reports with the promise that they will protect the source, leaked Sunday around 91,000 reports on the Afghan war. The reports came from people aligned with Afghan officials and military personnel according to reports from the Guardian, The New York Times and Der Speigel, the three major news outlets that first reported on the leaks.

Time will tell whether the information in the reports will change public opinion about Afghanistan and the outcome of the war. But what the information does prove is a drastic change in the way we handle what was once seen as untouchable information. Prior to the development of wikileaks, which began in January 2007, there was a vast sea of documents that were considered "off-limits" or "confidential." Wikileaks changes all that. If Wikileaks can make its way through this major ordeal and defend its right to the information successfully, this will break all boundaries of what information should and can be accessible to the public. If it cannot defend itself, regulation will only become tighter and censorship could be used more often when describing why we don't know everything we would like about the government's or other organizations' activities.

Much speculation has been circulating this Web site for some time now. On the "About Us" section on the Wikileak Web site, a quote from Time Magazine says, "... could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act."

Philip Shenon, a writer for The New York Times was quoted on NPR last week saying, "You certainly hear at the Pentagon, at the White House, concern that one of these days somebody is going to leak something really important to an organization like Wikileaks. The example given to me is American nuclear secrets or the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Would Wikileaks put that out to the world without much filtering, and isn't there a threat in that?"

Personal Opinion

As I said above, time will tell the ultimate outcome of this development and it will be up to how Wikileaks, the White House and the mainstream media handle this situation that determines whether Wikileaks gets the fame it has been vying for for three years or falls short of journalistic excellence and reaches the level of Tweeted headlines and untrusted Wikipedia pages.

Most likely, it will end up somewhere in the middle. People will go to the site for basic information, much like they do for Wikipedia. However, this site must continue to be monitored closely because whenever the public is given information, it will undoubtably make some more informed but others it will give the impetus they wanted to make outlandish accusations.

While people often read Wikipedia as a major source of information, I do not believe people visiting Wikileaks will take it as it is. Because Wikileaks is set up as a research site, it will be used as just that, one of many sources for in depth research. All that is certain is this, over the next few weeks and months, a lot of people are going to have a lot of work on their hands.

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