Monday, July 26, 2010

Can WikiLeaks be perfect ? Forever ?

As reported in the New York Times today, The White House was pretty upset with, and it's founder Julian Assange.  Apparently  some 92,000 secret military reports relative to the war in Afghanistan were leaked to WikiLeaks, which in turn released them to The New York Times and two other news organizations, Der Spiegel in Germany and The Guardian in Britain. The documents covered a 6 year period from January 2004 through December 2009. It sounds like everyone involved was trying to do their best to protect the people that might have been exposed by this leak.  

WikiLeaks feels that it is their duty, right, and responsibility to expose governments and business.  From their webpage:  "WikiLeaks is a multi-jurisdictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public."  I would mostly agree, but with any power, comes a warning of caution.   WikiLeaks proudly states on their webpage:  "Before the Dec 2007 national elections, WikiLeaks exposed $3,000,000,000 of Kenyan corruption and swung the vote by 10%. This lead to enormous changes in the constitution and the establishment of a more open government — one many hundreds of reforms catalyzed by WikiLeaks." 

"Swung the vote by 10%"  That's pretty powerful stuff!   Powerful enough that I would guess that somewhere in the future, someone will try to take advantage of this power to swing a vote, by "leaking" to WikiLeaks a forged document--it only has to be good enough to fool.  How good is WikiLeaks verification system?  Did they verify all 92,000 leaked documents that they just received about Afghanistan?  I don't know.   I can only hope they fully appreciate the potential power they hold.

But if WikiLeaks has the power to swing an election, they will eventually get the attention of some evil-doer who wants to game the system with a fake document.  How long will WikiLeaks be perfect in their scrutiny?  Can they be perfect--forever?    If they can swing an election, could they inadvertently be fooled into releasing documents that ultimately resulted in a war? What if WikiLeaks  is infiltrated, and hires an analyst with an agenda??  Could the senior team at WikiLeaks ever become biased?  Could they release some leaks and bury others?  Who is watching WikiLeaks?  

All tough, and interesting questions.  What do you think?

1 comment:

joseph harari said...

Leaks involving the govt & military during times of war have to be questioned because the harm to our military and allies, the political aspirations of the leakers, and the supposed benefit(s) of the leaks. Doing it "after the fact" or end of conflict when all data can be reviewed/analyzed in a more sane atmosphere would give credence to any honorable goal(s), if they exist) of the leakers.