What Is Wikileaks? Why Do They Publish Classified Information?

Wikileaks has been in the news this week. Not only that, but it even upset people so much that someone arranged a DDOS attack on the website which took it offline. So, what is all the fuss about Wikileaks? What do they do to anger so many?

Wikileaks is a website that publishes documents which are sometimes classified and should really be kept out of the public domain on the grounds of national and international security.

However, they believe that only by publishing such information will the public become aware of the truths about overseas military operations and decision making, and only then can make an informed choice about how they may want to vote.

A better explanation is given on the Wikileaks website – this explains the latest events which have been in the news:

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size.

At the time of the Gulf War there were rumours of many civilian deaths but the numbers were always played down. Now it seems that there have been over 66,000 innocent civilians killed in the war.

Because of the DDOS attacks on Wikileaks it seems that they have changed how they are sharing this information. They now provide direct links to allow you to download the documents via a bittorrent site, as well as browsing in the traditional way. Some parts of the site are still struggling to cope under the demand though.

Wikileaks In The News

400,000 Documents on Wikileaks

On Democracy Now (the presenters are not a match of the quality of BBC news presenters!) discuss the documents, and bring in a chap that leaks Vietnam war documents to help tell the public the truth.

400,000 documents is just a crazy number though. Nobody will be able to read all of this. Wikileaks should really be providing a well written and structured report from that information, not just dumping it in the public domain and expecting everyone to decipher it.

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