A friend of mine called me up the other day to ask me whether I had any information on how “Wikileaks had gone undetected for so many years and now its cover was blown”. Apparently, there had been a discussion at college on various theories surrounding this astonishing feat of secrecy, with possible solutions ranging from Barack Obama being an Illuminati to Wikileaks being a secret society founded by Newton in his heyday.
These theories were wrong, of course. We all know that Wikileaks was actually started by Galileo instead of Newton and that it has been around since 2007. During that period it has blown the whistle and publishing incriminating documents on a range of events, such as emails hacked from Sarah Palin’s Yahoo accounts, half a million pager messages intercepted between Pentagon and New York Police Department, and Guantanamo Bay procedures – among countless others.
It’s not as if mainstream media didn’t report on these issues, for when these documents came out they were a subjected of heated discussion in political media spheres. What about the rag-tag bunch of volunteers from across the globe who made these news stories possible? Beyond a section of the media – the hungry tech reporters desperate to report on something that did not involve Facebook or yet another senseless celebrity tweet – this nugget was relegated to the footnotes.
And while the mainstream media was caught napping when this ‘previously unknown website’ released shocking footage of US Army helicopters gunning down reporters and civilians, they don’t seem to have learned from their mistake. Beyond an initial flurry of activity I now find that its mostly technology news outlets such as Wired magazine – traditionally major supporters of the Wikileaks initiative – who are leading the charge in following-up on this story.
It took a shocking video that we could all see with our own eyes to jar us (and the media) into being aware of the existence of the ‘covert’ Wikileaks – and that doesn’t surprise me. I have been cheering Wikileaks on since I became aware of it a few years ago. Early this year when Wikileaks had to shut down normal operations due to a funding crunch, I was more than happy to donate and encourage others to. There was a real danger of Wikileaks shutting down – and if the ‘Collateral Murder’ video release did not come along at the time it did, Wikileaks would have been history by now.
Now, once again, Wikileaks faces an uphill battle as the Pentagon and US State Department try to suppress further release of Afghanistan war logs (containing damning evidence of civilian casualties during the ‘War Against Terror’). The outrage and the support that the earlier video generated has died down; the constant pressure around the globe on this whistleblower sites volunteers hasn’t. Yet again – maybe because these are ‘merely boring documents’ – the mainstream media has relegated this to political discussions betweens analysts while technology news circles do what ‘real’ journalists are supposedly supposed to do.
It’d be a shame if the only way Wikileaks is able to garner widespread support and funding is by being forced to release one shocking video after another. They are already doing a terrific job where many others have failed, and they deserve our support every step of the way.