Wikileaks and the November 2010 Elections

Posted on July 27, 2010


Wikileaks.org published classified military documents last week. The hacker who turned in the US soldier who is the alleged “leak” of both a classified 2007 video in June, 2010 and the classified US documents known as the Afghanistan War Logs, believes that the young Private could not have acted alone.  Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker,  claims that Army intelligence expert Bradley Manning, 22 does not have the technical abilities to do all that had to be done to access, copy and distribute the files. [Daily Mail.uk]

Regardless, the question persists:  is there any way these documents and the video could  be election fodder for Republicans or Democrats? Republicans might infer that operatives for the Obama Administration could somehow have turned a blind eye to the accessing of these papers and the leaks of classified information?  After all, much of the information is old news.  The Log just brings it all together.  It would be difficult to determine. Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, maintains that not even he and his associates know who is behind the release of much of the classified materials they receive from various sources. However, to a limited extent, Democrats will benefit by their release:

  • Democrats can point to the fact that the time period covered by the documents is 2004-2009.  In December, 2009, Obama shifted policy in the war. [Washington Post]
  • Obama has had difficulty ending this war as he had promised during the 2008 campaign. These documents might do for the War in Afghanistan what the Pentagon Papers did for the war in Vietnam: Help immeasurably in turning public opinion around to support ending the war.

After the June, 2010 release of the 2007 video from a US helicopter cockpit that recorded the crew’s slaying of civilians and journalists in a firefight in Baghdad in 2007 (during which they were laughing), the CIA could not locate the founder of Wikileaks, a former hacker .  They did, however, have information from the hacker,  Julian Assange, who directed them to the soldier who is allegedly the source responsible for providing the video and the Afghanistan War Logs to Wikileaks.  Lamo who in 2004 pleaded guilty to hacking into the internal computer system of The New York Times, told US authorities that the release of more damaging classified information including another video was in the works.  Was the Obama Administration’s response inadequate to the task of preventing more disclosures?  The materials were shipped to 3 countries.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats must move slowly in utilizing the documents themselves in support of their campaigns:

  • Disinformation as well as information permeate the pages.
  • Care must also be taken to protect national security to the greatest extent possible. To keep focusing on the documents would only deepen concern about loss of strategic information and most important, endanger the lives of countless individuals.  Although much has been redacted to protect individuals, often the papers themselves point to general information that can lead to their identification.
  • The papers allegedly point not only to US so-called war crimes but to those of coalition forces as well.

In the final analysis, the voters this fall will be asking the questions and driving the debate.  They will determine how much focus is put on the Afghanistan War Log and the 2007 video.

As for the impact of this kind of data gathering on governments, few have been prepared for this new kind journalism  that is indifferent to consequences.

WASHINGTON – Though propelled to fame by its recent disclosures about the U.S. military, WikiLeaks has homed in on targets as wide-ranging as corruption in the Kenyan ruling family, alleged illegal activities by a Swiss bank, and Sarah Palin’s private e-mail account.

And in just 31/2 years, the secretive organization founded by a convicted Australian hacker has helped pioneer a new model for using the Internet to unearth classified government documents and private corporate memos. Operating from undisclosed locations around the world and using sophisticated technology, WikiLeaks has managed to largely skirt legal challenges and technical intervention.

Its sources are mysterious. It appears to operate with few professional staff, supported through donations of time and money from leftist activists and others from Iceland to China. Yet its controversial scoops and releases of thousands of pages of documents have helped fuel major news stories and public debates about U.S. foreign policy and other global issues.

“You really see the potential for a more informed public,” said Daniel Ellsberg, the former defense analyst who leaked a classified history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers.

The Wikileaks affair sadly also demonstrates the adulteration of traditional investigative journalism. It’s the reality show of news outlets.

Further information on Wikileaks is here.

Overview of Information released is here.

Interview with the hacker is here.

©On My Watch…the writings of SamHenry