Wikileaks, the group responsible for leaking the Collateral Murder video earlier this year showing American helicopter pilots killing a group of Iraqis and two Reuters journalists and more recently the Iraq War Logs, is poised to release a new set of documents that spokesman Julian Assange says will dwarf all other leaks.
The first thing that caught my attention about this leak was the scramble by the State Department to stop it. They’ve contacted Assange’s lawyers. They’ve contacted other countries. They’re saying this leak will put lives and the U.S. foreign relations in jeopardy.
Whatever is coming, the U.S. government is VERY concerned.
The Toronto Star reported:
Germany’s Der Spiegel briefly published a story on its website Saturday saying that the documents include 251,287 cables and 8,000 diplomatic directives, most of which date after 2004. About 9,000 documents are from the first two months of this year, the newspaper said.
About 6 per cent of the documents were classified as secret, the newspaper said before taking down its story. The majority was unclassified, the newspaper said, but all were intended to remain confidential.
The newspaper said it would release all the documents at 4:30 p.m. EST Sunday. WikiLeaks and the newspapers are expected to release the documents and their findings at the same time. However, the release time has changed several times over the past few days.
The last leak made public over 400,000 files that documented the day-to-day events of the Iraq war and exposed state secrets about torture, the true civilian death toll and civilians used to sweep for mines.
Wikileaks in the past has made the information available for download on its website also (look at the bottom right of the page).
As a journalist it’s nice to see a place where whistleblowers can go to provide information. It’s also nice to see the things so many people suspected went on in Iraq confirmed through extensive documentation.
But I wonder about two things: Will leaks like the Iraq War Logs cause the U.S. to just stop documenting things? And what will be the impact on innocent civilians that the State Department says they will have?
The letter even suggests the release of the documents un-redacted would also put the lives of journalists in danger.
The State Department letter says The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel have advance copies of the information, so we’ll all know in about 24 hours.
Something to check out: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism launched and online project dedicated to finding stories in the Iraq War Logs.