July 25th, 2010
07:01 PM ET

What is WikiLeaks?

Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, speaks to reporters.

WikiLeaks publishes and comments on leaked documents that allege government and corporate misconduct.

The nonprofit site is run by a loose band of tech-savvy volunteers and has quickly become one of the Web's go-to locations.

One of its greatest controversies involves the publication in April of a secret video taken in 2007 of a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a dozen civilians, including two unarmed Reuters journalists.

Thousands of alleged Afghan war documents go online

At the time, Maj. Shawn Turner, a U.S. military spokesman, said that "all evidence available supported the conclusion by those forces that they were engaging armed insurgents and not civilians."

Pfc. Bradley Manning, 22, has been charged by the U.S. military with eight violations of the U.S. Criminal Code for transferring classified data, according to a charge sheet released by the military this week.

This month, site founder Julian Assange, who is rarely seen in public, told a TED conference that Wikileaks thoroughly vets materials on the site. Watch his TED talk

Those who defend WikiLeaks say it protects whistle-blowers, journalists and activists who want to communicate sensitive information. Critics have charged it recklessly endangers national security and the livelihoods of people whose identities must be kept secret.

A 2008, a U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center report, which was classified until it was uploaded to WikiLeaks in March, said that information posted to WikiLeaks.org could "aid enemy forces in planning terrorist attacks."

There are "legitimate secrets," Assange, 39, said at TED, including health records. But WikiLeaks deals, "with whistle-blowers that are well motivated," Assange said.

Assange has said that the organization gets material from whistle-blowers in a variety of ways - including postal mail. WikiLeaks rarely knows the identity of the source of the leak. "If we find out at some stage, we destroy that information as soon as possible," he said.

WikiLeaks operates in several countries, including Sweden and Iceland, Assange said, specifically because those nations offer legal protection to the disclosures made on the site.

Assange is considered a mystery and maintains a low profile. He said at TED that he has canceled at least three appearances in the United States, including a June talk at a national investigative journalism conference, because of what he called "unreasonable" statements that were made by U.S. officials. These statements were made in private, he said, and suggested that officials "may not follow the rule of law" in dealing with him.


Filed under: Afghanistan • National security • Technology • WikiLeaks
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. dont ya know?

    first words in the preamble "we the people" people trust the government, government...trust the people

    July 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ilestudent30B

    As a member of the defense community, I am against leaking of any U.S. classified information. I'm also against misleading video clips (I didn't like the incomplete clip of the USDA's Shirely Sherrod either). I watched the Wikileak clip of the 2007 U.S. air raid in Baghdad in which 8-12 alledged insurgents where killed. Am I missing something? The U.S. military doesn't go around firing on Iraqi civilians for no reason. Strikes of that nature are usually in retailiation for an attack on us. Did Wikileak investigate whether these guy's harmed our guys by planting IEDs? Is Wikileak in bed with the insurgents? For Wikileak to show this video without providing more information is interfering with coalition operations. Julian Assange stated that two of the civilians killed were journalist and not insurgents. My momma always told me to be careful of whom you choose to hang out with.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. awdilestudent30B

    As a member of the defense community, I am against leaking of any U.S. classified information. I'm also against misleading video clips (I didn't like the incomplete clip of the USDA's Shirely Sherrod either). I watched the Wikileak clip of the 2007 U.S. air raid in Baghdad in which 8-12 alledged insurgents where killed. Am I missing something? The U.S. military doesn't go around firing on Iraqi civilians for no reason. Strikes of that nature are usually in retailiation for an attack on us. Did Wikileak investigate whether these guy's harmed our guys by planting IEDs? Is Wikileak in bed with the insurgents? For Wikileak to show this video without providing more information is interfering with coalition operations. Julian Assange stated that two of the civilians killed were journalist and not insurgents. My momma always told me to be careful of whom you choose to hang out with.

    Major Andre Dancy
    Combined Armed Center
    Intermediate Level Education, class 30B

    July 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. awdilestudent30B

    Repost Disclaimer:

    The views expressed below are soley the opinion of the author and in not inteneded to represent the United States Army.

    As a member of the defense community, I am against leaking of any U.S. classified information. I'm also against misleading video clips (I didn't like the incomplete clip of the USDA's Shirely Sherrod either). I watched the Wikileak clip of the 2007 U.S. air raid in Baghdad in which 8-12 alledged insurgents where killed. Am I missing something? The U.S. military doesn't go around firing on Iraqi civilians for no reason. Strikes of that nature are usually in retailiation for an attack on us. Did Wikileak investigate whether these guy's harmed our guys by planting IEDs? Is Wikileak in bed with the insurgents? For Wikileak to show this video without providing more information is interfering with coalition operations. Julian Assange stated that two of the civilians killed were journalist and not insurgents. My momma always told me to be careful of whom you choose to hang out with.

    Major Andre Dancy
    Combined Armed Center
    Intermediate Level Education, class 30B

    July 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. asaje williams

    true

    December 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. asaje williams

    hi

    December 17, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Madhu

    What the truth of 2012 ? And blackhole.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cursos a distancia gratis

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with useful info to paintings on. You've performed a formidable activity and our entire community can be grateful to you.

    April 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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