WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website that provides confidential and sensitive documents for free to the media, human rights groups and the public, has been deemed a threat by the US Army.
WikiLeaks has been responsible in the past for providing a copy of the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta, the contents of Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account, and a membership list of the far-right British National Party which got at least one police officer dismissed, among many other significant stories.
A 2008 document recently posted there, entitled U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy WikiLeaks, states,
The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing
sensitive or classified information to Wikileaks.org cannot be ruled out.
Plans included trying to shut down the website using a variety of techniques, including exposing their sources to embarrass and intimidate them, and even litigation.
Considering that this document was considered “secret,” and presumably came from someone who had access to confidential files, the concerns may be valid. But the appropriateness of the response by the military towards a media channel providing a significant and overwhelmingly positive contribution to issues of public interest is also suspect.
The editors of WikiLeaks note that 2 years have passed without any exposure of their sources, indicating that this response may also be particularly ineffectual. They also point to inaccuracies regarding the editorial control of the site.
Even if the Army was able to shut down WikiLeaks, they concede that the problem is not limited to a single site,
Web sites similar to Wikileaks.org will continue to proliferate and will continue to represent a potential force protection, counterintelligence, OPSEC, and INFOSEC threat to the US Army for the foreseeable future.
Although security interests are pressing and substantial, when a democratic government administration is known to participate in systematic abuses of human rights and widespread violations of international norms, the balance of favour should continue to support sites like WikiLeaks.