Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010


WikiLeaks, an organization that seeks out and publishes sensitive or secret government data, dropped two considerable bombshells with the July release of 77,000 U.S. military files chronicling the war effort in Afghanistan and a larger tranche of 400,000 war logs from Iraq in October — both documenting previously unreported civilian casualties and incidents of abuse. Then WikiLeaks went veritably nuclear, leaking more than 200,000 U.S. diplomatic cables to a handful of media outlets in November. Though few of the revelations found within the cables were much of a surprise — really, there's corruption in Russia? — the leak has shaken technocrats in the world's major capitals and raised profound questions about the nature of secrecy in the digital 21st century. In the limelight is Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' silver-haired, reedy-voiced chief. The Australian former journalist was arrested in London Dec. 7 for alleged sexual assaults in Sweden — charges his lawyers say are trumped up to ruin his reputation. Assange may yet have the last laugh: on an almost daily basis, dozens of new leaked cables are being published, forcing some of the world's greatest power brokers into awkward apologies and crisis meetings over and over again.