WikiLeaks.org has released an 18 minute video that shows United States armed forces in Iraq attacking a group that included two journalists from Reuters. The journalists, and about ten other civilians, were fatally injured in the 2007 attack.
National Public Radio (NPR) this morning reports (although not in its on-line article) that the video came from a whistleblower. A number of circumstances point to whistleblowing as a source for this video. The video was classified and encrypted. So, whoever released this video is likely to have had a security clearance. Also WikiLeaks.org has posted a decrypted version of the video. This indicates either that the source had access to the decryption methods or that the government’s encryption is vulnerable.
WikiLeaks.org is a volunteer organization that has vetted and released anonymous submissions since 2007. Its initial focus was to expose corruption by authoritarian regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, the Middle East and Africa. In 2008, a federal judge in California ordered that it be shut down after it exposed illegal activities by the Cayman Islands branch of a Swiss bank. Last December, WikiLeaks.org suspended availability of past leaks due to a funding shortage. The site is now widely distributed and mirrored to stymie censorship.
Today’s video release exemplifies the role whistleblowers can play in revealing how national security laws are used to cover up mistakes or misconduct by military and other government officials. The public debate and historical record benefit from this whistleblower leak. The release is also a test of how technology can facilitate whistleblowing by persons with security clearances.
Follow this link for the Wikileak.org blog about today’s release.