Right now you can click on this link and go to a web site that features about 92,000 classified military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. President Obama wishes you weren’t able to do that because, obviously, the documents are classified. Nevertheless, someone within the US military got a hold of them and passed them along to outside hands in the interest of making them public. Eventually the documents reached the website Wikileaks, which exists solely for the purpose of publicizing confidential information from governments and large organizations.
It’s a curious situation. On the one hand, you have these documents that couldn’t be published nearly as comprehensively and quickly anywhere but the web. And they’re published by an amorphous international organization that doesn’t have to worry about making the government upset. But on the other hand, the only way I was able to make sense of what was in the documents was to read the coverage in mainstream news outlets like the New York Times.
We’ll leave it to you and the newspapers to sift through what’s in each document but we will examine the political and cultural landscape we’re now living in where such a release of documents is now possible. We hear some tape from an interview John Moe did with Julian Assange last winter about Wikileaks’ policies. Plus we hear from Micah Sifry, executive editor of TechPresident.com, and Jonathan Zittrain who teaches law and computer science at Harvard, where he is also the co-founder and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
By the way, the link at the top there probably doesn’t work since Wikileaks’ servers are completely overwhelmed with traffic.
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