Scandal alert 2010: Wikileaks

By: Emily Dyer

In 2006, a website began, which promised to expose unethical behaviour from the US and around the world. This website leaked thousands of confidential documents, including hundreds of American diplomatic cables. It imploded after the leak of these cables, when an American governmental probe led to the arrest of its leader, Julian Assange, and to the shut-down of the American branch of the site.

When Wikileaks first opened in 2006, many saw it as a good thing. The website promised that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but also to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations,” but it has since turned its  focus to outing US governmental secrets. Although freedom of information is one of the principal democratic principles and a stipulation in the American constitution, Wikileaks takes it too far.

The information on the site has made trouble for people in the US and abroad. The American government has been criticized over many issues, and spies and other government employees have been forced to resign when their positions were ousted by the site. The Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan was almost forced to resign after remarks he made about the Afghan Prime minister were released.

According to one poll, 70% of Americans believe keeping confidential documents secret is more important than freedom of information. The security of these documents protects Americans and Canadians at home and abroad, by keeping essential information about them out of the hands of terrorists and militants. When these documents are released, protecting security gets significantly harder; after all, the problem with freedom of information is that everyone has access to the information, including people who can use it to destroy our nation.

Julian Assange, the man known as the founder of Wikileaks, is facing legal action around the world. He was accused of two counts of molestation in Sweden, and is facing allegations of Espionage in the US. Even Assange’s former colleagues are turning against him. His ex-right hand man, Daniel Schmitt has accused him of using Wikileaks for personal gain, and dominating the supposedly user-run site.

While neither Wikileaks nor Assange has been convicted of any crime, most of the sites carriers have dropped it; it has essentially been removed from the web in North America. We will have to stay tuned to find out the ending to this story. Whatever happens, though, we can be sure that Wikileaks will not fare well in the eyes of the world.