Can A Wiki Force Transparency On Oppressive Regimes?

from the edit-wars dept

In 1971, when Pentagon employee Daniel Ellsberg leaked classified documents to The New York Times detailing US aggression during the Vietnam War, he had to find a way to quietly photocopy thousands of pages. Today, he could just put everything up on a wiki. A new site called Wikileaks is offering a way for dissident government employees working under oppressive regimes to anonymously leak information on their government's behavior. The site, which is backed by proponents of ethical leaking, is chiefly targeting countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Obviously, the idea of ethical leaking is open to debate, and some might argue that one individual should never get to decide what should and shouldn't be a state secret. But like many other new ethical debates that deal with modern technology, the discussion may already be irrelevant. The means to leak and spread secrets is here; the only question is how governments deal with it. While stiff penalties for transgressors is always an option, it would be a lot easier if governments were to preempt the leaks and adopt a more transparent stance with respect to government functions. Of course, this is, presumably, exactly what the leakers want to see happen.


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  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 9:20am

    Worthless

    Oppressive governments are, by definition, experts at providing misinformation to fool outsiders. Governments such as Vietnam, Iraq under Hussein, or Yugoslavia have claimed to expose "secrets" about American bombs causing birth defects, and even succeeded in getting 99% of Westerners to believe them.

    Medical researchers know the evidence does not add up and is just bunk, but people who openly question the claims are persecuted in the West, losing their academic jobs, getting their opinions deleted on the internet.

     

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  2.  
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    rijit (profile), Jan 15th, 2007 @ 9:56am

    In 1971, when Pentagon employee Daniel Ellsberg leaked classified documents to The New York Times detailing US aggression during the Vietnam War, he had to find a way to quietly photocopy thousands of pages. Today, he could just put everything up on a wiki.


    I just had to point out if the documents are not electronic to begin with, he would still need to find a way to scan them to put the on the Wiki.

    As for the article, everyone wants to know what their government is doing. It is how we keep them somewhat honest, though using the word honest to describe anything to do with government is laughable.
    However, making a place for people to post their state secrets is kind of a slap in any government's face isn't it? Wonder if the people setting up the site used their real names? I know I wouldn't want most of the worlds governments knowing mine if I was encouraging their employees to tell me all their dirty secrets...

     

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  3.  
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    billy, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    USA

    Providing misinformation indeed,
    Just like the USA and their current leaders.
    Fool americans believe everything their leaders tell them.
    I have heard a couple of them talk though as if they know more than monkey leader tells em.

     

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  4.  
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    Trvth Jvstice, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 10:22am

    President Bush graduated from Harvard with a masters degree in business administration. If you accept the premise that he actually learned the lessons taught there, then you should admit he has some smarts.

    If you think his father bought his degree, then you'd have to say the same for any wealthy Harvard graduate. I imagine that would include many other politicians in office now and in the past.

    I personally have my doubts that he graduated without some kind of help. After all he's Still saying nuke-you-ler instead of nuclear lol. Maybe that's just the Texan in him.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 10:24am

    Re: USA

    Yep, because no other gov't in the world does it....Grow up, this is what govt's have done since they were created.

     

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  6.  
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    truth seeker, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 10:37am

    just the facts

    the comment by dorphus shows why wikileaks is perhaps not its all cracked up to be:
    "Governments such as Vietnam, Iraq under Hussein, or Yugoslavia have claimed to expose "secrets" about American bombs causing birth defects, and even succeeded in getting 99% of Westerners to believe them.

    Medical researchers know the evidence does not add up and is just bunk, but people who openly question the claims are persecuted in the West, losing their academic jobs, getting their opinions deleted on the internet."

    Claiming that 99% of any group of any people believe anything is certainly brave, and going on to support this claim with more claims that are equally unsubstantiated is a perfect display of the immediate types of problems that are sure to plague wikileaks.
    What is to stop any disgruntled citizen with photoshop LE from whipping up a nifty little doc proving campaign corruption, tyrannical military policy, or one too many venti mocha double whip lattes on the tab of the people for that matter? I am a firm believer in government abuse, corruption, and general no-goodery, but also know that if sources of such info are not deemed credible by the public at large (perhaps not 99%,) the info is not worth the bandwidth its sent through.
    This is a novel idea by some free thinking idealists, but I think it will be a sermon to the choir, more than a vehicle for sweeping global political reform.

     

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  7.  
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    truth seeker, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    W. went to Yale
    Before you say "yeah, whatever," understand that the reason people go to Ivy league schools is not for the education; it is for the contacts and the influence they later provide. A good friend of mine went to Yale, as his father did. When his father was there, he was roommates with a certain member of our nations top gov't (no, not W.) This roommate situation allowed my friends dad to put in a call to his old friend that immediately scored my friend a highly competitive job straight out of college. This type of stuff happens everyday. If your dad owned a candy store, and you had a friend that needed a job, your dad would probably help him out. When your dad is a rich and powerful oil man and politician, the stakes and influence, and well as the helping hands, are much larger.
    W. is a sad example of what can and does happen in these situations.

     

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  8.  
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    To the Truth, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 11:38am

    Agreed

    Amen Seeker, Amen. I agree with you on all counts. Thats all I have to say.

     

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  9.  
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    eze, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:00pm

    Re: USA

    great comment . i wanna see USA leaks here ..... another "oppresed" country

     

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  10.  
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    dorpus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: USA

    Sure, why not fill up the wiki with "Roswell UFO files" or "Kennedy files"? That will make it worthless quickly.

     

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  11.  
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    Tyshaun, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: USA

    Sure, why not fill up the wiki with "Roswell UFO files" or "Kennedy files"? That will make it worthless quickly.

    Sarcasm *SarcasmGenerator(void *pConspiracy)
    {
    return "So you mean there are no UFO's and
    Kennedy wasn't killed by the government. You
    must be mistaken!";
    }

     

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  12.  
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    dorkus malorkus, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 1:17pm

    A wiki just for this http://www.wikileaks.org/

    http://www.wikileaks.org/index.html "Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. "

     

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  13.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Worthless

    "Oppressive governments are, by definition, experts at providing misinformation to fool outsiders. Governments such as Vietnam, Iraq under Hussein, or Yugoslavia have claimed to expose "secrets" about American bombs causing birth defects, and even succeeded in getting 99% of Westerners to believe them.

    No, no, no Dorpus! All that stuff about Agent Orange (dioxin) and depleted uranium, that's unfortunately true as a matter of science. It fucks up everything and everybody without prejudice for nationality or skin colour. If you want to want to engage in that argument a little closer to home find an ex serviceman who served in Gulf War I and ask them about "Gulf War Syndrome" and then find the quiet goverment admissions on sarin gas exposure.

    Also, never use a figure of 99% for anything, it's just too coneniently round, even in a good troll. :)

    However burried within your otherwise spectacular heap of hogwash you carelessly make a very valid and perceptive point. Those who are not familiar with the British comedy "Yes Minister" will miss the beauty and elegance with which, as you say "Governments are, by definition, experts at providing misinformation" (The "oppressive" and "outsiders" are quite redundant).

    Leaks, as they are so erroneously pitched, are part of the very machinary of government. Of course, the best leaks are the ones where the canary actually believes they are leaking something. Thus it is practically impossible to distinguish between official and non-official information in any useful way.

     

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  14.  
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    Hulser, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 6:11pm

    relevant quote...

    "To the rulers of the state then, if to any, it belongs of right to use falsehood, to deceive either enemies or their own citizens, for the good of the state: and no one else may meddle with this privilege."
    - Plato

     

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  15.  
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    NFG, Jan 15th, 2007 @ 7:39pm

    Wikileaks may be a fraud.

    According to cryptome.org, wikileaks may be a fraud. John Young (who runs cryptome) was a member of the wikileaks inner circle for a short while but dropped out and published all the email records of their conversations.

    Talk of millions in funding, claims of millions of documents, and not a single shred of proof or evidence? I'm skeptical, and it seems I'm not alone.

    Wikileaks leak 1
    Wikileaks leak 2

     

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  16.  
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    daniel strawn, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 7:22am

    wtf

    what the hell .... i didnt know that

     

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