Top WikiLeaks Editor: Democrats Should Be Happy About the Organization’s Commitment to Transparency
Writing in The New York Times, Berlin-based journalist and WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison responded to accusations that the publication “abett[ed] the candidacy of Donald J. Trump by publishing … information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign and its influence over the Democratic National Committee” in the weeks preceding the 2016 presidential election.
Proponents of this critique, she said, imply that “a news organization should have withheld accurate, newsworthy information from the public.” Critics also attacked the organization for publishing the documents in full, without redacting information pertinent to the privacy of individuals named in the documents.
“I can understand the frustration, however misplaced, from Clinton supporters,” Harrison wrote. “But the WikiLeaks staff is committed to the mandate set by [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange, and we are not going to go away, no matter how much he is abused. That’s something that Democrats, along with everyone who believes in the accountability of governments, should be happy about.”
Despite the mounting legal and political pressure coming from Washington, we continue to publish valuable material, and submissions keep pouring in. There is a desperate need for our work: The world is connected by largely unaccountable networks of power that span industries and countries, political parties, corporations and institutions; WikiLeaks shines a light on these by revealing not just individual incidents, but information about entire structures of power.
While a single document might give a picture of a particular event, the best way to shed light on a whole system is to fully uncover the mechanisms around it — the hierarchy, ideology, habits and economic forces that sustain it. It is the trends and details visible in the large archives we are committed to publishing that reveal the details that tell us about the nature of these structures. It is the constellations, not stars alone, that allow us to read the night sky.
What has WikiLeaks contributed to the global public?
At times we receive individual documents, but we have come to specialize in large collections. Over the last decade we have vetted, indexed and published an average of 3,000 documents per day, including over 300,000 reports covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than two million emails from Syrian political figures and over 120,000 documents from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We also curate the Public Library of United States Diplomacy, the world’s largest collection of diplomatic cables (nearly three million).
WikiLeaks has transformed more than 10 million documents into a unique searchable archive, not only making our website the world’s largest online library for suppressed information, but also enabling greater contextualization through relationships across publications.
As for accusations that WikiLeaks acted as an agent of the Russian government, which applauded Trump’s victory, “this misrepresents our principles and basic operations.”
WikiLeaks relies on our editor’s invention of a secure anonymous online submission system to protect sources’ identities. This technology has become a standard for many media outlets around the world. We prefer not to know who our sources are; we do not want to, and usually do not need to. What matters to us is the authenticity of the documents.
This has always been our position and approach, whether we were publishing material about the George W. Bush administration’s wars or corruption within the Democratic Party. The establishment media was happy to work with us on the former, but turned against us when it came to the latter, calling into question our intentions and those of Mr. Assange. CNN has even suggested, wrongly, that readers may have legal troubles if they download documents from our site.
“We publish without fear or favor, bringing transparency to powerful factions and secretive institutions, not taking any sides except that of the truth,” Harrison continued. “We believe in the democratization of information and the power that knowledge gives to people to further peace, accountability and self-determination.
“WikiLeaks will continue publishing, enforcing transparency where secrecy is the norm. While threats against our editor are mounting, Mr. Assange is not alone, and his ideas continue to inspire us and people around the world.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly
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