WikiLeaks, the whistle-blower Website that publishes documents exposing the naughty practices of the government and corporations, is getting anxious about how closely the US government is following its operations.
In a blog today, Julian Assange, that site's founder, is accusing the US State Department of spying on the organization's volunteers.
"The spying includes attempted covert following, photographng [sic], filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks' volunteer in Iceland on Monday night," he writes.
The non-profit organization has also made its concerns known through its Twitter account:
- WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Following/photographing/filming/detaining.
- If you know more about the operations against us, contact
- We have airline records of the State Dep/CIA tails. Don't think you can get away with it. You cannot. This is WikiLeaks.
Assange is attributing the alleged spying in part to a video the organization plans to release of US troops under General David Petraeus killing civilians in Iraq in an attack last May. Assange calls this "a film exposing a US massacre" and says WikiLeaks plans to release it to the US National Press Club on April 5.
Additionally, he says, other possible triggers may be the release of a classified 32-page US intelligence report on "how to fatally marginalize WikiLeaks," the release of "classified cable from the US Embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the US and the UK over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees," and "pending releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic 'oligarchs.' "
Assange is also accusing the Icelandic government of collaborating with the US, stating that a minor volunteer was detained by police there "on a wholly insignificant matter." According to Assange, the minor was questioned on a meeting held at "Icelandic Fish & Chips," where WikiLeaks members gathered to talk about the release of the aforementioned classified US military video.
Concluding his article, Assange implored both countries to explain their actions: "If these countries are to be treated as legitmate [sic] states, they need to start obeying the rule of law," he writes.
WikiLeaks has proven to be an important resource, though a controversial (and typographically challenged) one that adds fuel to the debate on how much information should be shared or withheld in the name of national security. Despite its good work in keeping the public informed and holding the powers-that-be accountable, however, we should hardly expect the government to give it a pat on the back, or even to turn a blind eye.
Rather, when we're talking about an organization that leaks classified government information, imploring the US State Department to back off seems futile at best.
On IE Radio yesterday, during a discussion of his book The Transparent Society, author and scientist David Brin discussed the issue of government surveillance, with his take being that the government won't ever stop spying on citizens, but citizens have the tools to hold their officials accountable. And that's more important.
"The powerful always instinctively try to control the information flow because it's the biggest source of advantage," said Brin. "It's more important that we strip Big Brother naked and be able to supervise, to watch the watchmen, than it is to keep Big Brother from looking at us."
In other words, Assange may post whatever pleas he wants for the State Department to back off, but the government will always try to control the information that gets released to the public. As WikiLeaks continues to do its part to strip the feds, it can surely expect to be stripped right back.
— Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Internet Evolution