Why WikiLeaks is worth defending, despite all of its flaws
Most of the recent attention around WikiLeaks has been focused on the legal issues surrounding its controversial founder, Julian Assange. But we shouldn’t let that blind us to what the organization has accomplished and the critical role it plays as a “stateless news organization.”
Originally posted on Gigaom:
By now, anyone with even a passing interest in the WikiLeaks phenomenon is familiar with most of the elements of its fall from grace: the rift between founder Julian Assange and early supporters over his autocratic and/or erratic behavior, the Swedish rape allegations that led to his seeking sanctuary in Ecuador, a recent childish hoax the organization perpetrated, and so on. Critics paint a picture of an organization that exists only in name, with a leadership vacuum and an increasingly fractured group of adherents. Despite its many flaws, however, there is still something worthwhile in what WikiLeaks has done, and theoretically continues to do. The bottom line is that we need something like a “stateless news organization,” and so far it is the best candidate we have.
To some extent, WikiLeaks has always been as much myth as substance, and possibly even more so. The idea of a secretive group of information outlaws with servers located in Iceland or deep inside a Swedish mountain, especially a group headed by a white-haired fellow right out of a spy novel, always seemed almost too good to be true. And anyone who has gotten close to the organization, from Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir — who helped edit the infamous Collateral Murder video showing a U.S. military attack on civilians in Iraq — to former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, has found that the reality lacks a certain something when compared to the myth.