News Organizations Publish WikiLeaks Documents With Caution, Innovation
Elusive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is scheduled to appear in London on Monday with Daniel Ellsberg, best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971. The appearance follows the Friday release of about 400,000 classified documents related to the war in Iraq.
Ellsberg also tweeted (through his son): "I've waited 40 years for a release of documents on this scale."
WikiLeaks partnered with traditional news organizations in releasing the documents, as it did in July.
The New York Times once again published an introductory note to readers explaining how it handled the documents.
"The New York Times told the Pentagon which specific documents it planned to post and showed how they had been redacted. The Pentagon said it would have preferred that The Times not publish any classified materials but did not propose any cuts."
The Guardian made data drawn from the documents available for download, provided maps of the Iraq deaths and created an interactive package that tells the story of 146 deaths in a 24-hour period (136 Iraqis and 10 Americans), along with a narrative account of that same day.
Msnbc.com reports that Al-Jazeera broke the embargo on the documents just before they were scheduled to be released.
"Der Spiegel of Germany and Channel 4 of Britain, which also participated, said they would weigh in Monday. CNN said it had been invited to participate but declined because of 'conditions' attached to the material, which it didn't specify. ...
"The Guardian and Le Monde have historically been regarded as liberal newspapers, while Al-Jazeera, a television network based in Qatar, was widely denounced for what critics saw as an anti-U.S. bias after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a characterization it disputes."
WikiLeaks worked with OWNI to create a crowdsourcing application for the Iraq War documents. In a story about the collaboration, a writer for OWNI describes the terms of the arrangement:
1. We had six days and a free hand on the development;
2. We had no knowledge of the data before the official release date (or as little as was needed from the technical aspect);
3. We knew for sure that several newsrooms were working on the logs and that sensitive information had been retracted;
4. We wouldn't have to host the app. A ruling by France's supreme court in January, 2010, is phrased in such ways that a host is now responsible for all content on its servers. Had we hosted the app ourselves, likely within hours of launch the police would demand we take it offline. We had to look to freer countries for hosting. WikiLeaks told us to look at Bahnhof.se, their own host, famous for having its servers buried deep in a nuclear shelter.
Assange himself surfaced for the release of the documents. However, he walked out in the middle of an interview on CNN after London-based correspondent Atika Shubert persisted in asking Assange about allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.