Wikileaks came to prominence after it released 91,000 documents related to the Afghanistan War. Now, officials inside the organization have begun leaving in protest over its founder’s insistence on releasing nearly 400,000 similar documents from the Iraq War.
Part of the whistle-blower site’s notoriety has always been negative. In the wake of the Afghanistan document release even some activist organizations indicted the group for irresponsible treatment of information. That information included the identities of military personnel and Afghan civilian workers. Former Wikileak workers fear the same thing will happen, but on a larger scale, with the Iraq information.
Wired.com’s Threat Level blog reports that Assange intends an October release of 392,000 classified documents from Iraq.
Although based on the wiki platform, Wikileaks does not come off as hewing to the wiki philosophy of editorial collaboration and aggregate decision-making. Assange has acted as boss more than primus inter pares. Last month he effected, apparently with no collaboration or consultation, a media review of the Iraq documents. When asked to consider taking more time to more carefully redact the Iraq documents, Assange refused.
Among the dozen so far who’ve jumped ship are Herbert Snorrason, who ran Wikileaks’ secure chat room; and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Wikileaks’ German spokesman.
Threat Level quotes Assange from an article on Domscheit-Berg in German magazine Der Spiegel.
“I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off.”
Assange has spent time hiding out from theoretical pursuers from the U.S. and fending off sexual assault charges in Sweden. The roguish whiff of vainglory and entitlement may be better suited to a media mogul than a would-be latter-day Daniel Ellsberg. You have to wonder how the organization and its site will fare if Assange continues to occupy the sole driver’s seat.
Bradley Manning, an Army Pfc. was been arrested in May by U.S. military police. He faces two misconduct charges for allegedly sharing the Iraq documents with Wikileaks.
Assange photo from New Media Days