Wikileaks has been in the headlines quite a bit lately due to their role in the 2016 election. Many people hold them partially responsible for pushing the American public to vote for Trump. Some even demonize the organization, saying that they are essentially a Russian propaganda machine. While it’s fair to question the ethics of Wikileaks, it may be a bit of a jump to think that they are explicitly working for the Russians.
People tend to have differing opinions of Wikileaks. Many people believe that what they are doing is wrong and that they’re jeopardizing national safety by leaking classified documents. There have certainly been some questionable content on Wikileaks, which don’t help their case for legitimacy. Others feel that Wikileaks is exposing hypocrisy to the world, holding large corporations and governments accountable while keeping people informed on issues that would otherwise receive no media attention.
No matter what you think about Wikileaks, much of the information they publish is undoubtedly interesting. Many of the leaks they’ve published have drastically changed public opinion as some are claiming was the case in the 2016 election. Ahead are some of the most interesting and note-worthy leaks that Wikileaks has published. Whether you think they should have published them or not, the information is still important to know.
15 The Bible Of Scientology
The practices, procedures, and beliefs of the Church of Scientology are now well-documented. Celebrities and other former members of the church have come out of the woodwork to condemn the teachings of the church, and documentaries like Going Clear have brought this information to mainstream audiences.
Before any of this took place, the Wikileaks publications were the first to publicly reveal the church’s belief system to the world. Before this, only those who reached the highest levels in Scientology were gifted with this knowledge. To the rest of the world, it just seemed like crazy talk.
The documents revealed that the church believed there were levels of “Operating Thetans” and that all the souls on Earth were actually alien souls that have been trapped for centuries. They also offered a look at the practices and “drills” of the church, making outsiders and even lower-level Scientologists seriously question the church’s teachings.
14 Sarah Palin’s Emails
In 2008, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the victim of a hack to her private Yahoo email account by the hacking collective, Anonymous. They sent their findings to Wikileaks, who published the contents. Despite the criticism of an invasion of privacy (some of the emails included private family photos), there were some pertinent information in these leaks.
The right was up in arms when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton was using a private email server, but Sarah Palin was exposed for doing the exact same thing in these Wikileaks publications. She was using the private email account for official business, which is (obviously) against the rules. It was assumed that she was using this private email account as a way to keep conversations out of the public record, which was one reason the right was so angry with Hillary Clinton's similar behavior.
13 BNP Exposed
The British National Party (BNP) is a far-right political party in the UK. Their platform centers around the expulsion of immigrants and repeal of anti-discrimination laws. The BNP says that it puts the country first, but is largely viewed as a xenophobic and bigoted organization. It was thought of as a fringe-political party, but the Wikileaks document proved that far more people are involved than previously thought.
In 2008, Wikileaks published a list that included the names, occupations, and addresses of over 13,000 members of the party. These included military members, police officers, doctors, and countless other British professionals. The most striking of those involved were the military officials, as the British military was in the midst of warning the country that the BNP was “fundamentally at odds” with the ideals and values of the military.
12 9/11 Pager Data
It may come as a surprise to many readers, but people were still using pagers in the early 2000’s. Over half a million pager messages were sent in the United States on September 11. Pagers were one of the primary methods of communication for government officials at the time, which is one reason why Wikileaks posted them. However, most of the data included private citizens’ conversations.
The 2008 publication of this pager data was one of Wikileaks’ most controversial posts to date. While there were some interesting revelations about the government’s handling of the tragedy, the majority of the data contained harmless and expected public communication. Wikileaks faced some harsh criticism for the leaks, with many people claiming it only served as an invasion of privacy. But Wikileaks defended itself by saying that the pager data is “one more building block to getting a full picture of what happened on that day.”
11 Task Force 373
Task Force 373 was the name of a secret task force that operated in Afghanistan. Wikileaks published classified documents in relation to this group and their acts in 2010. While it didn’t receive as much media attention as some of the previous leaks, it still shone a light on how the US Special Forces operates abroad.
The task force operated on a kill list, as in they had a list of names to either kill or capture. The leaks contained multiple documents of successful and failed hits, including casualties of civilians and Afghan police officers. In one mission, a bomb was called in to a local mosque compound where an al Qaeda figure was presumed to be. The intelligence was flawed, and the bombing resulted in the death of seven children.
10 How To Stop Leaks
The most ironic of the Wikileaks publications was the British military’s manual entitled “The Defense Manual of Security,” which focused on the best ways to prevent leaks in the government. This was leaked and sent to Wikileaks who published it for the public.
In this document, hackers, criminals, and terrorist organizations were listed alongside journalists as threats to national security. Special attention was paid to the Chinese, who were said to have “a voracious appetite for all kinds of information—political, commercial, scientific, and technical.” It talked about the new era of spying which is far from the classic depictions found in “the novels of John Le Carre.”
Perhaps the most ironic piece of this leak was a document that surfaced from the Pentagon, listing Wikileaks as one of the threats to national security.
9 The Sony Hack
One of the most high-profile hacks in recent history hit Sony over their movie The Interview, which depicted the assassination of Kim Jong-Un. It is widely believed that North Korean agents were the perpetrators of this hack as revenge, and Wikileaks published the emails that were extracted from it.
Because of the ties to North Korea, many Americans condemn the publication of these Emails, though Wikileaks founder Julian Assange claimed that they remain newsworthy and will stay in the public domain.
There were several stories of note in the Sony leaks, and it cost at least one person her job. The most interesting bit of information was referred to as “Project Goliath.” A series of emails were found that detailed discussions from MPAA lawyers and six other studios and their take-down of “Goliath.” While it was never explicitly confirmed, it was deduced that the “Goliath,” to which they were referring, was none other than Google.
The climate has been in the news lately due to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Many have said that this is a detriment to the country and the world. It’s not a mainstream idea, but many have claimed that man-made climate change is nothing more than a political hoax. These people are often deemed “climate deniers.” But after reading the Wikileaks publication on climate change, you may change your mind on the issue.
A decade’s worth of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit were posted on Wikileaks in 2009. These emails showed that researchers at the institute were fudging the numbers to help support the argument that global temperatures are rising and that humans are to blame.
One particularly damning email explicitly stated that one of the researchers had completed a “trick of adding real temps to each series of the last 20 years and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
The leaks resulted in the resignation of the head of the Climate Research Unit, Professor Phil Jones.
7 Waste-Dumping In Africa
The exposure of Trafigura’s toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast is an example of the necessity of an organization such as Wikileaks. Much of the content they publish is considered “controversial.” But without them, information like this would never have seen the light of day.
In 2009, The Guardian attempted to publish a story that exposed the truth behind Trafigura’s waste-dumping practices. In the article, scientific consultant John Minton concluded that the company’s attempt to clean the dumped gasoline was insufficient and that it most likely left dangerous sulfur compounds in the water.
Trafigura caught wind of the report that The Guardian was about to publish and took the newspaper to court over it. Wikileaks, who also had a copy, published the report shortly after news broke that The Guardian would be unable to publish it, sending the internet into an uproar.
6 The Australian Internet Blacklist
In 2009, the Australian government was planning on creating a blacklist of internet sites. Wikileaks got a hold of the list they were planning on blacklisting, which prompted opposition from the Australian public.
One of the creators of the list, Bjorn Landfeldt, warned against the publication of the list as it was a “condensed encyclopedia of depravity and potentially very dangerous material.” He was worried that children would intentionally visit the websites on the list, which could potentially cause them harm.
Of course, the majority of the list was made up of seemingly mundane material. There was some normal p*rnography—both gay and straight—but there were also some YouTube videos, obscure religious sites, and even a travel agent’s and dentist’s website that were on the blacklist. As a result of the leak, the Australian public voiced their outrage and stopped the list in its tracks.
5 Guantanamo Bay
Secret military detention camps aren’t the most transparent organizations in the world, but we got a glimpse into the harsh reality of life in Camp Delta (Guantanamo Bay) when Wikileaks published the “Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta” in 2007.
No one expected the prison to be a vacation getaway, but human rights organizations were appalled when they read what the document contained. Highlights included isolating new detainees and depriving them of the Red Cross for a month after their entry in order to “enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process.”
Another aspect of the manual that drew attention was the punishment and reward section. Prisoners would be punished and isolated for minor infractions, including damaging items in their cell. When a detainee displayed good behavior, he/she would be rewarded with luxury items such as toilet paper.
4 Year Zero
This publication was the most recent by Wikileaks and the only in 2017 (so far). This publication contained leaked CIA Documents that told just how adept the organization has become at hacking.
This is one of the more interesting leaks, as it tells of hacking technology that many citizens probably didn’t think existed. Even worse, these documents allege that the CIA has lost some of this technology and that it may be in the hands of the enemy.
Some of these hacking methods give the CIA the ability to appear as though other countries are doing the hacking, when it is really the organization. They have, according to these documents, framed other hackers and left “fingerprints” of Russian hackers to cover their trails in the past. In addition to this, these documents speak of infiltrating Samsung smart TVs, allowing them to appear as though they’re off while they’re still recording private conversations. There were also discussions of the CIA attempting a similar hack with the electronics in cars.
3 Collateral Murder
One of the first and most explosive exposures made by Wikileaks was a video of a US Army Apache helicopter shooting and killing 15 people, including two journalists from Reuters, in 2007. Wikileaks called the “collateral murder” due to the innocents who were targeted in the attack.
The official explanation for the attack is that the personnel believed there were insurgents with weapons ready to fire at the helicopter. The reportedly mistook the cameras for rocket launchers, a fact that many disputed after the video was leaked to the public.
Among the dead was the driver of the van, who was thought to be nothing more than a good Samaritan who was dropping his children off at school. When the soldiers on the ground found the man dead and his children bleeding, they responded by saying, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.”
2 The DNC Emails
This may be recency bias, but the hack and publication of the emails from the Democratic National Convention (DNC) has been Wikileaks’ most influential leak, at least in terms of news coverage.
The hacking of the DNC’s emails is widely considered to have been perpetrated by the Russians in an effort to meddle in the US presidential election. Regardless of the motive of the hacking, these emails did not make Hillary Clinton and the DNC look good.
The emails basically proved that the DNC was heavily favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders as their candidate for the primary. This included evidence that Hillary’s campaign was given access to CNN debate questions ahead of time and that the committee was actively working to stifle Sanders’ momentum and elevate Clinton’s.
1 The Podesta Emails
The hacking and release of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails occurred around the same time as the DNC leak and was thought to be connected (many people believed the Russians were also behind this hack).
There is a lot to unpack in these emails, and if you believe people like Alex Jones, they’re proof of an international pedophilia ring. As far as tangible evidence, these emails contained more proof that Clinton was fed debate questions ahead of time and contained some excerpts from the speeches she gave to Wall Street. These emails vindicated Sanders supporters—though a bit too late—as Sanders had always said that she was too far removed from the middle class she claimed to support. There is a lot more to cover in this email leak, and if you’re curious, you may want to look through them yourself.