Monday, 29 November 2010

Wikileaks strikes again

Julian Assange's Wikileaks (blocked at school) have gained access to over 250,000 diplomatic documents sent from the USA's embassies back to the State Department. They haven't published them in full on the internet this time, as they have often done in the past. Instead, they have given access to selected newspapers including The Guardian and The New York Times. Highly confidential information is therefore now out in the open, such as reports that the Saudi government urged the US to invade Iran, and that the Chinese government officially approved a cyber-attack on Google. It will take some time to process these reports and analyse their importance. Hillary Clinton had begun apologising over the weekend even before the reports were published.

There are differing reactions to how helpful Wikileaks' activities are. Michael White in The Guardian believes they can help to prevent abuses of power and keep governments in check. Historian Guy Walters (whose blog has been added to our list) thinks that the release of information like this will ultimately make politicians and civil servants more cautious about what they write down in their records, making it much more difficult for the historians of the future to assess their motivations for their actions. The impact of Wikileaks and similar websites will be felt for many years to come...

PS: Here is further comment on the subject from the historian Timothy Garton-Ash, a chance to download the data, and a video discussion (shown below) with The Guardian's editor of the significance of the leaks

PS: Here is further comment on the impact of Wikileaks for historians - from an American perspective.

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