The Death of Accountability


Computerworld reports today that WikiLeaks says it is planning to release over 5 million emails from Stratfor Global Intelligence, a provider of geopolitical analysis, whose website was hacked and emails and customer data stolen in December.

Wikileaks says the emails date from between July, 2004 and late December, 2011, and allegedly contain privileged information about the US government’s attacks against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks, says the report. They also allegedly reveal controversial practices by Stratfor in cultivating sources, and targeting of individuals for corporate and government clients, WikiLeaks said.

Now the question that many have is just how did WikiLeaks get those emails?  According to Computerworld, WikiLeaks did not disclose its source for the emails it is leaking to over 25 media outlets and activists. Hacker group, Anonymous however said in a Twitter message that it gave the Stratfor emails to WikiLeaks, the report notes.

Assange did not reveal how the emails were obtained, citing a desire to protect sources, says Computerworld.  In fact, and this is particularly noteworthy, Assange said that WikiLeaks “tries not to know where the information comes from, as the strongest protection for a source,’ the report adds. 

If that is true, however, then anyone could have sent along those emails, assuming they are genuine, and anyone sending them could have altered them.  This is starting to sound a lot like the chain of custody in the Ryan Braun case!  The real shame here, however,  is that disseminating information while going out of one’s way to ignore the source of that information is truly a sign of the end of accountability in public discourse.  Incredibly, information from any source is deemed to be just as true as information from any other source.   Really–I know it sounds bizarre, but what is the point of just throwing information out there without being responsible enought to check on its veracity or reliability?  If transparency is the goal, then that is a sword that should cut both ways–so the source of those emails should be disclosed along with the alleged content. 

Right now, the Internet is a bad place and accountability has no part in it.


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