In the early 1970s, when Daniel Ellsberg wanted to get top-secret information about the Vietnam War to the public, he leaked the bombshell Pentagon Papers to elected officials and national newspapers. But if Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst, wanted to leak secret documents today, he probably would send them to a powerful and controversial new venue for whistle-blowing: a website called WikiLeaks.org.
WikiLeaks, a nonprofit site run by a loose band of tech-savvy volunteers, is quickly becoming one of the internet’s go-to locations for government whistle-blowers, replacing, or at least supplementing, older methods of making sensitive government information public.
Some have praised the site as a beacon of free speech, while others have criticized it as a threat to national security.
The site gained international attention in April when it posted a 2007 video said to show a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq killing a dozen civilians, including two unarmed Reuters journalists.