Monday, 13 December 2010

Websites for Writers: Wikileaks

Unless you've been living on a desert island or dealing with the mother of all deadlines, you've heard of Wikileaks. This is a site that somehow manages to get its hands on hidden documents from companies and governments and publishes them on the Internet for all the world to see. Their latest (and perhaps last) coup was a huge archive of U.S. diplomatic cables and classified documents on everything from the Cuban secret service to the war in Iraq.

So why is Wikileaks on Websites for Writers, a feature showcasing sites to inspire and inform writers? Because, while the site contains no original work, it is the essence of what it is to be a writer. At their best, writers make people think; they make people see the world in a different way. With the release of these documents, we get a rare glimpse into how the U.S. government works, from mundane office bitchiness to stark assessments of geopolitics.

But being at the forefront of writing puts writers at risk. Wikilieaks has been shut out of the system. Banks, Paypal, their ISP, and many other companies have cut them off, even though nobody has been convicted (or even charged) for revealing secret documents.

And what do these "secret documents" reveal? Nothing a well-heeled traveler and follower of the news doesn't know already. Politicians say nasty things about each other when they think nobody but their cronies are listening? Yeah, I kinda figured that. More civilians died in the invasion of Iraq than the U.S. government said? Duh! The Cubans are sharing their spies with Venezuela? Obvious.

If I figured this stuff out, foreign governments with their experienced diplomats and network of experts and spies must know a hell of a lot more. So this whole kerfuffle about revealing state secrets isn't about losing face with "friends" and exposing ourselves to our "enemies", but really about the American people getting an insight into how their supposedly democratic government works.

I'm sure you've read news articles about Wikileaks. Sadly, many people haven't actually looked at the actual site because it was shut down by its ISP. Hundreds of mirror sites have sprung up with all the original content. Here's a list of Wikileaks mirror sites. These might change as the powers-that-be close them down. Go seek them out. Whatever you think about the adviseability of what Wikileaks is doing, you have a right to be informed about your world.

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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