Monday, February 18, 2008

Primary Sources

Wikileaks is an online clearinghouse for whistleblowers, a resource that Time Magazine said "could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act." Since 2006 they've been releasing the kind of documents that get shoved under doors in plain brown envelopes. In the past they've exposed criminality at the highest levels and even affected elections.

Now at the behest of a Swiss/Cayman bank group providing confidential offshore banking services and apparently money laundering for many rich and powerful Americans (Including some running for President?) hiding money from the tax man and the public, a California judge has tried to shut them down. Wikileaks had already set up multiple domains and pathways to their site in case of censorship efforts but had not anticipated needing them for the US.

Cryptome is a similar resource with a focus on intelligence and espionage secrets. They've revealed material like Guantanamo torture manuals, telecom spying details and even the identities of undercover spys.

And of course most people are familiar with The Smoking Gun, perhaps a fluffier, celebrity scandal oriented provider of primary source material but still a valuable one.

These are the kind of resources that underlie the investigative journalism that changes the world.

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