Leaked documents goldmine for politics students

Tommy Collison, Opinion Editor

WikiLeaks announced Monday a new feature on their site which would allow users to search Cryptome.org, an online archive of documents. The new search function joins the several hundred thousand documents available to view on Wikileaks.org, including logs detailing U.S. field reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cryptome, well-known in intelligence circles, hosts documents relating to national security and international relations. These online repositories were joined last week by a long report from The Intercept detailing the U.S. government’s use of drones in targeted assassinations, based on a large leak from a whistleblower. These documents, compiled largely from a series of leaks from whistleblowers both known and anonymous, give us an unparalleled look at U.S. foreign policy since the turn of the century. Students of international relations, politics and the Middle Eastern studies would do well to include these document collections in their studies.

One of the first major leaks regarding U.S. foreign policy impacted the course of the Vietnam War. In 1971, The New York Times reported on the Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the Johnson administration had “systematically lied” to both Congress and the U.S. public about the scale of U.S. war efforts in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg spent months preparing the documents, but the cost and time required to leak documents of such national interest has decreased dramatically since then. The Afghan war logs, which consisted of 91,000 documents, were leaked by Chelsea Manning on one CD. In decades past, it was possible to track down each copy of a stolen document and destroy it. Now, there are innumerable perfect copies. Pandora’s Box has been opened — it is no longer logistically prohibitive to leak huge amounts of documents, and as Cryptome, WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden show, the numbers of leaks are only increasing. First-hand evidence of contemporary foreign policy can be hard to come by, and students can benefit from these leaks and disclosures. From this academic study, the general public can better understand the actions of its government.

The question of responsible disclosure arises when documents relating to national security are made public. The White House condemned the release of the Afghan war logs, calling them a “very real and potential threat” to U.S. operatives abroad. Hillary Clinton called the document release “an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.” But while some U.S. officials clamored to condemn WikiLeaks and go so far as to call for the assassination of WikiLeaks’ founder, numerous others have pointed out there is no proof WikiLeaks cost the lives of servicemen here or abroad. Long after Pentagon spokespeople have staked a claim for or against WikiLeaks, though, students of U.S. foreign policy will be able to enjoy an unprecedented look at how the U.S. conducted international relations at the beginning of the 21st century.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.


Email Tommy Collison at [email protected]




  1. Wikkileaks certain document which points fingers at the unethical practices of US.government. However, as the saying goes ‘everything is fair in war and love’ every country in this world does unethical practice when it is engaged in a war. These leaks, in effect is capable to weaken the striking power of U.S. forces as it would create a fear psychosis in the minds of soldiers who are in the battle field. Who is going to be benefited from this emasculation of the morale of the warriors? Certainly, the terrorist groups such as Al Quidea, ISIS etc. which are flowing money to purchase young and talented blood into their veins. The veneer of this sort of whistle blowers will be fallen down when the truth comes out. We have to wait patiently till that time for that. Of course,only one benefit is for the students International Studies and even academia.

  2. Too simplistic saying everything’s fair in love and war. First of all, it’s actually one of the most despicable excuses ever formed into an easy phrase. We all know that, and we know that it really means only that such rationalizations are all too common and it’s a measure of how hard it is to reign in the worst excesses of human nature. Yes there are a million ways to constrain them, and every possible opportunity to mitigate unnecessary evil within the context of those forces should be taken, lest we really want to idolize rape and pillage. There are plenty of real hero’s who have made such stands.

    Of course we must all seek to tame and civilize blind passion be it either for love or for war, but so long as we cannot solve the larger problems we must do our very best to chip away at the excesses.

    It’s amazing how some people can derive ethical conclusions from merely stating a easy phrase, so at the risk of engaging in baby talk, one must sometimes point out the obvious objection.

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