Loved by some, despised by others, WikiLeaks has definitely created its fair share of both enemies and allies. The work of WikiLeaks alone is controversial but is even more so in regards to the organization’s founder, Julian Assange. There are many questions surrounding both Assange and his information leaking site, but does WikiLeaks, with all of its controversy, do more to benefit than to harm?
In 2016, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was hacked. Official statements from multiple sources, including intelligence agencies, concluded that the hack had been accomplished by two individual sets of Russian hackers, referred to in the media and by journalists as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear. The hack resulted in the leaking of emails and other documents by WikiLeaks, which disseminated the information through its site. The leak caused national outrage and issues that plagued the Democratic party, as the contents of the emails illuminated, among other things, the DNC’s bias against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s main opponent in the Democratic primary elections.
As a result, many claimed that the leak was meant to split the Democratic party by making supporters of Bernie Sanders angry with Hillary Clinton and the DNC. WikiLeaks has been derided as favoring Trump by releasing the documents. The supposed evidence for this is that the leak gave Trump ammunition to use in his campaign rhetoric and infuriated many Democrats, possibly resulting in fewer votes for Clinton. However, it is a logical fallacy to assume that Assange helped the Trump campaign. Why? Because Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by almost three million votes. Obviously, the leak didn’t hurt her campaign very much, if at all. Instead, it demonstrated the mishandling of campaigns by the DNC, as well as resulted in the resignations of high-profile figures within the organization.
In 2013, Edward Snowden released documents to WikiLeaks that highlighted massive surveillance operations. This was of special concern to conservatives, who advocate for minimal government and the respect for the Constitution. But the series of leaks indicated that not only had the government been lying to the American people, but it had infiltrated the privacy of Americans under the guise of national security. Edward Snowden is controversial. His motivations have been questioned, even more so after his granting of asylum in Russia. It does need to be noted, however, that his leaks exposed how expansive our government has become, and WikiLeaks helped his announcement by publishing the documents.
No matter what one thinks of WikiLeaks, it does need to be admitted that they have done many good things over the past decade. Questions do need to be asked about donors, connections of Assange to other governments, and what Assange’s motivations and goals are. Until the time that those questions are answered, though, let them do the work that has been successful thus far.