We are getting increasingly disenchanted with the WikiLeakS.org project - not necessarily with the technical people behind it, but with the political activists , who seem to have already infiltrated the project with their own partisan political agenda.
Despite the claims of democracy and transparency and respect which can be found on the WikiLeakS.org documentation, there is little evidence of this in last week's Kenyan corruption document hype affair.
When we raised a few points of concern via email, this is what we got back from the arrogant WikiLeaks.org spin doctor
From: Wikileaks spokesperson
To: [email address]
Date: Sat, 01 Sep 2007
> On Fri, 31 Aug 2007
>Wikileaks spokesperson wrote:
>> Because Kenyan (and african more generally) internet speeds are so
>> incredibly slow, we need some people to
>> type up / wikify / OCR the KTM report to enable it's distribution
>> in Kenya.
> Why did you not do this *before* hyping up the publicity ?
Who exactly decided on this political timing ? The list of volunteers was not consulted.
It could be argued that even an absolutely genuine document which is leaked, can have vastly different impact, depending on the timing of the revelation.
This is why Freedom of Information Act request are often fought so hard by Western Government bureaucracies, and their political masters, even though the requested documents are revealed eventually after the legal appeals process, paid for by the taxpayers, who can neuter much of the political impact by causing lengthy delays.
Since the forthcoming Kenyan elections are not until November or December this year, it could be argued that the political timing of this WikiLeakS.org document leak about the Moi clan corruption, actually plays in to the hands of the current Government, as it gives them time to rubbish the claims and to distract the electorate with other propaganda.
Would the political impact of the media hype about this particular document have been greater some time closer to the polling day ?
We could not ask such questions on the discussion pages of the WikiLeakS.org wiki, because the Kenyan corruption document pages were locked until well after the document had been published.
> It took me half a dozen attempts to download the file, even >via a fast connection through a major ISP.
Presumably because the WIkiLeakS.org servers were overloaded by all the media requests generated by the press release hype - there were no problems with the ISP connection to other websites in Germany.
> Would it really have been so difficult to have simply split the
> document into 4 separate .pdf files, say the Table of >Contents and the Executive summary, in part 1, then pages 9 >to 40 and pages 41 to 75 and pages 75 to 110 each as >separate .pdf files ?
It is being wikified as we speak and we have it down to 1mb. Are you volunteering to assist?
Remember this was not a "WikiLeak" by an anonymous third world whistleblower, this document was published by the core WikLeakS.org team of political activists.
They could easily have called on their list of volunteers for help before the publication date.
> Has nobody at Wikileaks.org heard of ZIP compression ? >Even though, in this case the saving in file size is only about 3 >per cent, surely it should be a semi-automatic part of the >wikileaks.org publication process to provide compressed >versions of documents ?
Possibly. Are you volunteering to write the code?
Why should anyone have to re-invent the wheel ? There are lots of existing file splitting and file compression programs, several of them are probably already installed by default on the WikiLeakS.org servers.
Integrating them securely into the system, without introducing remotely exploitable vulnerabilities, may take some work, but nobody is in a position to help to do that, since WikiLeakS.org have not bothered to even publish a high level systems architecture design, or a security architecture, let alone any Open Source source code or APIs.
They seem to be acting exactly like a big Government IT project and relying on security through obscurity, without any of a Government's trustworthiness, even if that is quite low in the opinion of many people.
This is a serious credibility problem for the WikiLeakS.org project.
>> On Aug 31, 2007, at 6:34 PM, Julian A. wrote:
>>> Wikileaks news release
>>> Embargoed until 5:00 AM GMT, Friday, August 31, 2007
>>> The missing Kenyan billions
>>> NOTE: Wikileaks has not yet publicly "launched".
> How can you have an *embargoed Press release* and claim > NOT to have launched publicly ???
Done all the time for many developing projects. Known != launched
No ! That is not the way to establish a reputation for trustworthiness,
That is the tactic of fraudsters and confidence tricksters and failed Government and Corporate IT project disaster spin doctors.
> Worryingly, there is also no warning in the Press Release, >that journalists or activists should ensure that they double >check the names and addresses and contact details which the >alleged Kroll report, which was not intended for publication, >contains, Probably most of them are accurate, or at least they >were back in 2004.
> However like all external consultancy reports, it pitches that >further research work is required, partly for commercial >reasons, and partly, because there is obviously much more >investigative work and checking which could be done.
Sure, but we're not the nanny state.
This WikiLeakS.org spin doctor seems to have contempt for the users of the system, and for any collateral damage which may be done to innocent third parties.
Just the sort of attitude taken by fascists, communists and other fanatics who worship "the end justifies the means" politics
That particular kind of moralizing is not our role.
Giving some basic warnings and caveats about an as yet unverified and unanalysed document, should definitely be part of the WikiLeakS.org documentation.
If the attitudes displayed in this email persist, then we will have to move from trying to keep an open mind about WikiLeakS.org, to active opposition to the scheme.
WikiLeakS.org should publish a project roadmap of the stages which they intend to go through before they launch fully. On past performance, it seems unlikely that they will stick to their promised project milestones, but at least it would make it clear to their volunteers and the interested media and public, just at what stage the project is currently at. It could also highlight any "new ideas" and modifications which get added to the specification e.g. there now seems to be vague mention of some sort of undefined "reputation system", which is being given as an excuse for not yet allowing the full editing functionality of the wiki.