For the moment the DOS attacks have ceased on wikileaks.ch, the site has been schmicked up, the earlier archive is available, and press inquiries are even getting replied to in good order. After a few weeks and months of chaos and improvisation, the process WikiLeaks has pioneered — that of mass document release — is back on track. There’s even a form whereby organisations can apply to get access to a section of the cables — once they’ve described how and what they’d do with them.
Well fair enough. Aside from those giggling hoons who simultaneously chided the organisation for releasing unredacted material, and then for not releasing the entire cablegate archive instantaneously, everyone can understand that a quarter of a million cables should have some due diligence checking for personal names and the like, prior to release a process which pushes the release cycle into the months.
But now that that’s underway it’s time for WikiLeaks to announce a process and what they have in mind indeed to enter a dialogue with a wider community about how the cables should be released. I’m not suggesting that this be put to a veggie co-op style vote of 30 million grizzled Seattle-era vets across the planet. Someone’s got to control the process.
But the very methods that WikiLeaks has had to legitimately undertake to lead the cables out, and keep them in the public eye, has brought it at times close to being the sort of Le Carresque info dealer that its very process is meant to render obsolete. Nor are the rest of us innocent of that every media rep, your humble correspondent included, has been knocking on the door of anyone who might have a copy of the archive (there are at least six unofficial sets circulating, and presumably many more, but most people are too terrified to release them).
So it would be good to know some proposed timelines. It would be good to know whether they intend to release by diplomatic mission, year etc. It would be good for there to be dialogue between the inside and outside of the organisation about how this would occur.
From the other side, it’s time to complete the equally important work of interpreting and synthesising the material already available, and coming down the slipway. The Afghan and Iraq war logs, together with the earlier archive and the steadily released cables constitute the raw material of an alternative and critical account of the present, to be written and disseminated as a way of contesting the official record which we know to be lies cut almost entirely from whole cloth. People have risked their lives and their freedom to get this material, and it’s up to academics and writers in the field to start forming teams which can attack the material systematically.
Indeed it would be foolish not to. If you’re a young int.relations postgrad, Asia studies person, war studies, etcetc, why would you continue on that half-hearted study of consequetionalist rebuttals of realist theories of Castlereagh’s handling of the Irish question, when you take ten thousand Afghan docs and work out what really went on in one province? Or use work like that that six people have done and build a higher interpretation?
Then compare it to the official record and look at the pattern of lies. And so on. The work unfolds for years, and has not even begun. To the pumps, to the cannons. To the whatevers. From both within and without WikiLeaks the next stage of the process needs to begin.