Cyber Warfare: WikiLeaks


Quinn Wilcox

For some, the mention of the name ‘Wikileaks’ strikes feelings of anger. For others, it is a symbol of triumph. For most, the name is nothing more than a cliche thrown around this election season. Although you’ve probably heard of them for the first time in recent months, their history is much deeper and intricate than their involvement in our most recent election. To fully understand Wikileaks today, we need to look at the beginning.
In October 2006, a non-profit organization by the name of Wikileaks came to life by the hand of founder, editor-in-chief, and director: Julian Assange. Assange had a goal to become the world’s largest source for government document leaks. Within one year of the group’s launch, they had acquired 1.2 million government documents from all over the world into their database.
Assange gained worldwide notoriety in June 2012 when he was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He had been the center of rape allegations since 2010 when he had visited the UK for a conference. The Swedish government was calling for his extradition from the UK to Sweden where the allegations had been reported. The Ecuadorian government accepted Assange’s request for asylum while he was visiting the embassy in London. UK police surrounded the building and issued a statement saying that should Assange step foot outside the building, he would be arrested and extradited to Sweden. Assange has been inside the embassy since June 19, 2012.
It is unclear as to where documents come from. Wikileaks has claimed to steal documents themselves and they work with anonymous donors and volunteer hackers. The US government declared Assange and the Wikileaks organization “enemies of state” in a 2012 statement. Assange fears that his extradition to Sweden could result in his extradition to the US where he would be tried as an enemy of state.
Wikileaks has recently become a huge subject of discussion during this election. Documents have been released throughout this election cycle that have been linked to Hillary Clinton. The first major leak related to the US presidential election came when Wikileaks released a series of documents between DNC employees. The emails showed that there was a bias inside the DNC against potential Dem. nominee Bernie Sanders. There was no evidence that any action was taken to actually sway the results of the Democratic primaries.
The barrage of leaks related to Clinton continued with the release the Podesta Emails as well as speech transcripts. In a 2013 speech for the National Multi-Housing Council, Clinton was quoted saying that “politics is like sausage being made” and that “you need to have both a public and a private position”. The Clinton campaign was trying to distance the candidate from claims that she was a typical politician who is untrustworthy.
With Donald Trump winning the United States presidency officially, many people are going to be looking at Wikileaks as a major contributor to this outcome. This election came down to where independent voters would side. As it appears, Trump won the majority of these voters.
Assange, in a statement on their involvement in this election, said, “Publishing is what we do. To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favour one of the candidates above the public’s right to know”. Assange also said that he had to date not received any documents related to the former candidates Donald Trump(Rep), Gary Johnson(Lib), and Jill Stein(Grn).
While Julian Assange remains the figurehead of Wikileaks, the organization will continue to play a role in making government more transparent to the people they govern.