Wikileaks began as an audacious idea, a statement about the potential of the internet to speak truth to power and to open governments. Barely four years later, the whistleblower's website finds itself at the centre of an unprecedented global storm over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of confidential cables from US embassies around the world. To many WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange is a hero who has shone the bright glare of public scrutiny into places governments would rather keep hidden; to others he is a vandal, taking a sledgehammer to the secrecy all states need to maintain to function. Is Wikileaks just one expression valve for the web, one that would be replaced by others if it was closed? Has it changed the public's understanding of and relationship to government in any real and lasting way, or is it a media preoccupation?
Carne Ross is the founder of Independent Diplomat (ID), a non-profit diplomatic advisory group. ID provides expert advice in diplomatic strategy to governments, political groups and NGOs. Independent Diplomat works inside the diplomatic system to ensure that the voices of the people most affected by international decisions are heard in the negotiations about their futures, thereby improving the chance that international agreements – to end conflict or limit climate change – are effective and enduring. ID is currently advising, among others, the Government of Southern Sudan on the complex diplomatic process to establish a new state, and the Marshall Islands and other island states with the most at stake in the climate change negotiations. ID has advised the democratic government-in-exile of Burma and the government of Kosovo as it navigated the process leading to Kosovo’s independence. Carne is a former senior British diplomat who resigned over the Iraq war. As a member of the British Foreign Service, he served as principal speechwriter to the British Foreign Secretary, and worked on terrorism, Afghanistan and the Middle East, including several years as the UK’s Iraq expert at the UN Security Council. Carne comments frequently in the press on international affairs.
Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer on the Middle East. He is the founder of www.arabist.net, a blog on Arab politics and culture.
Sarah Ellison is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of War at the Wall Street Journal, a nonfiction account of Rupert Murdoch's takeover of one of the world's most powerful newspapers. Sarah spent ten years at the Wall Street Journal in Paris, London and New York before leaving to write War at the Wall Street Journal. Prior to the Journal, she worked in the Paris bureau of Newsweek magazine. Her stories about the media business have been recognized by the Newswomen's Club of New York and the New York Press Club. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.
Stephen Engelberg has been managing editor of ProPublica since its creation in 2008. Before joining the non-profit investigative organization, he was a managing editor at The Oregonian for six years. Before that, he worked as an editor and reporter at The New York Times for 18 years, including stints in Washington, D.C., and Warsaw, Poland, as well as in New York.
Engelberg began his career as a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Dallas Morning News Washington bureau. After joining the Times Washington bureau, he served as national security reporter and as Warsaw bureau chief before returning in 1993 to focus on Washington-based reporting. Engelberg shared in two George Polk Awards for reporting: the first, in 1989, for articles on nuclear proliferation; the second, in 1994, for articles on U.S. immigration. A group of articles he co-authored in 1995 on an airplane crash was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
Engelberg’s work since 1996 has focused on editing investigative projects. He started the Times investigative unit in 1999. Projects he supervised at the Times on Mexican corruption (published in 1997) and the rise of Al Qaeda (published beginning in January 2001) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. During his years at The Oregonian, the paper won the Pulitzer for breaking news and was a finalist for its investigative work on methamphetamines and charities intended to help the disabled. ProPublica won its first Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for a story about mercy killings at a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina. He is a co-author of “Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War.’’
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