Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of Wikileaks, the anti-secrecy organization famed for leaking over 10 million secrets documents—from diplomatic exchanges to private emails and classified war logs. The bulk of the leaks have become front-page stories, despite raising serious ethical questions.
Last month, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange suggested he had some bombshell announcements that he’d be dropping in the runup to the U.S. presidential election. Because his previous document dump was particularly embarrassing for the Democratic National Committee, the assumption was that the much-anticipated #OctoberSurprise would target Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
It’s fair to say Assange choked this morning, as Americans got up in the middle of the night to hear what they thought would be an explosive reveal. Instead Assange, speaking by video link to an event in Berlin, simply (again) promised future information about Google, the oil trade, mass surveillance and the U.S. Democratic Party— although he did not say whether any of the latter would relate directly to Hillary Clinton.
So on this supposedly *historic day* we take a look back at Wikileaks’ juiciest and most devastating leaks from the past decade.
10- Guantanamo Bay
In 2007, WikiLeaks released a copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta, which detailed the U.S. Army’s policies for treating inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. It included the revelation that prisoners were designated off-limits for the International Committee of the Red Cross, something the U.S. military had denied doing in the past.
The logs also revealed that out of the 700 suspected terrorists and enemy fighters detained in Gitmo, only about 220 were assessed as dangerous terrorists. The rest were low-level threats who were held as extrajudicial prisoners for years, suffering regular publicly humiliations and torture, according to the logs. Many attempted suicides and went on hunger strikes.
The materials were leaked by U.S. intelligence specialist Chelsea Manning (then Private Bradley Manning), along with other documents. She was ultimately found guilty of espionage and theft and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
9 – The Iraq War Logs
In 2010, Assange disclosed and shared with the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel a total of 391,832 classified U.S. military documents relating to the U.S. war with Iraq —making it the largest leak in military history. Among the logs’ biggest revelations were an estimated 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths and instances of detainee abuse by Iraqi allies that were repeatedly ignored by military personnel.
As a result, the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, ordered Barack Obama to launch a full investigation into U.S. involvement in human-rights abuses in Iraq.
8- The Scientology Leaks
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 2, 2015
That same year, the site published what it referred to as “the collected secret ‘bibles’ of Scientology,” exposing the internal workings and hierarchy of the organization, which Assange labelled a “money making cult.” Founded by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard in 1952, it is one of the most secretive religious organizations in the world and the creed of choice of some Hollywood celebrities. After its operating documents were published, the Church threatened Wikileaks with legal action.
7- Baghdad Airstrike Video
In 2010 WikiLeaks published classified footage showing the indiscriminate shooting of over a dozen civilians on the ground in Baghdad from an Apache helicopter gun-sight — including two staff members of Reuters news agency. Two young children involved in the rescue attempt were also seriously wounded.
Assange said the 39-minute graphic footage, including the editing and title “Collateral Murder,” was intended to shock viewers and achieve maximum political impact.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 5, 2016
Wikileaks dumped a vast trove of secret U.S. State Department cables from 274 of its consulates, embassies and missions around the world, containing unguarded comments and less-than-flattering assessments of other world leaders by US diplomats.
One such cable showed that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered several U.S. diplomats to spy and collect “biometric data” from other world leaders, resulting in calls for her resignation. The Guardian also reported on another disturbing cable describing how employees of a major government security contractor procured underage Afghan “dancing boys” to perform at a company farewell party.
LEAK: US Embassy Cables http://cablegate.wikileaks.org #cablegate
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 28, 2010
5- Starfor Email Leak
Throughout 2012 and 2013 WikiLeaks published documents stolen from private security firm Startfor and handed over to the organization by the ‘vigilante’ hacker group Anonymous. One of the emails disclosed suggested that 12 Pakistani intelligence officials already knew the location of Osama Bin Laden’s safe house well before the Navy Seal commandos helicoptered in and killed Al Qaeda’s leader in the middle of the night.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 10, 2012
4- Trade Agreement Deals
WikiLeaks released draft texts and details of secret trade deal negotiations between the US, EU and other countries around the world (including the Trade in Services Agreement, and the controversial Trans-Pacific and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships). The goal was to expose what it said was an attempt by the “neo liberal lobby” to secure “a charter of corporate rights behind closed doors.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 15, 2016
3- The Clinton Emails Leaks
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 4, 2016
Coinciding with the release of the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s role in the Iraq War, WikiLeaks created a searchable archive of over 1,200 emails sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was Secretary of State pertaining to U.S. involvement in the Iraq War.
With the Democratic National Convention only weeks away, the leak, which exposed Clinton’s failure to respect national security protocols, delivered a serious blow to her campaign and prompted an inquiry from the FBI.
2- Erdogan AKP Leaks
Just days after a bloody coup attempt that shook Turkey, WikiLeaks in July dumped some 300,000 emails from the Turkish ruling Party AKP were aimed at exposing its leaders’ corruption and wrongdoing.
But the emails also contained troves of private information about Turkish citizens (phone numbers, personal addresses, etc.), including a database of almost every female voter in Turkey, potentially putting their lives at risk.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 19, 2016
1- DNC Email leak
This year, Wikileaks dropped a bombshell in the middle of the U.S. presidential primaries when it released 20,000 emails and 8,000 files received or sent by Democratic National Committee (DNC) personnel from January 2015 to May 2016 showing, among other things, that DNC staff had unfairly stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in advance of the nominating process. The leak led to the resignation of DNC Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and fueled conspiracy theories about the sudden death of DNC staffer Seth Rich who —Assange hinted — could have been a Wikileaks informant.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 27, 2016