The transfer of hundreds of thousands of government documents to Wikileaks -- allegedly by Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, whose court martial began June 3 – offered few revelations and sparked little “public outrage,” according to an analysis written by Alasdair Roberts, Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School.
Roberts’ 2011 article in The Wilson Quarterly, remains timely. It puts into perspective the charges against a defendant who wrote in a pre-trial statement that he had wanted “to spark a debate about foreign policy” and show “the true cost of war.”
In his article, Roberts discusses the intelligence that was released to Wikileaks and the impact of publishing vast arrays of information with little analysis.
While Manning is charged in connection with the leak of 700,000 documents, “gauging the significance of leaks based on document volume involves a logical fallacy,” writes Roberts. “The reasoning is this: If we are in possession of a larger number of sensitive documents than ever before, we must also be in possession of a larger proportion of the total stockpile than ever before. But this assumes that the total itself has not changed over time. … The truth is that a count of leaked messages tells us nothing about the significance of a breach."
Roberts also discusses the indifferent response of the public to the content of the Wikileaks trove.
“As the British journalist John Lanchester recently observed, WikiLeaks’ ‘release of information is unprecedented: But it is not journalism. The data need to be interpreted, studied, made into a story.’"