In a fascinating piece, the New Yorker‘s Raffi Khatchadourian profiles WikiLeaks.org, a three-and-a-half-year-old, donation-supported site that most recently captured the world’s attention when in April it published a 38-minute-long video taken in 2007. The footage, taken from behind the barrel of a machine gun, showed roughly 20 people in Iraq being shot at from an Apache military helicopter; all were killed, including two Reuters journalists, whose equipment was mistaken for weaponry.
The material was just the latest addition to a growing portfolio of confidential data that governments, corporations, and individuals have lost control over to Wikileaks, including secret Scientology manuals, the Standard Operating Procedures at Camp Delta, in Guantánamo Bay, and the “Climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia, in England.
Little wonder Wikileaks has no headquarters or staff. More, as Khatchadourian reports, the sites content is maintained on more than twenty servers around the world and on hundreds of domain names, meaning “a government or company that wanted to remove content from WikiLeaks would have to practically dismantle the Internet itself.” (Its founder, Julian Paul Assange, calls WikiLeaks “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking and public analysis.”)
Here’s the must-read profile, and below is a video produced in conjunction with the piece; it features some of that very unsettling footage from the military’s Apache helicopter.