We live in a world where “Information” is valued over everything else in this world. The free flow of information across the internet and print/TV media make these media indeed very tagainst which they are published, but still WikiLeaks continues to render its cause of “Whistleblowing”. Currently it serves as an open platform for people all around the world to contribute with their own leaks and reports. The site maintains anonymity and ensures its contributors the privilege of not being known. The widely regarded founder of this movement- “Julian Assange” is however currently staying in Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has been granted diplomatic asylum but continues to face charges of sexual harassment in a Sweden court of law. Here are the top 10 WikiLeaks most Controversial Stories. And yes for all those inquisitive ones out there let me confirm that WikiLeaks has got nothing to do with the Wikipedia.
10. The Underworld relation of Bollywood.
One of the stories which was unearthed by WikiLeaks India, was that of the connection between Bollywood and the underworld comprising mainly of Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and Chhota Rajan. Not new to the ear, is it? After all the world of Bollywood heroes, directors, producers and artists have always flanked their “underworld” relation. Although the leak did not take specific names, but it clearly states that in its initial days, Bollywood relied heavily on the Underworld for the money and costs. Back then Bollywood was not considered as a legitimate industry by the Indian government and hence got no production houses. It was only in the latter part of its existence that Bollywood was identified as a full proof Entertainment Industry and therefore legalized to be produced. “The industry also welcomed funds from gangsters and politicians, looking for ways to launder their ill-gotten gains, known in India as “black money”- so said the cable issued by US Consulate, released by WikiLeaks.
9. Mayawati and her “flying” Tantrums
The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (2007-2012)- Mayawati’s image was further tarnished by the cable released by WikiLeaks which reported Us Embassy calling her a “egomaniac” highlighting her various whims and so called “eccentricities”. The incident of ordering an empty jet plane to fly to Mumbai to buy her favourite pair of preferred sandals by Mayawati was termed scandalous, cheap and utterly nonsense in the cable. Her autocratic rule as the chief minister wherein she ordered a minister to do sit-ups in front of her for not taking permission to call UP’s governor and many other such instances made the US Embassy call her “A fief with preposterous dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of India.”
8. Diplomats as Spies.
A cable leaked by the sunshine site in 2009, claimed that Hillary Clinton ordered all US diplomats and even few UN diplomats to gather personal information about the foreign officials. Information included stuff such as gaining credit cards numbers, frequent flyer numbers and even biometric information. WikiLeaks ridiculed the US officials for doing such a heinous act and blurring the line between diplomats and spies. However Philip Crowley, the then spokesperson said that this report was nothing but a fallacy. He said US diplomats are just diplomats and no personal information is gathered; only information regarding foreign policies was gathered and transferred elsewhere.
7. Scientology and its weird practices
In 2008, WikiLeaks came out with a stunning report that shook the base of the Church of Scientology. The report called the church officials as stupid and their ideals and principles as cockamamie. Certain principles written down by the founder of the church of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard himself are such as –“finding a tight pack of crowd, calling them a crowd and then calling them as individuals until one has cognition”. The 8 levels of “Operation Thetans” where eighth is the highest level the scientologists can aspire for, also contains principles to deal with anyone who publishes a report against the church. It states that “hire a private detective of a national-type firm to investigate thewriter, not the magazine, and get any criminal or Communist background the man has.” It then asks the officials to write a very tantalizing letter scorning the man and asking him to come before the church. If the man comes make him confess and slander him without any reason and force his mental conditions to such a state that he undertakes “suicide”. If the writer doesn’t come he would stay shut cherishing his life by not raising his voice again- Such were the information leaked. The CoS condemned the report and asked WikiLeaks to bring it down also threatening them of a lawsuit, but WikiLeaks refused to take it down.
6. Australian government vs. the Internet
In the year 2009, WikiLeaks came with yet another report which shocked the general public of Australia and also supported earlier reports of how governments all across the world are using internet to spy on their own people. It criticized the Australian government to form a “great firewall of Australia” which made users incapable to access general information like certain Wikipedia pages, Youtube videos, certain religious sites, Gay pornography and even silly things like blocking a travel agent’s and a dentist’s official website. Similar reports were also published in other parts of the world concerning the internet. China almost stopped and hacked Google from functioning in its country since it believed Google to be an online spy working for the USA. It was finally Edward Snowden who blew the whistle on US’s Prism program which used leading online websites like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to track people all around the world.
5. Sarah Palin’s E-Mail Hacked
The infamous hacker group on the internet “Anonymous” hacked into the private e-mail account of the then Alaskan governor-Sarah Palin (2006-2009) and gave important information regarding her political campaign. Palin was widely criticized for using a private e-mail account(email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) for her political reasons which were against the laws of Alaskan freedom of information. The McCain camp termed it as a “shocking invasion of the governor’s privacy and a violation of law”. Screenshots of the mail account were mailed to WikiLeaks which then spread it around the world and to all its associative newspapers and media groups. Both these accounts were immediately deleted by Palin. WikiLeaks was also willing to further share more e-mails if they proved to be of political substance.
4. Minton’s Report on Trafigura
In 2009, the image of the multi-billion dollar company – Trafigura which deals in base metals and energy resources such as oil was tarnished by this report. The report claimed that the multinational company prohibited the publishing of a case study by the scientific consultant John Minton which declared that the dumping processes of the company in Africa were hazardous and could lead to serious health problems if not encountered. UK’s leading paper The Guardian was stopped from printing this news by officials, it was only after the file leaked on WikiLeaks and the report was brought before the world. Environmental activists shunned this action and also threatened to move over to the court if the process was not halted. The draft report clearly stated that “the chemical processes Trafigura used to clean the dumped gasoline was amateurish and would probably have left dangerous sulphur compounds.”
3. Guantanamo Bay Procedures
In a startling report released by WikiLeaks, it was reported that the White House under Barrack Obama continues to be unsure of what to do with the potentially hazardous criminals at the base camp of Guantanamo Bay. Even more startling news was that the criminals were kept away from the International Committee of Red Cross. A copy of “Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta–the protocol of the U.S. Army “at the Gitmo dated March 2003 was released in the year 2007 which created great furors among the Human Rights people. Few reports also confirmed that the inmates were treated brutally and rarely also given gifts and rewards for good behavior and cooperation. One such “gift” was a toilet paper.
2. 9/11 Pager Data
This is considered to be one among the greatest of all whistleblowing ever done by the sunshine site WikiLeaks. Around half a million pager messages were intercepted and released on the site which were aimed to provide a better understanding of the 9/11 brutal attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. All pager messages within a 24 hour time interval starting from 3 a.m. on September 11, were recorded and published. A message just after the 9/11 attack says- “WTC has been hit by an airplane and a bomb”. Another message also claims that a US helicopter revolved around the WTC and then crashed into it. Some messages also proclaimed that US shall now attack Afghanistan. Some messages were made in despair and said “”Still in my apt, nowhere to go … This is the end of the world as we know it.” WikiLeaks didn’t obviously say anything about the source of this information, but it was prominent that a major telecommunication company was involved in it. The sunshine site said that these leaks show a “completely objective record of the defining moment of our time” and would help “foster a deeper understanding”.
1. Apache Helicopter attack footage in Iraq
This could be termed as the greatest of all WikiLeaks’ revelation that stormed around the internet and showed people the brutality and the savage nature with US soldiers attacked and killed people from aerial guns located on Apache helicopters. Many common people including two Reuter’s journalists were also gunned down. The soldiers aptly replied later that they couldn’t distinguish between terrorists and common people holding cameras (which seemed as guns) from the elevated height. The crew were heard laughing and screaming on the microphone: “”dead b—–ds” and also saying “light ’em up!” and “keep shooting, keep shooting”. People all around the world were not only shocked with this callous nature but also brought in front of people the dire consequences of starting wars. Click here to see the video on Youtube.