Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst employed by the RAND Corporation, when he leaked the doccuments that became known as The Pentagon Papers. They were published by the New York Times on June 13, 1971 – at the height of the Vietnam War. It was a scandal in its day, and the 7000 pages worth of documents leaked by Ellsberg represent the largest such leak in history.
Until recently, that is. No doubt you’re aware of the recent disclosure of 9000 pages of similar materials – more Pentagon documents, this time relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than Vietnam – by WikiLeaks.
Naturally, this led to comparisoms of Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange. And The Washington Post took the step of asking Ellsberg about it, and he contributed a wishlist of four leaks he’d like to see on WikiLeaks.
It’s easy to see that Ellsberg is a former US military analyst. He thinks in clear, specific terms, he’s Americocentric to a fault and he lacks imagination.
Here is my own, rather more general, WikiLeaks wishlist. I take a different approach to Ellsberg – rather than calling for specific documents, I’m more thinking of places I’d like to see spring a leak.
- Account holder details from each and every Swiss bank – A whole country infamous for its no questions asked banking laws. In fact, unless you’re actually Swiss, there’s pretty much no reason to have an account there unless you have something to hide. Nazi war criminals in hiding, drug lords, corporate raiders – international criminals of all sorts love their numbered Swiss accounts. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know who has money there and where it comes from? Not to mention the still-missing art treasures that are rumoured to be locked up in assorted Swiss vaults. br>Come to think of it, there’s no reason to restrict this to Switzerland – the Cayman Islands, among others, could also stand a little transparency. br>
- Any and all documents related to Rupert Murdoch and his corporate holdings – the man controls a ludicrous amount of media throughout the world, including, of course, the Fox Network. Who wouldn’t like to know exactly how Murdoch’s early journalistic ideals slowly turned into unfettered greed and the willingness to use every means at his disposal to spread propaganda helpful to his cause? Not to mention the specifics of how Fox News handles all the decisions it needs to make in order to distort the facts as efficiently and (regrettably) effectively as they do. br> br>
- The People’s Republic of China – America has a pretty strong culture of leaking already (as Ellsberg and Assange, among thousands of others, demonstrate). On the the other hand, the rising superpowers of the world have rather less well developed traditions of leaking – and none moreso than China. Sure, India and the EU are also like this, but things are more likely to leak from there. China, on the other hand, has a centuries long traditional of governmental secrecy. And given their likely importance to everyone’s economic and political future, wouldn’t it be nice if we had more of an idea what goes on behind the metaphoric and literal Great Walls of China? br> br>
- The Vatican Archives – seriously, who hasn’t wondered what they’ve got locked up in there? Centuries of suppressed documents and self-justifying memoranda, not to mention the answers to more than one historical mystery. And for those less interested in historical trivia, wouldn’t it be good to know just who in the Catholic Church knows what about the endemic child abuse that takes place withing its walls? And you know, maybe lay a criminal charge or two against the deserving?