From friendly fire to Scientology to 9/11 pager data, these are some of the craziest discoveries from the Wikileaks scandal!
6 – The Trafigura Health Study – In 2009, Wikileaks published an internal study written by scientist John Milton which evaluated the health effects of Trafigura’s plan to dump oil processing waste off the coast of Africa. The draft report stated that the chemical processes Trafigura used to “cleanse” the dumped gasoline were inferior and would have added dangerous Sulphur compounds to the water if left untreated. These Sulphur compounds in the water could cause severe skin burns, permanent ulcerations, corneal eye damage, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, and even death. Trafigura tried to block the publication of this report by suing the newspaper The Guardian in court. They were able to get an injunction, but Wikileaks published the report and the story got out. After public outcry Trafigura modified their process to make it safer.
5 – BNP Membership – In 2008, Wikileaks published a list of the far right British National Party, whose members are banned from a number of government occupations. The list included the names, addresses and occupations of over 13,500 members of the party, including the names of police officers, senior military staff, doctors, professors, and a handful of journalists and “anti-fascists” who attempted to infiltrate the organization. The release came at a time when senior British military officers were warning that the politics and policies of the BNP were “fundamentally at odds” with the vales of the British military. A spokesperson for the BNP party claimed that the members of the “establishment” were trying to damage their party.
4 – Sarah Palin’s email – Just before the 2008 US Presidential election, Wikileaks published the contents of the then Republican Vice-Presidential running mate Sarah Palin. Her Yahoo account was hacked by the online group Anonymous and the contents were sent to Wikileaks, which published two of them – her contact list and miscellaneous family photos. The McCain campaign called it a “shocking invasion of the Governor’s privacy”. It was discovered that Palin was using the private email account to conduct official business, allegedly to avoid public record and retention laws. Hmmm… does that sound familiar?
3 – 9/11 Pager data – On the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Wikileaks posted over 500,000 pager messages that were sent following the initial attacks. According to Wikileaks, text pagers were usually carried by persons operating in an official capacity”, such as those employed by the “Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and the New York City Police Department.” While some were from those officials, most were from ordinary people. A debate ensued as to whether publishing personal messages was in the public interest. A spokesman for Wikileaks defended the action saying it was “one more building block to getting a full picture of what happened on that day”.
2 – How to Stop Leaks Document – In a not so subtle bit of irony, Wikileaks published a British military manual titled “the Defence Manual of Security, or Joint Services Protocol 440”, which dealt specifically with how best to avoid information leaking out to the public. It warned that the Chinese have a “voracious appetite for all kinds of information; political, military, commercial, scientific and technical” and had many spies in its employ. The document also listed journalists, foreign intelligence services, criminals, terrorist groups, and disaffected staff as threats to security and potential leakers of information. The document also quoted a Pentagon document which named Wikileaks as a threat to national security.
1 – The Podesta emails – Leading up to the US Presidential election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, Wikileaks published emails from the hacked account of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, only weeks before Election Day. The emails provided an in-depth look at the campaign and revealed many items that the Clinton team would never want made public. In response to these leaks the Clinton campaign did not reject the authenticity of the emails but instead focused on the fact that they were stolen property – allegedly hacked by the Russian government who they said was trying to influence the US election.