The marriage of two concepts that err on the side of sharing information.

The recent publishing of the Afghan War Diary on WikiLeaks put that website in the news like never before. WikiLeaks described it as “an extraordinary compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.” Though some find the content to be mostly ordinary, the U.S. government is peeved enough to demand the return of the info. It’s the biggest leaking case since Richard Armitage snitched out Valerie Plame back in 2003. Given the hubbub, it’s a great time to look at the word “WikiLeaks.”\n

The website WikiLeaks has been around since 2007 and is a self-described “multi-jurisdictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public.” The amount of material on the site is brain-boggling: Just a glance through the site turns up documents on Guantanamo Bay’s use of psychologists in torture, Henry Kissinger transcripts from the 1970s, info on the nuclear capability of many nations, descriptions of secret fraternity rituals, and the “Command Chart of Scientology.” Seeking to be “a buttress against unaccountable and abusive power,” the site provides a forum for concerned folks in the know—whether in government, business, or elsewhere—to share information. Their goals are lofty: “What conscience cannot contain, and institutional secrecy unjustly conceals, WikiLeaks can broadcast to the world.”

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