The WikiLeaks plan to expose more than 400,000 secret reports on the Iraq war is starting to feel a little like a Hollywood action sequel: a bigger-budget, more explosive rush job to capitalize on the momentum from the original, complete with rumors flying around about infighting on the set. The release, which could come as early as next week, will make it the largest military leak in U.S. history. The Department of Defense thinks the leak is a collection of "Significant Activities" (SIGACTS) reports from Iraq. After a 120-person task force scoured the database, DOD spokesperson Colonel Dave Lapan said, "There are things that could be contained in the documents that could be harmful to operations, to sources and methods." It's hard to tell, of course, whether the military is just trying to freak people out about WikiLeaks' particular brand of journalism. There's no evidence yet that anyone was harmed from leaks on Afghanistan.
Earlier this summer, WikiLeaks volunteer Herbert Snorrason told Wired that Julian Assange's "unrealistic" release date didn't leave enough time to redact names of U.S. collaborators and informants. In recent weeks, half a dozen staffers have resigned, including the organization's German spokesman.
Assange has been in the headlines a number of times recently. The Swedish government still has not decided what to charge him with in their ongoing sex-crimes investigation. Funding to the site is being blocked after the U.S. and Australian governments decided to place the website on a watch list. And last week, the Army updated its seventeen-year-old rulebook so that troops are now required to alert authorities if they think someone is leaking classified information to any other unauthorized person or the media.
The Iraq war release will put Assange back on center stage, but not necessarily with the kind of attention the website is seeking.