Tuesday, Jul 20, 2004, 6:18 pm
For the armchair investigative reporter
The documents include such items as recent torture memos related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on what the government knew before it invaded Iraq and a document showing how the Bush administration suppressed information about the full cost of its Medicare plan until after Congress passed the plan. There is also a copy of a no-bid contract obtained by a Halliburton subsidiary for work in Iraq and congressional testimony from former employees of the subsidiary showing how their company engaged in wasteful and costly conduct in Iraq (such as abandoning an $85,000 Mercedes truck after its tires went flat).
The use of controversial but highly effective file sharing technology to distribute these documents--all of which are in the public domain, but have never been this easy to obtain--ups the ante on a high stakes game started by sites such as The Smoking Gun and the Memory Hole. With Clinton's national security advisor sneaking documents out of the National Archives, the House of Representatives voting to strike members' words from the original record, and Americans' news sources becoming ever-more polarized (guilty as charged), such valiant efforts to serve up primary sources provide a rare and crucial glimpse at unfiltered history.
Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).