Sorry WikiLeaks, But Publishing A Civilian’s SSN Isn’t Journalism

The latest WikiLeaks dump is not only unnecessary, it’s utterly irresponsible. The supporters of the anti-secrecy website will not be able to defend this one.

photo of CIA Director

WikiLeaks finally released documents allegedly hacked from CIA director John Brennan’s personal email account this week in its bid to expose the so-called “architect” of the United States’ drone war and torture programs.

As much as the anti-secrecy website would like to defend its latest dump as journalism, it isn’t.

Apart from the email where Brennan advises U.S. President Barack Obama to “tone down” rhetoric on Iran, there are not really any “revelations” about illicit, covert government operations or any other classified information that could be of public interest.

Instead, WikiLeaks has doxed many  other people connected to Brennan who did not have anything to do with his work for the U.S. government. Disclosing such delicate information in the name of journalism is not only wrong – it’s criminal.

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“The hacking of the Brennan family account is a crime and the Brennan family is the victim,” a CIA spokesperson said in a statement. “The private electronic holdings of the Brennan family were plundered with malicious intent and are now being distributed across the web. This attack is something that could happen to anyone and should be condemned, not promoted. There is no indication that any the documents released thus far are classified. In fact, they appear to be documents that a private citizen with national security interests and expertise would be expected to possess.”

WikiLeaks defended its actions, saying Brennan “used the account occasionally for several intelligence-related projects.”

However, the hacked data – which can now be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world – includes nothing of consequence except Brennan’s homes address, phone numbers, passport number, his wife’s Social Security number, his close friends’ addresses and phone numbers, the names and birth dates of his two daughters, and the addresses of his father, mother, brother, sister and father-in-law.

Here’s a question: How does Brennan’s wife’s Social Security number help the cause WikiLeaks claims to be fighting for? Using this information, anyone could carry out, for instance, bank fraud in her name.

This isn’t journalism. This is, in fact, quite the opposite of what journalism stands for.

Moreover, WikiLeaks released Brennan’s personal emails to reveal his involvement in illicit government operations – but now, he is just going to be remembered as a victim of a hack that put his entire family's (and some friends') well-being at risk.

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