It seemed like just another day at Wikileaks Thursday. Newly leaked documents went up and thousands of users browsed the site learning secrets the military, politicians, businesspeople, and religions try to keep hidden. However, one article posted on Wednesday was a bit different -- it was a leak from none other than Wikileaks itself.
Wikileaks, like many Wiki pages, is funded by anonymous donors. This funding and support helps it both keep up its stream of content, and maintain sufficient legal support to keep those whose information it leaks at bay. The site's donors were secret -- until now.
Someone at the site sent an appeal last Saturday, asking the site's donors for some emergency extra funding. The only problem was that instead of using the BCC field for the donors, it used the CC field, exposing all of the email addresses to the other donors. The amateurish mistake echoed a recent slip-up at Twitter that saw the site releasing the names of 186 of its rejected job applicants.
Given Wikileaks’ role as a safe haven for whistleblower and storehouse of released secrets, it didn't take long for someone to submit an article with the leaked list of emails, writing, "Wikileaks leaks its own donors, aww irony. BCC next time kthx."
Wikileaks at first did not publish the article, putting it in the purgatory of review. However, on Wednesday, it finally relented and leaked its own secrets. It tried to soften the blow, writing that the leak was "possibly to test the project's principles of complete impartiality when dealing with whistleblowers."
Among those on the list was Adrian Lamo, a famous hacker, who was convicted and went on to start a security firm. He has not responded to comments sent to his email address. While Wikileaks claims that it has never exposed its whistleblowers before, this seemingly careless mistake surely has many of his former whistleblowers and those who are thinking of leaking documents a bit nervous.
The incident mars an otherwise solid month for Wikileaks. Earlier this month, the site secured a major break when it obtained and posted thousands of pages of Congressional Research Service reports, including a NATO civilian casualty 2008 report for Afghanistan, which showed that civilian casualties jumped 46% last year, an underreported fact. The reports were copyright free, but are not generally available to the public.