The Nobel Peace Prize nominees for 2011
recognize a number of activists, among themJulian Assange
, Bradley Manning
, Wael Ghonim
, Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, and Egyptian Israa Abdel Fattah together with the April 6 Youth Movement.
Thus the Arab Spring, as it has been termed, is well-represented in the Nobel Peace Prize nominees this year, and with good reason: It was a remarkable grassroots revolution that is still changing the North African and Middle East dynamic and, indeed, the world.
Much of this, however, might not have been possible but for the actions of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.
Manning allegedly leaked diplomatic cables and video (of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack) to WikiLeaks. Manning had access to SIPRNet and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System
from his workstation in Iraq. His reason for leaking the documents? Manning wrote to former hacker Adrian Lamo, “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
Assange, as founder and public face of WikiLeaks, took these documents—in addition to other diplomatic cables and documents—and published them on WikiLeaks—an act the oldNew York Times
would have done without hesitation in the Pentagon Papers-era, but seems quite reluctant to do in the 21st century.
If it had not been for WikiLeaks publishing the leaked diplomatic cables, the Arab Spring might not have been possible. The leaks were the catalyst, as Amnesty International stated
, supplying the momentum in Tunisia and Egypt, for example. Even Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright, in a recent Stars & Stripes editorial
, has called Wikileaks “a critically important tool for those who seek to uphold basic human-rights standards and the professional conduct of U.S. military forces.”