Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy


On March 14, The Fletcher School hosted a panel discussion featuring Gavin MacFayden, director, Centre for Investigative Journalism and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The event, “Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy,” was live-tweeted by Christine Shepherd, F11, via the Fletcher School Live twitter account.

Here’s the live-reporting recap of the event:

  • Christine Shepherd coming to you from @fletcherschool event “Wikileaks and Beyond”. #wikileaksandbeyond
  • Crocker Snow, director of Murrow Center’s opening remarks: “Assange is held in higher esteem outside the US” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin Macfayden, investigative journalist and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange speaking now. #WikiLeaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden sharing information about what Iraq warlogs – reports from US soldiers on the ground – showed #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Torture continued after Abu Ghraib….lots of civilian deaths…” recorded by the Iraq warlogs. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “681 Iraqi civilians killed (by US forces) at roadblocks alone…their families were never compensated” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Information from Iraq warlogs has consequences.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden’s group created film about Iraq Warlogs but there was no interest in showing it in the US. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “NYT only covered a fraction of the Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden mentioned several times the extreme rhetoric by members of congress to “assassinate” Assange. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now moving to respondents. The French consul, Mr. Guilhou speaking now from the diplomatic angle. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “diplomacy is based on trust.” Wikileaks worked to hurt this trust. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now @fletcherschool student, Elise Crane, F11 speaking. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crane sees 3 implications for diplomacy after Wikileaks. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • 1. “undermines trust” 2. “prevents info sharing” 3. “keeps diplomats from doing real jobs – they’re mending relations” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden: interesting that diplomats worry about hurting feelings and maintaining secrecy when corrupt regimes exist. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: who holds the whistleblowers accountable? #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin MacFayden: journalists are held accountable. If the info is wrong, they are held accountable. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “no evidence that Wikileaks has put people in danger” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “How does PJ Crowley’s recent resignation relate to Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin answers question about distinction b/t “on and off the record”: very difficult to make distinction. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crowley steps in: is there still a distinction in the age of Wikileaks?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin: sources should be kept secret but maybe “arms sales to Saudi Arabia” might not need to be secret. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Respondents want to stay away from the PJ Crowley question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “is there any evidence that what diplomats are worrying about is happening?” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “I guess so…” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience Member: “Wikileaks seemed motivated to embarrass diplomats rather than promote transparency” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: post Wikileaks, will training of diplomats have to change?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: in a sense yes. Diplomats will need to work with journalists.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: is Wikileaks like the new napster? Will it be irrelevant in a few years. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Not a clear answer to the napster/Wikileaks question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “diplomatic services often forget the core value of freedom of the media.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “position of French gov’t is not to accept or deny Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “often wonder when you write a cable back to your gov’t whether or not cable will be published.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin has last words – “there will be more history unfolding b/c many new documents have been pouring into Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Wikileaks model is replicable- one in Indonesia, brazil, San Diego…..” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • In closing, Gavin asked for volunteers to the Wikileaks org (half joking). #WikileaksAndBeyond

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