Andy Lehrens presentation on Wikileaks

Open Secrets: Wikileaks,
War and America
Global Investigative
Journalism Conference
Kiev 2011
Andrew W. Lehren
The Afghanistan War Logs
First brought in for what was, at first blush, a
one-day story focusing on war dead and
possibly other issues related to the war
Obtained the raw data and began, over the
Fourth of July weekend, writing a series of
story memos
The one story we could not do with this data
was count war dead
Another important problem: informants are
But these documents tell us important
aspects of the war: drones gone wrong, the
ISI in Afghanistan, shadowy Task Force 373
and capture/kill operations
The New York Times secretly forms a team of
reporters from its bureaus around the world to
examine the documents
Collaborating with the Guardian and Der
Comparing with other databases about the
war, experience in the field and other ways of
cross-checking and verifying information
Always aware these were daily field reports
rarely revised later
Key approach: Pulling material from various
reports to tell a larger story
The Iraq War Logs: Combining other data sets
The diplomatic cables
Often similar to well-written excellent single-source stories
Crossing international borders
Often the most common passages were useless
Sometimes a single cable told the whole story
Sometimes the best came from cables spanning the globe
North Korean arms deals
Gitmo detainee efforts
DEA intelligence gathering efforts
Diplomats helping Boeing vs. Airbus
Guantanamo and beyond