According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is information that is collected from the appropriate public available data and disseminated in a timely manner for the right audience. In my opinion, this definition disqualifies WikiLeaks from falling into this category. This is because it does not give intelligence information for the public good (Lowenthal, 2009).
WikiLeaks’ publications are not collected from reliable sources. In fact, they are sourced from anonymous individuals whose identity and credibility is not known. This makes many readers to question the validity of their information. Even if they claim to be whistle blowers, the Assange-led group has a lot of pending court cases for their sensitive leakages on the US diplomatic cables; Guantanamo prison file saga; Peru oil scandal and the Kenyan government corruption.
The existence of organizations such as the Wikileaks will complicate the role of OSINT in future. Even if they also aim at informing the general public, they will thwart the success of OSINT because they will produce contradictory information to the people.
This will seriously weaken security and expose nations to terrorism threats. At the same time, they may cause a lot of confusion that will eventually make citizens lose confidence in their respective governments (Lowenthal, 2009). For instance, the WikiLeaks’ 2009 reporting on Kenya’s multi-billion scandals made the Kenyans perceive Daniel Moi, their former president, as a very selfish untrustworthy leader who was out to benefit himself, his family and a few cronies.
However, the existence of such organizations may be also beneficial to people. As a result of their keenness in following the government projects, there will be a responsible leadership. Their vigilance will make the government transparent to the citizens (Sifry, 2011).
In conclusion, I would like to assert that OSINT should be appropriately used to benefit the public. Otherwise, the whistleblowers like WikiLeaks will assume their role as information disseminators.