The Largest Leaks of Financial Secrets in History and Other Important Transparency News


Executive Director

We're now two months into our second bundle of transparency journalism organizations. All four of our current beneficiaries, and the issues they're covering, have made huge waves in the journalism world in the past two weeks—including the release of the largest financial leak in history.

Center for Public Integrity (CPI) Project Publishes the World’s Financial Secrets

Last week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a 15-year-old project of CPI, started publishing over 2.5 million leaked documents related to secret offshore bank accounts, which the super-rich often use to hide money. You can read the myriad of reports in their continuing investigation here, but the documents touch on powerful players in finance and governments from all corners of the world — including the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and many more.

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Despite demands from at least six countries — including the United States — CPI and ICIJ commendably refused to hand over any of the documents to government agencies prior to publication. They cited their “long-standing policy…not to turn over such material“ and emphasized their journalism organization is “not an arm of law enforcement and is not an agent of the government.”

The investigation into the financial leak will continue into early 2014 and the Center for Public Integrity could use your help. You can donate to Center for Public Integrity on our homepage.

Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the CIA Drone Program

Several explosive reports on the CIA drone program based on Top Secret classified information were leaked to journalists this week, underscoring both the importance of whistleblowers in exposing government abuse, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's "Naming the Dead" drone project.

The New York Times reported on the original secret agreement “sealed in blood” between the CIA and Pakistan in 2004, in which the CIA agreed to kill an enemy of the Pakistani government in exchange for permission to use its airspace to conduct drone strikes. Meanwhile, McClatchy newspapers published a must-read analysis of five years worth of leaked classified intelligence reports that show that fewer than 2% of those drone strikes target senior al-Qaeda leaders. As leading drone expert Micah Zenko explained in Foreign Policy, the report is proof “the United States has lied in the drone wars.”

This all underscores why the Bureau’s "Naming the Dead" investigation might be the most important project in journalism. We only know the identities of 20% of those killed by drones, and the Bureau’s reporters are on the ground in Pakistan trying to methodically identify each and every victim.

The Bureau made a short film explaining why the “Naming the Dead” project is so important. You can help fund “Naming the Dead” by going here.

WikiLeaks Releases “the Kissinger Files”

This week, WikiLeaks published over 1.7 million declassified State Department cables in searchable form. Dubbed “the Kissinger Files” after Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, these cables have already led to the discovery of some previously obscure facts, as WikiLeaks made the previously released files easier to search and brought much needed attention to them. The cables are a vital source for historians and journalists and already made major news when Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died this week.

You can make a tax-deductible donation to WikiLeaks exclusively through Freedom of the Press Foundation and help beat the extra-legal financial blockade by going here.

Truthout and the Guantanamo Hunger Strike Controversy

Truthout and its lead investigative reporter Jason Leopold has been doggedly covering the growing Guantanamo prison hunger strike, where dozens of inmates—many held indefinitely by the administration despite being cleared for release—have stopped eating in protest.

Truthout has been digging deeper into the Obama administration’s use of Bush-like talking points and their refusal to bow to the prisoners’ demands. Meanwhile, the protest has spread so much that the government has outrageously locked out the press.

You can donate to Truthout’s Guantanamo investigation here and send a signal to the government that transparency should always trump government secrecy.

As our board member John Cusack says, “If the government won’t bring transparency to us, it’s up to us to bring it to them.”

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Read more about Leaks

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Publishing government secrets shouldn’t be illegal

The DOJ must end the Assange case before it turns journalists into criminals