Most of what follows is for source checking, and critical background documentation not normally offered by official organizations and media. Remember to also carefully investigate the links in the sidebar, which have been provided precisely to facilitate research (and not as endorsements).
To find classified documents that have been leaked to the public, see:
WIKILEAKS (“Wikileaks is a multi-jurisdictional organization to protect internal dissidents, whistleblowers, journalists and bloggers who face legal or other threats related to publishing. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we are of assistance to people of all nations who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.”)
Since Wikileaks can be subject to attacks and denials of service, please keep this guide to Wikileaks sites handy.
Also, the current Wikileaks site does not host the many pre-April 2010 leaked documents. For those you will need to use web.archive.org.
CABLEGATE SEARCH is an especially useful resource for finding cables on specific nations, organizations, actions, policies, and even individuals, for every part of the world where the US has diplomatic representation. Some of these cables were classified as “top secret” and are a must for any in-depth research.
Along similar lines as Wikileaks, but with more in the form of published reports, see:
CRYPTOME (“Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance—open, secret and classified documents—but not limited to those.”)
Also providing us with whistle-blower documentation, plus research from monitoring government activities, see:
The PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO) in the U.S. (The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government. Founded in 1981, POGO (which was then known as Project on Military Procurement) originally worked to expose outrageously overpriced military spending on items such as a $7,600 coffee maker and a $436 hammer. In 1990, after many successes reforming military spending, including a Pentagon spending freeze at the height of the Cold War, POGO decided to expand its mandate and investigate waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the federal government. Throughout its history, POGO’s work has been applauded by Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, federal workers and whistleblowers, other nonprofits, and the media.)
If you are trying to track the origins of a particular agency, corporation, or other organization, try searching for them at:
SOURCEWATCH (“a free encyclopedia of people, issues, and groups shaping the public agenda, including activist groups and government agencies but especially public relations firms, front groups, industry-friendly experts and think tanks that try to manipulate public opinion. It catalogues descriptions and details of as well as the criticisms that are made of these groups from different perspectives.
Also, for publicly released, declassified documents, archival materials, and documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, see:
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE (“An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States. The Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, one of U.S. journalism’s most prestigious prizes, for–in the words of the citation–‘piercing the self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all’.”)
To check on the controversial and illegal activities of commercial corporations, check:
CORPWATCH (“Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations. We seek to expose multinational corporations that that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.”)
Related to the above effort, another resource provides the biographic details of key actors shaping the public agenda:
SPINPROFILES (“SpinProfiles is a free encyclopedia of people, issues, and groups shaping the public agenda that is being written collaboratively on this website. It catalogues descriptions and details of PR firms, activist groups and government agencies as well as the criticisms that are made of these groups from different perspectives. Spinprofiles is a venture initiated by Spinwatch in collaboration with Lobbywatch, GMWatch Red Star Research and Corporate Watch, but put into effect by a wide variety of volunteers and independent researchers.”)
To examine the basis in fact of media coverage of a given issue, whether that coverage has been accurate or not, see:
FAIR-Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (“FAIR works with both activists and journalists. We maintain a regular dialogue with reporters at news outlets across the country, providing constructive critiques when called for and applauding exceptional, hard-hitting journalism. We also encourage the public to contact media with their concerns, to become media activists rather than passive consumers of news.”)
Also, to critically examine spin and public relations, check:
SPINWATCH (Spinwatch is an independent non-profit making organisation which monitors the role of public relations and spin in contemporary society. Spinwatch was founded in 2004 and promotes greater understanding of the role of PR, propaganda and lobbying through its website and through other outreach and campaigning activities, including media appearances, book and pamphlet writing, ‘Spinwalks’ and investigative reporting.)
One journalism resource that is especially valuable and relevant to this seminar is,
THE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, whose numerous reports using primary source materials, from documents to interviews to on-site investigations, includes extensive series on the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs as well as special research into the drone wars. In many cases, including the drone wars, their investigative research has been ground-breaking and often precedes the more popularized versions of the same information by other agencies and media personalities.
In order to get a sense of the business side of military expansion, specifically in terms of contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense, see:
The MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (“This website exists to keep a record and tally of information that is publicly released by the United States Department of Defense. We do not claim that it is 100% accurate, as all information is never divulged from any one government source, yet it does cause one to ponder the issue. If you do believe in the Military-Industrial Complex, the sheer significance of such a relationship between our government and business is overwhelming.”)
To get a sense of the lobbying and other efforts by militarists to influence U.S. foreign policy, check:
RIGHT WEB (“Right Web is a program of Political Research Associates (PRA) that monitors organizations and individuals — both in and out of government — that promote militarist U.S. foreign and defense policies, with a special focus on the “war on terror” and the Middle East. Right Web aims to foster informed public debate about these policies with feature articles and profiles of individuals and organizations that examine political discourses and institutional allegiances over time. Efforts to push militaristic policies cross party lines, and so Right Web examines individuals and organizations across the political spectrum, as well as “nonpartisan” political actors. Reporters, researchers, and analysts have come to rely on Right Web for its well-documented research and analysis. Originally founded by the International Relations Center (IRC) in 2003, Right Web represented a revival of an earlier IRC program called GroupWatch (1985-1991), which profiled more than 125 private, quasi-governmental, and religious organizations that were closely associated with the implementation of U.S. foreign policy in the 1980s, especially in Central America. PRA took over Right Web in 2008 after IRC closed its doors.”)
To find copyright-free images under a Creative Commons License, or as part of the public domain (government agencies), see:
- Wikimedia Commons
- Flickr Creative Commons
- Canadian Forces Imagery Gallery
- UK Ministry of Defence Imagery
- United Nations Photo Library
- NATO Photo Archives
- US Department of Defense Flickr Photostream
- US Army Flickr Photostream
- US Navy Flickr Photostream
- US Air Force Flickr Photostream
- US Marine Corps Flickr Photostream