How are average Americans impacted by WikiLeaks controversy? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

How are average Americans impacted by WikiLeaks controversy?

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -- WikiLeaks drama is mounting, as the website continues releasing thousands of classified government documents. Wednesday, supporters of the whistleblower site hacked into Visa and Mastercard's websites.

They're calling the attack "Operation Payback," after those companies refused to work with WikiLeaks. This all comes one day after the website's creator, Julian Assange, was arrested in the United Kingdom related to sexual assault charges.

While the controversy surrounding WikiLeaks is heightening on an hourly basis, we wanted to know if the average person really cares, or even understands, the issues at the heart of the matter. So we stopped at a central point in every community -- the local Post Office -- for reaction.

Dan Erskine, a private insurance agent, said he's keeping up with the WikiLeaks news. He believes, eventually, there will be consequences for the leaks. But he also said governments need to be more aware of how they work in the digital age.

"Your thoughts are in your head. Nobody can see them. But once you put it on paper, it becomes permanent record. And if you're afraid it could be an embarrassment, you shouldn't be putting it down," he noted.

Gary Jacobs believes Assange was wrong for distributing the top secret information on the Internet.

"It shows you the power of the Internet to get stuff out like that. What you have to determine is, once you have the information, is it the right thing to do? And this was definitely the wrong thing to do," Jacobs said.

Agree with it or not, the papers are available now for everyone to see. Understanding them is another story.

"Chances are, most of the material would be written in such a confusing way that, unless we have a certain skill set, we just won't understand what we see. We may very quickly become frustrated," explained political analyst Jeff Stein.

Even if you have the patience, most people we spoke with aren't interested in sorting through the information.

"No, I wouldn't go there." Jacobs continued, "I wouldn't waste my time. What he's doing is wrong, because he's putting a lot of people at risk -- especially Americans and people who have helped us in other countries."

Erskine agreed, "I don't think we have to know everything."

Whether or not you decide to enter the site, Stein said, at some point you may feel the effects of this document de-classification.

"While it may not affect the price of milk that we pay at the grocery store, it is really potentially going to have an impact on our relations with other governments around the world and our ability to transact foreign policy," Stein added.

The general consensus was, some things are better left private. But now that these secrets are out in the open, it seems we'll have to wait awhile to find out how it may change our lives, or even the lives of our children.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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