While we're no doubt excited about the 2.4 million e-mails from Syrian politicians, officials, and companies that WikiLeaks says it's releasing today, we're more interested in exactly how anyone will find any juicy stuff in an ocean of documents. "This extraordinary data set derives from 680 Syria-related entities or domain names, including those of the Ministries of Presidential Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information, Transport and Culture," touts WikiLeaks on its site today, describing the 2.4 million e-mails the group has gotten ahold of and are calling "The Syria Files."
To put "The Syria Files" into perspective, the database is about 10 times the size of Wikileaks' State Department release--some 250,000 cables released between 2010 and 2011. Making parsing the documents even more difficult for most Western journalists: WikiLeaks says about 400,000 of those e-mails are in Arabic and around 68,000 are in Russian.
So how exactly are they going to sift through all that? Well, Forbes' Andy Greenberg reports that there will be "a search tool the group has developed for the files," though we're not really sure what we're supposed to be searching for. The first scoop Greenberg mentions is one of an Italian firm offering up their communications system to Syrian and Iranian governments. And there's also a question of veracity, which WikiLeaks addressed with this odd disclaimer: "In such a large collection of information, it is not possible to verify every single email at once; however, WikiLeaks and its co-publishers have done so for all initial stories to be published. We are statistically confident that the vast majority of the data are what they purport to be." Okay...
"The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in what we're assuming is a "statistically confident" statement that appears on the website. "It helps us not merely to criticise one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it."
As for a timetable for when to expect all the gory bits, WikiLeaks says to expect stories popping up "over the next two months" in outlets like Lebanon's Al Akhbar, Germany's ARD, and Italy's L'Espresso. As you may recall, Wikileaks has had some difficulties with its media partners in the past. For U.S. readers, any bombshells will appear in The Associated Press.