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Communications of the ACM


Preserving the Internet

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Additional storage awaiting use by the Internet Archive.

Credit: Jason Scott / Textfiles

There was a time when an interested party could find five White House press releases online detailing the number of countries participating in the "Coalition of the Willing" in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That list drew controversy, however, because when the war did not go so well, countries like Togo and Costa Rica objected to having their names associated with it. Consequently, the data was manipulated, says Kaylev Leetaru, who co-authored the report "Airbrushing History, American Style."

Today, two of those five documents are unchanged, two have been deleted, and one is accessible but has been edited from its original form, according to Leetaru. "There was a lot of manipulation, and what came out of that was the White House was altering press releases on a regular basis," he says. "It came out that they didn't view these as government documents, but rather propaganda material, so there was no reason to mark that a change was made."


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