The WikiLeaks/Guardian mess, and how the US government will use it

Friday, Sep 2, 2011 07:03 ET
Facts and myths in the WikiLeaks/Guardian saga
By Glenn Greenwald

A series of unintentional though negligent acts by multiple parties — WikiLeaks, The Guardian’s investigative reporter David Leigh, and Open Leaks’ Daniel Domscheit-Berg — has resulted in the publication of all 251,287 diplomatic cables, in unredacted form, leaked last year to WikiLeaks (allegedly by Bradley Manning). Der Spiegel (in English) has the best and most comprehensive step-by-step account of how this occurred.

This incident is unfortunate in the extreme for multiple reasons: it’s possible that diplomatic sources identified in the cables (including whistleblowers and human rights activists) will be harmed; this will be used by enemies of transparency and WikiLeaks to disparage both and even fuel efforts to prosecute the group; it implicates a newspaper, The Guardian, that generally produces very good and responsible journalism; it likely increases political pressure to impose more severe punishment on Bradley Manning if he’s found guilty of having leaked these cables; and it will completely obscure the already-ignored, important revelations of serious wrongdoing from these documents. It’s a disaster from every angle. But as usual with any controversy involving WikiLeaks, there are numerous important points being willfully distorted that need clarification.

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