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Fallout From Release of Unredacted Cables

Posted on Sep 2, 2011
AP / Alastair Grant

Julian Assange now faces legal proceedings in three countries: Sweden, the U.S. and Australia.

All five of WikiLeaks’ original media partners have turned on Julian Assange, the organization’s founder, after WikiLeaks unintentionally published the names of secret sources in a leak of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables. Those media groups include The Guardian, New York Times, El País, Der Spiegel and Le Monde. As a consequence of the mistake, Assange could be prosecuted in his home country of Australia.

Who’s to blame in this fiasco? Glenn Greenwald, who writes frequently and in detail about the WikiLeaks saga, comments at length below. —ARK

Glenn Greenwald at

As usual, many of those running around righteously condemning WikiLeaks for the potential, prospective, unintentional harm to innocents caused by this leak will have nothing to say about these actual, deliberate acts of wanton slaughter by the U.S.  The accidental release of these unredacted cables will receive far more attention and more outrage than the extreme, deliberate wrongdoing these cables expose.  That’s because many of those condemning WikiLeaks care nothing about harm to civilians as long as it’s done by the U.S. government and military; indeed, such acts are endemic to the American wars they routinely cheer on.  What they actually hate is transparency and exposure of wrongdoing by their government; “risk to civilians” is just the pretext for attacking those, such as WikiLeaks, who bring that about.

That said, and as many well-intentioned transparency supporters correctly point out, WikiLeaks deserves some of the blame for what happened here; any group that devotes itself to enabling leaks has the responsibility to safeguard what it receives and to do everything possible to avoid harm to innocent people.  Regardless of who is at fault—more on that in a minute—WikiLeaks, due to insufficient security measures, failed to fulfill that duty here.  There’s just no getting around that (although ultimate responsibility for safeguarding the identity of America’s diplomatic sources rests with the U.S. Government, which is at least as guilty as WikiLeaks in failing to exerise due care to safeguard these cables; if this information is really so sensitive and one wants to blame someone for inadequate security measures, start with the U.S. Government, which gave full access to these documents to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, at least).

... There’s little doubt that release of all these documents in unredacted form poses real risk to some of the individuals identified in them, and that is truly lamentable.  But it is just as true that WikiLeaks easily remains an important force for good.  The acts of deliberate evil committed by the world’s most powerful factions which it has exposed vastly outweigh the mistakes which this still-young and pioneering organization has made.  And the harm caused by corrupt, excessive secrecy easily outweighs the harm caused by unauthorized, inadvisable leaks.

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mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, September 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment

From what I’ve read, the only reason Assange published the unredacted cables
was because the unredacted forms had already been exposed by David Leigh, a
Guardian investigative reporter who published a password to the files in his
book on wikileaks.  Assange had given him the password—a media partner—so
that he could do investigative work for his book.  I can’t imagine why Leigh
would use the password as a chapter head.

Assange’s reasoning was that the only remedy would be to release all of them
unredacted lest the files remain exposed primarily to those who would do harm
to those named.  In any case, govts have had time to make adjustments since
learning that wikileaks was in possession of the cables.  I recall a line from
Jason Bourne who had captured an adversary in his Munich home:

“The word was in the ether that you had lost your memory.”
“You still should have moved.”

It’s unfortunate that this happened.  While I agree that Assange should have
either changed the password or created a new password for Leigh, I place more
blame on the govt whose responsibility it is to safeguard identities of its assets.
These cables had a vast audience before wikileaks got them; why would the
govt publish/transmit information that could endanger anybody? 

Nothing is secure.  Do you know how many tracking cookies have been placed
on the average computer?

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By JMD, September 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment

Easy to be Turncoats - friendenmies,to be sure!
As we move “for-backward”,peer through the veneer to
see the deception that will mark and highlight this
Thank you -
James M. de Laurier

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By J. Dow, September 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is not just soldiers who are in danger, in Belarus dissidents have been rounded up, and as far as I’m concerned, the good done has been UN-done. The arrogance from those defending the unredacted release is astounding. Perhaps if it was your relatives being rounded up you’d see more clearly what horrible damage has been done. In the name of exactly what good, do you get innocent people killed? Wikileaks is now the authoritarians best buddy buddy pal. They led police straight to informants, and would be truth tellers have been shut up, permanently.

Defend Israel Shamir, if you can, the Wikileaks Russian “peace campaigner”.
Follows is a excerpt from a piece written by a now former Wikileaks member:

“A little research revealed his unsavoury history, but I was told Julian would be unwilling for WikiLeaks to publish anything critical of Shamir. Instead, shamefully, we put out a statement simply distancing WikiLeaks from him.

There followed even more damning allegations. Shamir had been seen leaving the interior ministry of Belarus, an eastern European dictatorship.

The next day, the country’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, boasted he would start a Belarusian WikiLeaks showing the US was funding his political rivals.

Scores of arrests of opposition activists followed the country’s elections – but Shamir wrote a piece painting an idyllic picture of free, fair, elections in a happy country.

Human rights groups demanded answers, amid fears that Belarus may have received material from the cables. No answers were supplied. Julian would not look into the matter.

For an organization supposedly devoted to human rights, the apparent lack of concern when faced with such a grave charge was overwhelming.”

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By diamond, September 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

And, of course, now we know because of documents that have been found in Libya in the offices of the Libyan intelligence services that there are close links between the CIA and the Gaddafi regime and that people have been sent to Libya under Gaddafi to be tortured just as the CIA sent them to Syria and Egypt to be tortured. My understanding is that David Leigh at the Guardian, a man who hates Julian Assange beyond all reason, dumped these cables unredacted, as did our old friend Dumbshit-Berg who is working for the intelligence services as far as I’m concerned. It always amuses me that the Pentagon, the CIA and the US political elite who have murdered millions of people all over the world constantly claim Wikileaks is ‘harming’ people.

1.3 million - Iraq
untold millions in Afghanistan
up to 5 million Vietnamese
up to 1 million killed in Indonesia under a CIA run campaign of murder and torture
600,000 slaughtered in the invasion of the Phillipines

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, September 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Too bad they got posted by accident. It should only hurt those who are doing clandestine and illegal things in other people’s countries. A terrible error that could hurt Wikileaks now. Too bad it doesn’t hurt the gov’ts for what they have done in secret.

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John R.'s avatar

By John R., September 3, 2011 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

@  ardee

Thank you ardee, I did not read the article carefully. My emotion got the better
of me.

Now I realize it is quite tragic what has happened.

I wish that these exposed whistle blowers will somehow be treated with an
amount of dignity.

I am still following B. Manning’s case, and hoping that his case will be moved
from the Court of Military Appeals to the Supreame Court, though I believe they
will keep it in the Military.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, September 3, 2011 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

Sources compromised, not a good thing but these people (whistleblowers) are heros.

Freedom of access to information is the hallmark of a free society.

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By gerard, September 3, 2011 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Wheels within wheels?

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By Dr Bones, September 3, 2011 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.  What is fair for the goose, is fair for the gander.  When it can to illegal wire tapping of US citizens, they said, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.  Well, the same goes for this.

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By ardee, September 3, 2011 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

John R., September 2 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad the names are exposed.

Read more slowly, John. It was the names of those who leaked the cables that the article notes as a mistake.

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By diman, September 3, 2011 at 6:08 am Link to this comment

And off the topic, why don’t you people stop putting the mask face from this movie “V for vendetta” as your avatars, is that the only symbol of resistance you can think of? Or your cultural lives are so bankrupt they were completely replaced by hollywood images? Phony rebels.

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By diman, September 3, 2011 at 6:00 am Link to this comment

Fallout? What fallout?

“The accidental release of these unredacted cables will receive far more attention and more outrage than the extreme, deliberate wrongdoing these cables expose”

There won’t be any meaningful outrage, the whole thing will be treated as if it were Paris Hilton releasing her new sex tape, nobody cares.

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John R.'s avatar

By John R., September 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad the names are exposed. The dirty little back room deals that our
diplomats make to undermines foreign cities need to be exposed. That type of
behaviour needs to stop. It’s that behaviour that hurts innocent families with

Get those diplomats out !

Cheers to Assange and Manning. !

Oppressive governments and their nasti corporation deals should be exposed for the world to see. And to see the kind of people that they really are.

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sallysense's avatar

By sallysense, September 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

still the inclusion of names in those files exposing the truth…

is so little compared to all the civilians and soldiers hurt and killed…

and all the resources wasted away too in these wars and more…

(and here’s that “superb analysis” link that glenn greenwald shares)...

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