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Fallout From Release of Unredacted Cables

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 Salon.com:

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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