Wikileaks Publishes Cables With Names of Confidential Sources

 

Last Friday, Wikileaks released nearly 134,000 diplomatic cables, more than six times the total published since the whistleblower site started posting files publicly last November. Furthermore, a sampling of the documents reveals that confidential information, including the names of people who have spoken confidentially to American diplomats, has not been edited out, even when those people’s identities were marked as “strictly private,” says the New York Times. US officials and human rights activists are deeply concerned that those named — including activists, journalists and academics in repressive regimes — could face “dismissal from their jobs, prosecution or violence” as a result.

As government officials and journalists worked their way through the pile of documents, they have already found the names of a United Nations official in West Africa and a foreign human rights activist working in Cambodia; both “had spoken candidly to American Embassy officials on the understanding that they would not be publicly identified.” Says the New York Times:

The new disclosures are likely to reignite a debate over the virtues and perils of making public the confidential views of American diplomats, some of whom have complained that the leaks have made their work more difficult. The disclosures take place as a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., continues to hear evidence in a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks for disclosing classified information.

A statement from Wikileaks specifically said that the speed with which the high volume of files has been released is “in accordance with WikiLeaks’s commitment to maximizing impact and making information available to all.” Indeed, Wikileaks said that doing so was intended to counter the “misperception” that the organization “has been less active in recent months.” “Crowd sourcing” the documents makes it readily possible for “people of different backgrounds and nationalities to interpret the cables,” according to the statement, which was not signed. As the New York Times says, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, “generally drafts or approves the group’s statements.”

Starting in November 2010, the New York Times, the Guardian and other news organizations have had access to more than 250,000 State Department cables originally obtained by WikiLeaks. While only 2,500 cables had been published by the end of 2010, the total is now about 20,000. The New York Times and others have edited documents to remove sensitive information; Wikileaks had previously done the same for the files it has published on its own website.

Also on Friday, Steffen Kraft, the editor of a small German publication based in Berlin, Der Freitag, said that he has found online a “password protected csv file” containing a 1.73GB cache of entirely unredacted diplomatic cables, originating from Wikileaks. The password was reportedly “plain to see” (“liege offen zutage”). In the files are thousands of pages of “named or otherwise identifiable ‘informers’ and “suspected intelligence agents” from Israel, Jordan, Iran and Afghanistan.” One “Iranian informant” was “specifically described” as saying that people in Iran always tried “to give the impression that they follow these stupid, crazy mullahs.”

As Tech Crunch notes, Kraft says that some of the documents had previously been published in censored form and that it’s likely they were leaked by Assange’s “arch-nemesis (and former colleague), Daniel Domscheit-Berg of OpenLeaks” who, earlier last week, had “claimed to have destroyed thousands of unpublished documents before leaving Wikileaks and [who has] made no secret of his hatred of his old pal.”

Regardless, the publication of the unredacted cables calls into question the ethics and motives of Wikileaks, says Tech Crunch:

In truth, it almost doesn’t matter who is responsible: the eventual release of the unredacted cables was inevitable. The message of Wikileaks — and the amoral cult of leaking for lulz that came in its wake — has always been one of callous contempt for the human cost of “free information”. From Assange’s well-publicised remarks to Guardian reporters that “if [informants] get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it,” to LulSec and Anonymous’ willingness to publish the personal details of anyone even tangentially associated with their ‘enemies’, what we see time and time again from mass-leakers is a sociopath’s disregard for individuals, combined with a Hollywood serial killer’s hunger for attention. Sooner of later — for attention, to make some misguided political point, for the lulz — someone was bound to obtain and leak the raw documents.

Mediaite indeed says that this “leak” in Wikileaks calls into questions the motives of Assange, who remains in England under electronic monitoring, still fighting extradition to Sweden on charges of raping two women. Tech Crunch even goes so far to ask if Wikileaks has been engaging in “riskier and riskier behavior to get back in the headlines” and who cares about what happens to someone in Afghanistan or Iran named in a cable? What’s really being exposed with each further Wikileaks leak is, Der Freitag comments, “the weak point of all whistleblower platforms: the human factor.”

For all of its vaunted aims and magisterial statements about “maximizing impact and making information available to all,” Wikileaks, and those running it, are human, all too human, after all.

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Photo by Sean MacEntee

36 comments

Ed Gould
Edward G.4 years ago

OK WIKILEAKS, where are the promised BOA material that was promised?

heather g.
heather g.4 years ago

Far too many people in positions of trust have cooked up stories for entrapment on innocents, assasinated people and leaders, spent money like water, etc. That's why $millions went missing in Afghanistan. Avaaz copied that in their newletter about the CIA.
It is very important that we know the truth and what our tax monies are being used for. It is very easy to take news at face value and believe everything you are told. However, it is essential that you also respect those who scratch below the surface and reveal the, often ugly, truth.
Julian Assange is right for our times ......

Judy W.
Judy Walsh4 years ago

Information does indeed belong to the people. If one is secret usually it's because he or she knows what they are doing is wrong.

Brian C.
Brian C.4 years ago

Mary L. has an excellent point. Sometimes wars are necessary unfortuately. I might be wrong, but to me Assange is out to get the United States and satisfy his ego, and doesn't seem to understand or even worse, care about soldiers or anyone else getting hurt or killed in the process.

Freedom isn't Free, and the price is that temperarily, gov'ts like ours have to keep some things secret. To deliberately put the people helping us, as well as the soldiers fighting for us, in more danger than they already are, is to me choosing the wrong side.



Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/wikileaks-publishes-cables-with-names-of-confidential-sources.html#ixzz1WeXhx4iq

Brian C.
Brian C.4 years ago

Mary L. has an excellent point. Sometimes wars are nessassary unfortuately. I might be wrong, but to me Assange is out to get the United States and satisfy is ego, and doesnt seem to understand or even worse, care about soldiers or anyone else getting hurt or killed in the process.

Freedom isn't Free, and the price is that temperarily, gov'ts like ours have to keep some things secret. To deliberately put the people helping us, as well as the soldiers fighting for us, in more danger than they already are, is to me choosing the wrong side.

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

Why is it all right for those who help achieve the goals of the UN ok? How would you feel if you did your civic duty and reported on drug dealers and then had your name published everywhere?

When you had to move and had to hid and still might die how would you feel? Would that be ok because people have a right to know?

People are afraid now to get involved, what would happen with this threat?

Yes people have a right to know, but know about those who instigated things not those who thought they were doing the right thing.

dale a.
dale a.4 years ago

The cost of freedom is high, make no mistake we are at war with the enemies of freedom, and as Rummy said "you go to war with what you've got". Never liked the man, he is an enemy of freedom, just like the ideals he stood for.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C.4 years ago

Prof. Thomas Flanagan of the University of Calgary and a big honcho of the Conservative Party ruling Canada, when interviewed by CBC television, called for Julian to be assassinated. This is very likely because US-born Prof. Flanagan could be exposed as a CIA agent.

We're funny that way, but quite a few Canadians would object to CIA agents in the high offices of our country.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C.4 years ago

In the March Forward against war and racism, secrecy and impunity are our enemies, truth our best friend:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuC7uX4Vd-8

Siusaidh C.
Susan C.4 years ago

A recent & very interesting interview with Julian Assange:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYIRJ8CAA68&feature=uploademail