A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts

More than 250,000 US State Department cables were released to WikiLeaks and, starting in November 2010, gradually published in newspapers around the globe with the understanding that sensitive details, including names of informants, would be redacted. Under the threat of denial-of-service attacks and censorship, WikiLeaks staff released password-protected copies of the cables to supporters. Not long after, WikiLeaks staff had a falling out, including accusations of inadequate protection of sources. A German weekly newspaper and a platform for open-source programmers connected details of the unedited data file and an unchanged password buried in a British book, and the news spread via Twitter. Release of the complete set of cables and the password to access them has exposed informants cited in the cables around the globe, even endangering some. Diplomats and informants had expected that conversations and opinions would be kept secret, first by the US and then WikiLeaks. Future informants may think twice before talking to diplomats or blowing whistles on wrongdoing. Or they may avoid leak sites altogether, and instead go public on their own. – YaleGlobal

A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts

Some 250,000 US State Department diplomatic dispatches have accidentally been made completely public, including names of informants who now must fear for their lives
Christian Stöcker
Friday, September 2, 2011
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2011. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

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