WikiLeaks posts entire State Department archive, names included
LONDON - WikiLeaks disclosed its entire archive of US State Department cables yesterday, much if not all of it uncensored - a move that drew stinging condemnation from major newspapers that in the past collaborated with the antisecrecy group’s efforts to expose corruption and double-dealing.
Many media outlets previously had access to all or part of the uncensored files. But WikiLeaks’ decision to post the 251,287 cables on its website makes potentially sensitive diplomatic sources available to anyone, anywhere. American officials have warned that the disclosures could jeopardize vulnerable people such as opposition figures.
A joint statement published on the Guardian’s website said that the British publication and its international counterparts - The New York Times, France’s Le Monde, Germany’s Der Spiegel, and Spain’s El Pais - “deplore the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted State Department cables.’’
Previously, international media outlets - and WikiLeaks itself - had redacted the names of potentially vulnerable sources, although some specialists warned that even people whose names had been kept out of the cables were still at risk. But now many, and possibly even all, of the cables posted to the WikiLeaks website carry unredacted names.
There is a debate over what kind of effect that will have.
Former US State Department official P.J. Crowley warned that the new release could be used to intimidate activists. Crowley said that “any autocratic security service worth its salt’’ probably already would have the complete archive, but that fresh releases mean that any intelligence agency that did not “will have it in short order.’’
On Twitter, WikiLeaks suggested that it had no choice but to publish the archive because copies were circulating online following a security breach.
WikiLeaks has blamed the Guardian for the blunder, pointing out that a sensitive password used to decrypt the files was published in a book put out by David Leigh, one of the paper’s investigative reporters and a collaborator-turned-critic of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Guardian journalists have suggested that the real problem was that WikiLeaks posted the encrypted file to the Web by accident and that Assange never changed the password.