Leak at WikiLeaks
A Dispatch Disaster in Six Acts
By Christian Stöcker
Some 250,000 diplomatic dispatches from the US State Department have accidentally been made completely public. The files include the names of informants who now must fear for their lives. It is the result of a series of blunders by WikiLeaks and its supporters.
In the end, all the efforts at confidentiality came to naught. Everyone who knows a bit about computers can now have a look into the 250,000 US diplomatic dispatches that WikiLeaks made available to select news outlets late last year. All of them. What's more, they are the unedited, unredacted versions complete with the names of US diplomats' informants -- sensitive names from Iran, China, Afghanistan, the Arab world and elsewhere.
Act One: The Whistleblower and the Journalist
The story began with a secret deal. When David Leigh of the Guardian finally found himself sitting across from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as the British journalist recounts in his book "Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy", the two agreed that Assange would provide Leigh with a file including all of the diplomatic dispatches received by WikiLeaks.
Act Two: The German Spokesman Takes the Dispatch File when Leaving WikiLeaks
Act Three: Well-Meaning Helpers Accidentally Put the Cables into Circulation
Act Four: Mudslinging between Assange and Domscheit-Berg
Act Five : Exposed Disclosures
Act Six: Cablegate-Gate
An account of the story of Leigh, the hidden data and the password then cropped up on a platform normally used by open-source developers to exchange programming codes. A link to the entry spread quickly through Twitter. Suddenly, anyone could access the entire "Cablegate" file with a bit of effort...
Finale: In the Open
[…] The "Cablegate" cables are now completely public. For many people in totalitarian states this could prove life-threatening. For Wikileaks, OpenLeaks, Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and many others, it is nothing short of a catastrophe.
A chain of careless mistakes, coincidences, indiscretions and confusion now means that no potential whistleblower would feel comfortable turning to a leaking platform right now. They appear to be out of control.