WikiLeaks threatens to release unredacted cables
LONDON — The anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks conducted an online poll Thursday of its Twitter followers to decide whether to publish an unredacted cache of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
The site last week released 134,000 diplomatic cables, with many showing the unprotected names of informants and other individuals who had spoken to US diplomats.
WikiLeaks said in a tweet that support for its threat to release all the remaining material from its 251,000-strong cache was running at 100 to one in favour.
The site said it was considering the move amid a row with Britain’s the Guardian newspaper, one of its former media partners, which it blames for leaking the entire cache by revealing the password.
The State Department said WikiLeaks had informed the United States in advance of the document releases, but ignored US appeals that making them public could endanger lives and put US national security at risk.
“WikiLeaks did advise us of the impending release of information and of its intention to continue to release classified documents,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“We have made clear our views and concerns about illegally disclosed classified information and the continuing risk to individuals and national security that such releases cause.
“WikiLeaks has, however, ignored our requests not to release or disseminate any US documents it may possess and has continued its well-established pattern of irresponsible, reckless, and frankly dangerous actions.”
The remarks came after the Guardian denied Thursday accusations by WikiLeaks that one of its journalists leaked the passwords to a trove of unredacted diplomatic cables.
In a sign of the broken relationship with the paper, WikiLeaks blamed the Guardian for leaking all of the 251,000 diplomatic cables online containing details of informants and sources.
In an editorial on its website, WikiLeaks said it was now considering releasing all the cables as an encrypted file containing the whole database was available online, and the password was in the public domain.
The Guardian, one of a handful of newspapers that began publishing redacted cables last year in cooperation with WikiLeaks, said it “utterly rejects any suggestion that it is responsible for the release of the unedited cables”.
The newspaper claimed that a link to the full, unredacted database was made public by an unnamed Twitter user who found it after acting on hints published in several media outlets and on the WikiLeaks Twitter feed.
“The Guardian calls on WikiLeaks not to carry through its plan to release the unredacted State Department cables. We believe this would be grossly irresponsible,” said a statement.
“It has been our consistent position that the material should not be released in unredacted form. It was out of concern over security that we ended our partnership with WikiLeaks on December 23, 2010.”
The newspaper also denied WikiLeaks’ allegations that the password had been released through a book by two Guardian journalists, “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”, published in February.
“It’s nonsense to suggest the Guardian’s WikiLeaks book has compromised security in any way,” it said.
“No concerns about security were expressed when the book was published or at any stage during the past seven months.”
Cables released over the past nine months through agreements between WikiLeaks and selected media partners have revealed confidential diplomatic assessments and potentially embarrassing comments by world leaders.
But the cables released through media organisations were redacted to avoid naming sources or informants.
The Guardian was one of five news organisations, including the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and Spain’s El Pais to initially publish stories based on the cables, which were allegedly leaked by US soldier Bradley Manning.
But the relationship between the Guardian and WikiLeaks was broken off reportedly over clashes between the website’s founder Julian Assange and journalists concerned about the redaction of sources in cables.
WikiLeaks has defended the release of the embassy cables — as well as the previous release of leaked Iraq and Afghanistan war reports — as the journalistic exposure of official deception.