The complete archive of 251,000 unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables given to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks by a military whistleblower is now available for anyone to download and view, thanks to a forthcoming reporter and a breach in security protocol by someone at WikiLeaks.
Thinking there was nothing to it, David Leigh, investigations editor for The Guardian, published a password in his book about WikiLeaks. The password was for the cable archive, which the paper had been given early on, and it was supposed to be temporary. The book did not specify where the files were located.
Seven months later, that password was still able to unlock an encrypted file inadvertantly put online by a unknown person, revealing the complete and unredacted “cablegate” archive.
The archive went online around the time of Assange’s arrest pending a Swedish investigation into sexual assault allegations, but nobody seemed to notice until recently.
Once it became clear the full archive was available on file sharing websites, WikiLeaks claimed it notified the U.S. State Department and began preparing legal action against The Guardian.
In a statement published Thursday, The Guardian said it “utterly rejects any suggestion that it is responsible for the release of the unedited cables.”
With the cables online, WikiLeaks scrambled to publish more of the documents in region-specific media, releasing some without redacting the identities of confidential sources. The full archive contains thousands of cables that identify individuals in foreign countries who’ve shared information with U.S. diplomats and other sensitive details.
News organizations that have published WikiLeaks cables in the past — including Raw Story — have redacted the names of people who may be put in danger by the disclosures.
WikiLeaks began releasing redacted cabled last December in conjunction with its media partners, but had only published a small fraction of the more than 250,000 documents before the whole archive went online.