Hard News by Russell Brown


Wikileaks: The Cable Guys

This time it's the diplomatic cables -- and all the usual questions apply to the latest Wikileaks document dump, plus a few more. While the last two releases have come from the theatres of war, much of what is revealed in the diplomatic cables is the business-as-usual of a nation state; perhaps even the business of avoiding war.

How secret are the quarter of a million documents taken from the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network if three million people had licence to see them? What has been redacted from the release, and on what grounds?

More in this case than the previous ones, we're obliged at least to ask: do we want to live in a world without confidentiality? Would we hamstring our own government by making public every word that diplomats shared about another state? Or has the US simply corrupted its diplomatic service by expanding the role of diplomats in spying?

Would we be prepared to conduct our own affairs without privilege or privacy? Would Wikileaks founder Julian Assange do the same? Would the journalists writing the stories for major news organisations be able to work if they could never speak in confidence? And, not least, why is Wikileaks still declining to publish the secrets it has obtained from within governments who do not happen to be the United States of America?

There are messages here of genuine import, and, clearly, many that are unremarkable, or of merely prurient interest. The story of 75 year-old Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi's escape from Iran is just a great yarn. Deciding what is what may be a matter of some fine judgement.

Anyway, because you probably do want a look, The Guardian's Datablog offers infographics and a link to the data themselves.

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