Sunday, November 28, 2010

All the News That’s Fit To Print...

As you no doubt know, Wikileaks has released 250,000 classified documents and will post them on their website.  The U.S. State Department is fighting a last ditch effort to prevent their release, claiming national security is at stake.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the State Department is claiming that information in the documents “could endanger human rights activists globally, U.S. counterterrorism operations and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” [Here]  
The newspapers which have been given special access to the documents by the Wikileak staff are: The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel.  By Sunday evening lines from the secret cables were flowing across the websites of these papers and other news sources had begun picking up the stories. 
In coming days we’ll read and hear more of the substance of these leaked cables.  I’ve started to read some of the stories and I found myself utterly captivated because somehow the raw information from the cables make the events and world leaders more accessible and more human.  For example, the descriptions that I've read of Muammar al-Gaddafi are riveting--his blonde Ukrainian nurse who is a necessary companion in his travels, his fear of flying over water, his insistence that during any of his foreign travels he have a large enough interior space to erect his bedouin tent and so on.
I urge that you poke around the documents while they are still available to us.  [Here]
The NYTimes has written an explanation of why the paper has made many of the cables available to its readers.  [Here]
The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.
The documents — some 250,000 individual cables, the daily traffic between the State Department and more than 270 American diplomatic outposts around the world — were made available to The Times by a source who insisted on anonymity. They were originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to exposing official secrets, allegedly from a disenchanted, low-level Army intelligence analyst who exploited a security loophole. Beginning Sunday, WikiLeaks intends to publish this archive on its Web site in stages, with each batch of documents related to a particular country or topic. Except for the timing of publication, the material was provided without conditions. Each news organization decided independently what to write about the cables.
The Times edited what it believed was sensitive material and shared their redactions with the Obama administration.  More redactions were suggested by the WH, some of which the paper accepted.  The paper then shared those redactions with other news organizations.  And there the situation stands.
In the coming days we shall hear and read more details about these classified cables.  And in reading them, we shall become more informed about the quality of the diplomacy and the leaders who are directing the events which mold our lives.  We thank the leaker, a young man (perhaps pfc. Bradley Manning) who believes that all Americans have a right to know what their government is doing.
We must also congratulate the NYTimes for having the courage to publish these cables and we applaud the paper's declaration of conscience: [Here]
“As daunting as it is to publish such material over official objections, it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name.”
Amen.  Amen.  Amen...

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