In all of my readings about WikiLeaks, it’s clear that the facts aren’t clear to anyone. In an article from Der Spiegel dated September 1, 2011, Christian Stocker writes the most cohesive and extensive timeline of events regarding the disaster known as Cablegate (the release of thousands of unredacted documents concerning countries all over the world). Throughout the article, Stocker blames the catastrophe on Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former German spokesman for WikiLeaks and current spokesman for rival whistle-blowing site OpenLeaks.
The very next day, September 2, 2011, Der Spiegel, along with The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and El Pais, issued a joint statement “[deploring] the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted State Department cables,” which at that point in time was under the control of Julian Assange, effectively blaming him for the release.
The above-mentioned papers were the major venues through which WikiLeaks made their cache of information public. Originally partnered to disseminate information, the papers have ended their relationship with WikiLeaks after the release of the unredacted cables.
Who is at fault here: the man who leaked government secrets or the newspapers that spread the news? Public opinion says that we still revere our “Ambassadors of News” while Julian Assange is portrayed no longer as heroic but as one of the biggest tattletales ever.
During the denouement of Cablegate, the papers responded as journalists protecting journalists. Howard Kurtz, Washington Post staff writer, quoted Executive Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, as saying, “The administration, while strongly condemning WikiLeaks for making these documents public, did not suggest that The Times should not write about them. On the contrary, in our discussions prior to the publication of our articles, White House officials, while challenging some of the conclusions we drew from the material, thanked us for handling the documents with care, and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message.”
As far as the papers are concerned, they did their jobs as journalists, at least when it came to reporting on the information revealed by WikiLeaks. In regards to researching who was really at fault for Cablegate, well, no one knows, do they?