Another particularly interesting (albeit not entirely new) piece is a behind-the-scenes story by David Leigh on how Bradley Manning stole the documents in question. An excerpt:
It was childishly easy, according to the published chatlog of a conversation Manning had with a fellow-hacker. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ erase the music then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He said that he “had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months”.
The Datablog invites readers to download the dataset, do their own analysis, and then upload their own visualizations and mashups. The data only includes the date, time, sender and tags for all of the cables, though; the body text of each has been removed. This, and the fact that the server is so overloaded with download requests that it’s giving many people an error message, is inspiring many Datablog readers to sound off in the comments section about censorship. Perhaps when more people are able to download and digest the data, we’ll see some good interpretations of it, but so far the Datablog’s Flickr page for such user-generated projects isn’t showing much action on the WikiLeaks front.
Probably the most compulsively clickable feature of the Guardian’s coverage is its most low-tech one—namely, the live blog keeping up with reaction to the leaks: from politicians and diplomats, from think tank analysts, and from (ha!) the front page of the New York Post. It’s a great aggregation of international discussion, and quite comprehensive. The blog refreshes automatically every minute, and often features The Guardian’s snide commentary. One entry:
6.46pm GMT: And now we go over to the White House briefing room, where Robert Gibbs is telling journalists how terrible these Wikileaks cable disclosures are. “The stealing of classified information is a crime,” says Gibbs, and notes that President Obama “was not pleased”.
And being the White House press corps, the next question is some Washington inside baseball about a meeting between Obama and the Republican leaders tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Guardian media columnist Roy Greenslade gives a quick rundown of the coverage of the story in other major publications in the UK, and asks why so many of their editors seem to be taking the British government at its word that this leak is dangerous and irresponsible. - Lauren Kirchner
The German magazine has some English-language coverage up today, a day after it released its first reporting on the state department leaks in print. As with the two previous WikiDumps, Der Spiegel reports on the “explosive revelations” found in the leaks with much color and outrage and a very strong point of view. “If one were to believe the gloomy reports from the embassy in Ankara, Turkey is on a slippery slope to volatile Islamism,” one article says; a piece on the State Department’s orders to gather information from the UN suggests the request goes “well beyond the usual range of diplomatic interests.” Much of the criticism is directed not at the state department or the U.S. government as faceless entities, but at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an individual—requests for information about the UN described as “Clinton’s Wish List.”
Naturally, there is a lengthy report devoted to the 1,719 reports that came out of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. Much of this coverage centers on revelations of German diplomats criticizing each other, U.S. criticisms of Chancellor Merkel—“‘She is risk averse and rarely creative,’ noted one report from March 24, 2009”—and revelations that a source was reporting directly to the embassy on negotiations to form Germany’s current coalition government in October of 2009. A Q&A with the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, Philip Murphy, in which he responds to some of the revelations, was posted on the Der Spiegel website today.
The dominant interest in Der Spiegel’s coverage seems to be to use the cables to define a current “True US Worldview,” a phrase that comes up several times in the magazine’s reporting. What is that worldview?
The State Department’s emissaries abroad cultivate a clear-eyed view of the countries they are posted to, a view that is at times incredibly dark. Viewed through the eyes of the US diplomats, entire states—Kenya for example—appear as mires of corruption.
We’ll keep track of what Der Spiegel does during the rest of the week. - Joel Meares