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American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people's lives in danger.

But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death.

Before Sunday's release, news organizations given access to the documents and WikiLeaks took the greatest care to date to ensure no one would be put in danger. In statements accompanying stories about the documents, several newspapers said they voluntarily withheld information and that they cooperated with the State Department and the Obama administration to ensure nothing released could endanger lives or national security.

The newspapers "established lists in common of people to protect, notably in countries ruled by dictators, controlled by criminals or at war," according to an account by Le Monde, a French newspaper that was among the five news organizations that were given access to the documents. "All the identities of people the journalists believed would be threatened were redacted," the newspaper said in what would be an unprecedented act of self censorship by journalists toward government documents.

The newspapers also communicated U.S. government concerns to WikiLeaks to ensure sensitive data didn't appear on the organization's website.

"After its own redactions, The (New York) Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest," The New York Times said in a story published on its website Sunday. "After reviewing the cables, the officials — while making clear they condemn the publication of secret material — suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all."

The paper said it also passed the government's concerns to WikiLeaks "at the suggestion of the State Department."

Unlike the release earlier this year of intelligence documents about the war in Afghanistan, when WikiLeaks posted on its website unredacted documents that included the names of Afghan informants, WikiLeaks agreed this time not to release more than 250,000 documents because they hadn't been vetted by the U.S. government.

[...]

Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks | McClatchy 20101129

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