6:52am

Mon November 29, 2010
The Two-Way

WikiLeaks' Disclosures: Right Or Wrong?

Good morning.

The front-page news here and across much of the world today, as Korva noted earlier, is the latest "documents dump" from WikiLeaks.org.

The "huge cache of confidential American diplomatic cables," NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports, "pulls back the curtain on the sometimes messy business of diplomacy."

NPR's Michele Kelemen says the White House has tried to downplay the cables' value, calling them "field reports":

News media reports about the cables and e-mails tell a much different story, though:

-- Politico -- "WikiLeaks Target: American Power": "The main effect of the many details of American diplomacy revealed in the thousands of documents obtained and released by WikiLeaks was to deepen the damage to their intended targets: U.S. foreign policy, prestige, and power."

-- BBC News -- "U.S. Condemns WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables Release": "The White House said the release was 'reckless' and put the lives of diplomats and others at risk. One Republican congressman called for WikiLeaks to be designated a terrorist organization."

-- The New York Times -- "Cables ... Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels": "The disclosure of the cables is sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict."

The news outlets that published the information obtained by WikiLeaks include the Times and The Guardian. And the Guardian is doing live updates of this ongoing story on this blog.

Among the stories to emerge from them so far are the deadly serious -- about, for example, corruption in the Afghan government, Saudi donors' support of terrorist groups and efforts to secure Pakistan's nuclear fuel -- to the embarrassing but sure-to-be-fodder-for jokes (Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is reportedly called the "Robin to (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin's Batman."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defends his site's controversial work -- arguing that it is exposing secrets that citizens need to know. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, though, has said that previous WikiLeaks disclosures of information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may have put American troops in danger. "The truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," Adm. Mike Mullen said earlier this year.

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