Friday, September 2, 2011

U.S. Sources Exposed as Unredacted State Department Cables Are Unleashed Online

Wired - An encrypted WikiLeaks file containing 251,000 unredacted U.S. State Department cables is now widely available online, along with the passphrase to open it. The release of the documents in raw form, including the names of U.S. informants around the globe, has raised concerns that dozens of people could now be in danger.

The release of the file comes amidst a heated blame fest between WikiLeaks and the Guardian newspaper in London, which let slip the encrypted version of the database and the decryption key respectively. As details surface about how the leak occurred, it appears that both organizations share the blame.

The 1.73-GB file and passphrase were published Thursday on Cryptome, a competing secret-spilling site, after news broke over the last week that the file had been circulating on the internet unnoticed for several months.’s keyword search of the file shows that the uncensored cables contain more than 2,000 occurrences of the phrase “strictly protect”, which is used in cables to denote sources of information whose identities diplomats consider confidential.

It’s unclear how the release will affect imprisoned 23-year-old Pfc. Bradley Manning, who’s facing a court-martial for allegedly leaking the database to WikiLeaks last year.

WikiLeaks had given the Guardian access to the file, along with the passphrase, last summer when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange met with Guardian editor David Leigh.

WikiLeaks, the Guardian and other media outlets have been publishing the cables in dribs and drabs since last November, after carefully removing the names of most informants. The full database of cables was to have been released piecemeal through Nov. 29 of this year. But last Friday, as news of the leaked file and passphrase was made public, WikiLeaks suddenly began publishing a torrent of cables from the database. It has so far published about 144,000 cables, most of them unclassified. The Associated Press found the names of 90 confidential U.S. sources, including human rights workers laboring under totalitarian regimes, named in that subset of cables.                         More