As many of you know, I have been live-blogging WikiLeaks News & Views every day since Cablegate broke, last November 28 — one hundred days ago Monday. I’ve also written a book and e-book that traces WikiLeaks’ rise going back to last March and the release of its Collateral Murder video from Iraq and continuing right up to early last month. As we hit the century mark for the WikiLeaks News and Views blog, I thought it might be eye-opening to re-visit that first day when Cablegate swung open.
On November 22, at the start of Thanksgiving week, WikiLeaks’ official Twitter feed announced, like a warning shot (or one from a starter’s pistol) that the next release would be "7× the size of the Iraq War Logs." Following the arrest of Bradley Manning back in June, references to leaked diplomatic cables had provoked a denial from WikiLeaks, so it was not at all certain, to most outside observers, what this next big release would cover.
For days later, Assange sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State, via his lawyer Jennifer Robinson, inviting them to "privately nominate any specific instances (record numbers or names) where it considers the publication of information would put individual persons at significant risk of harm that has not already been addressed." Harold Koh, legal adviser for State Department rejected the idea: "We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials."
Knowing pretty much what was coming, and dreading it, Hillary Clinton personally called top officials in France, Germany, Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom, while associates at State spoke with many other leaders.
Two days after Thanksgiving, rumors swelled, with the latest megaleak now expected late Sunday, November 28. Various reports indicated that four newspapers were in on this one: the Times, The Guardian, LeMonde, El Pais and the magazine Der Spiegel.
By Sunday morning, political figures –- and media left off the WikiLeaks team—were clearly on edge. “Leaking the material is deplorable,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox’s Chris Wallace. “The people at WikiLeaks could have blood on their hands….I don’t know what the cables may say, but we’re at war….The world is getting dangerous by the day. People who do this are low on the food chain as far as I’m concerned. If you can prosecute them, let’s try.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) agreed, saying “the people who do these document leaks need to do a gut check about their patriotism…. I hope we can find out where this is coming from and go after them with the force of law.”