Thoughtful analysis of one of the largest leaks of classified information in history—how it happened, what the secret documents say and what it all means.
In its first e-book, the New York Times brings welcome order to the chaos of the hundreds of thousands U.S. government documents released last year by the elusive and volatile hacker Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ website. In addition to the newspaper’s own extensive news and op-ed coverage, including the texts of military and diplomatic documents published on the Times website, the book has an extended insider’s essay on the entire episode by Times executive editor Bill Keller, as well as profiles of both Assange and Army Private Bradley Manning, his suspected source. Keller details his six-month experience working with the “secretive cadre of anti-secrecy vigilantes” known as WikiLeaks, whose release of the candid documents about world leaders and events embarrassed the U.S. government. A Times team created a searchable database of the material: 500,000 military dispatches on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 confidential cables between the State Department and 270 U.S. embassies and consulates. Keller says the newspaper acted responsibly in publishing the documents, redacting information that might endanger lives. The book includes contrasting views as well as reflections on the episode’s implications for the future of secrecy and diplomacy in the digital age. Both Assange and Manning emerge as bright, attention-seeking outsiders from unstable backgrounds. Assange, envisioning WikiLeaks as a new “scientific journalism” allowing people to judge facts for themselves, became increasingly erratic as his notoriety grew. Manning landed in a brig, where he awaits trial. One-third of the book consists of solid, old-fashioned journalism, offering the context and background needed to understand the documents. With links to cables and images, a helpful glossary and an appendix of significant photographs, the text takes full advantage of the capabilities of the e-book format.
An important book that gives coherence to a massive data dump.