Last Sunday, WikiLeaks provided five international news organizations with over 250,000 classified documents in what has became the greatest leak of secret data in history, among them was Spain’s El Pais, the only Spanish language paper chosen by WikiLeaks. The other were New York Times, The Guardian from the UK, The German Der Spiegel, and France’s Le Monde of France.
These newspapers received more than a quarter million cables from WikiLeaks and following a rigorous analysis of the documents, the newspapers confirmed their authenticity, and together built databases to organize the information by year, location of origin, destination, subject, classification, etc. Since Sunday, as announced by WikiLeaks founderJulian Assange, the five news sources have been simultaneously publishing relevant information from the leaked cables.
What is a Cable?
A cable is very much like a group e-mail. For many years the term cable referred to the formal telegrams that consular staffers would send across the oceans and around the world in Morse code. The difference between a cable and a or an email has more to do with content than method of delivery. Both are drafted in a computer, both travel electronically, but you need a military or diplomatic clearance to both send and receive cables; cables are stored on a database permanently. Put simply, if you want to send a note to President Obama about the schedule for next week’s events, you’d use an e-mail. If you’re transmitting an assessment of Iran’s Plutonium stash, you’d send a cable.
Despite there being agreements between all five newspapers regarding when to simultaneously publish internationally relevant content, each one has autonomy of selection, assessment and ultimate publishing of communications that affect their countries.
Javier Moreno, the newspaper’s Editor has said being the only Spanish speaking source, their focus will be cables about Spain and Latin American countries. Information concerning Argentina has already been published, and Moreno is promising to publish leaked information concerning Venezuela, México, Boliva, Cuba and Colombia.
Without disclosing any major details, Moreno said the leaks reveal details of current armed conflicts and diplomatic confrontations, while providing hard evidence of questionable practices by the US State Department and embassies around the world. Moreno said that most of his correspondents, as well as specialists in international information and journalists have been working around the clock reviewing, organizing and reporting back their findings.
El País has decided not to translate the cables to assure that visitors can read the documents as they were received. Names and data that could compromise the security of people and countries has been removed.
Vicente Jiménez and Antonio Caño wrote in El País that some of the articles they’ll be writing about “Cablegate” will deal more with examining how more than 250,000 secret documents only accessible by State Department officials, military and members of 16 intelligence agencies were leaked into WikiLeaks website in the first place.