WikiLeaks 101: Five questions about who did what and when

Confused about how 700,000 sensitive US documents ended up at major newspapers worldwide? WikiLeaks 101 is your guide to understanding what happened. Here are answers to five key questions.

3. How did the information become public?

WikiLeaks provided the latest cache of 251,287 diplomatic cables to Der Spiegel, El País, Le Monde, and The Guardian newspapers. The New York Times, which had published earlier reports critical of Assange and Manning, was snubbed by WikiLeaks for this round of leaked documents. But the Guardian quickly passed along the leaked material to the Times.

In justifying the decision to publish reports on the leaked cables, New York Times editor Bill Keller offered this explanation:

“We have edited out any information that could identify confidential sources – including informants, dissidents, academics and human rights activists – or otherwise compromise national security,” he wrote in response to questions on the Times website. “We did this in consultation with the State Department, and while they strongly disapprove of the publication of classified material at any time, and while we did not agree with all of their requests for omission, we took their views very seriously indeed.” He also noted that the Times chose "a small selection of the cables – about 100 in all, out of a quarter of a million documents – that we think provide useful source material for the articles we have written.”

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