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Monday 29 November 2010

When Leaks Really Are Leaks

Recent leaks from inside the UK Government may not have been what they seemed at first, especially those emanating from the MoD. But the latest tranche of material from Wikileaks are the real thing: a raft of material leaked by someone within the US military.

And, as the Guardian’s Simon Hoggart pointed out on yesterday’s Andy Marr Show, all of the leaked material could be stored on a single memory stick – the kind that you might carry on your key ring. But opinion on the impact of the leaks has varied markedly.

Still at the Guardian, Simon Jenkins has no doubt that the action was justified, and makes one telling comment: “Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest”. He also stresses that the US State Department knew of the leaks several months ago, and therefore had plenty of time to pull anyone at risk out of harm’s way.

So all the righteous bluster telling that the leaks will endanger lives is just that: moreover, the recipients of the Wikileaks material have gone to considerable trouble to “redact” parts of the bundle of cables and other communications.

But, while the Guardian may be pushing the story, over at the Maily Telegraph a very different line is being taken. Deputy editor Benedict Brogan is utterly unimpressed by the material that has been leaked. In a characteristically sniffy post, he pours cold water on the Guardian, New York Times and other media outlets, agreeing only that there may be some embarrassment as a result.

This may not be totally unrelated to the fact that the Guardian and NYT are among those who have an exclusive on the Wikileaks material, while the Maily Telegraph is not. Sour grapes, Ben? Surely not!

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