WikiLeaks Threat Reported to Be Exaggerated

By
Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

So you remember WIkiLeaks, right? Julian Assange's world-ending, diplomacy-smashing series of leaked government documents? It might not be a big deal after all. Internal government reviews of the documents found that WikiLeaks caused "limited damage to U.S. interests abroad."

Publicly, the State Department still claims the leaks caused "substantial" damage. "We believe that hundreds of people have been put at potential risk because their names have been compromised in the release of these cables," said White House spokesman P.J. Crowley. But privately, says an anonymous official, the government is trying to make an example out of WIkiLeaks and Assange by "present[ing] the toughest front they can muster." In fact, the government considers the damage caused by the leaks to be "containable."

"We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging," sad the anonymous source. Oh, you mean like the comments about Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's "voluptuous nurse"?

So why exaggerate the extent of the WikiLeaks damage? "The administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers."

One thing that can't be shut down: how WikiLeaks has changed the conversation around classified information and national security.

U.S. Officials Privately Say Wikileaks Damage Limited [Reuters]