Friday's massive release of WikiLeaks cables didn't produce much hard news, but the story behind the release did shed some light on how mounting internal turmoil is threatening the organization's future. Der Spiegel confirmed on Monday that an encrypted but easy-to-crack database containing unredacted versions of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables has been making rounds on the Internet and can be traced back to in-fighting between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his former deputy Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Described in the German press as a "Leak at WikiLeaks," the database shows how Assange's organization is failing to protect the identities of its sources, but perhaps more importantly, how the army of whistleblowers is losing footing in their uphill battle for transparency.
The most interesting revelation in the latest batch of WikiLeaks cables has more to do with how the release happened than the release itself. It's unclear what exactly happened as the organization was moving the data onto public servers, but WikiLeaks appeared to be scrambling somewhat. The release stalled after the first few sets of cables were posted when WikiLeaks' servers were hit with a denial of service attack. News emerged around the same time that federal prosecutors ordered Dynadot, an internet registrar that hosted WikiLeaks data, to surrender "information on Julian Assange," and Dynadot complied. The upper limit of how many of unpublished cables WikiLeaks was releasing rose from the organization's initial estimate of 35,000 to Monday's grand total of 133,887. The organization explained the purge in a Monday blog post:
Cablegate launched nine months ago today. Despite the amount of material yet to be reported on, mainstream media organisations in Europe and the United States have slowed their rate of publishing Cablegate derived stories. This has led to the misperception in Europe and the US that WikiLeaks has been less active in recent months. In fact, WikiLeaks has stepped up its activity … Through crowdsourcing, WikiLeaks hopes to maximise the impact of the information in the diplomatic cables by allowing universities, investigative journalists, human rights advocates, lawyers, and prosecutors to access the source material all over the world.