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Philip Dorling on #Grauniadgate
'WikiLeaks is here to stay and governments will have to get used to that.'
CANBERRA (Rixstep) — Australian correspondent Philip Dorling sums up #Grauniadgate better than anyone in an article published this morning by Fairfax Media's The Age, the Canberra Times, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Philip Warren Dorling completed his PhD at Flinders University and thereafter joined the department of foreign affairs and trade. He is currently a visiting fellow at the School of Humanities and Social Science in the Australian Defence Force Academy and national affairs and defence correspondent for Fairfax Media.
Dorling was the recipient of the Melbourne Press Club 2010 Quill Award for his coverage of Cablegate.
Philip Dorling is also the sole Australian journalist with access to Cablegate. He's traveled to Ellingham on at least two occasions and was present at the now infamous meeting in the offices of the Guardian on 1 November last year.
'One figure says it all', Dorling writes today. 'On the WikiLeaks website's 'Secret United States Embassy cables' page an inconspicuous counter reads 251287/251,287' which means all of the US diplomatic cables leaked to the whistleblower group founded by Australian Julian Assange are now posted on the world wide web.'
Dorling backtracks through the events that made this happen.
'Having decided last Friday to put the whole Cablegate database on the website, WikiLeaks delivered an astonishingly comprehensive, publicly available, fully searchable, and free archive of US diplomacy covering every corner of the globe. There are no redactions or deletions.'
'The cables show the inner workings of diplomacy and politics in every country in the world. They show how the US as a global power defines, pursues, and defends its interests - diplomatic, military, commercial, and ideological - sometimes for good and sometimes at considerable cost to other countries, communities, and individuals.'
'This immense collection of material, the product of the largest and best resourced diplomatic service in the world, is a unique and extraordinarily accessible resource for journalists, political activists, human rights workers, academic researchers, and indeed ordinary members of the public around the world.'
'And once again WikiLeaks and Assange are back in the headlines.'
Dorling got Fairfax Media publications into Cablegate early on, shedding light on the workings of the Australian Labor government and the country's relations with the US and continuing to publish a steady stream of revelations about federal politics, Indonesia, China, Japan, Singapore, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.
Dorling returned to Ellingham earlier this year, spending most of a leisurely afternoon in the kitchen with Assange, chatting over Aussie merlot and cheese.
Dorling points out most of the 'protected' names in the cables belong to politicians, senior officials, and business figures who spoke to embassy officials - meaning there's no compunction to hide their identities.
'On the contrary, there appeared to be a strong public interest in exposing what were often undeclared, and indeed publicly denied, links between political players around the globe and the world's one global power.'
But nothing changed the WikiLeaks release method up until #Grauniadgate. 'Assange nonetheless felt duty bound to adhere to the process of slowly vetting the cables.'
But everything changed with the duplicity of the Guardian's infamous David Leigh and the disclosure that the entire Cablegate tranche could be opened with an encryption key published in full in his book.
'Who is responsible for this extraordinary security lapse is hotly disputed between Assange and the Guardian. But having witnessed the Guardian's dealings with WikiLeaks at a meeting in London last November, I was appalled at the newspaper's treatment of the group that delivered such an astonishing bounty of information. The personal contempt of senior Guardian journalists for Assange - whom one referred to as 'a source, nothing more' - was all too clear.'
'Against that background, I found it unsurprising that the Guardian ignored Assange's most basic security instructions - never reveal the key to encrypted material that is or has been, however fleetingly, publicly available.' Meaning they must bear ultimate responsibility for the leak of the entire unredacted database.
But why publish if it's already out there? Dorling is spot on. 'Thanks to the Guardian, the horse had bolted, not merely into the next paddock but around the globe.'
Assange explains as well.
'Let us look at this case properly. The Guardian newspaper revealed the entire encryption password including that component they were instructed never to write about and did so in breach of their contract.'
'I was appalled at the newspaper's treatment of the group that delivered such an astonishing bounty of information. The personal contempt of senior Guardian journalists for Assange - whom one referred to as 'a source, nothing more' - was all too clear.'
And so it became a race - 'a race commenced between the governments who need to be reformed and the people who can reform them using the material'.
'We had a case where every intelligence agency has the material and the people who are mentioned do not have the material. So you have a race between the bad guys and the good guys and it was necessary for us to stand on the side of the good guys.'
'The unauthorised versions that were being tweeted everywhere - although as far as we can determine they were accurate, the public and journalists couldn't know they were accurate.'
'All things considered, Assange's position is a defensible one', Dorling sums up in the understatement of the millennium. Flipping the coin makes it all too apparent people could have been in jeopardy - people David Leigh didn't care about, people Julian Assange and WikiLeaks care deeply about.
And now it's all out there. There were over 30,000 new stories about Cablegate the past week alone, with a new story appearing on average every two minutes.
The judges were impressed with the high standard of entries this year but deemed Philip's work the standout winner. They commended his great journalistic initiative, skill, and persistence in dealing with a mountain of complex documents and disclosing the Australian angles in one of the biggest international stories of the year.
- Melbourne Press Club Quill Awards 2010 Judges Citation
Philip Dorling/The Age: Nothing left to leak?
Philip Dorling/Canberra Times: Nothing left to leak?
Philip Dorling/Sydney Morning Herald: Nothing left to leak?
Philip Dorling/Google Books: The origins of the ANZUS Treaty: A Reconsideration
Philip Dorling/Sydney Morning Herald: How I met Julian Assange and secured the US embassy cables
Melbourne Press Club: Philip Dorling
Melbourne Press Club: Quill Awards 2010: Best News Report in Print: Philip Dorling