No real need to expand too much here.
As any journalist knows, protection of ones sources is important. Too bad that so many people do not see that it is also important for the US government to protect its sources, especially those who give vital information to understanding what is going on in the world. (Kind of like a reporter getting a confidential source inside a government agency or corporation.)
At least the US government is now doing something to protect many of their outed sources.
Once the cables were released, there is no reason NOT to publish them. But how hard would it have been for Wikileaks to redact the names of people cited in the cables? Especially the sources in places such as China and Libya.
I don’t see how it would have hurt the public’s understanding of the issues discussed. Hell, we journalists use confidential sources all the time. And we keep those sources confidential to protect them from reprisal.
As the Times story points out, there does not seem to have been any major fallout over the cables released so far. But there is fallout:
An American diplomat in Central Asia said recently that one Iranian contact, who met him on periodic trips outside Iran, told him he would no longer speak to him. Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, said people in Afghanistan and Pakistan had become more reluctant to speak to human rights investigators for fear that what they said might be made public.
The fallout is that people will not even speak with NGOs about their situation. And that really can’t be helpful.
So I ask again: Why put people in danger?
Let’s face it, there are a lot of very bad people and governments out there who would love to have more excuses to persecute and remove “trouble makers.” (At least the Times and some others have redacted some names.)