Like everyone else, I’ve been following the WikiLeaks story over the past few weeks, waiting for some juicy titbit to be revealed. I’ve also been wondering: whose fault is it?

This particular question seems to be at the heart of the frenzied arguments relating to Julian Assange: that he should be assassinated, hunted down like Osama Bin Laden, that he be tried for treason. But does the blame really lie with him?

WikiLeaks publishes content that it gets sent by third parties. In the case of the recent US diplomatic cables, these were apparently supplied by Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, who is currently awaiting trial.

This begs the question: how did a Private manage to get access to over a quarter of a million diplomatic cables, discussing issues as sensitive as various Middle Eastern countries’ attitudes towards Iran?

One of the most basic tenets of information security is that of compartmentalisation, i.e. the basis of “need to know”. It is incredible that any one person, at the level of a Private, could access all of this information.

I would suggest that Private Manning was naïve and broke the law if he did what he is accused of. It would be a gross misuse of trust. But it must be acknowledged that there are serious issues within the security framework of the US Government if this could happen at all.

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