Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Only 1 Cable in 3,000 Is Leak-Worthy

The case of Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army Private and intel analyst who was arrested last May for downloading classified materials from his work station in Iraq, has now been charged. Read the statement of charges here.

Manning reportedly downloaded a great many State Department cables, and he has evidently leaked at least some of them. But exactly how many cables did he steal? The original news reports mentioned 260,000 cables, but the news media is today using the figure of 150,000, as in this New York Times story.

The Army charged Manning with improperly downloading "at least 150,000" State cables but, interestingly, it charged him with transmitting only "more than 50" cables to unauthorized persons. So may we assume that he selectively leaked the fifty best of his 150,000-cable haul?

Given the mundane nature of nearly all cable traffic, I can believe that only fifty in 150,000, or a ratio 0f 1:3000, were really worth leaking.

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