Monday, November 29, 2010

US embassy cables: A banquet of secrets

A diplomat's nightmare is a historian's dream – a feast of data that deepens our understanding

Timothy Garton Ash, Sunday 28 November 2010

" It is the historian's dream. It is the diplomat's nightmare. Here, for all to see, are the confidences of friends, allies and rivals, garnished with American diplomats' frank, sometimes excoriating assessments of them. Over the next couple of weeks, you, the readers of the Guardian, will enjoy a multi-course banquet from the history of the present.

The historian usually has to wait 20 or 30 years to find such treasures. Here, the most recent dispatches are little more than 30 weeks old.....

One thing I'd bet on, though: the US government must surely be ruing, and urgently reviewing, its weird decision to place a whole library of recent diplomatic correspondence on to a computer system so brilliantly secure that a 22-year-old could download it on to a Lady Gaga CD. Gaga, or what?"

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