The Stiftung reckons that the Wikileaks dump of ISAF’s sigacts log is more significant than we give it credit for. Well, perhaps. I’ve not yet dug into the data pile, but I’ve not been very impressed by the news version of it. Especially, I’m not very impressed by the news coverage; I was reading the Süddeutsche Zeitung the other day, and what struck me was the number of forms-of-words that were direct translations of things that appeared in the Guardian, Le Monde, etc, etc. Clearly, a lot of this stuff is rewritten press releases from Julian Assange.

Of course, if your rewritten press release contains Secret! Intelligence! Leaks! it feels a lot less like just rechewing press releases. And it’s no doubt preferable to have the papers fill space with cheese if the cheese comes from Assange as opposed to, say, the American Enterprise Institute. But it’s still cheese; the thing about press release chewing is that it’s like Nietzsche’s crack about lectures in Hört! Hört! (if you read German, incredibly funny). He talks about students (Hörer – literally listeners – in traditional German universities) sitting in rows, listening to the lecturer reading and usually writing down what he says, hanging “on the umbilical cord of the university”.

Everyone who’s ever been a journalist has done it. Absorb the input; summarise; add filler, and turn in the news-style product. With practice you can avoid thinking about it at all.


  1. We actually agree, I think, Alex. The PR and branding efforts to launch a ‘newsworthy’ leak missed the mark. For all the reasons you note.

    No one’s accepted narrative will change.

    We do think the the cumulative weight of detail in the leaked material when examined is a non-hyped examination and will be valuable in a future historical audit.

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