Monday 9 August 2010

Nick Davies: 'It's not our job to get people killed'

The Guardian's Nick Davies, who brokered the deal to have access to the WikiLeaks Afghan War Logs, is adamant that their publication in the paper has not endangered lives.
Davies is quoted in the Guardian's Open door column today saying: "The first time I spoke to Julian Assange [the founder of WikiLeaks] in Brussels in mid-June, before I saw the documents I said there are two issues: one, there may be nothing of interest here, and two, there must be a risk that publication would put people on the ground at risk. There was always a big shining light on that right from the outset. It's not our job to get people killed and I am not interested in publishing anything that might get someone killed.
"There were 92,000 documents and we published fewer than 300 of them. Each one was read from top to toe with the conscious aim of excluding anything that might endanger people on the ground.
"You can't have governments decide what should be published and what shouldn't, therefore we, as journalists, have to make our own judgments."
Open door also quotes Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger: "In the end you weigh up what you believe to be public good against public harm, you try to minimise the harm by highlighting public material of most public interest. You have a discussion about whether journalists should make those decisions but what it comes down to is whether you believe in the fourth estate.
"Alternatively you leave these decisions to be taken by elected officials or parliament but I believe that would mean that virtually no material would be released."

1 comment:

Peter Demain said...

Not particularly convinced on this one. How exactly are these thousands of documents not going to be used by the Taliban to track down informants? Assange himself has commented a few times on this matter, mainly in a cavalier 'ends justify the means' dialogue.

I put a question to Alan Rusbridger over Afghanistan via Twitter. I asked why there's only one full-time Guardian reporter for the entire nation (Jon Boone) . I suggested it was in the public interest for him to take a pay cut out of his circa £500,000 salary & finance some reporters in that country. His trite verbiage on this matter isn't comforting in the face of what actions he takes to further these supposed principles.

I agree with Nick Davies on many things but this isn't one of them. It's all hindsight...we may never be certain if deaths occurred as a consequence of the leaks. They'll be inevitable ambiguity what with people going missing and lack of communication from some - so if Nick would like to say definitively why lives aren't endangered I'd love to hear it.

Pete, editor at