Having seen what has been reported from this evening’s Wikilanche, so far, is anybody surprised by any of it?

Cameron ‘not highly regarded’. No shit.

Putin, Berlusconi, Afghans all very corrupt.

Germans boring.

A Royal up to no good. I wonder who. Gay sex or cocaine?

Gaddafi has a voluptuous blonde Ukranian nurse. Whoop de do.

There are bound to be a few things in here which, had they been leaked individually, would have been clearly in the public interest. We would rightly have regarded a person who made that information public as a hero. A criminal too, perhaps: but certainly not a traitor: as Manning is. The public interest is well served by thoughtful and conscientious leaking.

As far as I can tell, any positive aspects to this torrent of disclosure appears, so far, to be utterly dwarfed by the huge breach of confidentiality and privacy that the disclosure of the day-to-day stuff necessarily has caused.

Organisations, and the individuals who work with for them, count on a certain level of privacy in their communications. That is, in itself, in the public interest: because it fosters candour. A diplomat should be entitled to convey their impressions of a politician without the fear that this information will immediately be made public. The United States has good reason not to tell its international partners that it believes that they are crooks.

Another point. Disclosures like this only can happen in free societies. Were Assange or Manning resident in an authoritarian or totalitarian state, they would by now be dead. In China, their families would have been invoiced for the bullets which executed them, for example.

Gene adds: Anyone surprised to learn that Iran used Red Crescent ambulances to smuggle intelligence agents and weapons to Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel?