The reader response has been huge. Millions of page views. It’s divided between those focused on the phenomenon (WikiLeaks, our decision to report secret cables, the pursuit of Julian Assange) and those interested in the contents of the documents. The first camp outnumbers the second, and it is in turn divided between those who are nervous or indignant about the impact of the disclosures on America’s ability to conduct foreign policy in a frightening time, and those who welcome the blaze of sunlight.
The official reaction, with a few exceptions in Congress, has been remarkably unhysterical – calm and professional. The Obama administration is furious at WikiLeaks and pained by the breach of secrecy, but the people at the White House, state and defence have resisted the temptation to indulge in an orgy of press-bashing; they have engaged us in an effort to minimise the damage by excising information that could get people killed; and they have not exaggerated the impact. The defence secretary called the fears for diplomacy “overwrought”, noting that other countries deal with the US not because they necessarily love us, or because they trust us to keep secrets, but because “they need us”.