Anatomy of a leak

How WikiLeaks released the confidential documents into the public domain:

AUGUST

WikiLeaks provided four foreign news organizations with access to tens of thousands of secret State Department cables. The cache was allegedly given to them by a U.S. Army private. While the New York Times was given access to previous troves, WikiLeaks snubs the paper this go around, possibly over an unflattering profile of founder Julian Assange.

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER

Britain's Guardian newspaper quietly passed the Times the raw material. The Times agreed to coordinate
the release of its stories
about the cables with
the Guardian and the three
other news organizations.

NOV.28: THE RELEASE

The five news organizations
began publishing articles based on the
trove of documents.

For the general public, WikiLeaks published some 20 cables on its site, in the first of what will be many releases over several months. By Tuesday, WikiLeaks had released 294 cables, just 0.1% of the total number of documents.

SOURCE: Staff reports. GRAPHIC: Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton / The Washington Post - Dec. 1, 2010.

© The Washington Post Company