James Forsyth

When a leak starts to smell

When a leak starts to smell
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Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, has written a highly readable piece chronicling his paper’s tempestuous relationship with Julian Assange. Keller does a good job defending how The New York Times handled the documents that Wikileaks passed it, the steps it took to minimise the risk posed to the lives of the people mentioned in the documents.

But the part of the piece that sticks in the mind is how the man Keller sent to meet Assange described the source to his editor:

“He’s tall — probably 6-foot-2 or 6-3 — and lanky, with pale skin, gray eyes and a shock of white hair that seizes your attention,” Schmitt wrote to me later. “He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days.”