Simple summary: Wikileaks is as good a place as any to release the cablegate and Afghanistan war logs. Julian Assange should be treated as innocent until proven guilty and should stand trial in Sweden.
I believe that the stealing of the cablegate files was illegal. However, the publication of them is less clear. The UK press publishes what feels like a leak a week and no clear action is taken against the leakers. Sweden has an absolute protection of journalistic sources (part of the reason for Assange’s fateful visit).
The leaks could have been made anywhere, but they chose Wikileaks. The need for a “wikileaks” is clear: whistleblowers have to be able to blow the whistle in some manner. Wikileaks admirably fulfils this requirement, with the additional requirement that published disclosures are new and newsworthy, taking it close to journalism.
While the manner of their disclosure (e.g. of civilian names in Afghanistan) can be less-than-brilliant, I do think the military and diplomatic documents stand the test of newsworthiness. Read Johann Hari for more on the value of the leaks and Shirky for the conflicted feeling I share part of.
My take on newsworthiness and value of leaks is this: remember that Wikileaks published (among other things) the Operating Thetan manuals of the Scientologists. I think this is a Good Thing to expose a secretive and powerful organisation. Substitute your pros or cons with respect to cablegate with Scientology and see if they still hold.
The whack-a-mole attempt to shut down Assange and Wikileaks shows how much governments have to learn about the networked world, and networked organisations. They are also distasteful and unsupportable.
On Assange: it does feel that there’s a case to hear in the sexual allegations (but I’m not a Swedish lawyer). Is the timing suspect? It would have been if the allegations had come three months before or after, so therefore irrelevant.