Well, if anything, we’ve discovered what scares otherwise unaccountable corporations – any hint that they might not be blindly patriotic sends them scurrying under legal cover. “U.S. officials welcomed the move,” indeed. Such cover is on paper completely unnecessary, of course, as the NYT and other press outlets have been publishing the cables – the genie is out of the bottle – and no threat from the executive branch will shut them down short of a platoon of tanks; these withdrawals of service are gestures of scraping goodwill. There is the issue of redacting sensitive information, but as the Times has noted, they control that decision, not the White House. Watergate wasn’t that long ago.
This incident continues to reveal that the U.S. has never really resolved the issue of freedom of speech and the press vs. national security concerns. Part of this is how international diplomacy continues to be a shell game; the other part is the fear still resonating from 9/11.