It emerged yesterday that the Department of Justice had obtained and served a subpoena requesting that Twitter disclose extensive details about the Twitter accounts of several people associated with WikiLeaks.
The information demanded by the DOJ is sweeping in scope. It includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the "means and source of payment," including banking records and credit cards. It seeks all of that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the present. A copy of the Order served on Twitter, obtained exclusively by Salon, is here.
The Guardian has a handy timeline of the various attacks on WikiLeaks by governments and others.
The order served on Twitter was originally sealed, and barred Twitter from informing anyone about its existence—including the users whose accounts were being subpoenaed. Twitter, to their great credit, requested that the order be unsealed to inform the users and give them time to object.
As Greenwald points out, if Twitter had not made this request, we would have no idea about the existence of this order, and as it is, we have no idea if there were similar orders made to other companies (Facebook, Google, etc.) who may have complied without informing the users.
As always with the WikiLeaks case, it bears mentioning that WikiLeaks did not leak the diplomatic cables. They were leaked to WikiLeaks, not by WikiLeaks. Classified and secret documents are often leaked to the press, and WikiLeaks did what countless other news organizations have done in the past: they received information that some people didn't want to be known, but they told people about it anyway.
It's also worth remembering that WikiLeaks did not "dump" all 250,000 cables. They've released roughly 2000 cables, most with the help of major publications like the New York Times. Oddly, the DOJ doesn't seem to be investigating those publications.