Latest updates: WikiLeaks' diplomatic cables release
November 29th, 2010
06:42 PM ET

Latest updates: WikiLeaks' diplomatic cables release

WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website known for leaking state secrets, released on Sunday its latest batch of controversial documents. It has posted the first of what it says will be more than 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

LATEST

[Updated at 10:14 p.m.]

- Ecuador has asked WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange to come to Quito and discuss documents regarding Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Ecuador expelled two U.S. diplomats in February 2009, accusing them of meddling in its internal affairs - allegations the State Department denied. The foreign ministry in Quito suggested Assange, an Australian citizen, apply for residency there.

- WikiLeaks documents posted on the websites of the Guardian and the New York Times suggest China is losing patience with its long-time ally North Korea, with senior figures in Beijing describing the regime in the North as behaving like a "spoiled child." According to cables obtained by WikiLeaks and cited by the Guardian, South Korea's vice-foreign minister Chun Yung-woo said he had been told by two senior Chinese officials (whose names are redacted in the cables) that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.

- The world's military shopping list is being exposed through the WikiLeaks publications. State-of-the-art missiles and American military helicopters are a frequent topic of discussion in the released diplomatic cables, which also show a keen interest in what weaponry Iran has and how to defend against them.

- From 2005 to 2009, U.S. diplomats regularly reported that Brazil tried to distance itself from what it saw as an "overly aggressive" American war on terror, and was highly sensitive highly to public claims suggesting that terrorist organizations have a presence in the country, according to cables released by WikiLeaks. But Brazil's counter-terrorism policy seemed to shift in 2009, with a cable detailing the government's strategy to deter terrorists from "using Brazilian territory to facilitate attacks or raise funds."

- Former President George W. Bush told a forum at Facebook's headquarters Monday that the document leak is "very damaging," adding that it may significantly hurt Washington's image abroad. "It's going to be very hard to keep the trust of foreign leaders," the nation's 43rd president said. "If you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in a newspaper, you don't like it. I didn't like it."

Here's a look at the leak, an overview of how WikiLeaks works and a summary of what some of the documents say about a variety of topics.


THE LEAK

- Sunday's leak contained the first of what the site says will be 251,288 cables that it plans to release piecemeal in the coming weeks or months.

- The cables were sent by American diplomats between the end of 1966 and February 2010.

- Of the roughly 250,000 documents, 8,017 originated from the office of the secretary of state and more than 15,600 are classified as secret. More than half are unclassified, according to WikiLeaks.

- It's the third highly publicized leak by the website in a matter of months. In July, the site published more than 75,000 classified U.S. reports on the war in Afghanistan that officials warned could endanger the lives of U.S. troops and their allies. It posted a similar leak of Iraq war documents in October, prompting more condemnation from U.S. and other world leaders.

- Sunday's "CableGate" was similarly slammed by Washington and U.S. allies, with officials calling the leak a threat to national security.

HOW WIKILEAKS WORKS

- While secretive about its operations, WikiLeaks essentially receives leaks from people who have access to controversial or classified documents, who either send them electronically or through the mail. A group of volunteer editors then decides what information is authoritative and important, and the site publishes it accordingly.

- Only approved information ends up on the WikiLeaks site, but anyone is free to submit documents he or she believes should be made public.

- WikiLeaks offers whistle-blowers anonymity and, to a degree, legal protection.

- U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is a prime suspect in previous leaks. Prior to October's Iraq release, Manning was already being held in Quantico, Virginia, charged with leaking video of an Iraq airstrike to WikiLeaks as well as removing classified information from military computers.

WHAT THE DOCUMENTS SAY

China

- China has played a critical role in U.S. policy toward Iran since the Obama administration came into office, with the Chinese government seeking to encourage the United States and Iran to directly engage each other, according to a CNN review of State Department cables published by WikiLeaks. China may be talking to the United States about containing Iran's nuclear program, but the cables also reveal the role of Chinese enterprises in Iran's strategy to obtain materials for its missile programs and the U.S. State Department's efforts to counter that strategy.

Espionage

- Sunday's release of diplomatic cables include what seems to be an order from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to American diplomats to engage in intelligence gathering, directing her envoys at embassies around the world to collect information ranging from basic biographical data on diplomats to their frequent flier and credit card numbers.

- The State Department denied its diplomats are spies.

Guantanamo Bay

- The relocation of 17 Chinese Muslim Uyghurs detained at Guantanamo Bay was a thorny issue for the United States, according to some of the cables. Attempts to find new homes for the 17 detainees were met with resistance because of fear of retribution from China. At one point, Germany considered accepting seven of them. When the country informed China of the request, Germany "had been subsequently warned by China of 'a heavy burden on bilateral relations'" between Germany and China if the Germans accepted the detainees. The Uyghurs were eventually relocated to Palau, Bermuda, Albania, and Switzerland.

Honduras

- The U.S. Embassy in Honduras unequivocally found that the forced removal of that nation's president last year was a coup that ushered in an illegitimate government, despite the administration's more measured tone in public, a cable says. The analysis, prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, called Roberto Micheletti, who became de facto president, "totally illegitimate," although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly recognized both sides as players and pushed for them to negotiate a solution.

Iran

- The United States believes that North Korea is supplying Iran with long-range missiles, suggesting Iran has strike capabilities that are stronger than discussed in public, according to one of the leaked cables.

- A major topic in the documents includes pressure from U.S. allies in the Middle East for decisive action to neutralize Iran's nuclear program.

- In one cable, Bahrain's King Hamadbin Isa al-Khalifa warned, "The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." The king is also said to have told the then-commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, that Iran was the "source of much of the trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

- The cable, sent in November 2009 by the U.S. ambassador in Bahrain, added that the king had "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. 'That program must be stopped,'" he said.

- There was similar apprehension in Egypt about Iran in a cable sent in February 2009. "President Mubarak told Senator Mitchell during his recent visit here that he did not oppose our talking with the Iranians, as long as 'you don't believe a word they say,'" the U.S. ambassador in Cairo recounted. The ambassador continued: "Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as 'liars,' and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region."

- A cable from the U.S. ambassador in Oman quotes the country's Armed Forces Chief, Lt. Gen. Ali bin Majidal-Ma'amari, as saying that "with Iran's continued attitude on the nuclear issue, the security situation in Iraq would remain unresolved."

- Another cable describes a meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and other U.S. officials in March 2009. According to the cable, the king told the Americans what he had just told the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. "You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters," the Saudi monarch was quoted as telling Mottaki. "Iran's goal is to cause problems," he told Brennan. "There is no doubt something unstable about them."

Russia

- Diplomatic cables offer a rare glimpse into the sensitive relationship between the United States and Russia, particularly over past negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. In one confidential assessment, sent on October 6, 2009, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, John Beyrle, complains of a "stubborn mentality" among Russian officials, that "instinctively opposes making common cause with the West over Iran."

Turkey

- Dozens of diplomatic cables reveal a complex and often difficult relationship between the United States and Turkey in recent years, with persistent anxieties among U.S. officials that long-time Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is prodding the country in a more Islamist direction. Recent cables show a divergence of views on Iran's nuclear program, with an angry exchange between the U.S. ambassador in Ankara and a senior Turkish diplomat in October 2009. According to one cable, Ambassador James Jeffrey attacked reported remarks by Erdogan that Iranian nuclear ambitions were "gossip."

United Kingdom

- In 2008, the U.S. ambassador in the central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan, Tatiana Gfoeller, was invited to lunch with Prince Andrew, who was in the country to promote British interests. Of Prince Andrew's comments, she observed in a cable: "Astonishingly candid, the discussion at times verged on the rude (from the British side)."

- When the conversation turned to the problem of corruption, one businessman said that working in Kyrgyzstan was "like doing business in the Yukon" in the 19th century, "i.e., only those willing to participate in local corrupt practices are able to make any money." At this point, according to the cable, "the Duke of York laughed uproariously, saying that: 'All of this sounds exactly like France.'"

World leaders

- The documents offer frank observations from U.S. staffers about the character of world leaders, their quirks, their thinking and their weaknesses. For example, one cable from the U.S. Embassy in Libya has an extensive discussion of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's "various proclivities and phobias" and his almost obsessive reliance on his nurse, a woman described as a "voluptuous blonde."

Yemen

- In a meeting with U.S. Gen. David Petreaus in the capital of Sana'a in January, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to continue covering up the latest plan to use U.S. fixed-wing bombers with precision weapons to attack terrorists in his country. The Yemeni president told Petraeus that would be preferable to the continued use of long-range cruise missiles, which Saleh said were "not very accurate." "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh said, according to a diplomatic cable.

Zimbabwe

- A cable dated July 2007 from the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Zimbabwe warned that the end of the government of President Robert Mugabe was "nigh" and advised the State Department "to stay the course and prepare for change."

- The ambassador, Christopher W. Dell, goes on to characterize Mugabe, who now heads an uneasy power-sharing government with the opposition, as "a brilliant tactician" who is "more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe."

- Fuel and food shortages prompted Dell to say "for the first time the president is under intensifying pressure simultaneously on the economic, political and international fronts" and that Mugabe was "running out of options." He says it up to the U.S. "once again, to take the lead, to say and do the hard things."

U.S. RESPONSE

- In response to the leak, the U.S. government on Monday ordered all agencies handling classified information to review security procedures "to ensure that users do not have broader access than is necessary to do their jobs effectively," according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.

- The State Department is halting access to its diplomatic cables as it evaluates security of its classified document system in the wake of the publication of diplomatic communiques by WikiLeaks, a U.S. official said.

- The official said the State Department has severed the access as a "temporary measure," though the diplomatic cables will be available to those with access to a more restricted network.

- The State Department and Department of Defense had linked their classified computer systems in the wake of September 11, 2001, to allow for greater information sharing. It allowed for anyone with access to the system, known as SIPRNet, or Secret Internet Protocol Router Network), to access military reports from the front lines and also diplomat intelligence. It is this system that Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of using to steal hundreds of thousands of documents and leaking them. Over the weekend, a Pentagon spokesman outlined how security on the system had been improved in the wake of the leaks to WikiLeaks.

- The Justice Department also announced Monday that it is conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into the disclosure.

- President Obama "was - as an understatement - not pleased" with the WikiLeaks disclosures, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the administration is "taking aggressive steps" to hold responsible those who stole sensitive documents made public by WikiLeaks. She also said new protections are being put in place at the State Department to prevent more such leaks from taking place.

- Clinton said Monday that the WikiLeaks disclosure of sensitive diplomatic documents "is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Brazil • China • Egypt • Germany • Honduras • Iran • Iraq • Kyrgyzstan • Libya • North Korea • Oman • Russia • Saudi Arabia • South Korea • Turkey • United Kingdom • WikiLeaks • World • Yemen • Zimbabwe
soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. CPTKILLER

    This is interesting. On one hand, I like the idea of getting imformation and the other hate traitors who leak info as a vendetta against a supervisor or boss. Of the folks are caught, they deserve a long term in a federal prison. My concern as a former soldier is any intel for the other side puts our service men and women in danger.

    November 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from LA

      This is not whistlblowing this is espionage. There should be no protection. Wikileaks is lead by someone who is morally questionable. Everyone involved should be tried for high treason.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome Haltom

      @Rick

      Try non-US citizens for treason? That's a bit silly, now, isn't it? =)

      November 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. david

    someone is going to get hurt as a result of this. for what?

    November 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. here we go

    diplomats lie to politicians so politicians can lie to us. anyone could have told us that. Is it 2012 yet?

    November 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Damian

    Tell us how you really feel Medhi and leave the USA if you hate it so bad.

    November 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Benson

      and a public execution on CNN and all the news networks would be great. Show the world what we do with traders.

      November 29, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      We excute traders? Which ones – bond traders or commodities traders?

      November 29, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • GravyLeg

      The ones named Joe of course... Damned overpriced Salsa!!!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      Craiglist traders...

      November 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • SIllyRabbit

      The Drug Traders in Afghanistan for starters then the ones in Mexico, Columbia, and anywhere else you can find them. Bond and commodities traders though disliked are not worth the effort.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Santangeloo

      I lolèd uncontrollable

      +100 internets to you kind sir!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • TaskMaster

      Neither – but we should take out the drug traders/dealers.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ed

      I THINK wed. the bonds people get it , and fri. the comm. folks take a hit.

      December 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Yeah! Anyone who doesn't use currency to negotiate an exchange of goods should be killed!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • sc4fpse

      We teach them to spell correctly, right? Those darn traders... always trading away our stuff.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome Haltom

      Down with the traders!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    The entire Wikileak organization should be held trial by a U.S. Military Tribunal once the slightest hair is hurt on one of our soldier's head!

    November 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Justice for all

    Wake up people and start controlling your own lives.start fighting the real enemy the governments of the world who use us to fight their own agenda.stop fighting for them and fight for what's right. And as got you who think outs just americas government that's corrupt its not its all of them. Wake up do not listen to put government its all lies they use to keep us all in fear and them in control.

    November 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Hull

      I agree with you completely. But I don't think you are taking into account how little people care anymore. As long as "dancing with the stars" and "the jersey shore" are what they care about, this means nothing. Rome is burning.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Real Patriot

      John is right. This country's citizens are apathetic to whether or not they are being controlled by a complex international network of espionage and counter-espionage. They don't care about the economic imperialism that the U.S. government has become so intoxicated with.

      We have become a society of entertainment and luxury goods consumers. We only really get mad when someone takes away our entertainment or our luxury consumer goods.

      Examples? American citizens were up in arms over have free (and illegal) digital music downloads on Napster cracked down on by the government. Our entertainment was being jeopardized. Also, Americans are up in arms over any notion of tax increases or universal health care. How dare we get to buy fewer video games and cheaper cars in order to help out the community of our citizenzry or to help the government finance the projects we demand them to engage in like expensive highway improvements.

      But discovering that we are destabilizing third world governments to grab up cheap economic resources and to discover that we have intelligence agents sowing tensions between other world powers? Well yeah, we don't care about that.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Yes, let's get rid of all governments and let the world be run by uniformed malcontents with anger management problems.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Hull

    I was really hoping for more damning information. I've been mad as hell since I found out our country has illegal secret prisons around the world, and has been conducting illegal experiments on people in Africa. These things are nice by comparison.

    November 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I'm sure we would all be fascinated to know the source of the bizarre accusations you're making. If you read it "somewhere on the internet," perhaps you need to consider the possibility that not everything you read is true.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Hull

      I'm not a teacher. You need to educate yourself. I can't do your thinking for you.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • @John Hull

      "Im not a teacher ..."

      Good way to avoid answering your bull-shyte statements.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sammyL

    NO outrage at Saudi Arabia still being the biggest financial supporter of Al Qaida???
    Not even a mention in this newspaper????

    November 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      As long as we're addicted to guzzling billions of gallons of cheap oil every year, the answer is NO.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from LA

      Do you know how invested in the US the Saudi's are. Look at most of the stock holders for Defense Industries and you will see the Saudi's holding a healthy share. The Saudi government is not backing Al
      Qaeda, rogue members of their community is.

      November 29, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • @sammL

      Well known information. You fight City Hall on this one and let us know how it goes for you.

      Kinda makes ya thirst for a Snapple, doesn't it? ...you can use your CitiCard to pay for it.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phil

    How do our judges deal with those who retaliate against informants? Generally, those convicted of even trying to intimidate an informant are sent to prison. Surely you folks can see the disparity here. When it comes to individual citizens our government acts one way, but when it comes to exposed individual politicians or war criminals, the behave another way. They're going after the wikileaks whistleblowers is little more than an admission of guilt. It reminds me of how the Pope and Catholic church protect their own criminal child molestors from US.

    November 29, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vonzo1974

    Rest assured that other countries' leaders (China, Iran, Russia, etc) are engaged in the same type of crap that the US is involved in. There is no good or bad party in this struggle for power and wealth. Just elites trying to get all they can get before they depart this world. We are all just pawns in their diabloical game. Pawns given the illusion of power and freedom so that we don't rebel against their well design system of control.

    November 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • amin

      hows iran involved in this ,,, now they included ,, when they wanna fend for themselves ,,they excluded,,
      you must be american ,, and blonde

      November 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaketheripper

      amin: hahahaha what the hell are you talking about dude? hahahahaha seriously every post is a trip. Ok let me try – You American,,, is like a car,,, and a go off,,, infidels is stupid when you LIE TO EVERY FRIEND over dis,,,
      how was that?

      November 29, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ernie

    The reality is that all nations, friends or not, are duty bound to "spy" out the true intentions of other nations in order to protect their own. The pages of history are filled with 'fallen nations' that did not see an attack coming because they took at 'face value' what other nations were saying. The net is a game changer & we best stay ahead or other nations with a lot less concern for human life will will bring upon thw world another 'dark age'. Despite our shortcomings we have done more to advance the world's condition than any nation. What happens to "freedom" if the U.S. is not here to advance & protect it? But we are & will be. God Bless America!

    November 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    @ A Real Patriot...first of all, our nations delayed entry into WWII was by design. Many American corporations and individuals were doing business with the Nazi's well after the war began. They refused to voluntarily stop supporting the nazi war machine, so Congress had to pass the "trading with the enemy" act. And that didn't even stop one individual: Prescott Bush. He was the only one ever charged. And about your 'America isn't imperialist' comment....did you know that we now have well over 1,000 military bases on foreign soil, and occupy all but roughly 17 of the 200 or so countries on this planet? This didn't happen overnight ya know. We been "imperial" for decades now.

    November 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Quite true phil,quite true. You said it all.

      November 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerome

      @Phil- Occupying? No. We are guests on foreign soil for our strategic advantage and for the strategic advantage of the host nation.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Iblis Chindi

    It's Ironic that we live in a society that is ran by a civilian Government that is willing to spend 54% of it's Federal budget on the military in all of its forms yet the people are to stupid to understand the need for secrecy to protect that Military you are so vested in, Now , WE ARE A CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT OUR SOLDERS GO WHERE THE CIVILIANS TELL THEM TO GO AND KILL WHO OUR CIVILIANS TELL THEM TO KILL, GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE, THEY ARE FOLLOWING THE ORDER OF THE PEOPLE YOU CHOSE TO RUN THINGS

    November 29, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      You really think this nation is driven by civilian interests? How naive.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rabbi David

    Reality check of the day is that if you leave your mail where others can read it and hire sub caliber help to manage it-then you have every right to expect it everywhere and no right to get mad at anybody but yourself.......Just like the dumbing down of America and the Incremental lowering of the nation to other countries levels, so too was the caliber of the people entering Governmental service.I love it! You did yourselves in-YOURSELF! No need to worry about foreign enemies,the worst were your own "good intentioned" neighbors! As the empire crumbles-just as the Romans destroyed Rome-so too did the AMERICANS destroy America!! gotta love watching Obama fiddle as the place falls one lie upon lie...

    November 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Wiggins

      @ Rabbi David: As the Walt Kelly character "Pogo" used to say (SOOOO long ago): "We have met the enemy, and they is US!"

      November 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lorena

      Rabbi,
      You are reading one chapter out of a entire book. You will never see the previous chapters that lead up to the decisions that are made. There are things that the general population have no need to know and some that we should never know.
      Why? Because we will never know the entirety of it all nor do we have the ability to comprehend it all. If you think that you could, I applaud you,but seriously doubt it.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Prince Ponce

    insults dont help...they create hate ..the world was once nieve..and now it is vulnernable..
    once a lie has started it will never end...cause the secret is too big....
    People say they want the truth...give it to them and watch us all fall....and hold grudges....
    the breaking point will arrive soon...decision will be made..good and bad..people will die... tyrants will live ..and ..the truth will be a secret again.

    November 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • amin

      are you talking of the great AMERICA ,, yes in deed AMERICAS TYRANTS ARE FALLEN AS WE SPEAK ,,,

      November 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaketheripper

      Amin: I loooove ripping on you. Mostly because you're obviously a hater. Doesn't the third world country your mother birthed you into the dirt have a online news source better suited for you? I sure hope you don't live in America dude cause I'd like to give you a good old fashioned a$$ whoopin' you nut job.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
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