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. Mark silvers

    Good for wiki for publishing! Our government uses secrecy as an excuse to keep dictator and puppet regimes in power. Kudos for allowing "we the people of the united states" to audit our politicians.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anwar

      Couldn't agree more with Eric from Reseda, Mark Silver... What Wiki Leaks is doing should be the job of main stream media which usually paints a very rossy picture of things due to its biases (read advertiser's money). If the main stream media was telling us the truth as it is, this world would have been a better place to live and its governments more responsible.

      November 30, 2010 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      And the alternatives to the "dictators" and "puppets" we keep in power are what? Hamas? Islamic Brotherhood? You are going to overthrow Mubarak and the House of Saud with "democratic" Islamists? Thankfully, saner & more pragmatic heads prevail in the State Department! We do not need another bone-headed Bush-crusade to spread "democracy" in the Middle East. Thank you for confirming the utter stupidity of the Sheeple!!

      December 1, 2010 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    That China wants NK to be under SK's control is questionable, because China has been fighting American encirclement by working hard to build ASEAN in the South and the Shanghai Corporation in the North... Possibly Wikileaks has lost its whistle blower status. Congratulations.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CSnord

    If WikiLeaks continues it reckless practices, it is going to have serious repercussions for the stability of the relations between nations. I'm not talking about damage to the US - the US is in a position to adjust and repair any damage - I mean between, for example, Middle Eastern countries, or African countries. It is obvious that Julian's main purpose is to put it to the US, but, I think, the damage to other countries will be far greater and, yes, people are going to start dying because of it. In the long term, I don't think this will play out quite the way the proponents of absolute honesty and openness think it will, or hope it will.

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

      I agree completely! THis isn't just about United States security, it's about inciting war around the globe! People are going to die, and it's going to be innocent people. TO all the people who believe that this is a good thing...OPEN YOUR EYES TO REALITY!!! Wars have started on less than this!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGeek

      ...just a matter of time before some state-sponsored action (US or otherwise ..although better odds of otherwise) takes out Assange and anyone higher ranking at wikileaks. Probably sooner, rather than later. While the US is anything but lily-white, there are other governments being exposed here – governments with ..shall we say "less scruples" and less patience.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Humperdink

      WikiLeaks is just as honest and truthful as the "rag mags" st the grocery store – NOT. Actually the "rag mags" have more credibility than WikiLeaks. And they are more interesting to read. Hell, even the MIB guys buy them to stay on top of important galactic news.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • J PAP

      At least those would be wars based on the truth not lies. Which would you rather have?

      There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: None found

      or

      We don't Saddam around anymore and want to control the region: Go to war.

      November 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • SadMad

      exactly what I have been debating with my friends. I agree with you S Snord. wikileak is dangerous. Anyway, How come I can't like your comment? there is no "like' buttion option!!!

      November 30, 2010 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. mario

    It means nothing.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. c.i.a.

    wikileak is c.,i.a. c mon you think that guy could getaway with that, that is gonna be the excuse to censore internet, just like the fake bombs and airport security.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Adrian Zupp

    I recently blogged on Wikileaks: WIKILEAKS, IRAQ AND THE PRICE OF TRUTH

    http://adrianzupp.blogspot.com/2010/10/wikileaks-iraq-and-price-of-truth.html

    November 29, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TaskMaster

    Okay, who forgot to fix the leak? You gotta twist the nuts real tight to really do any good. Pay attention Assange – we'll take care of you shortly. And when we do, you won't be able to leak anything for a long time. That goes for your bozos as well.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    now that things are out in the open, and ppl finally see how the world works..lets carpet bomb some countries and get on with our lives, instead of tip toeing around everything..

    November 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. phineasj_whoopie

    in the words of the Bush administration: "If you've done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about." This was the party line used when pesky individuals whined about civil liberties and human rights violations. Funny how the govt can't seem to follow their own advice now.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. IBNormal

    This is Espionage plain and simple. Wikileaks shows no respect for the rule of law intercepting private communications and publicizing them. They are nothing but self-righteous Papparozi with ill intentions tring to recreate the new world order. They have not disclosed who they really are and hide behind german law to protect themselves. They in turn have no care if they infringe on private communiques from embassies from any nation around the world. One could only conclude that they are Anarchists bent on destroying all the worlds governments.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Erik

    We finally know how the world is going to end in 2012. There will be no tidal waves, tornados, earthquakes, or hurricanes. It will not take one day, but a process. The process started when leaks like this come out. This puts the whole world on edge and man will end the world with continued behavior like this. All countris need to stop compairing who has the bigger set of balls and start doing whats best for mankind.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Crazy

    What's interesting about this when you open a can of worms this big, who will you ever trust to protect you. This guy will be crazier than Michael Jackson when its all said and done. Hope he dies of a propofol OD. That is after he's spent some time at Gitmo under the lights and a few sessions of water boarding.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MayTag Guy

    WikiLeaks again – guess I'll have to tighten their nuts real tight so they won't leak anymore.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. j tarleton

    "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." ............. maybe

    November 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jay

    If they are coming out with all this classified and top secret info why dont wiki come out we all the ufo information that the goverment has been hiding and denying from the public for decades would love to read some of that stuff and find out the truth

    November 29, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      – Because there really aren't any extraterrestrials. If there were – the government wouldn't be able to keep it secret.

      November 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Because if UFO really existed we would already be in a war against them.

      November 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
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