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.


[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.


- 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.


- 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.



- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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."


- 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."


- 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."


- 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.


- 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."


- 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. CC

    Those who run and are involved with WikiLeaks are nothing but media pimps....especially the lead Swedish pimp. They care nothing about society as a whole nor do they care about anyone's well-being. They merely hide behind the statement "the public has a right to know", which when it comes to military information and top secret materials is a ridiculous notion. There would be no effective military operations for anyone if everyone's military plans were known to everyone else in the world. Where this idea came about I do not know, but it is stupid and dangerous. American citizens, whether private or military or public servants, who engage in or provide any of this information should be held accountable for their actions. They, like the others involved with WikiLeaks, seek only to line their own pockets and benefit from such information personally.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Edwin

    WikiLeaks, it seems, is able to destroy any possibility of secret negotiations, of candid assessments, of serious discussion of differences with our allies. Clearly, they are more concerned that everybody's dirty little secrets get exposed than they are about the fact that we are now closer to war.

    Consider this: North Korea and Iran are both thorns in the side of world community. North Korea, in particular, is looking for a fight. When China or the U.S. or South Korea offers a negative (but accurate) assessment of them in a classified report, North Korea is likely to take that as a reason to attack.

    Seriously, I think WikiLeaks is an absolute threat to National and World security. The leaders of WikiLeaks are doing as much damage as al Qaeda, perhaps more. Since they show no evidence of stopping, I think they have to be stopped some other way.

    I'm not saying they should be assassinated, though it is an option. I think that they could be easily framed for nasty crimes, in a way that sticks. I think their links to al Qaeda could be "discovered" - so we can put an end to their goal of global chaos.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phil

    These people who are upset with wicki are not unlike some man who found out his wife was cheating on him, and he's mad as heck at the guy who told him about it but he makes excuses for his wife and the dude she was whoring around with.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. george from alaska

    i find it hilarious that these little nutcase north korean runts wear those huge military hats in an attempt to increase their child like stature...

    November 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikey

    the leaks haven't told the american people anythng they didn't know already.....just confirming

    November 29, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AllTyme

    Everytime I hear about Kim Jong Il i think of Team America.

    "Souf Kowea and Amewika will be willy sowwy!

    I'm so.... Wonewy..."

    November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Sarge

      Don't wuwy, we'll let you wide on a cwuse missle – you'll wike that. And you get to see the fireworks up weal cwose.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. George

    As candidate Obama, the President promised more transparency in government. Now they are scrambling to hide and cover things like every other administration. Who runs the United States anyway?

    November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      It was supposed to be the people...but somehow, somewhere I saw the lie.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Transparency does NOT mean "let the public know every piece of potentially secret information, including matters relating to national security". WikiLeaks should be shutdown for aiding illegal disclosure of secret information. It's basically treason. They're probably a bunch of liberal activists who believe the public (and anyone in the world, apparently) has every right to know every single thing going on in the government and military, regardless of security ramifications. The world does not – and can not – work this way. If you were ever in charge of a nation and the immense complexity of issues pertaining to its security and prosperity, you'd understand more, as Obama does. That said, sure, many things *can* reasonably be more transparent to the public, but I doubt Obama ever meant the sensitive issues that WikiLeaks tends to toss haphazardly onto the public, international stage.

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

    Information wants to be free!

    November 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lee

    Although I do believe that there are a lot of government officials that are less then honest and really should not be in the position they are in. I also believe for the security of the nation that some secrets do need to be kept. How is the intelligence going to work in our favor if someone keeps sharing the secrets? It's like saying "Bin Laden you better move out of that cave you've been hiding in cause because we are about to blow it up?" That is an example of how some of Wikileaks could hurt our country. There are some things that should be made crystal clear and some that should stay hidden for our own good.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AllTyme

    Hey rwallace2424, I'm eating sesame chicken and fried rice as I'm reading this. I'm a traitor and a terrorist!

    November 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rwallace2424

      I wouldn't doubt it

      November 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rambosky

      I don't know why all of this should surprise anyone. I guess they've never watched any James Bond movies.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sailon

    And to think !!! This is same Government that wants to run the health care system......

    November 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • right

      Only in your small little brain.

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

      The government has been running over 50% of the U.S. health care system for years, and doing it 13% more cheaply than private insurance. I guess that pretty much shows how much attention you pay.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lynn

    Funny how I am not surprised by any of it. It has been long known that governments and their politicians are corrupt. History repeats itself over and over because we continue with the same lie,cheat and steal M.O. I would be surprised to find one honest. Imagine if all governments really did care for the world as a whole and not it's own separate little pieces. Imagine we did the right thing over the easiest. Can we as humans change? For 5000 years not much has really changed at all. For every one good, beneficial change or step forward there are hundreds of the complete opposite.

    November 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrian Zupp

      Good post, Lynn. I think we have to keep trying. Every bit of good we do benefits someone. I also believe structural change is quite possible as long as we accept that we will never have a perfect system and that the nature of the world is constant change.


      November 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Red Shuttle ...

      no aliens??? 🙂

      November 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. han

    can someone explain to me how no one from wiki links isn't arrested?

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

      han, wikileaks is not hosted in the United States and the person who runs it is neither American nor lives here.

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

      This comment reminds of Tom Delay saying the verdict was a miscarriage of justice after being found guilty on money laundering LOL!

      November 29, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin


      He was downright proud of the fact that he was able to gerrymander Texas enough to guarantee it votes republican for a decade - regardless of how many democrats the state has. In the mind of DeLay, anything he does is morally (and therefore legally) correct.

      November 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric of Reseda

      WHY SHOULD ANYONE BE ARRESTED?!? You know, everybody complains about "the government" in virtually every country, and the way things are run, and how the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the Middle Class is dying, pollution destroying our fishing industries, our air sending more and more kids to the hospital, the ENDLESS wars, etc., etc., etc. NOW, here's a guy – Assange – who is standing up the puppet-masters and exposing the lies and the b.s. and the hypocrisy, etc., and people are all up in arms? Why? Because the governments have via effective propaganda and nonsensical "patriotic" talk demonized Assange and Wikileaks.YOU'RE ALL SHEEP, BEING LEADC TO THE SLAUGHTER!!! The fact is, we are better off keeping oiur governments honest...

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

      This guy is a hero. Arrested for what? He is posting the truth...not lies.

      November 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • drNO

      Because you guys voted for Barry.. that's why? What goes around comes around.. ha ha ha

      November 29, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Yap

      Nope...he's a traitor, and he must be punished for treason!

      November 30, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dan Collins

    Personally I think the whole Korean Penninsula should be blown off the face of the earth, and to make it even better take all the rag heads in the Middle East with them!

    November 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wow

    so the world isnt one big happy family? news to me...

    November 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • drNO

      I have a song for you.. Pants on the ground. Pants on the ground..

      November 30, 2010 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Media is trying to put the spin on wikileaks saying its putting peoples lives at risk... Hasn't the us done that enough? We as a country are corrupt. We are allowing the media to tell us wiki is wrong but all wiki is doing is showing the true face of our country.. 66k civilians killed in iraq.. why was that hidden? why was the friendly fire and bombings hidden? For control of the media. Our country is fk'd up and they are trying to contain our flow of information.

      November 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Why is the topic that is up for discussion foreign policies when obviously the issue is america (my countries) abuse of its power?

      November 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      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."

      Shouldn't other nations know that we were killing innocent people? That itself should tarnish our rep. Media is trying to spin it around so it looks like wiki is wrong and that wiki is going to hurt us.. when in truth wiki is setting us free from a repression. OUR GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT AND ABUSING US AS AMERICANS, OPEN YOUR EYES!

      November 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
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