WikiLeaks: What we've learned so far
November 30th, 2010
08:03 PM ET

WikiLeaks: What we've learned so far

[Updated at 9:12 p.m.] After posting thousands of secret government documents, WikiLeaks came under an electronic attack designed to make it unavailable to users, the website said Tuesday.

It was the second attack since the site began publishing the first of what it says are 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world, documents that the website said represented the largest-ever disclosure of confidential information. Those documents give the world "an unprecedented insight into the U.S. government's foreign activities," the site said.

WikiLeaks drew widespread condemnation for publishing the confidential cables that, in some instances, detailed with unusual frankness Washington's diplomatic interactions with other countries. Former President George Bush called the leaks "damaging," saying WikiLeaks will hurt U.S. relations with the rest of the world.

So far, the leaks have provided us with a look at tensions between China and North Korea - a topic of discussion these days given concern over clashes between North and South Korea. Apparently, cables reveal China was weary of North Korea behaving like a "spoiled child."

We've also learned a little bit more about China's role in other global affairs - including Iran - and how China has been 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.

And with widespread concern about nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea, it makes sense that WikiLeaks documents show there was a focus on the health of leaders in both countries.

Speaking of North Korea's weaponry, the country apparently had Mongolia pass a message to the United States in 2009 about possible disarmament talks, which North Korea suggested that Mongolia could host.

Weaponry - and nuclear capabilities - naturally are of concern to countries around the world. Which may be why there are stacks of documents discussing the must-have weapons and the countries that want them.

Regarding Iran, one 2009 cable said that the predominantly Shiite Islamic nation was facing increased unrest in a largely Sunni province, Sistan-Balochistan, and that Iranian security forces were losing effective control over parts of the province, citing Iranian contacts.

We've also learned other tidbits from the documents, including that Brazil tried to distance itself from U.S. war on terror. Elsewhere in Latin America, 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 Washington's more measured tone in public. And U.S. State Department analysts asked the U.S. Embassy in Argentina for information on the mental state and health of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, according to a December 2009 cable.

Diplomatic cables about Pakistan reveal U.S. anxiety about Pakistan's uranium stockpile, its role in the stuggle against Islamic militants and its economic crisis, according to a New York Times review of the documents.

Some of the cables address how certain countries felt about taking in Guantanamo Bay prisoners that the United States wanted to move. When the United States wanted Kuwait to accept four Kuwaiti prisoners, Kuwait's minister of the interior responded that the country couldn't successfully hold them, and suggested instead that America drop them off in the middle of a battlefield in Afghanistan - where they were picked up - so they would die there, according to one released cable. Another document praised a former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg of Britain, for  "barnstorming throughout Europe pushing governments to accept" Guantanamo detainees for resettlement."

One of the documents says Saudi Arabia expressed concern over the fact that Saudis were temporarily on a U.S. list of nationalities that warranted additional screening at airports after a failed December 25 airplane bombing attempt.

Several cables paint an unflattering and somewhat unexpected portrait of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. British Prince Andrew was called rude following some blunt words with U.S. officials,  and there's also some intel on how some world leaders and other operatives view other royals.

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. duke

    Wiki leaks,is the sh!t!!

    November 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Red Shuttle ...

      nothing interesting indeed ...

      November 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave Stacey

      A secret of life. Corruption and secrecy drive a nation to disaster. When the secrecy and corruption moves into the government, it moves a little faster because that is where are money goes and they have more resourses to do it. Our vote counts, but corrupted leaders are blind to the discorse of events.


      November 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryant

      If anything the Wiki leaks prove that many countries go to the US to solve potential All this time the Terrorist/Islam Extremist blame the US for interfering with the lives of other countries and being a bully. In reality the Arabs, Chinese Gov't ,etc are asking the US to police certain global hot "Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense." The Comedian – Watchmen

      November 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • TooFunny

      How is it different from government conducting wiretapping? Didn't Cheney justify wiretapping by saying "If you haven't done anything wrong, you should have nothing to hide."

      November 30, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Papa T

      If we can cyber bLast Iran's nuke program, why not a website. Worm and burn.

      December 1, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. Patricia Carey

    Shame on all those involved in leaking this info. What is the reason for doing this, to make the U.S. look like fòols. We certainly do now, we cant seem to protect secret information. I certainly hope they are doing a better job of keeping our top secrets well protected. As for the people that leaked this information, they deserve jail time and fines. They think they are doing us a favor, no you are not. You are doing harm to this country and I dont find that amusing at all.

    November 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Think

      Shame on those who suggest We give our leaders blind power, Shame on our government for doing things to be ashamed of in the first place and lastly Shame on you for blindly commenting on a subject you are obviously ignorant of Julian Assange IS NOT AMERICAN. Freedom of information is a human right, if your opposed to it I'm sure there is a hate group you can join (but I don't have to tell you that). WikiLeaks rocks!

      November 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Freedom of information isn't a right.... what on earth would lead you to believe that? Can you cite one example in the entire history of civilization?

      November 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • MagAodh

      JT the UK Bill of Rights 1689, the US Bill of RIghts both enshrine freedon of speech as rights. Wikileaks is exercising that right of free speech. The squeals from the pigs sorry politicians show they have not been acting in the best interests of their bosses – in other words instead of representing you and me they have been representing themselves and other spercial interests.

      Also the idiots comments from Americans calling Julian Assange a traitor really show how stupid they are. He is not American and hence can't be tried for treason, however Hilary can be tried for breaking international law for having US diplomats spy within the UN. How about enforcing that law!

      November 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Do you have an 8th grade education,Patricia? Anybody who has ought to know better than what you blogged in here. We need Wikileaks to inform us and expose corruption in government unless you consider corruption to be quite acceptable which I do not!

      November 30, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Very well put,MagAodh. Thank you.

      November 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Casey

      I don't disagree with either of you, sensitive information that may risk lives should be kept under wraps, but the government also shouldn't be abusing that.

      November 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • KBinMN

      Think – Please publish your home address, your e-mail address, phone number and what you really think of your spouse. Information is a Human Right after all and who are you to deny me access to your information?

      November 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      @MagAodh you have generally the right idea. The problem with Wikileaks is that they do not hold any responsibility for whatever consequences their leaking might cause. Damaging the image of a country isn't that big of a deal. However, some of the info would also damage the safety of people, from regular folks to troops. Even if the info they leak turn out to be fake, they are still not going to hold any responsibility. I am all for the freedom of speech, but I also believe that you get that if (and only if) you can be responsible for what you say or do.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James Vanderbeek

    maybe the us government should use its billions of dollars and password protect important stuff?

    November 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. osama bin diesel

    They did but the password was "password"

    November 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. s. e. becker

    even the christian bible says "the truth will set you free" - i was raised agnostic and even i know that, morally, lies do far more damage to society than the truth. wikileaks is not harming our country; corruption of government is harming our society, and the only way to weed out corrupt government officials IN ANY COUNTRY is to expose them. the u.s. is mad cause we were caught with our pants down? imagine that...

    November 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. pay back......

    is a beeatch. Looks like Assange is taking on government. That can't be good! My guess, Assange will disappear .....

    A Canadian

    November 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Take Assange out of the equation, and ten more will sprout just like him. Take them out, and fifty more will sprout. Whether we like it or not, he's the modern day Superman to millions of young computer whiz kids out there. He's a rebel going up against The System. There's about 2 billion prospective Assange's out there watching what's going on right now. There's no stopping this. Anybody who tries will get trampled, mangled and destroyed. The only way to stop it is to shut down all the computers on the planet and go back to the clicking typewriters. Checkmate.

      November 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • isiah's

      And those sprout will get proned one-by-one and any other sprout if there'll be any in the future will be proned. And the process will be repeated again and again if it's all what it takes to erradicate thoughtless beings like assange other (million) more alike. Or, nuke China and uplift the root of all evil.

      November 30, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Will

    Patricia Carey,

    You may not enjoy being lied to but there are many people in the American public that don't feel the same. These leaks would not be necessary if there was real transparency in the media and in the government. You are making the WikiLeakers sound like petulant children that are simply lashing out at their parents, when the truth is far from it: these are disgruntled kids that have been lied to countless times and are shedding some light on the truth. Shame on them?

    Shame on you.

    November 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Glad to see you are so naive that you're willing to let our troops die for your ideology. This isn't a question of being lied to, it's a question of "do you need to know". Not a single one of us needs to know this information, and we certainly can't really "do" anything with it. Our enemies, otoh, will most certainly find a use for it. If you aren't willing to lie to protect your country, than maybe your priorities aren't as straight as the rest of us.

      November 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fariba

      I will take an ugly truth before a pretty lie any day...

      November 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Debra Savittieri

    hmmm, brings back a de-ja-vous... The MEL GIBSON rants and rages!
    All I can say our govt officials knows what it feels like i, to be found out be accountable for your actions behind closed doors..your secrets, etc. Only 'thru leaks', will we ever know the truth. The US has become a nation of phoney people with phoney morals and base every decision they make on MONEY. We have become weak idiots, & now crybabies. Our leaders have always smack talked each other behind each others backs. Why is anyone suprised that most are liars, thieves and immoral deamons? Wake up and demand MORE LEAKS! Stop hiding behind the curtain or comfy blanket sucking your thumbs! Kudos to leaky faucet mouths, as it wakes the people up like a cold pail of water in the face. Make it a gusher!

    November 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOC

      Mel Gibson – are you really trying to equate this to an actor's personal life and shortcomings?
      Your perspective seems a bit warped.

      November 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lee Oates

    No matter what the CIA does to Assange, in the history books he will go down a a 21st century hero. He has lead a movement that will change the course of history.....real transparancy. They can frame him, slander him, or jail him, but he will in the long run, defeat them.

    November 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      What are you talking about? Hero? For what, hosting a server? He didn't collect any of the information and he's just the figurehead for the organization. How about quit worshipping a loser for a change? I don't think there will be many more releases simply because nobody is going to give him any more information... he's been sitting on one huge pile of it and there's really nothing to suggest he's going to continue.

      November 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enough is Enough

      Stick your head in the sand much, J.T.? Not saying there's anything wrong with sticking your head in the sand, mind you. Just don't be expecting the rest of us to stick our heads in the sand right alongside you.

      November 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Coun't have said it any better myself, Lee Oates.

      And JT, you've gotta be kidding, right? "Nobody is going to give him any more information"??!! Just a few months ago, Wikkileaks got a small fraction of what we're now seeing. People like you were saying back then "Heck, nobody's going to give him any more information." Looks like the joke was on them, and I got news for you – in less than a year, what we're seeing today is going to look like peanuts compared to what's going to start pouring in. Why do I believe that? Because it's just plain old human nature. And everybody knows, you can't fight nature.

      November 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nat

    I guess if wikki leaks were telling us something we really needed to know but what they have told us is crap.stuff that only angers other nations...funny we have never in our history had this prob..Obama needs to step up and protect our nation..

    November 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BOC

    @Think – Freedom of information is a human right? Where do you get that from? Some things require tact and time to compose your thoughts and actions – things like running countries. Even in todays twitter and facebook world of thinking everyone cares about what you do – there is a function to make your account private so people that you don't want interacting with you can't get to your information. Just cause you think it is cool to spew every little emotional rant out on the web does not mean it helps anything.

    November 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ken

    If you don't do or say anything that could possibly embarass you later, you needn't worry!

    November 30, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOC

    @Will – I don't think you checked your post before it went out – but good try.
    If you don't think EVERYONE has an agenda and slants things to improve their position – you are either naive or a fool.
    Assange has an angle too. Just wait for it.

    November 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Awake Now

    As a longtime Media Watchdog, I have suspected for some time that CNN has developed an agenda other than news reporting. Yesterday, when the Wikileaks site was still up, I spent an entire day studying the material. Then, I began to read CNN's coverage of the cables. I urge you all to do the same when Wikileaks' site is restored, and judge for yourselves. . CNN's selective focus is very eye opening.

    CNN has irrevocably outed itself as a biased media source, and it has exposed itself to the world as a blow horn for Israel. And there is no going back from that. Once we know something, we can never "not know it" again...

    November 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James

    I understand both sides to this arguement but the thing that bothers me is that we are discussing these issues as americans and under our perfect little belief umbrella. What we seem to forget is that not all countries believe the way we do, nor do they accept things as easy as we do. There will be some huge issues from these leaks and believe me, no one out of this situation will be considered a hero afterwards.

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