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. Questionman

    I wonder how a computer containing confidential information can be allowed to have a read-write CD device? And they call this "intelligence?"

    November 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. duke

    Release the Reagan files!!
    Show the world how foul the americans were to their own citizens.
    Just look how israel killed that scientist in iran,
    Wiki leaks should get their hands israel's computers,I bet their dirt is ten fold!

    November 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MagAodh

    For everyone arguing against these leaks, try considering some of these points:
    1) The claim that it puts soldiers in danger – prove it. I hear this rant time and again, but so far what has been leaked is more embarrassing than dangerous to troops on the ground and as far as enemies go they don't this as an excuse to kill US troops who have been shown shooting innocent civilians and allies in the past.
    2) If you applied the current calls to close down Wikileaks with the Watergate Scandal, what would have happened to Nixon. Are you all saying the news media in the early 70's acted irresponsibly and put peoples lives in danger by revealing Nixon to be a dangerous megalomaniac?
    3) Look how easily you have been misled by the MSM and politicians. You are calling Julian Assange a traitor when he isn't even a US citizen. So either you are as dumb as everyone outside of the US thinks Americans are, or you are just spouting rhetoric brainwashed into you by American politicians concerned more with their image than protecting you.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awake Now

      If anyone is "puting our soldiers in danger", it's the old white men running the show behind the scenes, starting wars and invasions to insure the viability of the Military Industrial Complex they've built and fed by the blood of those soldiers.

      November 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • isiah's

      yes, he is! maybe not for America or his own country but to the whole world.

      November 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MIC13

      Beautifully put

      December 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hughj

    i am pro wikileaks continue exposing my country for the pos it is

    November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • KBinMN

      And yet here you are.

      November 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kuuipo

    It's all a bunch of gossip! along with a bunch of stuff that should have never been repeated but it is all out now so what do u do about it?! anything different then what you have been doing with your life?! so u know, so what! some leaks weren't surprisng & ur just now knowing the U.S is corrupt! where have u been?!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tgp

    eh,looks good on the usa,keep it coming wikileaks...

    November 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob Scotchaloti

    The stupid thing that none of you are pointing out is that wikileaks is really only half the leak. If assange is prosecuted by the US for this, then every media outlet that has reported the contents is just as liable. Freedom of the press means if you are given information you may report it without any government control. Knowledge is power.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Whereisassange

    If assange is so steadfast that he is in the right, why is he in hiding? How about he quit hiding! The punk is a coward

    November 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. darcie

    why do all of you consider hidden information lying! its far from lying. do your parents tell you step by step, every dirty detail of what they do in bed? or better yet, do you tell your children. some things are better off not knowing. i love my country and dont want it damaged by the wikileaks. for all of you that think its right. video tape yourself screwing and play it for the whole world to see.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kuuipo

    It's all just a bunch of gossip & things that should have not been repeated or exposed but they are so what do u do about it all?! nothing! unless it hits you directly & you can do something about the leaks, i think u should just keep on reading about whatever else it is you didn't know about this country & who is corrupt & who has the biggest guns etc. etc. there is not much you can do about these leaks accept maybe vote!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dave in Ohio

    Throughout history there have been builders and destroyers. Obviously Assange is one of the latter, as he seeks to destroy nations (particularly the US) and anyone else whom he decides he doesn't like. And he does it for the basest of reasons – profit.
    Notice that he doesn't attack dangerous people like gangsters and drug runners, but safe targets like the US, banks, or the US military. (One of these days he will mention someone dangerous, and will become a target of assassination. Is it a compliment to the US that he considers us a safe target?)
    In the meantime, how should we react? We need to continue the search for the persons who sent him this private information, and punish them appropriately. Real people can become real targets because of these releases. Political and military efforts can be harmed and neutralized, even reversed. Diplomatic efforts towards peace can end up in hostilities.In short, much good can end up badly.

    Of course, a few things have been revealed which have been unsavory or even illegal. Naturally we need to continue our efforts to maintain or regain the higher moral standards which we profess. But the destroyers will continue their intent to destroy. As long as they don't cross the line into the illegal, we are obliged to let them do so.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MIC13

      Really...Seriously...thank god we have freedom of speech because you really believe what you just spouted... and I guess you believe that Iraq really did have weapons of mass destruction, that's really done our troops good, kept them out of danger...and as 'MagAodh pointed out that the news media in the 70's Watergate scandal...I guess that was just people with a strong desire for money, or betraying our country...

      December 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KBinMN

    I'll believe Assange is really interested in real transparency when he goes after the governments of countries other than the US. Of course we are an easy target. I'd like to see him try this with China. I honestly believe his motivations to be purely anti-American in nature. And he not even a citizen. Note to Assange – I did not vote for you. Stay out of the affairs of my country!

    November 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • TryTheBluePill

      Have you actually read the files? or just the American ones? Perhaps the American media is more interested in the American leaks to feed your wild accusations.

      December 1, 2010 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • TryTheBluePill

      PS America – no one voted for you – stay out of everyone else's country

      December 1, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. You are missing something here.

    I guess you people aren't reading the cables? For the most part, America is being vindicated by this leak. We look like a group of people who speak straight and try to make some sense in a completely crazy world. A world where no one else seems to want to stand up against bad people and help those in need. I find this all quite fascinating and am more proud of our country than ever.

    November 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. goldenrule

    The Truth will set you free
    Don't do embarrising or bad things
    and you dont have to worry about beign caught
    Our founding fathers knew about Freedom of the Press, by learing the hard way from King George

    November 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mjwilstein

    Watch the video of Wikileaks' Julian Assange calling for Hillary Clinton's resignation:

    November 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
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