Political Highlights Special: Julian Assange & the WikiLeaks Scandal

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

WIKILEAKS SCANDAL:

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IN FOCUS: WIKILEAKS

  • A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches: Below are a selection of the documents from a cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks intends to make public starting on Nov. 28. A small number of names and passages in some of the cables have been removed by The New York Times to protect diplomats’ confidential sources, to keep from compromising American intelligence efforts or to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens…. – NYT
  • A look at the 251,287 diplomatic cables, based on WikiLeaks’ analysisWaPo
  • What is Wiki Leaks? CNN
  • WikiLeaks embassy cables: the key points at a glance: There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story…. – Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4Guardian UK
  • WikiLeaks, Guardian UK
  • Leaked Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy: A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
    Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • State Secrets: A cache of diplomatic cables provide a chronicle of the United States’ relations with the world: About the Documents A mammoth cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the last three years, provides an unprecedented look at bargaining by embassies, candid views of foreign leaders and assessments of threats. The material was obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations in advance….. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, up for Time’s ‘Person of the Year,’ with Obama, Palin and more: Could the man on Interpol’s most wanted list also be Time’s Person of the Year? If it were up to the magazine’s readers, Julian Assange, founder of the controversial whistleblower website WikiLeaks, would certainly have a shot. More than 90,000 readers have voted for the 39-year-old Australian, placing him in third place, alongside comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Strangely, leading the pack is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. And in second place is pop singer Lady Gaga.
    “For better or for worse, Julian Assange has changed the accessibility to knowledge of the two wars that involve the U.S., within a matter of months,” Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, told Time. “He has also put journalistic integrity on a knife-blade edge: What is the responsibility of the journalist to make public or keep private?”… – NY Daily News, 12-1-10

THE HEADLINES….

  • WikiLeaks Turns to Swiss Party for Help With Web Address: The battle lines between supporters of the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks and its detractors began to form on Sunday, as supporters erected numerous copies of the site on the Internet and the United States put pressure on Switzerland not to offer a haven to the site’s founder, Julian Assange.
    Since several major Internet companies cut off services to WikiLeaks in recent days, activists have created hundreds of mirror sites, Web sites that host exact copies of another site’s content, making censorship difficult.
    The collective Anonymous, an informal but notorious group of hackers and activists, also declared war on Sunday against enemies of Mr. Assange, calling on supporters to attack sites companies that do not support WikiLeaks and to spread the leaked material online…. – NYT, 12-5-10
  • WikiLeaks uses Swiss Web address as options narrow: WikiLeaks’ elusive founder, his options dwindling, has turned to Switzerland’s credit, postal and Internet infrastructure to keep his online trove of U.S. State Department cables afloat. Supporters say Julian Assange is considering seeking asylum in Switzerland. He told a Spanish newspaper that he faced “hundreds of death threats,” including some targeting his lawyers and children, aside from the pressure he is getting from prosecutors in the U.S. and other countries. After a number of web companies dropped WikiLeaks, much of the site’s traffic was coming through the wikileaks.ch Web address Sunday. The address is controlled by the Swiss Pirate Party, a group that formed two years ago to campaign for freedom of information. The site’s main server in France went offline but it remained reachable through a Swedish server.
    The site showed Assange had begun seeking donations to an account under his name through the Swiss postal system in Bern, the Swiss capital, while also using a Swiss-Icelandic credit card processing center and other accounts in Iceland and Germany. He lost a major source of revenue when the online payment service provider PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account over the weekend…. – AP, 12-5-10
  • Under pressure, WikiLeaks asks supporters for mirror sites: Under heavy pressure from the United States and allied governments, WikiLeaks appealed to supporters worldwide to mirror its website Sunday as it continued the process of releasing thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.
    “Wikileaks is currently under heavy attack. In order to make it impossible to ever fully remove Wikileaks from the Internet, we need your help,” the site told followers Sunday. The message was followed by instructions on how website operators could set up mirror sites that would distribute the documents as WikiLeaks released them.
    On the microblogging site Twitter, supporters have rallied by offering their sites or by posting links to other mirrors…. “All the censoring of WikiLeaks is more alarming than the actual content of the leaks. It only further justifies WL’s actions,” read one widely distributed comment…. – CNN, 12-5-10
  • Julian Assange’s lawyers say they are being watched: WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol …Jennifer Robinson and Mark Stephens of the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent told the Guardian they had been watched by people parked outside their houses for the past week. “I’ve noticed people consistently sitting outside my house in the same cars with newspapers,” said Robinson. “I probably noticed certain things a week ago, but mostly it’s been the last three or four days.” Stephens said he, too, had had his home watched. Asked who he thought was monitoring him, he said: “The security services.” Robinson said the legal team was also experiencing “other forms of pressure” from Washington…. – Guardian UK, 12-5-10
  • From WikiLemons, Clinton Tries to Make Lemonade: When American diplomats get together these days, there is lots of dark talk about the fallout from the sensational disclosure of secret diplomatic cables. Will angry foreign governments kick out ambassadors? Will spooked locals stop talking to their embassy contacts? Behind all the public hand-wringing, however, there is another, more muted reaction: pride.
    The WikiLeaks affair has turned an unaccustomed spotlight on the diplomatic corps — pinstriped authors who pour their hearts and minds into cables, which are filed to the State Department and often barely read by desk officers, let alone senior diplomats or the secretary of state.
    Whatever damage the leaks may do, and nobody doubts it could be substantial, they have showcased the many roles of the Foreign Service officer in the field: part intelligence analyst, part schmoozer, part spy — and to judge by these often artful cables, part foreign correspondent.
    The pride of authorship is shared by their boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who found a silver lining in the disclosures, even after she spent last week trying to smooth the feathers of foreign leaders described in the cables as feckless, profligate, vain, corrupt, or worse.
    “What you see are diplomats doing the work of diplomacy: reporting and analyzing and providing information, solving problems, worrying about big complex challenges,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters at the end of a four- country trip to Central Asia and the Persian Gulf that wound up being a contrition tour. “In a way,” she said, “it should be reassuring, despite the occasional tidbit that is pulled out and unfortunately blown up.”… – NYT, 12-4-10
  • WikiLeaks founder defends website in online session: WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange defended its posting of confidential documents Friday, saying that not a single person in the website’s four-year publishing history has ever been harmed as a result of material it put online.
    “During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by (organizations) like the Pentagon that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities,” Assange said in written answers to readers’ questions posted on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian.
    “This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard,” Assange said.
    He was supposed to have started an online chat at 1 p.m. Almost a thousand comments had been posted, many containing questions, when The Guardian announced it was experiencing technical difficulties. The newspaper, one of several with early access to the leaked diplomatic cables, had already warned readers that Assange’s ability to answer would depend on internet accessibility…. – CNN, 12-3-10
  • US blocks access to WikiLeaks for federal workers Employees unable to call up WikiLeaks on government computers as material is still formally classified, says US: WikiLeaks has been blocked from being accessed by federal employees of the US, because the files are still seen as classified.
    The Obama administration is banning hundreds of thousands of federal employees from calling up the WikiLeaks site on government computers because the leaked material is still formally regarded as classified. The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place. Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected…. – Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • Clinton begins effort to limit damage with apology to UK: US secretary of state tries to make amends for US scorn over Britain’s stewardship of Helmand province
    “I personally want to convey to the government and the people of the United Kingdom both my deep respect and admiration for the extraordinary efforts and our regret if anything that was said by anyone suggested the contrary,” the US secretary of state said. “I have found in my many conversations in the last week that there is certainly an understanding of what diplomacy means.” Turning to humour as a means of defusing embarrassment, she added: “As one of my counterparts jokingly said: ‘Don’t worry about it – you should see what we say about you!”‘… – Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • WikiLeaks Rogue activist Julian Assange wants to curb government secrecy, but his massive leak of classified U.S. diplomatic cables is undermining the Obama Administration’s efforts to do just that: British politicians and military chiefs are already fighting an uphill battle in trying to persuade a skeptical public that the operation in Afghanistan is worth the continuing loss of life. The latest batch of WikiLeaks cables, showing U.S. and Afghan officials — including President Hamid Karzai — expressing severe doubts over the U.K.’s effectiveness in the country are unlikely to make that task any easier.
    The cables released on Friday highlight concerns from Karzai and U.S. officials over the U.K.’s effort, specifically in the Helmand province. According to one 2008 memo, the U.S. embassy in Kabul reported: “We and Karzai agree the British are not up to the task of securing Helmand.” A separate cable from the same period relays Karzai’s telling Senator John McCain that he was relieved U.S. marines were being sent to reinforce the British-led mission in Helmand. Meanwhile, then-Afghan foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta is quoted as saying that U.K. troops “were not ready to fight as actively as American soldiers.”…. – Time, 12-3-10
  • British police know location of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange: report WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange is reportedly in England, but British police have not acted on a Swedish warrant for his arrest nor Interpol’s ‘red notice’ because they need more information…. – CS Monitor, 12-2-10
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Has US already indicted him?: It is entirely possible that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is already under indictment in the US. Grand juries work in secret, and indictments can be sealed, but there have been hints….
    Sweden has issued an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and according to one newspaper report, he is hiding out in Britain. But is he already under indictment in the United States on charges related to his online release of a vast trove of secret US documents? It’s certainly possible. US officials publicly will only say that they are investigating the matter and that no legal options have been ruled out. But an indictment in such an important federal matter would be handed down by a grand jury, and grand jury proceedings are secret, notes Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national security law at American University. There may be an empaneled grand jury considering the Assange case right now. “We wouldn’t know what they’re doing until the whole thing is concluded,” he says. – CS Monitor, 12-2-10
  • Cables released by WikiLeaks reveal U.S. concerns over South America: The State Department wanted to know whether Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was on medication. American diplomats in Brazil, meanwhile, heard that Bolivia’s indigenous president, Evo Morales, had a tumor. And farther north, U.S. officials outlined how Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was isolating his country by aligning his government with Iran’s. A slew of diplomatic messages from South America, where the United States has had testy relations with several leaders, reveal U.S. concerns over issues ranging from terrorism to a spat over oil between Argentina and Britain. But dozens of private messages released by WikiLeaks also highlight Washington’s focus on the personalities on a continent largely ruled by leftist presidents, some of them European-style technocrats and others virulently anti- American populists…. – WaPo, 12-2-10
  • The secret life of Julian Assange: Julian Assange can be charming yet cagey about his private life and is rarely shaken by discussions of even the most controversial revelations on WikiLeaks. He grew up constantly on the move, the son of parents who were in the theater business in Australia. Now, Julian Assange, 39, finds himself on the move again, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes and wanted by officials around the world for his website WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of documents containing confidential information. If he has succeeded in creating a public firewall of sorts around himself, it is perhaps because he learned as a child to cope with solitude and exposed his mind to the machinery that would overtake his life. Assange has been described by his mother, Christine, as “highly intelligent.”… – CNN, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: How much trouble is he in?: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, but the US has historically avoided pursuing leak recipients. His primary concern is a ‘red alert’ issued by Interpol for alleged sex crimes in Sweden…. – CS Monitor, 12-1-10
  • US embassy cables: US and Pakistan deny revelations of mutual mistrust: But security experts say leaks expose threat of terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down
    Pakistani and US officials presented a united front today against revelations in the WikiLeaks cables that portray a fragile relationship dogged by subterfuge, suspicion and worries over the safety of Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, visited the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, at his hilltop residence in Islamabad where the men played down the significance of the leaked dispatches. Gilani said Pakistan’s national interests “would not be compromised by such mischief in any manner”, while Munter said: “Working together, we will get past the WikiLeaks problems.” But outside Pakistan experts in nuclear counterproliferation said the leaked cables exposed a serious threat of nuclear terrorism that western governments have deliberately played down – until now…. – Guardian UK, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks disclosures highlight Russia as U.S. scrambles: The United States scrambled to contain the fallout from the slow-motion leak of cables from its embassies worldwide Wednesday as new documents showed American diplomats casting a jaundiced eye toward corruption’s grip on Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally made “several dozen” calls to counterparts in other countries in an effort to mitigate the damage from WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, a senior State Department official said. In a CNN interview Wednesday night, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange an “anarchist.” “He’s trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges,” Crowley told CNN’s “John King USA.” But while Clinton is facing other world leaders, “trying to solve the world’s challenges,” Assange is in hiding, he said…. – m CNN, 12-1-10
  • Blunt and Blustery, Putin Responds to State Department Cables on Russia: Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin responded Wednesday to criticism of Russia revealed in United States diplomatic cables published by the Web site WikiLeaks, warning Washington not to interfere in Russian domestic affairs. His comments, made in an interview broadcast Wednesday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” referred to a cable that said “Russian democracy has disappeared” and that described the government as “an oligarchy run by the security services,” a statement attributed to the American defense secretary, Robert M. Gates. Mr. Putin said in the interview that Mr. Gates had been “deeply misled.” Asked about a cable that described President Dmitri A. Medvedev as “playing Robin to Putin’s Batman,” he said the author had “aimed to slander one of us.”… – NYT, 12-1-10
  • Wikileaks’ Assange in UK, police know where: report: Wikileaks website founder Julian Assange is in Britain and police know his whereabouts but have refrained so far from acting on an international warrant for his arrest, a British newspaper said on Thursday. The 39-year-old Australian, who founded the whistle-blowing website that has disclosed a trove of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, supplied British police with contact details upon his arrival in October, The Independent said. The newspaper cited police sources who said they knew where Assange was staying and had his telephone number. It added that it was believed he was in southeast England. The international police agency Interpol this week issued a “red notice” to assist in the arrest of Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of sexual crimes, but Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (Soca) so far has refused to authorize this, the paper said…. – Reuters, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks website kicked off Amazon’s servers: Amazon.com Inc. forced WikiLeaks to stop using the U.S. company’s computers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, WikiLeaks said Wednesday. The ouster came after congressional staff questioned Amazon about its relationship with WikiLeaks, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut. WikiLeaks confirmed it hours after The Associated Press reported that Amazon’s servers had stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ site. The site was unavailable for several hours before it moved back to its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof AB. WikiLeaks released a trove of sensitive diplomatic documents on Sunday. Just before the release, its website came under an Internet-based attack that made it unavailable for hours at a time…. – AP, 12-1-10
  • U.S. diplomat: ‘Grueling’ effort to patch up international ties: A senior State Department official conceded Wednesday that, “This was a rough week for American diplomacy.” The official, speaking with reporters in a conference call, said the WikiLeaks disclosures of State Department diplomatic cables “have done substantial damage.” “We’ll probably never have a neat scorecard to show you with meetings not granted, confidences not shared, cooperation that’s hedged or denied,” he said, “and it is going to take time and hard work to rebuild trust…we’ve got a tough road ahead of us and a lot of rebuilding to do.”
    The official described what he called a “grueling” effort by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to contain damage from the leaks. Clinton, he said, has made several dozen calls to world leaders “to express our deep regret and underscore steps we’ve taken to ensure confidentiality and underscore important diplomatic work before us.” State Department officials in Washington and at embassies around the world, he said, have reached out to a total of 186 governments to reinforce Clinton’s message, adding “to virtually everyone who takes our calls.”… – CNN, 12-1-10
  • US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee: Republican presidential hopeful wants the person responsible for the WikiLeaks cables to face capital punishment for treason
    Huckabee said: “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty.” He added, according to Politico: “They’ve put American lives at risk. They put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk. They knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents they were entrusted. “And anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed, under oath, a commitment that they would not violate. They did … Any lives they endangered, they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands.”… – Guardian UK, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks opens the floodgates for critics of the Obama administration: The WikiLeaks uproar has folks jumping all over President Obama’s administration for a variety of alleged sins of omission and commission. Sarah Palin weighed in big time on Facebook, blasting the administration for “incompetently handling the whole fiasco,” and for not going after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with greater urgency.
    She tweeted that the administration might have gone to court to stop the disclosures. “Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book ‘America by Heart’ from being leaked,” she wrote, “but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?” Probably not. We’re told there’s a big legal difference between copyright law and First Amendment law. Also, while Assange might be charged, there was this Supreme Court case a long time ago, something about publishing the Pentagon Papers…. – WaPo, 11-30-10
  • Interpol puts Assange on most-wanted list: Interpol, at the request of a Swedish court looking into alleged sex crimes from earlier this year, has put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on its most-wanted listed. The Stockholm Criminal Court two weeks ago issued an international arrest warrant for Assange on probable cause, saying he is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force in August incidents.
    Sweden asked Interpol, the international police organization, to post a “Red Notice” after a judge approved a motion to bring him into custody. The “Red Notice” is not an international arrest warrant. It is an advisory and request, issued to 188 member countries “to assist the national police forces in identifying or locating those persons with a view to their arrest and extradition,” according to Interpol…. – CNN, 11-30-10
  • WikiLeaks ‘attack’: How damaging to US foreign relations?: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns the WikiLeaks ‘attack on the international community’ as harmful to US policy goals. But major geopolitical shifts are unlikely, analysts say. The US intensified its efforts at damage control on Monday following the publication by WikiLeaks of more than a quarter-million diplomatic cables, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calling the massive release not just a problem for American foreign policy but “an attack on the international community.” In a statement to journalists in the State Department’s Treaty Room before she was to leave on a four-country trip through Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, Secretary Clinton said that both the furthering of US national interests and the operation of the world’s international political system depend on thousands of confidential exchanges, assessments, and conversations every day…. – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks plans to release a U.S. bank’s documents: The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday. Julian Assange declined in an interview with Forbes to identify the bank, but he said that he expected that the disclosures, which follow his group’s release of U.S. military and diplomatic documents, would lead to investigations. “We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it,” Assange said in the interview posted on the Forbes website. He declined to identify the bank, describing it only as a major U.S. bank that is still in existence…. – Reuters, 11-29-10
  • Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy: The latest WikiLeaks release of documents gives Israel proof that its Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies of the Jewish state, share its concerns about Iran. Wikileaks’ publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations. But instead, Wikileaks’ release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.
    “I don’t see any damage. Quite the opposite,” said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. “Maybe there’s an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.”… – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks: The five strangest stories…so far: The release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks contains some serious stuff: US diplomats have been trying to steal the credit card numbers of top UN officials, Saudi Arabia is putting pressure on the US to attack Iran, Iran has obtained advanced long-range missiles from North Korea. Other cables are not so earth-shaking, but they nonetheless reveal personalities and events that are comical, surprising, or just plain weird. Here’s our top five… – CS Monitor, 11-29-10
  • WikiLeaks spurned New York Times, but Guardian leaked State Department cables: This time, the New York Times didn’t get the goods from WikiLeaks. Instead, on Sunday, the newspaper began reporting a bombshell – the contents of thousands of private State Department cables – as a result of a leak of a leak. The Times was the only American news organization to receive a massive cache of government documents that were released by WikiLeaks, the “stateless” Internet organization that specializes in exposing government secrets through leaked information. But the Times wasn’t on WikiLeaks’ list of original recipients. The newspaper got its hands on the trove of about 250,000 cables thanks to the Guardian newspaper of Great Britain, which quietly passed the Times the raw material that it had received as one of five news organizations favored by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks had worked with the Times this summer in releasing about 90,000 documents prepared by U.S. military sources about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…. – WaPo, 11-29-10
  • Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels: A huge trove of State Department communiqués offer an extraordinary look at the inner workings, and sharp elbows, of diplomacy…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Around the World, Distress Over Iran: Diplomatic cables show how two presidents have dealt with Iran and how President Obama built support for a harsher package of sanctions…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Iran Is Fortified With North Korean Aid: American intelligence assessments say that Iran has obtained Russian-designed missiles that are much more powerful than other weapons in its arsenal…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Mixing Diplomacy With Spying: State Department personnel were told to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, schedules and other personal data of foreign officials…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • Documents: Selected Dispatches: Cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a huge sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and 270 embassies and consulates worldwide…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • U.S. Expands Role of Diplomats in Spying: The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries. Revealed in classified State Department cables, the directives, going back to 2008, appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies…. – NYT, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Clinton ordered probe on UN chief Secret files show Washington wanted to find links between UN members, terror groups: WikiLeaks revealed Sunday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered a probe on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as an investigation on possible ties between UN members and terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
    “Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the ‘relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organizations’ and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East, and Hamas and Hezbollah,” the British Guardian reported, citing the documents leaked by the controversial Web entity.
    Washington also sent out orders signed by Clinton or Rice (aka Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s predecessor) ordering diplomats to gather “biographic and biometric” on various UN officials, including Ban, the report says.
    It adds that the US may have “blurred the line between diplomacy and spying”, and that the country’s relations with the UN may now suffer due to the publication of the secret orders…. – YNet News, 11-28-10
  • WikiLeaks: Leaked cables reveal the rough workings of diplomacy: WikiLeaks gave some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables to several news outlets, which published them Sunday. The leaks could prove embarrassing and potentially dangerous. After days of anticipation and unheeded warnings from the Obama administration, the huge and controversial data dump from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks is being published and broadcast. As reported by the New York Times (which, along with the British newspaper the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel, began revealing the data Sunday afternoon), the cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables “provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”… – CS Monitor, 11-28-10

QUOTES

  • Julian Assange answers your questions: The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, answers readers’ questions about the release of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables…
    For the past four years one of our goals has been to lionise the source who take the real risks in nearly every journalistic disclosure and without whose efforts, journalists would be nothing. If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier – Bradley Manning – is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero.
    WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by organisations like the Pentagon that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities. This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard.
    I coauthored my first nonfiction book by the time I was 25. I have been involved in nonfiction documentaries, newspapers, TV and internet since that time. However, it is not necessary to debate whether I am a journalist, or how our people mysteriously are alleged to cease to be journalists when they start writing for our organisaiton. Although I still write, research and investigate my role is primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organises and directs other journalists.
    Many of these are still available at mirror.wikileaks.info and the rest will be returning as soon as we can find a moment to do address the engineering complexities. Since April of this year our timetable has not been our own, rather it has been one that has centred on the moves of abusive elements of the United States government against us. But rest assured I am deeply unhappy that the three-and-a-half years of my work and others is not easily available or searchable by the general public.
    I always believed that WikiLeaks as a concept would perform a global role and to some degree it was clear that is was doing that as far back as 2007 when it changed the result of the Kenyan general election. I thought it would take two years instead of four to be recognised by others as having this important role, so we are still a little behind schedule and have much more work to do. The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power.
    The cables we have release correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it. The redactions are then reviewed by at least one other journalist or editor, and we review samples supplied by the other organisations to make sure the process is working….
    The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.
    Guardian UK, 12-3-10
  • Text of State Department letter to Wikileaks: Text of a letter from the State Department to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson concerning its intended publication of classified State Department documents. The letter, dated November 27, was released by the department…. – Reuters, 11-28-10
  • Mike Huckabee: Execute WikiLeaks Cable Source: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in an interview while on his book tour in California that the person responsible for the leaked diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks should be executed.
    “Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty,” he told reporters while signing books at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. He went on:
    “They’ve put American lives at risks. They have put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk, and they knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents. They were entrusted and anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed under oath a commitment that they would not violate it. They did. And I believe they have committed treason against this country, and any lives they endanger, they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands.”… – Politics Daily, 11-30-10

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Historian Relishes WikiLeaks Cable Dump: Author and historian Timothy Garton Ash says WikiLeaks’ release of 250,000 U.S. cables is a diplomats’ nightmare and a historians’ dream. The cables reveal the inner workings of the State Department. Garton Ash tells Renee Montagne that the mass of diplomatic cables is like a multi-course banquet.
    Professor TIMOTHY GARTON ASH (Oxford University): It’s very, very rich material. The only other time you have that opportunity is when a state collapses, like communist East Germany or Nazi Germany. Then historians get to see all this stuff. But it’s incredibly unusual and strange for it to happen with a functioning superpower…. – NPR, 12-1-10
  • WikiLeaks vs. U.S. Diplomacy: Geoffrey Berridge, an emeritus professor of diplomatic history at Britain’s Leicester University, says that the aftereffects of the WikiLeaks revelations are likely to be short-term — “as long as the experience is not repeated.” “What will inflict temporary damage on U.S. prestige is the fact it was stupid enough to allow such wide circulation of such material in the electronic age,” he says…. – Radio Free Europe, 12-3-10
  • Toobin: First Amendment may not protect WikiLeaks: Since this summer, WikiLeaks has published huge tranches of classified U.S. intelligence. The online organization’s actions have ignited fierce debate over whether the First Amendment’s free speech rights will keep its members and its founder, Julian Assange, safe from prosecution. Jeffrey Toobin , CNN’s senior legal analyst, says federal prosecutors could pursue criminal charges against Assange, an Australian citizen. Lawyers for the U.S. government could argue WikiLeaks and Assange have jeopardized national security and make their case. Further, Interpol has recently named the 39-year-old Assange in a most-wanted persons alert. That alert is related to a sex crimes investigation of Assange in Sweden, not to the WikiLeaks affair. Assange’s whereabouts, at the time this story was published, is unknown…. – CNN, 12-1-10
  • Missing the point of WikiLeaks: DAVID BROOK’s recent column and Ross Douthat’s reply to my defence of WikiLeaks have helped me to pin down and articulate the source of a nagging but previously inchoate sense that somehow we’re all missing the bigger picture. Let me start by suggesting that the politicians and pundits calling for Julian Assange’s head are playing into his hands. As all eyes track the international albino of mystery, the human and physical infrastructure of a much larger, more distributed movement continues to expand and consolidate far beyond the spotlight. If Mr Assange is murdered tomorrow, if WikiLeaks’ servers are cut off for a few hours, or a few days, or forever, nothing fundamental is really changed. With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.
    Yet the debate over WikiLeaks has proceeded as if the matter might conclude with the eradication of these kinds of data dumps—as if this is a temporary glitch in the system that can be fixed; as if this is a nuisance that can be made to go away with the application of sufficient government gusto. But I don’t think the matter can end this way. Just as technology has made it easier for governments and corporations to snoop ever more invasively into the private lives of individuals, it has also made it easier for individuals, working alone or together, to root through and make off with the secret files of governments and corporations. WikiLeaks is simply an early manifestation of what I predict will be a more-or-less permanent feature of contemporary life, and a more-or-less permanent constraint on strategies of secret-keeping…. – Economist, 12-1-10
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