The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.
I’ve just had a quick browse on The Guardian website where some of the newest Wikileaks data has been uncovered. Some shocking revelations, amongst some which the public may generally have suspected anyway. My question is, shouldn’t this information be available anyway? After all, the government is not a private company, it is a public body that serves the public. Why should it have secrets that the public cannot access?
Wikileaks has so far released 243 of the reported 251,287 messages it says it has obtained from more than 250 US embassies and consulates. However, all of cables have been made available to five international publications, including the New York Times and the Guardian newspaper.
The leaked US embassy cables are reported to include:
- Iran attempting to adapt North Korean rockets for use as long-range missiles
- Corruption within the Afghan government, with concerns heightened when a senior official was found to be carrying more than $50m in cash on a foreign trip
- Bargaining to empty the Guantanamo Bay prison camp – including Slovenian diplomats being told to take in a freed prisoner if they wanted to secure a meeting with President Barack Obama
- Germany being warned in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for US Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in an operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was abducted and held in Afghanistan
- US officials being instructed to spy on the UN’s leadership by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- The very close relationship between Russian PM Vladimir Putin and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi
- Alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime
- Yemen’s president talking to then US Mid-East commander General David Petraeus about attacks on Yemeni al-Qaeda bases and saying: “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours”
- Faltering US attempts to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon
This is big by any measure and I’m sure the amount of published cables will increase rapidly as government officials attempt to shut down Wikileaks.
The US Government was quick to isolate soldier Bradley Manning has been held in solitary confinement for the last seven months and is facing a court martial in the new year.
According to a published chatlog Manning had with another hacker, he said – “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He said that he “had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months”.
I think, for someone working in the military as an intelligence analyst to have such extensive email chats about what he had done was such a careless mistake. I appreciate he felt he had nowhere to turn and possibly felt enormous guilt for what he had revealed but something of this enormous scale should under no circumstances have been discussed, for his own personal safety! As much as I’d think what he did was partially right, I cannot help but think how ridiculous it was to discuss and joke about it with other colleagues.
The King of Saudi Arabia privately urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear weapons programme.
Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have asked the US to be stop Iran’s nuclear programme by any means, including military.
- Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as “evil”, an “existential threat” and a power that “is going to take us to war”.
- Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, “we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both”.
- Major General Amos Yadlin, Israeli’s military intelligence chief, warned last year: “Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on 11 September 2001.”
Allegations that would no doubt have been publicly denied had this information not been obtained.
I would never have believed a site with such international influence could ever exist before this year. A site that doesn’t only operate on conspiracy theory, but actual facts obtained (or stolen, some would say) directly from the sources involved. Wikileaks, is using technology to bring transparency to the world as we know it. Information the public wouldn’t have previously dreamed of having access, all available to be dissected and public opinion swayed as a result. This site is wielding some incredible power, some could say they are holding the US government to ransom. A power that entire nations could only dream of.
Well, employers around the world, including governments, can take this as a harsh lesson: This is what happens when you don’t keep your staff happy – they become disillusioned. The feeling of isolation and being ignored, can lead to a rebellion of unprecedented scale, making sure the organisation finally takes note of what is going on.
Well done Bradley, for finding a way to get your boss’s attention.
Hopefully, now this is in the public domain where it belongs, he may get a fair trial.
I, like one Guardian reader commented, await the release of the disaster that was 9/11. I am confident it was a huge set up by the US Government to sway public opinion and start a 10+ year war, so they could reap profits from reconstruction and security, as well as the obvious – to control oil. Time will tell.
If you want to support Wikileaks in their mission to make ‘public information’ public, then please see their site for information on how to donate to their cause.