BREAKING: Wikileaks Releases US Embassy Cables--UPDATED
And the fur will start flying. Wikileaks has released some 250,000 documents from US Embassy cables (thus dubbing this latest scandals "Cablegate") and what they reveal isn't pretty for this country. Huffington Post:
WikiLeaks published the first set of more than 250,000 secret State Department documents Sunday, in one of the largest leaks of classified information in history. Earlier in the day, The New York Times and The Guardian published a selection of the documents. The WikiLeaks website was inaccessible for part of the day, and WikiLeaks said in its Twitter feed that it was experiencing a denial of service attack. WikiLeaks also provided the documents to Spain's El Pais, France's Le Monde, and Germany's Der Spiegel. The website says it will publish the full set of 250,000 documents in stages over the next few months.
According to The New York Times, the cables reveal how foreign leaders, including Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, urged the U.S. to confront Iran over its nuclear program.
"The cables also contain a fresh American intelligence assessment of Iran's missile program," The Times reports. "They reveal for the first time that the United States believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that could let it strike at Western European capitals and Moscow and help it develop more formidable long-range ballistic missiles."
Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to pressure the U.S. into military action against Iran by exaggerating its nuclear capabilities:
Meanwhile, another cable shows that a 2009 claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran was months away from achieving military nuclear capability was dismissed by the Americans as a ploy.
According to German weekly Der Spiegel, which also received advance information from WIkiLeaks, a State Department official says in a classified cable that Netanyahu informed the United States of Iran's nuclear advancement in November 2009, but that the prime minister's estimate was likely unfounded and intended to pressure Washington into action against the Islamic Republic.
Perhaps more embarrassing to U.S. officials is the revelation, according to The Guardian that U.S. diplomats spied on UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
A classified directive which appears to blur the line between diplomacy and spying was issued to US diplomats under Hillary Clinton's name in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications. Story continues below
It called for detailed biometric information "on key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders" as well as intelligence on Ban's "management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat".
The cables also provide frank assessments of foreign leaders:
Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman."
French president Nicholas Sarkozy displayed a "thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style."
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is described as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader."
Hamid Karzai, is "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him."
At least one progressive blogger, while generally supportive of Wikileak's actions, sees some long term damage from this. However, I'm of the belief that if this is the price we must pay to show the government that acting as if no one has a right to privacy is a double-edged sword that can hurt them as well, we might as well pay it now. If the government thinks it will damage their interests to have their corrupt actions known, perhaps they might not want to participate in them.
UPDATE: UK Guardian has a searchable database. And Fox News was wondering aloud today whether wikileaks should be classified as a foreign terrorist organization, which would implicate Sweden as a harboring terrorists.