Huge Wikileaks Document Dump – Fascinating Reading

Filed in International, National by on November 29, 2010

Wikileaks has become quite controversial. Some people criticize Wikileaks for leaking secret information that could get covert operatives killed. Others believe that it’s necessary to shine a light on what’s going on in foreign relations. Although I have reservations about Wikileaks and especially Julian Assange, count me in the latter camp. Wikileaks is necessary for many reasons, but mainly because our media is not doing its job. It’s not acting as a 4th estate right now. Who is keeping an eye an what we’re doing and trying to make sure we are doing the right thing? Congress has almost completely given up significant oversight.

There’s a lot to read in the newest document dump but most of the newly released memos are diplomatic cables and shine some light on our relationships with various allies. The New York Times has a summary of what the cables contain:

    • A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
    • Thinking about an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.
    • A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.
    • Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.
  • Some of these documents are sensitive. They were labelled with the designation “secret” and “noforn” meaning no foreign national should read them. This information is embarrassing not only to the United States but to several foreign countries. Critics of the leak say that it will make diplomacy more difficult in the future. I just hope it will make the government more accountable to the U.S. people. Our foreign policy since the Bush administration has basically been “trust us we know what we’re doing.” As these documents show, that’s not often the case. The world is difficult to understand and nuanced, not the black and white “with us or against us” that Bush liked to portray. I hope it means we’ll start to have adult conversations in the media and elsewhere about what we want to accomplish in foreign policy.

    Tags: , , ,

    About the Author ()

    Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

    Comments (13)

    Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

    1. socialistic Ben says:

      I have mixed feelings about this.
      On the one hand; war crimes should be brought out, there should be more transparency and people have a right to know what they powers that be are doing with their powers.
      On the other hand, some things are secret of a reason. We wanted VP Dick thrown in jail for leaking the name of a CIA agent… how many lives are put in danger because of this leak?
      Are spies and black-ops agents necessary? ( i happen to think so) and if they are shouldn’t some communications and actions be kept secret?

    2. cassandra m says:

      It’s been fun to read the coverage of this document dump around the world media. It seems to be giving countries an opportunity at some low-level nationalism at our expense and some schadenfraude. I heard a report of a not-named Israeli official claiming that these docs put the peace talks at risk, so you’ve got at least one country looking to use these docs as one more reason to not do the right thing.

      Of course our own wingnuts are running around with their hair on fire as if this was the end of the world. I really did not miss the Fear Industry when they were out of power and apparently they’ll be ramping it up again.

      What I think is true about this is that in the main there isn’t much new information here and what is new isn’t going to realign diplomatic relationships. What I also think is true is that this is one more demonstration of how over-classified government business is.

      It is pretty rich, though, that the Saudis *continue* to be a major vector of financial support to terrorist groups, yet they were urging the US to task strong (possibly military) action against Iran and their plans for a nuclear weapon. You can see right here the sheer stupidity of the US being the world’s policeman. The Saudis buy plenty of US military hardware, too. You’d think that they might want to put their own asses at risk to manage their belligerent neighbor. But no.

      Last — this was a topic of conversation everyplace this weekend and frankly I was having a hard time really caring at all that these docs came out. I live with a government who (after 9/11 especially) has ramped up its own abilities to monitor my communications and has ginned up a bunch of legal rationalizations to get access to those on the flimsiest of excuses. What Wikileaks is doing is something of a mirror of the US government’s contempt for its own citizens’ privacy, so I’m thinking what’s good for the goose, you know?

    3. a.price says:

      Im sure the Saudis have nothing but our best interests at heart in pushing us into a war with Iran.

    4. I think the revelations about the Saudis and how they’re using us to avoid blame for confronting Iran is the most interesting revelation so far. I can’t say it’s completely a surprise but it probably is to many. It also puts a new spin on the war-mongering neocons doesn’t. It certainly puts some perspective on how being the world’s policeman hinders local diplomacy. The Saudis want to outsource the hard work to the US.

    5. Geezer says:

      It’s not just the Saudis. Every other Arab state wants to keep the Middle East playing field as level as it can, that is, only Israel has nukes.

    6. Socialistic Ben says:

      slight correction geezer. Israel “has” nukes.

    7. Miscreant says:

      Has anyone found anything in the Wikileaks documents about Jason’s “reveal”?

    8. Capt.Willard says:

      Just wait for Julius Assange and the Wikileak dump he’s planned exposing the corruption endemic on Wall Street coming up.
      We do live in such INTERESTING times.

    9. anonone says:

      Sure. Prosecute whistle blowers and leakers but not American war criminals and torturers.

    10. Belinsky says:

      Remind me to hire A1 as my lawyer next time I’m arrested.

      “But judge, they can’t prosecute me for that felony ‘cuz Cheney and Rumsfeld didn’t go to jail.”

    11. Geezer says:

      Belinsky’s first link is to comments by Heather Hurlburt of the National Security Network. While I disagree with her assessment, which I found long on speculation and short on specifics, I wanted to note that she’s a graduate of AI du Pont High School, and that Allan Loudell has a podcast interview with her at

    12. Belinsky says:

      Long on understanding of how diplomacy works.