Monday, November 29, 2010

First 220 "Cablegate" documents released by Wikileaks

True to their word, Wikileaks has just released 220/251,287 documents in what is now being called Cablegate. After quickly browsing through this initial set, some interesting things pop up. Namely:

  • King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia frequently requested the US attack Iran to "cut off the head of the snake". This will severely damage the already strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran to say the least. However, a senior member of the Saudi Foreign Ministry cautioned the US against using the military option with Iran.
  • Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.) Crown Prince discusses using the military option against Iran with US military officials, declaring "It will take ground forces!"
  • The US ordered all of its diplomats to spy on United Nations officials. Not surprising but not a team builder either.
  • The US orders its diplomats in the middle east to send vehicle registrations and travel routes of senior Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials. You know, the kind of information that can be useful in a friendly neighborhood targeted assassination.
  • Hillary Clinton issued a directive to US diplomats ordering them to collect DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, language skills and many other things from key and emerging political, military , intelligence, opposition, religious and business leaders in certain African countries.
  • President Aliyev of Azerbaijan makes a crude joke to a US diplomat when referring to the relationship between Russian President Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Putin saying " You can't boil two heads in one pot", implying that Putin really runs the show. Not a very smart thing to say when you're the president of a small country on the underbelly of a former, and now rising, superpower.
  • Libyan leader Qaddafi has a thing for his buxom blonde Ukrainian nurse. Too funny!
Also from the Wikileaks website:

Are all the embassy cables being released at once?
No. Instead of publishing the documents all at once, the organisation will be releasing the embassy files in stages.
Why not release everything now?
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
We owe it to the people who entrusted us with the documents to ensure that there is time for them to be written about, commented on and discussed widely in public, something that is impossible if hundreds of thousands of documents are released at once. We will therefore be releasing the documents gradually over the coming weeks and months.
Ouch. This is going to be painful for the US government to manage. It's death by a thousand diplomatic paper cuts!

You can browse through some of these cables on sites of the NY Times , Der Spiegel, Le Monde and The Guardian, which has a great interactive search tool.

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