In October, it was the leak of over 300,000 classified U.S. files on the war in Iraq – dubbed the “Iraq War Logs” – that revealed American soldiers firing on innocent civilians (search for “Collateral Murder” on YouTube). And now, continuing its mission to actively impose transparency on the U.S. government, WikiLeaks has leaked a quarter-million American embassy cable messages, thousands of which are classified as “secret.”
WikiLeaks began publishing more than 250,000 leaked documents on its website on November 28, more than 15,000 of which were formerly protected by the government’s highest level of secrecy. They originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world.
The cables (encoded messages) betray a slew of private discussions and dialogues on a number of issues, from Saudi Arabian leaders encouraging the U.S. to bomb Iran, to gossip on which world leader has botox injections (Libyan leader, Colonel Gadaffi).
The cables show American diplomats under the direction of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as being required to collect information on key United Nations officials through meticulous notes, fingerprints, iris scans and even DNA samples. The diplomats were also ordered to collect credit card information, e-mail addresses and passwords to UN computer networks.
Other cables show U.S. security concerns over Pakistani nuclear material that could be used to make nuclear weapons, amplified by fears that they could be used by terrorists. The cables also reveal that since 2007, the U.S. has been attempting to smuggle out the enriched uranium from a Pakistani nuclear reactor.
The cables also reveal U.S. discussions on:
A network of hackers from China including private security experts that have been employed since 2002 to hack into U.S. government computers.
A Chinese contact telling officials at a U.S. embassy in Beijing that the Chinese government was responsible for hacking Google’s systems in the country.
How U.S. and South Korean officials have discussed plans for a united Korea once North Korea falls.
Various countries being persuaded into taking freed Guantanamo Bay detainees through incentives like meetings with President Barack Obama or cash incentives that could be worth millions.
Corruption in the Afghan government as an official was caught carrying more than $50-million on a trip the U.S.
Germany being warned not to arrest CIA officers for abducting an innocent civilian and holding them in Afghanistan.
Alleged links between the Russian government and organized crime there.
U.S. government officials have condemned the release of the cables, saying that they put the lives of foreign diplomats and others in grave danger.
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, defends the leak and says that the U.S. government is afraid of being held accountable for its actions.
A day before the leak, the U.S. had warned various governments including Germany, France, Britain, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to brace them for the coming leaks, saying that they may work to strain relationships.
What sort of implications do the leaked cables have for the U.S.? Cablegate, the largest mass release of classified government documents in history, has lifted the veil of secrecy that once covered the day-to-day operations of the U.S. in foreign countries and governments. With spies covering more than half the planet, the U.S. essentially has its fingers in everything. There’s a definite Big Brother feel that WikiLeaks has revealed to the general public through Cablegate.
To access the leaked cables, head over to http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/, or check out The Guardian’s continued analysis of the cables at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/wikileaks.