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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

WikiLeaks: embassy cables dump « Previous | |Next »
December 1, 2010

The full diplomatic archive of a quarter of a million documents known as the WikiLeaks embassy cablesfrom the Siprnet database will be released in dribs and drabs over the coming months. The Americans are none too happy about the diplomatic cable dump judging from their assertions that national security will be compromised, that lives will be lost and that the cause of human rights will be set back.


Then again after the last dump, the White House claimed that Julian Assange had blood on his hands.There was no evidence that was the case. Much of the "harm" is embarrassment and the highlighting of inconvenient truths. As Heather Brooke points out in The Guardian much of the outrage about WikiLeaks is not over the content of the leaks but from the audacity of breaching previously inviolable strongholds of authority.

This dump has resulted in Interpol issuing a wanted notice for Julian Assange. The Republicans want Assange hunted down and possibly killed (ie., executed while resisting arrest. Wikileaks itself must be destroyed as it is a terrorist organization. They're furiously waving the flag of treason.

Unfortunately, Assange, who is an Australian national not living in the U.S. The Republicans and the comedy show at Fox News (Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck) are using Wikileaks to attack the Obama administration.

The Australian Government, however, is doing its bit: they've placed Assange under investigation by the federal police; whilst the Wikileaks dump is now subject to a whole of government investigation. This suggests that the Gillard Government does not accept that transparency and accountability in government and international institutions are a good thing; or that there is a genuine public interest in knowing the things the cables mention.

What is interesting about the Wikileaks' dumps (the Afghanistan and Iraq war reports plus the diplomatic cable dump) is that the elite news organizations in the Internet age — in this case, The Guardian, NYT and Der Spiege etc ---are conduits of material originally obtained not by their own investigative journalists but by others, such as WikiLeaks. The big papers wouldn’t have the material without WikiLeaks.

What we have is collaboration by major media organizations across international borders both in agreeing to work together in publishing the material and in agreeing what material should be kept out. It is a new kind of global investigative journalism.

Jay Rosen observes:

In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new.

Today, we find that the state, which holds the secrets but is powerless to prevent their release; the stateless news organization, deciding how to release them; and the national newspaper in the middle, negotiating the terms of legitimacy between these two actors.

We can infer from this shift in power that these leaks indicate that we should be politicians speak of a threat to "national security", as this can be a fig leaf to cover up dirty deeds. We haven't learnt much re the content so far. Saudi Arabia urges US to attack Iran to stop its nuclear programme; Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like al-Qaida; China is willing to accept Korean reunification; Pakistan is under the American hammer; that US military forces are indeed secretly operating on Pakistan's territory.

We learn that Pakistan takes billions of dollars in American aid, most of it military, and it arms and supports the Taliban and other violently anti-American groups. So both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are American allies who actively support America's enemies.

Update 2
We learn on day 5 of the leaks that Afghanistan is a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm. Well, that confirms the common view that predatory corruption, fueled by a booming illicit narcotics industry, is rampant at every level of Afghan society. This corrupt government has made into a cornerstone of the counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan by the US. Australia goes along as usual in covering up the stench of the corruption.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:43 AM | | Comments (20)


I wouldn't call what Wikileaks does 'reporting'. They simply publish lots of raw documents that have been provided by third parties, after deleting any bits they think might endanger innocent individuals. Strictly speaking the MSM's involvement is not required; it just cherry-picks the data to write stories it believes are important but anyone is free to go to the Wikileaks site and read the originals.

The hysterical reaction from some wingnuts in the USA is quite troubling; lots of them have no hesitation in recommending extra-judicial killings and other tools normally associated with authoritarian governments. It's notable that one of the first stories is how everyone in the Middle East hates Iran and wants the US to attack it ... at least the pro-Israel lobby knows how to make good use of Wikileaks).

If the Australian Federal Police are being asked by the Gillard Government to see if the book can be thrown at Julian Assange and have his passport cancelled, then what crime has Assange committed under Australia’s suite of laws on disclosure of sensitive state information?

Is the leaking sensitive information per se an offence? Doesn't the law respects the right to freedom of expression?

The leaked material so far only embarrasses a government rather than a criminal offence having been committed.

some Republicans are saying that WikiLeaks should be designated as a terrorist organisation. What fantasy world do these wing nuts live in?

The Republicans don't appear to buy into the theory that Wikileaks is a CIA front engaged in effective psyops and propaganda.

True to form, just about ALL of the MSM reports I've seen about the Wikileaks dumps are about the reaction to the dumps... NOT the content. It seems to me that even when this bundle of goodies is dropped right into their laps, the lightweight Aussie MSM goes out of it's way to ignore it's true worth.

We should quote, with just a tad of ironic suggestion, the CIA motto over their entrance at Langley:
"The truth shall set you free".

Or something like that.

The para about the Gillard allegedly not accepting accountability etc has intrigued me.
Really must sleep on that one.
mars08, they realise the audience is split between the likes of us who actually like trawling round the deepened waters of current affairs and people who go and watch their huge wallscreens to watch "Celebrity Big Brother" or whatever mind-enfeebling clap trap they've got up and running (ACA, etc?).
Since they won't be here and we won't be there it seems to obviate the sense of a need within tabloid media to ensure that more troubling and troublesome stuff is left in the too hard cutting basket.
Besides, if their conjecture that the public can not think or communicate beyond the most basic iota of communicationary potential is correct, no one will be the wiser.
Better hope whover's driving the bus isn't too out of it, could be an interesting ride for democracy, coming up.

often the raw data in the diplomatic cables is wrapped in an article that gives the data some background context. An example. The New York Times is doing a good job at this kind of coverage.

“Negotiating the terms of legitimacy…”?

Truthout has a revealing piece on how that “negotiating” goes on. The US has been beating the drum about how Iran has got hold of long-range North Korean missiles which threaten all Europe. According to the Truthout piece, The NY Times just never published the Russian refutation of that fable (from the Wikileaks archive) because the US Govt. asked them not to. Simple as that. Apparently, no MSM outlet in the US published it.

“The New York Times and Washington Post reported only that the United States believed Iran had acquired such missiles - supposedly called the BM-25 - from North Korea. Neither newspaper reported the detailed Russian refutation of the U.S. view on the issue or the lack of hard evidence for the BM-25 from the U.S. side.

“As a result, a key Wikileaks document which should have resulted in stories calling into question the thrust of the Obama administration's ballistic missile defence policy in Europe based on an alleged Iranian missile threat has produced a spate of stories supporting the existing Iranian threat narrative”.

That’s not much “negotiation”. That’s just the MSM hiding an important part of a controversial story because the US Govt. wanted it hidden. And they hid it from their readers even though it was freely available from Wikileaks.

Now we have Australia’s Attorney-General saying: "There has been an information protocol, I think it's fair to say, among Australian media that if they receive representations from national security or law enforcement authorities that material could be prejudicial, that they will often refrain from publishing the material".

I suppose the NY Times episode shows us exactly what that means.

re your comment "the para about the Gillard allegedly not accepting accountability etc has intrigued me.
Really must sleep on that one."

Most of the leaked material is fairly low-level diplomatic gossip. This mostly reflects the US government's view of the world, and crucially doesn't include reports with the highest security classification.WikiLeaks has opened some of the institutions of global power to scrutiny and performed a democratic service in the process.

Yet Gillard is saying that the leaks are bad--not much commitment to freedom of information there. It's more a case of Gillard, the leader of a compliant state, defending a global empire that has adopted the role of world leader and policeman.

What the diplomatic cables show is that the US still has to rely on unrepresentative autocracies and dictatorships to shore up its domination of the Middle East and its resources.

Access to WikiLeaks has been patchy since Sunday, when it started to come under a series of internet-based attacks by unknown hackers. pulled the plug on hosting WikiLeaks-- the whistleblowing website--- in an apparent reaction to heavy political pressure from the United States The plug was pulled as the influential senator and chairman of the homeland security committee Joe Lieberman called for a boycott of the site by US companies.

Ahemmm... er... "you can't HANDLE the truth!!!"

its worse than that. The ABC has adopted the perspective of the US State department on the Wikileaks.
--see Eleanor Hall on World Today

George, I agree Eleanor Hall's treatment of the interview was totally cringeworthy. See Anthony Loewenstein's Drum piece for a good reply:

You are not joking, are you Peter S Stock.
The Fukuyamian "end of history" in it's real form of/as stasis, as tho a giant spanner were wedged into the works at every level of government and life itself must past before an abstract, from state govs and their ppp's thru to Prince Andrew's craftsman like (goonish?)mimicking of a nineteenth century Raj Colonel Blimp?
More Alice thru the Looking Glass every day.

We are told... "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."

I'm guessing what most of them hate, most of all, is being fu&ked over by a self-serving superpower and it's amoral lackeys. I thinks they really don't like being treated like pawns and fools.

So next time we see them yelling and burning an effigy, we might want to recall these leaked documents and understand the source of much of the anger.

Oh.... but wait... they hate us because they're backwards idiots!!!! At least that's what the MSM will got OUT OF IT'S WAY to tell us... and we'll gladly accept it. Because... well... how are we to know the real cause of their indignation? How are we to know what goes on behind the scenes? We're far too busy being outraged by FIFA politics, watching Underbelly and fawning over Oprah.

Besides, it's just more convenient and easier not knowing what's being done in our name.

Francis Fukuyama's book was published in 1992.

The ironic thing is that far too many people think that world history STARTED in September 2001. To them, nothing that happened before that matters.

WikiLeaks’s justification for releasing confidential diplomatic material (mostly US State Department) is that the more the public knows about how our government conducts its foreign relations, the better the outcome will be.

Is that their only justification, Nan? Because it it is, WilkiLeaks is assuming the general public WANTS to know...and be willing to act based on that knowledge.

From what I see every day that's just not the case most of the time. As long as they have the creature comforts and the illusion of safety, most people don't care what happens behind the scenes.

The dirt that WikiLeaks (and others) reveals is only of interest to politics/news junkies like us. And we were a bloody cynical bunch long before WikiLeaks, weren't we?