On November 28, WikiLeaks began releasing over 250,000 leaked State Department and US Embassy cables (many designated "secret"), dating from 1966 through end of February 2010. Their content ranges from embarrassing to important revelations about US spying on allies and the UN, ignoring corruption and human rights abuses in "client states," corporate lobbying, backroom dealmaking, disparagements of foreign leaders, and overall revealing a much different America than its public persona. Most of all, it offers more proof of a sham democracy, a lawless imperial state rampaging globally though little, if anything, of a smoking gun nature was disclosed.
Unsurprisingly, the London Guardian said the documents "reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material. Classified 'human intelligence directives' issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA."
Washington's "most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations." One document requested "the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of 'private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, (and) personal encryption keys."
Candid comments also revealed disparaging assessments of world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was called weak, describing her as "risk averse and rarely creative." Her Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, got even harsher treatment, described as incompetent, a man with an "exuberant personality" but little foreign policy experience.
Christopher Dell, US ambassador to Zimbabwe, called President Robert Mugabe "ruthless," "clever," and "to give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician." He "will not go down without a fight....he will cling to power at all costs."
Elizabeth Dibble, US charge d'affaires in Rome, called Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader." Another document described him as a "physically and politically weak (leader whose) frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest," the implication being to do his job properly. Still another document said he appears "increasingly the mouthpiece of (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin" in Europe.
Der Spiegel reported more, including:
-- America's disdain for Keynan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga;
-- Turkey's Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan was called an unreliable "fundamentalist," governing with "a cabal of incompetent advisors in a country....on a path to an Islamist future;"
-- America must "endure the endless tirades of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who claims to have known that the Iraq war was the 'biggest mistake ever committed' and who advised the Americans to 'forget about democracy in Iraq,' " recommending a military coup once US forces leave; and
-- Middle east cables "expose the superpower's weaknesses....the world power is often quickly reduced to becoming a plaything of diverse interests," including Arab leaders using their Washington ties to their own advantage.
Other documents expressed high level concerns about Pakistan's growing instability, a clandestine effort to combat Al Qaeda in Yemen, and shifting China/North Korean relations.
Grave fears were revealed about Pakistan's nuclear capability, officials warning of a potential economic collapse and risk of smuggling nuclear material to suspected terrorists.
Another cable discussed Afghan corruption, one alleging that vice president Zai Massoud was carrying $52 million in cash with him when he was stopped during a United Arab Emirates visit.
In still another, Secretary of State Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina's president.
The Financial Times reported that "The leaks will reinforce suspicions that Israel is considering an attack on Iranian facilities. According to reports of the cables, Ehud Barak, the defense minister, warned in 2009 that the world had six to 18 months to deal with Iran's nuclear programme."
Israel, like Washington, is notorious for crying wolf. If an attack was planned, neither nation would announce it.
An expected revelation ahead is that America for years supported Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization Washington and Ankara designated a terrorist group. Regional expert, Mehmet Yegin from the Center for American Studies at the USAK research organization, told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that "US support for the PKK could have been a result of Turkey's decision in 2003 not to allow the United States to enter Iraq through Turkish soil."
Still more cables about:
-- a senior Politburo official orchestrating hacker attacks that forced Google to leave China;
-- allegations about Russia giving Silvio Berlusconi lavish gifts and lucrative energy contracts;
-- others about Russian intelligence using mafia bosses to conduct criminal operations, one cable describing "a virtual mafia state;"
-- sharp Pentagon criticism of Britain's military in Afghanistan;
-- inappropriate British royal family member comments about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country;
-- criticism of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and requests for intelligence information on individual MPs;
-- various corruption accusations;
-- US Honduran ambassador Hugo Llorens calling the June 2009 coup "illegal and unconstitutional;"
-- Russia offering Israel $1 billion for drone technologies, saying it would also cancel its sale of advanced S-300 missiles to Iran;
-- harsh criticism of US embassy staff in the Caribbean, China, Russia and elsewhere;
-- saying Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia;"
-- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called another Hitler; so is Hugo Chavez, Saddam Hussein before his capture and hanging, and other leaders earlier so vilified to hype fear about them;
-- various Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, urging Washington to bomb Iran to destroy its nuclear capability;
-- Saudi donors named as the biggest financiers of terror groups;
-- discussion of a Washington/Yemen coverup over using US planes to bomb suspected Al Qaeda targets;
-- a description of a rogue enriched uranium shipment causing a near "environmental disaster" in 2009;
-- technical details of US/Russian secret nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva; and much more besides new material to be released.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange provided the documents to the London Guardian, Germany's Der Spiegel, France's Le Monde, Spain's El Pais, and The New York Times.
Censorship - Standard New York Times Practice
After last July's "Afghan War Diaries" release, The Times collaborated with White House officials to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing. Its Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, confirmed that he and two reporters (Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt) "did in fact (tell them) what we had," Obama officials "prais(ing) us for the way we handled it, giving them a chance to discuss it, and for handling the information with care. And for being responsible."
Afterwards, editor Bill Keller wrote this to readers:
"The administration, while strongly condemning (the release), did not suggest (we not) write about them. On the contrary, in our discussions....while challenging some of (our) conclusions....thanked us for handling the documents with care (read sanitizing disturbing truths), and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message."
In addition, he concealed daily war crimes, including mass civilian deaths, many willfully committed. Also, Task Force 373, death squad assassins killing suspected insurgents, cold-blooded murder The Times suppresses, collaborating with imperial lawlessness.
Instead, it focused on "Pakistan's Double Game," a July 27 editorial "confirm(ing) a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years," saying "If Mr. Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan." The Times, of course, supports US imperial wars, including the Afghan and Iraq quagmires.
On November 29, The Times published "A Note to Readers: The Decision to Publish Diplomatic Documents," saying:
Released documents are either marked "secret," "noforn" (not to be shared with other countries' representatives), "secret/noforn," "confidential," or unclassified. "Most were not intended for public view, at least in the near term."
"The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger (read expose) confidential informants or compromise national security (read reveal Washington's imperial agenda). The Times redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit (read sanitize) the documents they planned to post online."
"After its own redactions, The Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest (again reveal America's true agenda - global imperial destructiveness). After reviewing the cables, (officials) suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all."
The Times said it will post only about 100 cables, some redacted, others in full, "that illuminate aspects of American foreign policy," but will follow White House instructions in do doing.
The "newspaper of record," of course, is a longstanding imperial tool, the closest equivalent in America to an official ministry of information and propaganda, what Times editors and bosses know but won't say.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.