More than 250,000 classified documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks to a handful of newspapers reveal classified discussions of key US foreign policy issues with government representatives worldwide, and include candid assessments of many world leaders. According to the information posted on the website, this is the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain.
1,395 classified documents from U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, 162 “Secrets” and 612 “Confidentials”, will also be unfolded on the website. (For the source,log on to: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org#cablegate)
The draconian behaviour of Meles Zenawi and his deteriorating health situation are among the key Secrets and assessments of the cables from Addis Ababa, according to Addis Neger sources. Also assessed are key Ethiopian opposition figures.
The United States government was plunged into a diplomatic crisis Sunday following the leak of hundreds of thousands of secret cables sent from US embassies around the world.
Among the key revelations were that Israel views engagement with Iran pointless, that Saudi King Abdullah had repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program, that US diplomats were encouraged to spy on top UN officials, including UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, and that US intelligence believed that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea capable of striking Europe.
WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange had earlier described the release as a “diplomatic history of the United States” that would cover “every major issue” as governments braced themselves for damaging revelations.
The Pentagon condemned the release by WikiLeaks as “reckless,” and said it was taking steps to bolster security of US military networks.
“The [Defense] Department has undertaken a series of actions to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
The White House said the leak of the diplomatic cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders and may put at risk the lives of named individuals living “under oppressive regimes.”
According to the leaked memos, Israel warned the US that President Barack Obama’s attempt to engage diplomatically with Iran over its nuclear weapons program will fail.
One memo from November 2009 recounting a meeting between senior Israeli and US military officials, quotes Israeli Defense Ministry political and military director Amos Gilad describing Tehran’s alleged plans as “intolerable.”
According to one leaked cable, King Abdullah made the call for military action against Iran during an April 2008 meeting with US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and US General David Petraeus.
“He told you to ‘cut off the head of the snake,’” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, told the US Embassy in Riyadh two days after the high-level talks, according to the State Department memo.
The same memo recorded the King’s “frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program.”
There was, however, some disagreement among Saudi officials regarding the best way to approach Iran’s nuclear program, with Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abd al-Aziz arguing for more sanctions.
The documents include closed-door remarks that could stoke scandal, including Yemen’s president telling a top US general: “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours” when discussing secretive US strikes on Al-Qaeda in his country. And during a meeting about Al-Qaeda with John Brennan, the US deputy national security adviser, Saleh was “dismissive, bored and impatient ” according to another leaked US diplomatic cable published in Britain’s The Guardian.
Another document included a description of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi as “almost obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel,” who reportedly cannot travel without a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.
The US Embassy called French President Nicolas Sarkozy “thin-skinned an authoritarian,” pointing to his rebukes of his team.
The top US diplomat in Rome found Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to be an “ineffective” leader who wastes his energy on parties, according to documents published by The Guardian.
Saudi donors remain chief financiers of militant groups like Al-Qaeda and that Qatar was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.
A cable described Afghan President Hamid Karzai as “extremely weak” and prone to being persuaded by conspiracy theories.
Chinese government operatives have waged a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage targeting the United States and its allies, according to a review of the WikiLeaks documents published in the New York Times.
The cables also showed that Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe and the United States was concerned that Iran was using those rockets as “building blocks” to build longer-range missiles, the Times said.
The advanced missiles are much more powerful than anything US officials have publicly acknowledged that Iran has in its arsenal, the newspaper said.
In a message attributed to a US diplomat in Berlin dated March 24, 2009, the State Department is told that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is “risk averse and rarely creative,” Der Spiegel magazine reported.
The State Department has warned WikiLeaks that the expected release would endanger countless lives, jeopardize American military operations and hurt international cooperation on global security issues.
Wikileaks.org is launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press. Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents.
The organization has described itself as having been founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Newspaper articles and The New Yorker magazine (7 June 2010) describe Julian Assange, an Australian journalist and Internet activist, as its director.