Latest updates: Wikileaks’ diplomatic cables release
Source: CNN — WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website known for leaking state secrets, has released its latest batch of controversial documents. It has posted the first of what it says will be more than 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
[Updated at 11:40 a.m.]
â€“ In response to the leak, the U.S. government on Monday ordered all agencies handling classified information to review security procedures “to ensure that users do not have broader access than is necessary to do their jobs effectively,” according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget.
â€“ The Justice Department also announced Monday that it is conducting “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the disclosure.
â€“ It’s the third highly publicized leak by the website in a matter of months. In July, the site published more than 75,000 classified U.S. reports on the war in Afghanistan that officials warned could endanger the lives of U.S. troops and their allies. It posted a similar leak of Iraq war documents in October, prompting more condemnation from U.S. and other world leaders.
â€“ Sunday’s “CableGate” was similarly slammed by Washington and U.S. allies, with officials calling the leak a threat to national security.
â€“ Here’s a look at the leak, an overview of how WikiLeaks works and a summary of what some of the documents say about a variety of topics.
â€“ Sunday’s leak contained the first of what the site says will be 251,288 cables that it plans to release piecemeal in the coming weeks or months.
â€“ The cables were sent by American diplomats between the end of 1966 and February 2010.
â€“ Of the roughly 250,000 documents, 8,017 originated from the office of the secretary of state and more than 15,600 are classified as secret. More than half are unclassified, according to WikiLeaks.
HOW WIKILEAKS WORKS
â€“ While secretive about its operations, WikiLeaks essentially receives leaks from people who have access to controversial or classified documents, who either send them electronically or through the mail. A group of volunteer editors then decides what information is authoritative and important, and the site publishes it accordingly.
â€“ Only approved information ends up on the WikiLeaks site, but anyone is free to submit documents he or she believes should be made public.
â€“ WikiLeaks offers whistle-blowers anonymity and, to a degree, legal protection.
â€“ U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is a prime suspect in previous leaks. Prior to October’s Iraq release, Manning was already being held in Quantico, Virginia, charged with leaking video of an Iraq airstrike to WikiLeaks as well as removing classified information from military computers.
WHAT THE DOCUMENTS SAY
â€“ Sunday’s release of diplomatic cables include what seems to be an order from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to American diplomats to engage in intelligence gathering, directing her envoys at embassies around the world to collect information ranging from basic biographical data on diplomats to their frequent flier and credit card numbers.
â€“ The State Department denied its diplomats are spies.
â€“ A major topic in the documents includes pressure from U.S. allies in the Middle East for decisive action to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program.
â€“ In one cable, Bahrain’s King Hamadbin Isa al-Khalifa warned, “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” The king is also said to have told the then-commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, that Iran was the “source of much of the trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”
â€“ The cable, sent in November 2009 by the U.S. ambassador in Bahrain, added that the king had “argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. ‘That program must be stopped,’” he said.
â€“ There was similar apprehension in Egypt about Iran in a cable sent in February 2009. “President Mubarak told Senator Mitchell during his recent visit here that he did not oppose our talking with the Iranians, as long as ‘you don’t believe a word they say,’” the U.S. ambassador in Cairo recounted. The ambassador continued: “Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as ‘liars,’ and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region.”
â€“ A cable from the U.S. ambassador in Oman quotes the country’s Armed Forces Chief, Lt. Gen. Ali bin Majidal-Ma’amari, as saying that “with Iran’s continued attitude on the nuclear issue, the security situation in Iraq would remain unresolved.”
â€“ Another cable describes a meeting between Saudi King Abdullah and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and other U.S. officials in March 2009. According to the cable, the king told the Americans what he had just told the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters,” the Saudi monarch was quoted as telling Mottaki. “Iran’s goal is to cause problems,” he told Brennan. “There is no doubt something unstable about them.”
â€“ In a meeting with U.S. Gen. David Petreaus in the capital of Sana’a in January, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to continue covering up the latest plan to use U.S. fixed-wing bombers with precision weapons to attack terrorists in his country. The Yemeni president told Petraeus that would be preferable to the continued use of long-range cruise missiles, which Saleh said were “not very accurate.” “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh said, according to a diplomatic cable.
â€“ A cable dated July 2007 from the outgoing U.S. ambassador in Zimbabwe warned that the end of the government of President Robert Mugabe was “nigh” and advised the State Department “to stay the course and prepare for change.”
â€“ The ambassador, Christopher W. Dell, goes on to characterize Mugabe, who now heads an uneasy power-sharing government with the opposition, as “a brilliant tactician” who is “more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe.”
â€“ Fuel and food shortages prompted Dell to say “for the first time the president is under intensifying pressure simultaneously on the economic, political and international fronts” and that Mugabe was “running out of options.” He says it up to the U.S. “once again, to take the lead, to say and do the hard things.”