By Khadija Gulamhusein
It’s the top story on every credible news outlet: the latest Wiki Leaks releases. The contents of approximately 250 000 classified cables from US embassies worldwide were leaked to the whistle-blowing website and a proportion of these are now fully available for public scrutiny. Understandably, the US government isn’t at all thrilled; apart from leaking potentially sensitive information, the content of some of the cables defy all conventional rules of diplomatic decorum and are likely to make American diplomats worldwide squirm with embarrassment.
Here is my pick of the most politically/diplomatically damaging leaks, the text of which is extracted from this Guardian article.
- “The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.”
- “The cables names Saudi donors as the biggest financiers of terror groups, and provide an extraordinarily detailed account of an agreement between Washington and Yemen to cover up the use of US planes to bomb al-Qaida targets. One cable records that during a meeting in January with General David Petraeus, then US commander in the Middle East, Yemeni president Abdullah Saleh said: “We’ll continue saying they are our bombs, not yours.””
- “The cables contain specific allegations of corruption, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from Caribbean islands to China and Russia. The material includes a reference to Putin as an “alpha-dog” and Hamid Karzai as being “driven by paranoia”, while Angela Merkel allegedly “avoids risk and is rarely creative”. There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.”
- “Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of 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. The most controversial target was the UN leadership. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys”.
We’d love to hear what interesting leaks you’ve come across and your take on the whole issue.