Many critics of WikiLeaks still, somehow, claim that there’s “nothing new” in the Cablegate releases (now stretching back to November 28), that most of the issues raised raised by the cables are old hat, and the impact (as in Tunisia, for example) overhyped. So it seems useful here, for the first time in easy-to-consider format, to assemble most of the major revelations. This seems especially valuable because the reporting is now scattered around the globe, often emerging from smaller papers.
Consider this a followup to my recent piece here at The Nation on top WikiLeaks scoops going back to last April.
At the outset, the cables were published by the media partners, not WikiLeaks itself. The New York Times made good on its promise to cover them hot and heavy for about ten days, while the Guardian did all that and more. But Times coverage quickly grew sporadic, the Guardian fell out with Assange (he has now turned to the Telegraph), while the Norwegian daily Aftenposten picked up some of the slack.
Here are brief summaries, listed chronologically, as they appeared. There are even more in my new book, The Age of WikiLeaks. Not included are the shocking cables concerning corruption and torture in Egypt (and some other nations in the region) released in the past week.
• Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.
• Saudis (and some other Middle Eastern states) pressed US to take stronger action against Iran.
• Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by US. All part of giving US full rein in country against terrorists.
• Shocking levels of US spying at the United Nations (beyond what was commonly assumed) and intense use of diplomats abroad in intelligence-gathering roles.
• US tried to get Spain to curb its probes of Gitmo torture and rendition. Saudi king suggested to Obama that we plant microchips on Gitmo detainees.
• Cables showed the UK promised in 2009 to protect US interests in the official Chilcot inquiry on the start of the Iraq war.
• American and British diplomats fear Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program—with poor security—could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.
• Washington was misled by our own diplomats on Russia-Georgia showdown.
• The UK sidestepped a ban on housing cluster bombs. Officials concealed from Parliament how the US is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty.
• NYT headline: “An Afghan Quandary: Fighting Corruption With Corrupt Officials.” Excerpt:
From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier. Describing the likely lineup of Afghanistan’s new cabinet last January, the American Embassy noted that the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, “appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist.”