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.”
• Afghan vice president left country with $52 million “in cash.”
• Potential environmental disaster kept secret by the US when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.
• US used threats, spying and more to try to get its way at last year’s crucial climate conference in Copenhagen.
• Iraqi government officials see Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state.
• Details on Vatican hiding big sex abuse cases in Ireland. Vatican cables so “inflammatory” they could spark violence against Catholics in UK.
• Oil giant Shell claims to have “inserted staff” and fully infiltrated Nigeria’s government.
• North Koreans implored the US to get Eric Clapton to play a concert that might loosen up their glorious leader.
• Guardian goes nuclear: “The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.”
• Cable shows Israel cooperating with Abbas vs. Hamas during Gaza attacks.
• UK training death squads in Bangladesh, widely denounced by human rights groups.
• Cable finds US criticizing the Vatican for not supporting population control methods. The US ambassador there lamented, “The Vatican will continue to oppose aggressive population control measures to fight hunger or global warming.”
• US pressured the European Union to accept GM—genetic modification, that is.
• Hundreds of cables detail US use of diplomats as “sales” agents, more than previously thought, centering on jet rivalry of Boeing vs. Airbus. Hints of corruption and bribes.
• Russia is a “mafia state.”
• Israel wanted to bring Gaza to the “brink of collapse.”
• Extremely important historical document finally released in full: Ambassador April Glaspie’s cable from Iraq in 1990 on meeting with Saddam Hussein before Kuwait invasion.
• Cables on Tunisia appear to help spark revolt in that country. The country’s ruling elite described as “The Family,” with Mafia-like skimming throughout the economy. The country’s first lady may have made massive profits off a private school.
• US knew all about massive corruption in Tunisia back in 2006 but went on supporting the government anyway, making it the pillar of its North Africa policy.
• The US secret services used Turkey as a base to transport terrorism suspects as part of its extraordinary rendition program.
And much more just in the past week, from torture and corruption and Egypt to the 9/11 plotters who got away.