Wikileaks’ latest coup is the release of a database of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables between American embassies, up to and including the highest security level “Top Secret”. The material was first released to selected newspapers, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El País, and the New York Times.
Here’s some of the summary at The Guardian:
US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis
• More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
• Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
• Saudi king urged Washington to bomb Iran
The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.
At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated “secret” – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership.
These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches, which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers’ website, also reveal Washington’s evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues. …
Even tiny little NZ is mentioned in the cables, as is Helen Clark:
Mr Key would not comment on one cable which revealed the United States had ordered diplomats to collect intelligence on top United Nations’ officials – including the position of former Prime Minister Helen Clark who is now the head of the United Nations Development Programme.
The papers show diplomats were asked to gather biometric information as well as details such as credit card numbers.
So what do you suppose America wanted with Helen Clark’s credit card? Hmmmm. Anyway, Key is of course already hard at work trying to play down the significance of the cables:
The documents would be taken out of context, Mr Key said. “If I went away and taped your conversation around the coffee machine this morning it would probably be different to the one that you might publicly release, that’s because just the tone and the way you describe things, that’s just human nature,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast show.
Do you recall him making the same argument over the leaked “climategate” emails? No, me neither. Ironically of course, in the case of climategate, Key’s defence does actually apply (as six separate enquiries have concluded). But the leaked cables are of a different order of magnitude all together. It is not one or two phrases gleaned out of context from thousands. It is full, detailed and explicit account of many of America’s diplomatic secrets and the attitudes behind them. It is a good long look through a window in to the mind of a Superpower. It will be fascinating to see what the global reaction is, and what other devils will be found lurking in the details.