US Ambassador to Germany says he is not leaving

The Hamburger Abendblatt published an article about Philip Murphy, the US ambassador to Germany. Over the past week, he met criticism because of his descriptions of German politicians, in particular of the FDP (Liberal Democrats).

On the day the first documents of Cablegate were released, he gave an interview in a tabloid. A summary can be found here:

Murphy received internal information from the coalition talks via a mole who worked for Guido Westerwelle, FDP. Some basic information:

A week after the Cablegate story broke, Murphy told the Abendblatt "I am not going anywhere", in response to members of the FDP who demanded he step down. He wrote to the MPs in question offering to talk to them in private once the situation had calmed down. Murphy said he had apologized to various people. He also stated "I don't blame them for being angry, I am angry as well." describing the past week as dreadful and very hard. He did, however, insist that the relations between the US and Germany had not been harmed in a significant way.

Both the CDU (Conservative) and the Green Party supported Murphy. A leading Green MP said "You can't ask the ambassador to step down just because the FDP isn't on top of things."

Full article:

See also the AFP coverage:

They do notice us

On Saturday the 4th of December Wikileaks released a cable from the Secretary of State created on the 3rd of November 2008. It is classified as secret/noforn.

Most of the cable focuses on serious topics - al Qua'ida, the execution of the Bali bombers, a suicide attack on a Pakistani official and so on.

It also contains reports on attempted "cyber attacks". These range from the trivial (such as a virus infected e mail claiming to come from a US embassy but being sent from a yahoo account) to serious attempts to hack into the US DoD. The cable also summarizes a conference held by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is the official name of the domestic secret service.

The passage I found most interesting, however, was a report on a peaceful, yet improvised demonstration at the Stockholm embassy. Twelve to fifteen protesters carrying banners demanding the fair treatment of Guantanamo detainees appeared in front of the embassy, took photographs of the building and disappeared soon after.

This rather banal event made it into a diplomatic cable sent out by the Secretary of State (not the Stockholm embassy!), and it was classified as secret. It is listed under the heading "significant events", not under "suspicious activity". The latter category contains reports of persons taking photos of embassies or suspicious cars.

Thus, the photographs were not the only reason why this event was described in a classified cable. Rather, it seems that the banners were perceived as a threat.

They do notice us, and they don't like things such as demonstrations on sensitive topics.

CIA flights with permission of the Spanish government [Update 2]

How to transfer detainees from Afghanistan or other countries to Guantanamo? A cable written at the US embassy on the 4th of December 2008 describes how the US ambassador negotiated a permission from the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs to use "discreet" Spanish airports as mid way stops for long haul flights:

The cable then goes on to discuss how documents on these negotiations were leaked to the press. The author complains that CIA flights and military flights were often mixed up in press reports.

The cable also describes private communication between the embassy and the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs.

Update 1: Al Jazeera on the role of European countries in CIA flights (predates Cablegate by a few days):

Update 2: SVD on how Sweden discovered about CIA flights via their territory (features secret service agents disguised as airport workers):

When they came for me...

Untitled Document

(January 1946), as quoted in Martin Niemöller, 1892-1984 (1984) by James Bentley, p. 177

The Spanish connection in the al Masri case [Update 2]

Previous coverage of the Khaled al Masri case can be found here:

On the 2nd of December, Wikileaks released a second cable about the al Masri case. It was written at the US embassy in Madrid on the 28th of December 2006.

It describes an investigation into flights departing from Spanish soil. Al Masri was said to have been on one of these flights. The cable also names the thirteen people who were accused of participating in the abduction.

At around the same time, there was an active investigation in Germany into the role of thirteen CIA officers in the same matter (please see previous post for details).

This new cable confirms that it was a CIA flight.

The cable quotes press reports indicating that five of the thirteen people on board held diplomatic passports.

The comments by the author of the cable are thus: the Spanish government stated that no crimes were committed on Spanish territory. The judge emphasized that he had indeed jurisdiction over cases of torture that were committed on foreign soil. The prosecutor is well known at the US embassy and he is expected to respect the wishes of the Spanish government. The judge might get territorial about his jurisdiction.

Update 1: In the meantime, Wikileaks published another cable relevant to the al-Masri case. It was written at the 1st of February 2007 in Madrid. It can be found here:

The author voices concern about the cooperation of the German and Spanish prosecution, which "will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level."

The flights under scrutiny were:
- Algiers to Palma to Skopje on January 22, 2004
- Guantanamo to Tenerife to Constanza, Romania on April 12,2004, and
- Madrid to Luxor, Egypt on December 16, 2003.

Who Were Wikileaks?

"WikiLeaks is the first global Samizdat movement. The truth will surface even in the face of total annihilation."

Thus spake the Wikileaks twitter, causing a bit of shock in readers who just got here when Julian Assange started wearing a suit and stopped talking about pissing in the corner of dragon caves.

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Get Healthy Get Strong, Get Educated and Informed

And start contributing to your own governance. If you want a democratic society, that is. I try not to get too preachy here, but the western population has been programmed towards a certain end, and if we are going to change the world, we need to at least be aware of this. The things we have been taught and fed for decades were part of a system meant to create an uneducated, ignorant, distracted populace. The military industrial complex has been with us for a long time and they have thought about these things. In order to fight them, we have to stop playing their games.

Ellsberg on Loyalty and the "Oath to Defend"

Click to Watch this Inspirational Interview with Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning. This interview took place shortly after Bradley Manning was identified as the alleged source of the first batch of massive leaks. Ellsberg discusses with authority the oath one takes when sworn into a position to defend America.


Okay, I was writing something called the Anonymous Revolution, but Wikileaks twitter just renamed it samizdat. I can live with the slightly more highbrow name, it is more accurate.

The point in either case is this. Wikileaks is not a lone vandal hacker. It is an idea. We all have the idea. And you can’t bomb an idea, or send drones after it, or put it in jail.

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Spies Are Only Them

Watching Hilary Clinton and her cohorts threatening Wikileaks over being “terrorists” and “spies” was a laugh. As always, the comedy ended when I started looking at the amount of people online who bought into it. The propaganda and misinformation has been so complete over the years, it is frightening what people will accept now.

Look at this.

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Cablegate: Whose Intelligence Is This Anyway?

The first wave of Wikileaks' Cablegate ground ashore Sunday night. (To search, visit's full text search site.) Coverage has been generally good. I have found Der Spiegel and The Guardian's websites invaluable.

Democracy is Coming … And It Looks Like Work.

The internet is slightly annoyed. In the euphoric highs of the weekend, people couldn’t wait for a giant document drop that would bring democracy to the world. But when it arrived, it was the biggest ton of documents we’d ever seen in our lives, formal documents yet, a brain crushing amount of work. So far we have 243 documents, which is not quite 0.1% of what we have to go through in just this batch. For democracy to be permanent, there will be an unending stream of these batches. Finals week, every week.

Who is the German citizen abducted by the CIA? [Update 5]

According to the New York Times, the US warned Germany not to enforce an arrest warrant against CIA agents who had kidnapped an innocent German citizen and abducted him to Afghanistan.

The article does not name this person, but it is very likely indeed that it is Khaled al Masri, who claims to have been abducted at the Macedonian border on new year's eve 2003. He says he was then brought to Afghanistan, where he was interrogated and tortured, and subsequently brought to Albania, where he was released. Even though his story seemed very unlikely at first sight, it was corroborated by a number of facts. Some links to previous press reports:

A German court issued arrest warrants for thirteen members of the CIA in January 2007.

There were suspicions that it was a case of mistaken identity.

Al Masri translates to “the Egyptian” and is a very common Arabic surname.

The exact details on who was informed about his abduction at which point and who could have intervened or provided diplomatic assistance are still not entirely clear.

Since his release, al Masri had stated that he was suffering from the effects of his abduction. In May 2007, al Masri set a supermarket on fire following a trivial argument with a sales assistant. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Update 1: The case discussed in the NYT is indeed the abduction of Khaled al Masri. The document the NYT refers to is 07BERLIN242 which can be found here:

Update 2: ACLU writes about futile attempts to hold US accountable for the abduction

Update 3: Video via boing boing

Update 4: Spanish airfields used in the abduction

Leaked Spiegel Report – English Summary

Today, two scanned pages of the next Spiegel issue appeared on the Internet. Here is a summary of the first page (the second does not contain any surprising revelations):

The person in charge of taking minutes for the FDP (the liberal democrat party) at the German coalition talks collaborates with the US. He is being described as young and ambitious. He has showed up repeatedly at the US embassy, typically carrying a stash of documents.

According to his statement (see cable 229153 from 09th of October 2009), the FDP is very much opposed to Wolfgang Schäuble, CDU (conservative party), describing him as a neurotic grumpy old man who is trying to control his party.

In a discussion about US nuclear weapons on German territory, Guido Westerwelle, FDP, stated that the US should withdraw their nuclear weapons, Schäuble maintained that they would be needed to deter Iran, to which Westerwelle replied that Iran was out of reach of these weapons. Merkel, CDU, put an end to the discussion stating that it would be useless for Germany to engage in such an initiative on its own.

Finally, the informant handed over a file with the complete transcripts of the coalition talks. Ambassador Murphy concluded that he intended to conduct further talks with the source.

See also: Murphy reaches out to German public in tabloid

Update: The leak was apparently caused by a newspaper vendor at Basel train station, who sold the embargoed Spiegel issues by accident.

The Intelligence Mafia

What is the difference between a terrorist and a soldier? The actions are now identical, both act to produce terror, so probably the only standing difference is that terrorists are non-government agencies. Remember that.

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Cablegate: All The Poisons

The end of last week saw a huge escalation in the amount of activity anticipating Wikileaks' next release. On Tuesday, Wikileaks released two tweets.

US Ambassador Comments on New Wikileaks Release

Today, Philip Murphy, the US ambassador to Germany, published an open letter in the most widely read newspaper of the country.

A few extracts from the text in English translation:

“We all need trust, at the work place and in our private lives. Loyalty – towards an employer, a friend or a partner – is the most precious good we have. Nowhere is this more the case than in the field of diplomacy: we facilitate the communication between governments to further common interests, to improve mutual understanding and to solve problems.


Wikileaks now recklessly distributes documents alleged to be highly sensitive communication classified as secret – a grave breach of trust which has put people's life in danger.

[...] The consequences are difficult to predict. It will at least be unpleasant – for my government, for those who are mentioned in the reports, and for me personally as the American ambassador to Germany.

I am sure that the friendship between the United States and Germany is going to survive this challenge.


This open letter appeared in Bild, the German equivalent of the Sun.

Wikileaks has in the past worked together with der Spiegel, a center-left weekly magazine which has a proud history of high quality investigative journalism and source protection.

How were the Iraq War Logs edited?

Other than most previous Wikileaks documents, the Iraq War Logs appeared in a redacted form. All proper names had been removed. At a press conference on the 23rd of October 2010 Julian Assange gave a glimpse on how this work was carried out. In the following, I am going to describe the process in my own words.

Rather than reviewing every single document one by one and deleting all proper names, Wikileaks decided to go for an intelligent approach to the matter. All content was assumed to be out, until it was whitelisted. This process is far more complex than it might appear at first sight, as a number of words could have very different meanings, depending on the context.

“Osama bin Laden” would, for instance, be difficult to pick up in a simple word by word search, as both the word “bin” and “Laden” are also part of the English vocabulary. Thus, Wikileaks approached the matter by conducting a context search, identifying common phrases and patterns in the text, and then decided whether these would be in or out. This was then supplemented by a word for word concordance search. Once the editing process was completed, a number of randomly chosen sample documents were reviewed to double check whether all names had indeed been replaced with blanks.

Even though this approach cut the work load down considerably, the editing process was still a lot of (hard) work. Broken down, the documents would have filled approximately 200,000 pages in a standard layout.

Caveat: I have no inside knowledge of the project. The above description is solely based on publicly available information.

There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself

The world has been rightly preoccupied with the plight of people in the countries currently being occupied by the US / NATO armies, which are understood to be the countries they are at war with. No one seems to recognize that the countries most occupied by these forces are the US, followed by their allies.

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Quotes I Love

Any regular reader knows how I feel about Martin Luther King’s words. Rather than constantly quoting him, I figured I would just give you the quotes themselves. I will add other people later.

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