United Kingdom

2010-12-02 Sweden case: The lawyers speak up

London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:

"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."

He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.

"We are also investigating whether the prosecutor's application to have Mr Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners – again a unique request – is in any way linked to this matter and the recent, rather bellicose US statements of an intention to prosecute Mr Assange."

The Guardian also refers to Stephens's statements to The Times arguing that the arrest warrant issued was invalid:

"The arrest warrant has been issued in circumstances where Assange has an outstanding appeal in Sweden," Stephens said in the Times, while a police source was quoted as saying Assange's warrant was "not a properly certified warrant so we can't act on it."

Stephens argued that although Assange was originally wanted on a charge of rape, this had been thrown out after a partially successful appeal and which meant that Swedish law did not allow for another arrest warrant for current allegations.

He said British police had probably not taken any action against Assange because the warrant was issued incorrectly rather than because they didn't know where he was.

"The sole ground for the warrant is the prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning. An appeal against this decision was filed on Monday and is pending," Stephens said.

Separately, Melbourne barrister James D. Catlin wrote in Crikey:

"Apparently having consensual s-x in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for r-pe. That is the basis for a reinstitution of r-pe charges against WikiLeaks figurehead Julian Assange that is destined to make Sweden and its justice system the laughing stock of the world and dramatically damage its reputation as a model of modernity.[...]

That further evidence hasn’t been confected to make the charges less absurd does Sweden no credit because it has no choice in the matter. The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the “crimes”.

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Niether Wilén’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of r-pe.

But then neither Arden nor Wilén complained to the police but rather “sought advice”, a technique in Sweden enabling citizens to avoid just punishment for making false complaints. They sought advice together, having collaborated and irrevocably tainted each other’s evidence beforehand. Their SMS texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen beforehand in order to maximise the damage to Assange. They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them. You can see Wilén on the YouTube video of the event even now.[...]

A great deal more damning evidence is yet to be revealed about what passes for legal process in Sweden, such as Assange’s lawyers having not received a single official document until November 18, 2010 (and then in Swedish language contrary to European Law) and having to learn about the status of investigations through prosecution media announcements but make no mistake: it is not Julian Assange that is on trial here but Sweden and its reputation as a modern and model country with rules of law."

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An appeal against the arrest warrant was filed on Tuesday on behalf of Julian Assange with the Sweden Supreme Court, covered here. Our full Sweden case coverage section can be found here.

2010-12-01 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 4

(Parts 1-3 of this coverage series are available here, here, and here.)

Seumas Milne, The Guardian: WikiLeaks is holding US global power to account

"Official America's reaction to the largest leak of confidential government files in history is tipping over towards derangement. What the White House initially denounced as a life-threatening "criminal" act and Hillary Clinton branded an "attack on the international community" has been taken a menacing stage further by the newly emboldened Republican right.

WikiLeaks' release of 250,000 United States embassy cables – shared with the Guardian and other international newspapers – was an act of terrorism, Senator Peter King declared. Sarah Palin called for its founder Julian Assange to be hunted down as an "anti-American operative with blood on his hands", while former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has demanded that whoever leaked the files should be executed for treason.

Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.[...]

But in any case the United States is the centre of a global empire, a state with a military presence in most countries which arrogates to itself the role of world leader and policeman. When genuine checks on how it exercises that entirely undemocratic power are so weak at home, let alone in the rest of the world it still dominates, it's both inevitable and right that people everywhere will try to find ways to challenge and hold it to account.[...]

By making available Washington's own account of its international dealings WikiLeaks has opened some of the institutions of global power to scrutiny and performed a democratic service in the process. Its next target is said to be the leviathan of the banks – bring it on."
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Glenn Greenwald, Salon: The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics

"I'm not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden. The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of -- and in some cases directly responsible for -- the world's deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade. And they're demanding Assange's imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them. To accomplish that, they're actually advocating -- somehow with a straight face -- the theory that if a single innocent person is harmed by these disclosures, then it proves that Assange and WikiLeaks are evil monsters who deserve the worst fates one can conjure, all while they devote themselves to protecting and defending a secrecy regime that spawns at least as much human suffering and disaster as any single other force in the world. That is what the secrecy regime of the permanent National Security State has spawned.[...]

That abuse of secrecy powers is vast, deliberate, pervasive, dangerous and destructive. That's the abuse that WikiLeaks is devoted to destroying, and which its harshest critics -- whether intended or not -- are helping to preserve. There are people who eagerly want that secrecy regime to continue: namely, (a) Washington politicians, Permanent State functionaries, and media figures whose status, power and sense of self-importance are established by their access and devotion to that world of secrecy, and (b) those who actually believe that -- despite (or because of) all the above acts -- the U.S. Government somehow uses this extreme secrecy for the Good. Having surveyed the vast suffering and violence they have wreaked behind that wall, those are exactly the people whom WikiLeaks is devoted to undermining."
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Amy Davidson, The New Yorker: Banishing WikiLeaks?

"Lieberman may be exaggerating his own role, and Amazon can make choices about what business to be in. Still, is Amazon reporting to a senator now? Is the company going to tell him about “the extent of its relationship” with WikiLeaks—with any customer? He’s free to ask, of course, but in terms of an obligation to answer: Does somebody have a warrant or a subpoena for that? One wonders if Lieberman feels that he, or any Senator, can call in the company running The New Yorker’s printing presses when we are preparing a story that includes leaked classified material, and tell them to stop it. The circumstances are different, but not so different as to be really reassuring.

There are worse things one can do than cut off a server; for example, cut off a head. That seems to be where other WikiLeaks critics are headed. Sarah Palin said that Assange should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden; Newt Gingrich said that he should be treated as an enemy combatant; and Bill Kristol wants the Obama Administration to think about kidnapping or killing Assange “and his collaborators.” (Kristol doesn’t use the word “kill,” but rather “whack” and “neutralize,” as if some combination of slang and clinical talk made everything all right.) Is that where we are? (This isn’t to dismiss Assange’s other, Swedish legal troubles; the characters here are neither supervillains nor superheroes.) One question that came up in the debate about Obama putting Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, on an assassination list without even making a pretense of going through the courts was who else you could kill on the same grounds. It is striking to see how unabashedly that line of reasoning has been pursued. If we can shoot down Julian Assange, how about any investigative reporter who might learn something that embarrasses our government? We seem to have hopelessly confused national security with the ability of a particular Administration to pursue its policies."
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Roy Greenslade, The London Evening Standard: WikiLeaks empowers us all… whatever the critics say

"It might be trite to observe that knowledge is power and that a lack of knowledge means a lack of power. But, trite or not, it remains a valid statement of reality. Journalism was founded precisely to redress the knowledge/power imbalance. It was born from a need among the don't-knows to know. That is why the knowledgeable stifled journalistic inquiry from its inception in Britain and why, in states where democracy is non-existent or very fragile, their authorities continue to harass a nascent journalism.

It is not far fetched to say that the history of democracy is the history of journalism. Freedom of the press does not exist outside of democratic societies. There is no democracy without press freedom.[...]

In the short term, the consequences might be embarrassing, though I doubt if they will ever be as catastrophic as so many government and military spokesmen have contended this week. What we are witnessing is a democratic leap forward, an opportunity for the people of several countries to get a glimpse of what is being said and done in their name.

At the same time, it is changing journalism too. I detect that some journalists are none too pleased about the WikiLeaks phenomenon, questioning the motives of its shadowy movers and shakers. But the critics ought to take note of the essential job done by traditional newspaper journalists to turn the leaked cables into sensible, readable editorial copy.

In essence, journalists in the 21st century are still doing what their forebears did in the 17th century, making sense of scraps of knowledge for the wider public good."
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The Economist: Missing the point of WikiLeaks

"The basic question is not whether we think Julian Assange is a terrorist or a hero. The basic question certainly is not whether we think exposing the chatter of the diplomatic corps helps or hinders their efforts, and whether this is a good or bad thing. To continue to focus on these questions is to miss the forest for the texture of the bark on a single elm. If we take the inevitability of future large leaks for granted, then I think the debate must eventually centre on the things that will determine the supply of leakers and leaks. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals the sense of justice which would embolden them to challenge the institutions that control our fate by bringing their secrets to light. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals ever greater fealty and submission to corporations and the state in order to protect the privileges and prerogatives of the powerful, lest their erosion threaten what David Brooks calls "the fragile community"—our current, comfortable dispensation."
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Charlie Stross: Julian Assange, defending our democracies (despite their owners' wishes)

"Assange has a model of how the abduction of governance by common interest groups — such as corporations and right wing political factions — works in the current age. His goal is to impair the ability of these groups to exert control over democratic institutions without the consent of the governed. By forcing these authoritarian institutions to apply ever-heavier burdens of secrecy to their internal communications, wikileaks aims to reduce their ability to coordinate and, thus, to exert control.[...]

Wikileaks is not attacking the US government; rather, it's acting to degrade the ability of pressure groups to manipulate the US government to their own ends. Those who benefit the most from their ability to manipulate the State Department are the most angry about this: autocratic middle eastern leaders, authoritarian right-wing politicians, royalty, corporate cartels. Those of us who are scratching our heads and going "huh?" about the significance of Muammar Ghadaffi's botox habit are missing the point: it's not about the content, but about the implication that the powerful can no longer count on their ability to lie to the public without being called on it.

In an ideal world, wikileaks wouldn't be necessary. But the US mass media has been neutered and coopted by the enemies of the public interest."
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2010-12-01 WikiLeaks in today's media: Further Cablegate coverage [Update 3]

Romanian Insider: WikiLeaks runs first confidential cable wire from Romania on adoption cases

"WikiLeaks has published the first confidential document sent from the US Embassy in Bucharest to the US. The document, sent in 2006 by the then US Ambassador to Bucharest Nicholas Taubman refers to adoption cases. “On April 5, Embassy received by mail a letter from Theodora Bertzi, Secretary of State for the Government of Romania,s (GOR) Romanian Office for Adoptions (ROA), dated March 29 and including the final report of the GOR Working Group established in June 2005 to audit pending petitions by foreign families to adopt Romanian orphans and abandoned children,” writes the document. “‘The report shows that none of the 1,092 children identified in the pending petitions will be available for inter-country adoption, ostensibly for the following reasons,” the document goes on, further mentioning the reasons."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables claim Russia armed Georgian separatists

"Russia provided Grad missiles and other arms to separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and carried out a wave of "covert actions" to undermine Georgia in the runup to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, US diplomatic cables say.

The Kremlin's hostile measures against Georgia included missile attacks, murder plots and "a host of smaller-scale actions", the leaked cables said. Russian secret services also ran a disinformation campaign against Georgia's pro-American, pro-Nato president, Mikheil Saakashvili, claiming he suffered from "paranoid dysfunction"."
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The Globe and Mail: France pressed U.S. on Khadr as Ottawa stood silent: WikiLeaks

"France’s foreign minister asked the United States to consider releasing Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay even though the Harper government adamantly refused to intervene, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

The memo, released by WikiLeaks, shows that Bernard Kouchner, who was French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign minister until three weeks ago, personally asked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to review the case in a meeting in February of 2009."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Alexander Litvinenko murder 'probably had Putin's OK'

"Vladimir Putin was likely to have known about the operation in London to murder the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, Washington's top diplomat in Europe alleged in secret conversations in Paris.

Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state, questioned whether "rogue elements" in Russia's security services could have carried out the hit without Putin's direct approval."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables condemn Russia as 'mafia state'

"Russia is a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a "virtual mafia state", according to leaked secret diplomatic cables that provide a damning American assessment of its erstwhile rival superpower.

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300bn a year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables allege Russia bribed Viktor Bout witnesses

"Russia tried to block the extradition of the suspected international arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to America by bribing key witnesses, the US claims.

Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout's "Russian supporters" had paid witnesses to give false testimony during his extradition hearing."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Moscow mayor presided over 'pyramid of corruption'

"The US ambassador to Russia claimed that Moscow's veteran mayor Yuri Luzhkov sat on top of a "pyramid of corruption" involving the Kremlin, Russia's police force, its security service, political parties and crime groups."
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Channel 4: Wikileaks: US memo accuses Sri Lanka President of war crimes

"Channel 4 News uncovers a WikiLeaks cable which appears to show the United States believes responsibility for alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka rests with its leaders, including President Rajapakse.

The cable, released today by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, and unearthed by Channel 4 News, was sent from the US Embassy in Colombo on 15 January this year and is headed: 'Sri Lanka war crimes accountability: the Tamil perspective'."
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The Nation: The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan

Jeremy Scahill writes: "Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct US drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump."
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Newsweek: Never Mind Democracy

"WikiLeaks documents reveal how closely U.S. worked with Mideast autocracies despite lofty rhetoric about freedom.

Julian Assange’s data dump has helped confirm that America’s democracy agenda is over. The project of liberating the Middle East from tyrannical regimes and installing free governments was once a centerpiece of the United States’ post-9/11 strategy, but the latest cables released by WikiLeaks reveal a far different reality."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban

"British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, the Guardian can disclose.

According to leaked US embassy dispatches, David Miliband, who was Britain's foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory."
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The Guardian: Wikileaks: US pressured Spain over CIA rendition and Guantánamo torture

"US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations into Guantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having "an anti-American streak".

"We are certainly under no illusions about the individual with whom we are dealing," they said after he opened an investigation into torture at Guantánamo Bay prison camp. "Judge Garzon has been a storied and controversial figure in recent Spanish history, whose ambition and pursuit of the spotlight may be without rival."
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El País: "Tendremos que ser conscientes de lo que está en juego cuando uno se sienta delante de un funcionario de EE UU"

"Ex diplomáticos españoles celebran que salgan a la luz 250.000 documentos secretos de la mayor potencia del mundo. (Former Spanish diplomats celebrate the coming to lights of 250,000 secret documents belonging to the world's biggest power.)[...]

Máximo Cajal, diplomático retirado que ejerció durante 35 años su oficio, cree que la Casa Blanca, sólo trata de "eludir las muchas responsabilidades que en este tema tiene la Administración Obama, aunque algunas de ellas sean sobrevenidas". "Además, con esas críticas sólo se pretende matar al mensajero". En cuanto a lo que concierne a España, Cajal opina que se deberían extraer algunas lecciones. "Estos documentos ponen al desnudo las presiones confesables y algunas inconfesables a los que están sometidos los llamados países aliados. Los llamados países aliados tendremos que ser más cautos. El jefe de Estado, los ministros, la Magistratura, los fiscales... En el futuro tendremos que ser conscientes de lo que está en juego cuando uno se sienta delante de un funcionario de EE UU. No se trata sólo de que puedan aparecer sus manifestaciones publicadas, como ha ocurrido, sino que uno puede verse sometido a presiones. Hay que ser cauteloso con lo que se dice y con lo que se escucha, porque muchas veces compromete más lo que se escucha que lo que se dice"."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US special forces working inside Pakistan

"Small teams of US special forces soldiers have been secretly embedded with Pakistani military forces in the tribal belt, helping to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaida fighters and co-ordinate drone strikes, the embassy cables reveal.

The numbers involved are small – just 16 soldiers in October 2009 – but the deployment is of immense political significance, described in a cable that provides an unprecedented glimpse into covert American operations in the world's most violent al-Qaida hotbed."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Pakistani army chief considered plan to oust president

"Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, considered pushing President Asif Ali Zardari from office and forcing him into exile to resolve a political dispute, the US embassy cables reveal.

Kayani aired the idea during a frantic round of meetings with the US ambassador Anne Patterson in March 2009 as opposition leader Nawaz Sharif rallied thousands of supporters in a street movement that threatened to topple the government."
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Amnesty International: Wikileaks cable corroborates evidence of US airstrikes in Yemen

"A leaked diplomatic cable has corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International showing that the US military carried out a missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009 that killed 41 local residents.

In the secret cable from January 2010 published by the organisation Wikileaks, Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reported as having assured US General David Petraeus that his government would 'continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours'.[...]

Amnesty International provided the media with photographs of the aftermath of the Abyan strike in June this year, including remnants of the US-sourced cluster munitions and the Tomahawk cruise missiles used to deliver them. The organization also requested information from the Pentagon about the involvement of US forces in the al-Ma'jalah attack, and what precautions may have been taken to minimize deaths and injuries, but has yet to receive a response.

However, a press report a day after the images were released stated that the USA declined to comment on the strike, saying questions on operations against al-Qa'ida should be posed to the Yemeni government. The US government did not respond to the evidence or comment on the airstrike at the time. In the 4 January cable, General Petraeus is recorded as stating that the attack had only caused two civilian casualties but a subsequent inquiry by Yemeni parliamentarians found that 41 civilians had been killed in the attack."
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2010-12-01 Mark Stephens on BBC

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WikiLeaks lawyer and Index on Censorship trustee Mark Stephens was interviewed on BBC about the Cablegate release:

Q: "What do you make of this accusation that it's irresponsible and that it's possibly putting people's lives at risk?"

A: "I think it's fanciful, and the reason I say I think it's fanciful is that the redactions that have been undertaken on this have been done very carefully. A lot of man-hours have been done, they have been cross-checked by the news organizations and the US did also get the opportunity to indicate where they thought that there were problems or lives or operational issues would be put at risk. And indeed, that's the same process that was put in place last time, when the Afghanistan documents were put into the public domain, and the Pentagon spokesman Mr. Lapan, Secretary of State for Defence Gates and NATO officials in Afghanistan all said that they could find not a single example of a person's life being put at risk as a result of that. So I think that the allegations clearly were there, I think, to distract attention from the major issues of huge public importance, which I think ultimately, in the long run, that's what the Americans are concerned about, and that's what many other states who are criticized in these cables [are concerned about], because it would be wrong to say this is anti-American. There are many other state actors, particularly the Russians, who don't come out of this very well at all."

Watch the video

2010-12-01 Censorship in the (not so free) press

After the British government had issued two Defence Advisory Notices to the UK press last week, which were largely ignored or rebutted by UK media, the Australian attorney general issued his own request for a "voluntary agreement to censor" WikiLeaks information, while China dropped the "voluntary" part altogether.

News.com.au: Should we censor WikiLeaks cables on national security grounds?

"Every major news outlet in Australia has received a letter this week from Attorney-General Robert McClelland asking editors to consider a voluntary agreement to censor 'sensitive national security and law enforcement information,'" writes News.com.au Editor in Chief David Penberthy.

The full letter from Robert McClelland is available here (PDF).

News.com.au is asking its readers to vote on whether the site should censor WikiLeaks information. You can vote here. At the time of this writing, 78.1% of readers had voted "No."
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IDG: China blocks access to WikiLeaks

Michael Kan reports for IDG: "China has blocked Internet access to WikiLeaks' release of more than 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables, with its Foreign Ministry saying that it does not wish to see any disturbance in China-U.S. relations.

"China takes note of the government reports. We hope the U.S. side will handle the relevant issues," Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, said at a Beijing news conference on Tuesday. "As for the content of the documents, we will not comment on that."

Access to WikiLeaks' Cablegate page, as well as certain Chinese language news articles covering the topic, have been blocked in the country since Monday. Other articles from the Chinese press that are accessible on the web appear to only concern the U.S. response."
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2010-11-30 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 2

(Part 1 of this coverage series is available here.)

The Economist: In defence of WikiLeaks

"If secrecy is necessary for national security and effective diplomacy, it is also inevitable that the prerogative of secrecy will be used to hide the misdeeds of the permanent state and its privileged agents. I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee. Organisations such as WikiLeaks, which are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy. Some folks ask, "Who elected Julian Assange?" The answer is nobody did, which is, ironically, why WikiLeaks is able to improve the quality of our democracy. Of course, those jealously protective of the privileges of unaccountable state power will tell us that people will die if we can read their email, but so what? Different people, maybe more people, will die if we can't."
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John Nichols, The Nation: The White House Is Wrong to Claim WikiLeak Harms the Cause of Human Rights

"On Sunday, [White House Press Secretary] Gibbs achieved the rare combination of utter shamelessness and utter shamefulness when he claimed that by releasing classified diplomatic communications "WikiLeaks has put at risk…the cause of human rights."

Reasonable people may debate the way in which WikiLeaks obtains and releases classified documents. But for Gibbs to try and claim that transparency and openness pose broad threats to the cause of human rights—in the face of all of the compromises of US administrations over the past several decades—is intellectually and practically dishonest.[...]

This is the spin that Gibbs and his team have chosen to employ in their effort to attack the ideal of transparency in international affairs. But, let’s be clear, it is merely spin.

There can and should be honest debates about these WikiLeaks in particular, and in general about the approach of those who leak and circulate classified information. But Gibbs is not engaging in such a debate. Instead, he is feigning upset over human rights in order to deflect attention from revelations regarding the backdoor dealings of US administrations—including the current one—that have consciously and consistently diminished the ability of this country to advance the cause of human rights."
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Heather Brooke, The Guardian: WikiLeaks: the revolution has begun – and it will be digitised

"Much of the outrage about WikiLeaks is not over the content of the leaks but from the audacity of breaching previously inviable strongholds of authority. In the past, we deferred to authority and if an official told us something would damage national security we took that as true. Now the raw data behind these claims is increasingly getting into the public domain. What we have seen from disclosures like MPs' expenses or revelations about the complicity of government in torture is that when politicians speak of a threat to "national security", often what they mean is that the security of their own position is threatened.

We are at a pivotal moment where the visionaries at the vanguard of a global digital age are clashing with those who are desperate to control what we know. WikiLeaks is the guerrilla front in a global movement for greater transparency and participation.[...]

This is a revolution, and all revolutions create fear and uncertainty. Will we move to a New Information Enlightenment or will the backlash from those who seek to maintain control no matter the cost lead us to a new totalitarianism? What happens in the next five years will define the future of democracy for the next century, so it would be well if our leaders responded to the current challenge with an eye on the future."
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Israel Shamir, Counterpunch: On Board the Good Ship Cablegate: Assange in the Entrails of Empire

"Tensions run high when you dare oppose the awesome power of the Matrix. These bright, young cyber-warriors are willing to put their lives on the line for us. Will they survive the launch, or will some evil clones round them up and break them down? In any case, spirits are high and the weather is fit for such a daring enterprise: glorious high skies, a brilliant sun, and bright stars to guide us through the restless nights. Whatever happens I shall be forever grateful for these days, for the company of these charming young men and women, and for the inspiration of their charismatic leader. It is impossible not to admire Julian Assange. He is forever kind, quiet, gentle, and even meek; like the Tao, he leads without leading, directs without commanding. He never raises his voice; he hardly needs to speak and the way becomes clear. Our Neo is guided by the ideal of social transparency. Bright light is the best weapon against conspiracies.[...]

It appears that American power peaked in 1990s, and now it has begun to slowly decay. Megaleaks is not so much a cause as a symptom of decline. With any luck, people of good will around the world can work together to gracefully degrade the machinery of foreign domination. Americans have benefited least of all from the violent and intrusive politics of globalism. Heroic figures like Julian Assange lead us toward genuine local control and away from a Matrix-like network of conspiracies.
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Norman Solomon, Common Dreams: WikiLeaks: Demystifying “Diplomacy”

"Compared to the kind of secret cables that WikiLeaks has just shared with the world, everyday public statements from government officials are exercises in make-believe. In a democracy, people have a right to know what their government is actually doing. In a pseudo-democracy, a bunch of fairy tales from high places will do the trick.[...]

The recent mega-leaks are especially jarring because of the extreme contrasts between the U.S. government's public pretenses and real-life actions. But the standard official response is to blame the leaking messengers.[...]

But what kind of "national security" can be built on duplicity from a government that is discredited and refuted by its own documents?"
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Jeff Sparrow, ABC (Australia): Some junk needs to be touched

"If you’re a democrat, it’s a pretty basic principle: the public should know what the government does in its name.

Consider one of the new WikiLeaks revelations. Salon reports that one cable documents a US diplomat "warn[ing] German counterparts against issuing arrest warrants for CIA agents who were involved in the kidnapping of a German citizen, who was brought to Afghanistan and tortured before officials concluded that they had the wrong man".

It speaks volumes of where we’re now at that the newsworthy aspect of the sentence quoted above doesn’t relate to CIA involvement in kidnapping and torture. No, no, that’s old news – merely another tiny facet of the criminality and lawlessness fostered by the secrecy and unaccountability of the Bush administration.

By contrast, the exposure of attempts to bully German officials to abandon a torture investigation goes some tiny way to restoring the notion of a rule of law – you know, that old-fashioned notion that government officials shouldn’t be able to kidnap people with impunity.[...]

With the WikiLeaks cables, we’re not discussing personal modesty. We’re talking about decisions with real implications for a world we all have to live in. No-one wants to see Robert Gibbs naked. But, however embarrassing the US spokespeople might find it, WikiLeaks's enhanced pat-down is a good thing for democracy."
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2010-11-29 Craig Murray: "Raise a glass to WikiLeaks"

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Former British ambassador and human rights activist Craig Murray wrote an opinion piece on WikiLeaks and the embassy cable revelations for The Guardian. The unabriged article is available on his website.

"The well paid securitocracy have been out in force in the media, attacking Wikileaks and repeating their well worn mantras. These leaks will claim innocent lives, and will damage national security. They will encourage Islamic terrorism. Government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe. In fact, this action by Wikileaks is so cataclysmic, I shall be astonished if we are not all killed in our beds tonight.

Except that we heard exactly the same things months ago when Wikileaks released the Iraq war documents and then the Afghan war documents, and nobody has been able to point to a concrete example of any of these bloodcurdling consequences.[...]

I have never understood why it is felt that behaviours which would be considered reprehensible in private or even commercial life – like lying, or saying one thing to one person and the opposite to another person – should be considered acceptable, or even praiseworthy, in diplomacy. [...]

Those who argue that Wikileaks are wrong, believe that we should entrust the government with sole control of what the people can and cannot know of what is done in their name. That attitude led to the “Dodgy dossier” of lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.[...]

The people discomfited by these leaks are people who deserve to be discomfited. Truth helps the people against rapacious elites – everywhere."
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Photo credit: Colin McPherson

2010-12-01 Frontline event: First Wednesday: WikiLeaks - The US embassy cables

The Frontine Club has announced a panel discussion on WikiLeaks and the embassy cables as part of the "First Wednesday" event series. The panel will take place on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at the Frontline Club, London:

"Following the release this weekend of 251,287 confidential United States embassy cables, this month's First Wednesday debate will focus on the revelations of this latest leak from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. We will be joined by:

* WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson;
* James Ball a data journalist who has been working with WikiLeaks;
* Nicky Hager, author and Investigative journalist;

Additional panelists to be confirmed."

The debate will be chaired by Paddy O'Connell of BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House.

Event website: http://frontlineclub.com/events/2010/12/first-wednesday-9.html

Cablegate coverage - The Guardian

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The Guardian: US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis

"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.

2010-11-28 WikiLeaks in today's media: "Cablegate" goes live [Update 3]

The Guardian: US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis

"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 of which are 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's leadership.

These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistlebowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues."
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Further coverage from The Guardian:
Diplomats ordered to spy on UN leaders
Saudis repeatedly urge attack on Iran
How 250,000 US embassy cables were leaked
Siprnet: America's secret information database
Explore the US embassy cables database

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment
The Guardian's Simon Jenkins writes: "Perhaps we can now see how catastrophe unfolds when there is time to avert it, rather than having to await a Chilcot report after the event. If that is not in the public's interest, I fail to see what is.

Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed. Where it is doing the right thing, a great power should be robust against embarrassment."

El País: Los secretos de la diplomacia de Estados Unidos, al descubierto

"EL PAÍS, en colaboración con otros diarios de Europa y Estados Unidos, revela a partir de hoy el contenido de la mayor filtración de documentos secretos a la que jamás se haya tenido acceso en toda la historia. Se trata de una colección de más de 250.000 mensajes del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, obtenidos por la página digital WikiLeaks, en los que se descubren episodios inéditos ocurridos en los puntos más conflictivos del mundo, así como otros muchos sucesos y datos de gran relevancia que desnudan por completo la política exterior norteamericana, sacan a la luz sus mecanismos y sus fuentes, dejan en evidencia sus debilidades y obsesiones, y en conjunto facilitan la comprensión por parte de los ciudadanos de las circunstancias en las que se desarrolla el lado oscuro de las relaciones internacionales."
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Further coverage from El País:
Washington ordena espiar en la ONU
Los árabes piden a EE UU frenar a Irán por cualquier medio
EE UU vigila de cerca la agenda islamista de Erdogan
WikiLeaks, información transparente contra el secretismo
"La seguridad de las fuentes, fundamental"
Directo: Las repercusiones de la filtración de papeles

Der Spiegel - English coverage

"Such surprises from the annals of US diplomacy will dominate the headlines in the coming days when the New York Times, London's Guardian, Paris' Le Monde, Madrid's El Pais and SPIEGEL begin shedding light on the treasure trove of secret documents from the State Department. Included are 243,270 diplomatic cables filed by US embassies to the State Department and 8,017 directives that the State Department sent to its diplomatic outposts around the world. In the coming days, the participating media will show in a series of investigative stories how America seeks to steer the world. The development is no less than a political meltdown for American foreign policy.

Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information -- data that can help paint a picture of the foundation upon which US foreign policy is built. Never before has the trust America's partners have in the country been as badly shaken. Now, their own personal views and policy recommendations have been made public -- as have America's true views of them."

Further English coverage from Der Spiegel:
Section front: WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables
What Do the Diplomatic Cables Really Tell Us?
'Tribune of Anatolia': Diplomatic Cables Reveal US Doubts about Turkey's Government
The Germany Dispatches: Internal Source Kept US Informed of Merkel Coalition Negotiations
Foreign Policy Meltdown: Leaked Cables Reveal True US Worldview
Orders from Clinton: US Diplomats Told to Spy on Other Countries at United Nations
The US Diplomatic Leaks: A Superpower's View of the World

Der Spiegel: Geheimdepeschen enthüllen Weltsicht der USA

"Es ist ein Desaster für die US-Diplomatie. WikiLeaks hat mehr als 250.000 Dokumente aus dem Washingtoner Außenministerium zugespielt bekommen, interne Botschaftsberichte aus aller Welt. Sie enthüllen, wie die Supermacht die Welt wirklich sieht - und ihren globalen Einfluss wahren will.[...]

Solche Überraschungen aus den Annalen der US-Diplomatie werden in den nächsten Tagen die Schlagzeilen beherrschen, denn von diesem Montag an beginnen die "New York Times", der Londoner "Guardian", der Pariser "Monde", das Madrider "País" und DER SPIEGEL damit, den geheimen Datenschatz des Außenministeriums ans Licht zu holen. Aus einem Fundus von 243.270 diplomatischen Depeschen, die Amerikas Botschaften an die Zentrale sendeten, und 8017 Direktiven, welche das State Departement an seine Botschaften in aller Welt verschickte, versuchen die beteiligten Medien in einer Serie von Enthüllungsgeschichten nachzuzeichnen, wie Amerika die Welt lenken möchte."
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Further coverage from Der Spiegel:
US-Depeschen über Deutschland: Skepsis gegenüber Schwarz-Gelb
US-Depeschen über die Türkei: Furcht vor islamistischen Tendenzen unter Erdogan
US-Depeschen über Iran: USA paktieren mit Arabern
US-Depeschen über die Uno: Außenministerium lässt Diplomaten ausspähen
Themenseite: Alles zu den Botschaftsdepeschen

Le Monde: Les révélations de WikiLeaks sur les coulisses de la diplomatie américaine

"Les cinq journaux vont publier, à partir du 28 novembre, des dizaines d'articles sur les coulisses de la diplomatie américaine, ainsi que des pays avec lesquels les Etats-Unis sont en contact. Les thèmes sont avant tout diplomatiques et politiques. Les relations des Etats-Unis avec l'Europe, la Russie, la Chine et les pays du Moyen-Orient sont longuement évoquées. L'Afghanistan et l'Irak, les deux pays où l'Amérique est en guerre, sont très présents. Le terrorisme et la prolifération nucléaire sont des sujets permanents. Le Monde publiera des dossiers spéciaux sur la France.

De même que l'on ne découvrira pas le nom de l'assassin du président Kennedy dans les archives du département d'Etat, ce n'est pas en lisant ces télégrammes qu'on connaîtra les plus protégés des secrets d'Etat. Mais aucun sujet d'intérêt politique, du plus sérieux au plus futile, n'est absent de ces câbles qui, selon le degré d'information et le talent du diplomate, dresse un passionnant état des lieux de la planète, scrutée par des regards américains."
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Further coverage from Le Monde:
Pourquoi "Le Monde" publie les documents WikiLeaks
Observer le régime iranien et ses méthodes d'intimidation
Iran : comment les Israéliens ont poussé Washington à la fermeté
La peur des pays arabes face à l'Iran
Espionnage : les ordres de Washington aux diplomates américains
Manning, un militaire à l'origine des plus grandes " fuites " de l'histoire

The New York Times: State's Secrets: Cables Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels

"A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks intends to make the archive public on its Web site in batches, beginning Sunday.

The anticipated disclosure of the cables is already sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could conceivably strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict."
Read more

Further coverage from the New York Times:
Documents: selected dispatches
Around the world, distress over Iran
Mixing diplomacy with spying
Iran is fortified with North Korean aid
A note to readers: the decision to publish diplomatic documents

2010-11-28 WikiLeaks in today's media: "Cablegate" release imminent

Der Spiegel: The US Diplomatic Leaks: A Superpower's View of the World

"Such surprises from the annals of US diplomacy will dominate the headlines in the coming days when the New York Times, London's Guardian, Paris' Le Monde, Madrid's El Pais and SPIEGEL begin shedding light on the treasure trove of secret documents from the State Department. Included are 243,270 diplomatic cables filed by US embassies to the State Department and 8,017 directives that the State Department sent to its diplomatic outposts around the world. In the coming days, the participating media will show in a series of investigative stories how America seeks to steer the world. The development is no less than a political meltdown for American foreign policy."
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El País: La inminente filtración de papeles por WikiLeaks acorrala a Washington

"The imminent publication of U.S. official documents obtained by WikiLeaks opens a new challenge to Washington's diplomacy. According to analysts, the new WikiLeaks release will provide a stark view of U.S. State Department communications with its 297 embassies, consulates and missions abroad, through what is commonly known as cables, telegrams used to convey official instructions and reports between Washington and its representative offices, and vice versa."
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The Guardian: Why do editors committed to press freedom attack WikiLeaks?

Roy Greenslade writes: "More dispiriting still were leader columns critical of the leaks. The great advocates of press freedom, for ever proclaiming the virtues of public disclosure, seem unable to stomach an outsider doing the job.[...]

The Mail on Sunday's leader, 'Grim irony of WikiLeaks', read like a memo from a government security consultant. It argued that modern states should take steps to protect their secrets by avoiding the storing of information on databases.

Aren't we in the job of ferreting out secrets so that our readers - the voters - can know what their elected governments are doing in their name? Isn't it therefore better that we can, at last, get at them?"
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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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2010-11-27 "The Embassy Files" ready for launch [Update 4]

Der Spiegel: Q & A: What the diplomatic cables actually reveal

Der Spiegel has posted a Q&A about the 'Embassy Files' release. Among the details:

  • Included are 251,287 cables and 8,000 diplomatic directives
  • One cable dates back to 1966, but most are newer than 2004
  • 9,005 documents date from the first two months of 2010
  • Der Spiegel, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and El País have had access to the files and reviewed them.

None of the documents are classified 'Top Secret', but only 'Secret' at the highest classification rating. This was also confirmed by Politico's White House correspondent Mike Allen on Twitter, quoting the US administration.

According to Der Spiegel, just over half of the cables are not subject to classification, 40.5 percent are classified as "confidential" and only six percent or 15,652 dispatches as "secret." 2.5 million U.S. employees have access to SIPRNET material, where these cables originated.

A graphical representation of the worldwide distribution of the cables appears on the Spiegel site.

Der Spiegel is expected to go live with the full edition at 22:30 Sunday, local time, according to a front page announcement.

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Update: Spiegel article may have been posted too early. It appears to have been taken down at the moment.
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OWNI launches live-blog and document portal

OWNI has launched its own live-blog to cover the 'Embassy Files' release:
English version: [Live] Statelogs: A new world?
French version: [Live] Statelogs: Un nouveau monde?

"Together with Le Soir in Brussels and Slate.fr in Paris, we will provide the tools and context to explore the logs," said OWNI. The OWNI log-browsing application will go live in a few hours.

Le Soir is hosting its own "BEkileaks" blog to report on documents concerning Belgium: http://blog.lesoir.be/wikileaks/

Update 1: According to OWNI sources, only between 500-1000 documents concern France.
--

The Guardian gets ready

Update 2: The Guardian's investigative editor David Leigh noted on Twitter: "The truth about the #wikileaks cables is going to come out in the #guardian soon"

Update 3: Further update from David Leigh on Twitter: "UK Sunday papers have got it all wrong about #wikileaks #embassy cables. Not worth reading. Wait for the #guardian!"
--

The US State Department responds

Update 4: The State Department made available to the media late on Saturday a letter that legal counsel Harold Koh wrote to Julian Assange and his attorneys with regards to the upcoming release. The State Department said this was in reponse to a letter received from Julian Assange on Friday addressing concerns related to the release and asking for information on individuals who might be at risk of harm.

AFP: "We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials," State Department legal adviser Harold Koh wrote. "As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorisation, they were provided in violation of US law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action," Koh continued. "As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing."

Further details on AFP and Politico.

The Washington Post has made available a PDF of the State Department letter: download.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas notes on Twitter: "Senior US official tells me Assange offered to negotiate limited redactions State Dept replied no negotiations, publication violates US law."

The US Ambassador to Berlin, Philip Murphy, has published an open letter in Bild am Sontag. One of our editors reports on the letter.

Further updates as we get them.

2010-11-27 WikiLeaks in today's media [Update 2]

The unprecedented US government effort to minimize fallout from an expected WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables continues unabated. Countries to be warned now include India, Belgium and Colombia, in addition to the UK, France, Norway, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Iraq, Israel and China.

The Independent: US envoys forced to apologise in advance as WikiLeaks release looms

"Frantic behind the scenes wrangling was under way last night as US officials tried to stem the fallout from the expected release of up to three million confidential diplomatic communiques by the WikiLeaks website.

Over the past 48 hours, American ambassadors have had the unenviable task of informing some of the country's strongest allies that a series of potentially embarrassing cables are likely to be released in the coming days."
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International Business Times: Will WikiLeaks unravel the American 'secret government'?

"Researchers have often pointed out the stark contrast between nation states' declared policies -- and the means to achieve them -- and what actually transpires on the ground. The inner workings, the dark secrets and shady deals never see the light of day until they may be declassified years later, severely undermining democratic values of truth and transparency.

Now WikiLeaks is out to run a knife through a mountain of classified documents revealing how the proverbial 'secret government' works its way through cluttered diplomatic channels. And that certainly could be embarrassing to lots of people in many capitals, more so in Washington."
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Frankfurter Rundschau: Wer hat Angst vor WikiLeaks?

"Who is afraid of WikiLeaks?" asks FR. "The U.S. is taking pains more than ever before to inform other interested governments. The world speculates about the upcoming revelations. The U.S. government wants to limit the possible diplomatic damage caused by the publication of secret documents from the State Department on the web. [...] Now half the world wonders who has to hide something."
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The Daily Mail: U.S. warns Britain over new WikiLeaks revelations that will 'expose corruption between allies'

"David Cameron was warned last night by America that damaging secrets of the ‘special relationship’ are about to be laid bare.

The U.S. ambassador to London made an unprecedented personal visit to Downing Street to warn that whistleblower website WikiLeaks is about to publish secret assessments of what Washington really thinks of Britain."
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Scotsman: WikiLeaks: The gathering storm - leaks leave US with few friends

"THE UK Government has been briefed by the American ambassador about the imminent release of highly embarrassing diplomatic files by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks with the potential to damage relations between the two countries.

Politicians and officials in the UK and US were last night on tenterhooks as they waited for the release of the documents, which are understood to contain American officials' candid assessments of governments that the US would rather keep secret including claims of alleged corruption in foreign administrations. [...] Last night there were claims that there could be a backlash from upset countries that would lead to the expulsion of US diplomats."
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NDTV: US warns India about possible WikiLeaks release

"The US has warned India and other key governments across the world about a new potentially embarrassing release of classified documents by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks which may harm the American interests and create tension in its ties with its 'friends'.

"We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents," State Department Spokesman P J Crowley said."
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SIPSE: EU 'se cura en salud' por filtraciones de WikiLeaks

"In Colombia, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Ana Duque-Higgins said the local government has been alerted.

'We have talked with government officials in Colombia about the release of some State Department documents that have been leaked and may appear in the press, and we are ensuring that they keep abreast of the situation as it develops,' she said."
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Le Soir: WikiLeaks publiera ses documents dimanche soir

"The U.S. diplomatic post in Brussels alerted the Belgian authorities about a possible distribution by WikiLeaks of diplomatic cables that could potentially expose unknown aspects of Washington politics. "Like all other embassies in the world," councillor in charge of public diplomacy Tania Chomiak-Salvi told lesoir.be, "we expressed our concern to our Belgian counterparts about a possible spread by WikiLeaks of U.S. government communications."

Le Soir also notes that the WikiLeaks documents are likely to be published Sunday evening.
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The Military Mafia

A look at the US/NATO military as it is today. This is not your grandfather's army.

Read more ...

2010-11-26 Defence Advisory Notices issued to UK press on WikiLeaks [Update 6]

WikiLeaks and Guido Fawkes report that two Defence Advisory Notices (DA-Notices) have been issued to the UK press with regards to the expected release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks.

"The DA Notice system is a voluntary code that provides guidance to the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information," says the official DA-N website, http://www.dnotice.org.uk/.

Two notices have been issued, DA-Notice 01 on military operations, plans and capabilities, and DA-Notice 05, on United Kingdom security, intelligence services and special services.

DA-Notices however are not binding. According to the official website, "The system is voluntary, it has no legal authority and the final responsibility for deciding whether or not to publish rests solely with the editor or publisher concerned."

Update 1: Andrew Vallance, Secretary of The Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee has confirmed the DA-Notice issuance to NRK.

Update 2: Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief of The Guardian, posted his reaction on Twitter: "Puzzled by DA Notice re #wikileaks. Overwhelming majority of t stuff not covered. "Safety + security of Brits" nothing to do w DNotice"

Update 3: Index on Censorship reacts to the DA-Notice issuance: UK issues DA-notices as US briefs allies on fresh leak.

Update 4: Guido Fawkes has published the content of the DA-Notice here.

Update 5: The Guardian's political editor Patrick Wintour on the DA-Notice: Expected WikiLeaks disclosures prompt Downing Street warning for editors. The article also quotes Alan Rusbridger as saying, "I appreciate why the DA notice might make people anxious. But, from my reading of the WikiLeaks material, only a tiny part of it is covered or relevant."

Update 6: The international media is picking up on the DA-Notice story. Die Zeit titled its report British government asks media to self-censor. CBC noted that U.K. government wants WikiLeaks media briefing.

2010-11-26 WikiLeaks in today's media [Update 7]

Radio Free Europe: WikiLeaks And Its Brave New World

"The imminent new WikiLeaks expose promises to be especially revelatory because, simply put, the Americans have dirt on everyone. Assange and company's logic is as elegant as it's unsettling: by revealing the secrets of the world's leading superpower, the secrets of the world -- namely, the all-too-often dirty web of interconnections between governments, corporations, intelligence and media agencies, and key personalities -- are also revealed.

There are potential lessons here, some likely old, some hopefully new, and all doubtlessly very unhappy, about the nature of power and what it really means to be an "international community." So, it's noteworthy that WikiLeaks recently tweeted, "In the coming months we will see a new world, where global history is redefined." Perhaps this isn't just hyperbole after all."
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JTurn: Next Up: The “War on Journalism”?

Jonathan Lundqvist writes an analysis of war in the 21st century, the relationship between the media and the military, the internet as a new domain for warfare and the role of WikiLeaks and the free press:

"Pentagon, with its newly founded US Cyber Command, is going all-in against an undefined enemy, with fear-mongers on the sidelines crying for blood. The state of the world being as it is, the question is if WikiLeaks is going to be the first victim of this new offensive force.[...]

WikiLeaks crushed, with a few swift blows, the information monopoly of the military. “Truth”, says Julian Assange, the site’s founder and iconic spokesperson, “is the first casualty of war”, repeating a truism that is rarely backed up with hard evidence. Going through the material, the cliché was proven. Not only did the documents show many things that were never reported, but it also showed outright lies and distortions.

With a very broad definition of security, the free press will be at stake. It goes without saying that exposing certain truths about how we wage wars; on the justifications or actions of troops, is a security problem for the military – and the long run, also for society. But, wait, why if so, do democracies have a free press?"
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Bloomberg: Italy Says WikiLeaks Reports on U.S. May Harm Nation

"Italy’s government said “classified reports” on U.S. foreign relations expected to be published by the website Wikileaks.org may harm the country as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi fights for his political survival.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said during a Cabinet meeting in Rome today that the documents may have “negative repercussions” on Italy, according to an e-mailed statement from Berlusconi’s office."
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The Age: Tensions rise as WikiLeaks release nears

"Speculation last night that WikiLeaks may reveal clandestine US support for terrorism had US embassies across the globe scrambling to limit damage ahead of the latest threatened release of US government documents by the whistleblowing website.

According to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, several documents show that the US had in turn been providing assistance to Turkey's Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK."
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AFP: US slams WikiLeaks ahead of latest release

"Washington's envoy to Iraq condemned WikiLeaks as 'absolutely awful' Friday as world capitals braced for the looming release of some three million sensitive diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website.

The latest tranche of documents, the third since WikiLeaks published 77,000 classified US files on the Afghan conflict in July, have spurred Washington to warn both Turkey and Israel of the embarrassment they could cause, and American diplomats have also briefed officials in London, Oslo and Copenhagen."
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IOL: WikiLeaks docs may hurt US-Russia ties

"The documents include recordings of US diplomats' conversations with Russian politicians, assessments of Russia's most notable events, and analyses of what is happening in the country and in its domestic and foreign politics," according to Kommersant.
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Aftonbladet: Sverige varnat inför WikiLeaksavslöjanden

"The United States has warned Sweden to WikiLeaks future revelations. 'Yes, we can confirm that discussions have occurred,' said Henrik Knobe from the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

It remains unclear what the documents that WikiLeaks will release contain, but the U.S. is currently trying to minimize the damage by contacting countries around the world."
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De Volksrant: VS waarschuwt Nederland om inhoud WikiLeaks

"The United States has warned the Netherlands that new documents are to be published on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks in the coming days, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal (VVD) on Friday."
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Die Zeit: USA kontaktieren vorsorglich ihre Bündnispartner

"The German Foreign Ministry would not confirm or deny such contact on Friday. Andreas Peschke, spokesman at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, responded to journalists: 'I will not single out aspects of the wide-ranging discussions with our American partners.'"
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AFP: US contacts Turkey over WikiLeaks files: diplomat

"The United States has been in contact with Turkey over new files to be released on the Internet by WikiLeaks, Turkish officials said Friday, stressing Ankara's commitment to fighting terrorism."
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World Dawn: WikiLeaks plans to release 94 papers about Pakistan

"WikiLeaks is expected to put 94 documents about Pakistan on its website this weekend, diplomatic sources told Dawn. The documents mainly contain telegrams sent by the US Embassy in Islamabad to the State Department in Washington.

Some of these papers relate to US observations about Pakistan’s policy towards Afghanistan, the debate within Pakistan on the war against terror, Islamabad’s cooperation with Washington and other military and intelligence matters."
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The Telegraph: WikiLeaks: US diplomats predicted Coalition would fail

"Sources revealed that the documents include commentary on the likely fate of the Coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. Transmitted in the early days of the Coalition, the messages are understood to predict that the Government was likely to prove ineffective and short-lived, ultimately doomed by tensions between Tories and Lib Dems.

Earlier messages about the previous Government could prove at least as embarrassing for Mr Brown."
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AP: Clinton talks to China about WikiLeaks release

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday spoke with the Chinese government about the expected release of classified cables by the WikiLeaks website.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed Friday evening that Clinton spoke by phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. He did not provide details."
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Reuters: WikiLeaks must stop "dangerous" leaks: military

"I would hope that those who are responsible for this would, at some point in time, think about the responsibility that they have for lives that they're exposing and the potential that's there and stop leaking this information," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS due to air Sunday.
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This is not the first time Adm. Mullen has made this claim. The allegation that "WikiLeaks has blood on its hands" has been made both at the time of the Afghanistan war diaries release, and the Iraq war logs release. It has been disproven by facts both times, and the military top brass finally admitted it. Please see our article on the topic: Debunked: "WikiLeaks Has Blood on Its Hands".

2010-11-25 WikiLeaks in today's media [Update 1]

The United States has been briefing foreign governments on the content of an expected upcoming WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables, in an apparent attempt at preemptive damage control:

Sydney Morning Herald: US briefs Canberra on secret files

"Australia has been briefed by the US on the imminent release by WikiLeaks of a huge tranche of diplomatic cables that sources say contain allegations of corruption and embarrassing behaviour by politicians worldwide."
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The Globe and Mail: U.S. warns Ottawa about fallout from pending WikiLeaks release

"The U.S. government has notified Ottawa that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage American relations with allies around the world.

U.S. officials say the documents may contain accounts of compromising conversations with political dissidents and friendly politicians as well as activities that could result in the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings."
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Sky News: Washington Braced For Millions Of Leaks

"US embassies around the world are contacting allies, as Washington braces itself for the leak of millions of diplomatic documents.[...] Sky News understands the US ambassador to the UK, Louis Susman, has been seen going into Downing Street and the Foreign Office for what one source called 'contingency planning'."
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NRK: USA advarer om nytt WikiLeaks-slipp fredag

"We have received today a general briefing from the American embassy to the effect that WikiLeaks has announced that they will post new documents tomorrow," writes Martin Lerberg Kopstad, spokesman at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an e-mail to nrk.no.
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Politiken: USA advarer Danmark om ny WikiLeaks-læk

"'The Foreign Ministry has been contacted by the United States on WikiLeaks' forthcoming publication. We can not go into details on the content of the conversation,' the Foreign Ministry told politiken.dk.

The reason that Denmark is briefed by the Americans is that the next leak can be very embarrassing not only for the U.S. but also the Danish and many other governments around the world."
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Ha'aretz: Israel, U.S. tense as WikiLeaks sets to release classified bilateral communiqués

"The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv has informed the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks was planning on releasing hundreds of thousands of American diplomatic cables, some of which might deal with Israel-America relations."
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CBC: WikiLeaks: Should sensitive diplomatic files be released?

CBC put the question to a reader vote. Over 85% voted "yes" as of the time of this update.
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Politiken: Enhedslisten: WikiLeaks-stifter skal bo i København

In other news, Denmark's Unity alliance would like to extend Julian Assange an invitation to live in Copenhagen, reports Politiken: "WikiLeaks is fighting a brave fight for freedom of expression. And they are under immense pressure from the world's warring nations. If we are serious about being a Refuge Network, sending an invitation to Julian Assange would be an obvious step." Copenhagen's Refuge Network System has as its objective to protect persecuted writers.
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2010-11-23 WikiLeaks in today's media

The Telegraph: WikiLeaks release: Timeline of the key WikiLeaks revelations

The Telegraph's John Swaine looks at nine WikiLeaks releases, including the Guantanamo Bay operating procedures, the BNP membership list, the Trafigura report, 'Climategate' emails, war logs and more.
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El Mundo: El destape en periodismo

Hernan Mira on investigative journalism and why WikiLeaks provides a much needed service: "The indignation at the [Iraq] leaks is not the most relevant issue, points out journalist Enrique Valiente, with whom I agree. What is absurd is to minimize the facts revealed. The kind of journalism that makes public the behavior of governments is very important. Access to information and transparency are essential to a free society. It is as if people had allowed torture and murder to "put on a form of suicide, which is the suicide of one's values," said Valiente."
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The Voice of Russia: WikiLeaks, Part 2: Extracts of GI reports

Ignat Kulagin's second installment looking at cases from the Iraq War Logs delves into civilian death incidents. "It’s not hard to hide information about civilian losses during wartime. It is enough just to lay blame on insurgents. In fact, this gets two birds with one stone: you reaffirm the righteous path of the war machine, both with the local civilians and the world community, all the while “cleaning up” the statistics, since soldiers are penalized for civilian casualties."
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Upcoming release coverage

The international press has picked up quickly on the WikiLeaks statements on Twitter about their upcoming release, prompting massive speculation about the nature and subject of the release, and sometimes making assumptions presented as fact. While we have listed a few articles on the topic in previous posts here and here, please find below some additional references:

USA Today: WikiLeaks says next release will be 7 times larger than Iraq war logs
TIME: WikiLeaks: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
CTV: WikiLeaks says next leak 7 times size of Iraq files
Sydney Morning Herald: WikiLeaks to drop another bombshell
Antiwar News: WikiLeaks Promises ‘Seven Times Bigger’ Leak
Truthdig: WikiLeaks Promises Biggest-Ever Leak
Nouvel Observateur: WikiLeaks annonce la publication "dans les prochains mois" de nouveaux documents
France 24: WikiLeaks promet de nouvelles révélations fracassantes
El País: WikiLeaks anuncia que publicará nuevos documentos en los próximos meses
El Universal: WikiLeaks advierte que próxima filtración será siete veces mayor que la de Irak
La Tercera: WikiLeaks anuncia nueva difusión masiva de documentos secretos
Netzwoche: WikiLeaks will die Geschichte neu schreiben
Netzwelt: WikiLeaks: Veröffentlichung von 2,8 Millionen Dokumenten geplant (Update)

2010-11-22 Media watch: Why source verification matters

While yesterday the Swedish press publicised a DN story erroneously reporting that WikiLeaks had moved all its servers out of Sweden (much to the surprise of WL's current Swedish ISP, Bahnhof), and then had to recant it (e.g.: Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet), WikiLeaks' Twitter announcement earlier today of its upcoming release prompted another round of conjecture:

The Daily Mail titled its report WikiLeaks set to release new Iraq war logs 'seven times bigger than the first', while CNN stated in its article that "WikiLeaks indicated Monday that it is preparing to release a new batch of previously classified U.S. military documents." The Telegraph titled its report WikiLeaks to release three million secret US documents.

The WikiLeaks statements in no way indicated that the new release is related to either Iraq or US classified military documents. You can verify this directly here and here. While it is not impossible that the release may be related to those subjects, this is all the information currently available. We would like to remind the reader to check the sources whenever possible.

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