WikiLeaks, a website that publishes leaked documents, has hit the news again. The site, which caused a minor stir recently when it released files on the Iraq war, is now responsible for a possible break down in world diplomacy. It has just started releasing cables leaked from US Embassies across the world and the US State Department. While only 6% of the documents are labeled ‘Secret’ another 40% were deemed to be ‘Confidential’ and were not meant for public consumption. The US government has been forced to warn multiple countries about the potentially embarrassing information that is about to be released. In this, my first detailed research and analysis article, I hope to investigate all aspects of this major event.
What is WikiLeaks?
On the site, WikiLeaks describes itself as aiming to ‘bring important information and news to the public.’ It offers a secure place for sources to share information which is catalogued and analysed by its volunteer journalists around the world. It claims to be defending the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WikiLeaks does not censor its news but may delay publication of material that may endanger innocent people. Due to this lack of censorship and its various unidentifiable web addresses, WikiLeaks is considered to be the most important whistle-blowing website.
CablegateOn Sunday WikiLeaks started publishing 251,287 leaked US Embassy cables. Not only is this the largest set of confidential documents ever released, it also covers an unprecedented time period, from 1966 right up to February of this year. The documents come from 274 diplomatic locations worldwide and have created immense diplomatic pressures. Here are highlights so far:
Arab Nations urge US to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities
This is interesting, if only because no one was expecting it. Several Arab leaders have encouraged America to attack Iran and put an end to the supposed nuclear weapons programme. Multiple cables from Saudi show various degrees of concern, but all show that Iran is considered a serious threat. King Hamad, ruler of Bahrain, is quoted in a cable dated the 4th November 2009 as saying ‘The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it’. The leaders’ views seem to be radically different from that of their people, who tend to support Iran in its ongoing stand off with the West. What will these revelations do for the already high tensions in the area?
US diplomats ordered to ‘spy’ on UNA cable sent my Hilary Clinton, the American Secretary of State, gives orders for US agents to spy and collect data on high profile members of the United Nations. They asked for personal information such as biometrics (the uniquely distinguishing features of a face) and biographies, as well as passwords used by the members to access UN systems. Other information, from DNA samples to credit card numbers, was also sought. Speculation is mounting over whether the US was planning a hacking operation. If this information was indeed collected the US may find itself in breach of international law. This will put in under huge pressure from other powerful countries. Experts expect to see multiple calls for Mrs Clinton’s resignation from across the international community. This leak may prove to be a major disaster for US diplomacy.
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons cause fear
The UK, US and Russia are all concerned that their ally’s nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists or be used in a war with India. the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, cabled to Washington ‘Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon.’
—-As I was researching this the main WikiLeaks site went down. I ended up using a mirror site whose domain I will not publish—