U.S. officials pushed to keep the minimum wage down in Haiti.
Venezuela and Cuba take advantage of Haiti's "electricity gap".
Pakistan's ISI asked Saudi Arabia to stop meddling in Pakistani elections.
Inside the Egyptian nuclear program.
Targets in the U.S. Justice Department's WikiLeaks case can't find out which Internet companies are being questioned for information about them.
Pfc. Bradley Manning was "mentally unfit" for service in Iraq.
WikiLeaks defenders, unhappy with its coverage of Assange and Co., attack the PBS NewsHour website.
Panama's highest court has remained silent about allegations of corruption in the WikiLeaks cables.
Can't wait for the WikiLeaks movie? Go see the play.
THE BIG PICTURE
WikiLeaks as the great equalizer.
PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images
A CBC report based on U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks suggests that Canada played a greater role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq than the public statements of its leaders previously suggested:
On March 17, 2003, two days before U.S. warplanes launched their attack on Baghdad, prime minister Jean Chrétien told the House of Commons that Canadian forces would not be joining what the administration of then U.S. president George W. Bush dubbed the "coalition of the willing."
Chrétien's apparent refusal to back the Bush administration's invasion, purportedly launched to seize weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein (which were never found), was hugely popular in Canada, widely hailed as nothing less than a defining moment of national sovereignty.
But even as Chrétien told the Commons that Canada wouldn't participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Canadian diplomats were secretly telling their U.S. counterparts something entirely different.
The classified U.S. document obtained from WikiLeaks shows senior Canadian officials met that same day with high-ranking American and British diplomats at Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa. The confidential note, written by a U.S. diplomat at the gathering, states that Foreign Affairs official James Wright waited until after the official meeting to impart the most important news of all.
According to the U.S. account, Wright "emphasized" that contrary to public statements by the prime minister, Canadian naval and air forces could be "discreetly" put to use during the pending U.S.-led assault on Iraq and its aftermath. At that time, Canada had warships, aircraft and over 1,200 naval personnel already in the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, intercepting potential militant vessels and providing safe escort to other ships as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the post-Sept. 11, 2001, multinational war on terrorism.
The U.S. briefing note states: "Following the meeting, political director Jim Wright emphasized that, despite public statements that the Canadian assets in the Straits of Hormuz will remain in the region exclusively to support Enduring Freedom, they will also be available to provide escort services in the Straits and will otherwise be discreetly useful to the military effort.
It's not really clear whether the Canadian ships and surveillance aircrat conducting counterterrorism activities in the Straits of Hormuz at the time did, in fact, carry out any activities that contributed to the effort in Iraq. As one high-ranking former defence ministry official quoted by the CBC puts in, "[W]ho knows whether in fact we were doing things indirectly for Iraqi Freedom? It is quite possible."
It's certainly not unreasonable to suspect that Canada may in fact have played a larger military role in Iraq than a number of declared members of the Coalition of the Willing.
The other interesting aspect of the story is that U.S. officials were apparently fairly indifferent to Canadian military support, hoping instead for political cover:
A former senior Canadian bureaucrat said: "The Americans knew we were stretched to the limit on the military side, and they really just wanted a political endorsement of their plan to go into Iraq."
Former U.S. ambassador Cellucci concurred: "We were looking for moral support. That's all we were looking for.… We were looking for 'we support the Americans.' "
Canada still has several thousand troops in Afghanitan and now Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government was an early and enthusiastic supporter of intervention in Libya, contributing fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Guantánamo detainees threatened to unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" in Europe if Osama bin Laden were ever killed.
The WikiLeaked Guantánamo file that (pseudo)named Osama bin Laden's courier.
Canada admits its nuclear terrorism defenses are not ready for prime time.
Hugo Chávez's war on American fast food chains.
U.S. officials voiced concerns over Japan's disaster preparedness.
Why were U.S. officials lobbying New Zealand on behalf of the recording industry?
Julian Assange: Facebook is "the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented."
Are major news organizations tech-savvy enough to pull off their WikiLeaks-imitating projects securely?
WikiLeaks has a new media partner, this one in Japan.
The Washington Post profiles Bradley Manning.
WikiLeaks has caught a lot of grief from the media in the past year for its relative lack of concern for safeguarding the identities of individuals put at risk by its document dumps, so the organization is entitled to at least a small measure of Schadenfreude over the flak the Wall Street Journal has been getting today over the rollout of its own online drop box for leaked documents. The Journal site, SafeHouse, is the first of several WikiLeaks-inspired ventures that media organizations are launching (the New York Times and the Guardian, among others, have their own in the works) with the none-too-subtle aim of reaping the benefits of WikiLeaks without having to deal with its mercurial management.
In practice, this isn't necessarily any less protection than a newspaper source would have under other circumstances in the United States -- most states don't have shield laws for journalists, and leakers basically have to take it on faith that the reporters they talk to are willing to go to jail if necessary to protect their anonymity (and reporters have a good track record of doing exactly that). All the same, it's a little chilling to see it in writing.
The second problem is on the technical end of things. As the Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal reports, the Journal did build a number of safeguards into its submitting system:
SafeHouse runs on its own servers, separate from the servers that run the WSJ.com. File transfers occur through an encrypted connection and the documents themselves are encrypted, too. (Only a few Journal staffers will have the keys to unlock them.) Finally, the time that uploaded documents spend stored on computers with connections to the public Internet will be minimized by "a fairly complicated" internal document flow system.
But SafeHouse has taken a lot of heat from Internet security types on Twitter today for design flaws that make it less secure for anonymous users than the Journal suggests. Many of them have been pointed out by Internet anonymity guru Jacob Appelbaum -- who, it should be noted, has worked closely with WikiLeaks for years -- and are well-summarized here by Forbes's Andy Greenberg. Among other things, Appelbaum argues that users switching between unencrypted and encrypted versions of SafeHouse are vulnerable to programs that trick users into continuing to use the unencrypted version, rendering their data potentially accessible to third parties. None of the problems that have been pointed out are un-fixable kinks, but they're a reminder that the buyer has to beware in the age of radical transparency.
Update: The Journal has posted a response to criticism of SafeHouse:
We take these issues very seriously. Development for eliminating the flash dependency, which is required for Tor compatibility, is complete, and we expect to implement the update within 48 hours. In addition, our system has been updated to limit the types of less secure connections it will accept. As is standard procedure, we will continue to assess new specifications and analyze any potential situation that may impact the privacy of our users.
Our priority is to ensure that SafeHouse fulfills its mission as a secure location that provides sources with access to highly skilled, experienced journalists.
More than 700 files on Guantánamo Bay detainees obtained by WikiLeaks are released. Extensive coverage is here, here, here, and here. The Huffington Post has the backstory on the release. Also check out FP's roundup of the coverage and roundtable discussion of the cables with Karen Greenberg, Robert Chesney, Morris Davis, and Matthew Alexander.
Someone should tell the U.S. Department of Defense that World Net Daily is a somewhat less-than-credible source of information.
The Guantánamo file on former detainee and Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj suggests just how suspicious the U.S. government was of the network.
Did the Ecuadorian government manipulate the country's bond market?
U.S. diplomats worry about Muammar al-Qaddafi's relationship with Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.
Embassy officials don't think much of Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.
The U.S. government apparently considers Pakistan's intelligence agency a terrorist (or at least terrorist-supporting) organization.
The arrest of Hmong guerrilla leader Vang Pao did wonders for the U.S.-Laos relationship.
WikiLeaks received nearly $2 million in donations last year.
Most people in 24 countries surveyed by Ipsos don't think Julian Assange is a criminal (though a lot of Americans disagree).
London's Telegraph newspaper is in hot water for publishing the name of a 15-year-old rape victim contained in the Guantánamo papers.
WikiLeaks' document cache is now pretty solidly out of the organization's control.
THE BIG PICTURE
What the Guantánamo documents tell us about mission creep in the War on Terror.
The Guantánamo papers aren't likely to change much of anything for the detainees themselves.
The New York Times owes WikiLeaks big time.
Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has been one of the few world leaders to staunchly defend Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in recent weeks. The close bond between the Libyan and Nicaraguan governments was demonstrated in March when Qaddafi took the unusual step of appointing former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockman to represent him at the United Nations.
Two U.S. diplomatic cables from 2007, released by WikiLeaks, express concern about Qaddafi's influence in Managua, suggesting that he may have funded Ortega's election campaign.The first cable, dated January 3, 2007, discusses the influence of Ortega's Libyan personal secretary Mohamad Lashtar:
The Ambassador raised concerns regarding Ortega's choice of former Libyan/naturalized Nicaraguan Muhamad Muhktar Lashtar as his personal secretary, noting that Lashtar was a commercial attache at the Libyan embassy in Managua in the 1980s and reportedly associated with Libyan intelligence. Lacayo, who shared the Ambassador's concern, remarked that Pepe Mathus, a former Contra (associated with the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, ALN) who has been involved in some business dealings with Lashtar, told Lacayo recently that the Libyan Embassy had informed him that Lashtar no longer maintains any relation with the embassy. PolCouns shared that Lashtar is reportedly Moammar al-Ghadafi's nephew.
The Nicaraguan media has picked up on the "nephew" angle this week, though there doesn't seem to be much other information otu there about Lashtar to confirm it.
A second cable from three days later relates a discussion the ambassador had with a prominent Sandanista defector:
The Ambassador raised concerns regarding Ortega's choice of personal secretary --former Libyan/naturalized Nicaraguan Muhamad Muhktar Lashtar. Martinez Cuenca confided that Lashtar arrived in Managua in 1989 and reported directly to Moammar al-Ghadafi's security unit that operates independently from the Libyan government. Further, through Lashtar, Libyan monies have maintained Ortega for years and Ortega's national and popular council model is based on the Libyan "Green Book," claimed Martinez Cuenca.
Granted, this is coming from someone with a grudge against Ortega and however mismanaged Nicaragua may be under Ortega, it doesn't look too much like the Libyan political model. But the fallout from this should be interesting to watch.
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
The Washington Post focuses on revelations in the testimonies gathered at Guantanamo about Al Qaeda's movements and strategy in the wake of the 9/11 attack. The piece shows Osama bin Laden expectantly awaiting an American attack, as he travels around Afghanistan, from Kandahar, to Kabul, to Tora Bora, preparing Al Qaeda operatives to carry on in the event that he is killed. The article goes on to describe tensions among bin Laden's lieutenants after bin Laden instructs them in early 2002 to take over day-to-day operations, before detailing their capture in Karachi, Pakistan. It also points out that the Guantanamo reports offer no information on the whereabouts of bin Laden and his top lieutenant Ali Zawahiri.
The Guardian takes a more strident editorial line on the Guantanamo papers' revelations of, and presumedly studied silence toward, human rights abuses at the prison. "Material presented as ‘evidence' in the assessments must be treated with skepticism as a number of files contain information known to have been extracted under torture," David Leigh emphasizes in an introductory note to the Guardian's coverage. Another piece focuses on instances where American authorities were particularly egregious in their disregard for the merit of the allegations against suspects. David Leigh and James Bell report on a group of "hapless Tajiks caught up in Karachi in 2002" who spent two years being maltreated at Guantanmo despite the fact that they were entirely innocent. They also point to the flimsy excuses used to justify the extended detainment of a rural Afghan mullah, and an Afghan taxi driver, among others. Another report suggests that an Al Qaeda operative detained at Guantanamo may have previously been working as an informant for British and Canadian intelligence services.
The Telegraph opts for sensationalism, starting its top Guantanamo article with the revelation that detainees have threatened to unleash a "nuclear hellstorm" in Europe in the event that Osama bin Laden is caught or killed by detonating a hidden nuclear bomb. The article also breathlessly recounts a number of other plots revealed by the leaks, including an attempt to recruit ground staff at Heathrow Airport to participate in terrorist attacks, and a plan to put cyanide in air-conditioning units of public building across the United States. Another Telegraph piece examines the revelation that a London telephone number belonging to the British Broadcasting Network (BBC) was "discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals." "The Daily Telegraph rang the phone number on Monday. A single tone on the line suggested that it had been disconnected, or was no longer in use."
Germany's Der Spiegel focuses on the arbitrary determinations of the level of threat posed by suspects at Guantanamo. "The Guantanamo system was kept alive through persistent exaggeration and a lax attitude to the fact," the piece editorializes. The magazine points out that one detainee born in Germany, Murat Kurnaz, was described upon his incaraceration as "high risk," meaning that he was determined to be "likely" to pose a threat. "Only three months later, the supposedly ‘high risk' prisoner was released...Since then he has kept a very low profile in Germany." The journalists also ridicule the "indicators" used to assess the likelihood of affiliation with terrorists, including $100 banknotes, and a type of Casio digital watch. Spiegel also suggests that the words "torture" and "waterboarding" appear in none of the documents.
McClatchey casts a skeptical eye on the intelligence gathered from Guantanamo detainees. "Intelligence analysts are at odds with each other over which informants, at time drawing inferences from prisoners' exercise habits," write Carol Rosenberg and Tom Lasseter write. "Theyorder DNA tests, tether Taliban suspects to polygraphs, string together tidbits in ways that seemed to defy common sense." The writers say that at times the efforts to gather intelligence seem "comedic," amounting to little more than a cataloguing of "prurient gossip" that detainees dished at one another's expense. McClatchey also points to evident "mission creep" beyond Guantanamo's initial goal of warehousing Al Qaeda operatives, citing the detention of captives for the purpose of learning about Uzbekistan's secret service, "personalities in the Bahraini court," and "covert travel routes through the Afghan-Pakistan border."
NPR focuses one of its reports on the political calculations that seem to underlie the release of detainees. "Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan account for more than half of the detainees transferred from Guantanamo," write Tom Gjelten, Dina Temple-Raston, and Margot Williams. The U.S. willingness to transfer detainees to Saudi custody was based largely on confidence in Saudi Arabia's program to rehabilitate Islamist militants. "The repatriation of Russian detainees at Guantanamo was also arranged in government-to-government negotiations." NPR points out, however, that Russia has not proven a trustworthy interlocutor: American authorities were assured that one detainee would remain in detention upon being released to Russia, but he was immediately released from custody.
One report published by the New York Times is a damning look at how Guantanamo prison authorities handled detainees' suicide attempts. "Even stray remarks about suicide could have consequences," writes Charlie Savage. "When assessing detainees' risk level, analysts noted whether they were said to have expressed support for suicide - lowering their chances of release."
The United States' quasi-embassy in Havana was in the dark about the U.S. Agency for International Development's activities in Cuba.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice tried to block a U.N. investigation into possible Israeli war crimes during the 2008-2009 Gaza invasion.
The United States secretly backed Syrian opposition groups.
Singing pro-Manning protesters interrupt Obama at a fundraiser in San Francisco.
WikiLeaks may have scared diplomats, but it hasn't stopped them from talking smack about each other.
THE BIG PICTURE
The backstory of P.J. Crowley's dissent over Manning, well-told by Politico.
Has the Obama administration actually started listening to its critics on Manning's treatment?
WikiLeaks-based reporting didn't take home any Pulitzers this week, but newspapers didn't even bother to submit it.
CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaked is FP’s blog dedicated to sorting through and making sense of the more than 250,000 State Department cables acquired by WikiLeaks.