The Obama administration urged McCain and Lieberman not to bring up the Lockerbie bomber at the meeting. (They did anyway.)
Qaddafi's weird inauguration letter to Barack Obama.
The U.S. Embassy in Manama requested talking points for answering questions about an allegedly tortured Bahraini Guantanamo detainee in 2005.
Meet the Coast Guard officer who serves as a back-channel emissary to Havana.
A U.S. diplomat went undercover as a Korean tourist to visit a Chinese tiger farm.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou told U.S. embassy officials in 2009 that People's Liberation Army activity in the Taiwan Strait could push Taiwan and China toward political talks.
An April Fools Day cable from the U.S. Embassy in Delhi.
WikiLeaks drops a giant tranche of nearly 100,000 new cables -- we're still working through them -- and is reportedly unhappy with the media's mounting disinterest in its work. (A bit of advice from your humble Wikiblogger: Not releasing thousands of cables during the fall of Tripoli might help.)
WikiLeaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg tells Wired he destroyed thousands of WikiLeaks documents "in order to ensure that the sources are not compromised."
The hand of U.S. officials in Haitian politics from 2004 to 2006.
The United States is anxious about China's growing influence in Cambodia.
U.S. officials worried that Norway was unprepared for a terrorist attack.
Lithuania's wayward press.
Is Prince Andrew the latest WikiLeaks casualty?
Fourteen people are arrested for a cyberattack on PayPal in solidarity with WikiLeaks.
How two LulzSec hackers got caught.
Julian Assange lawyer Mark Stephens may have been a target of News of the World's phone hacking.
Slavoj Zizek: Julian Assange "is like the boy who tells us the emperor is naked."
The U.S. Library of Congress no longer classifies WikiLeaks as an "extremist" website.
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Embassy officials cautioned the Kenyan government to restrain itself in the violence following the country's 2007 election.
The U.S. State Department's energy envoy urged Canada in 2009 to improve its "messaging" on a proposed oil-sands pipeline to the United States, including promoting "more positive news stories."
U.S. officials accused the leader of a pro-Cuban government peace group of threatening to pull U.S. medical students' scholarships if they met with the U.S. mission on the island in 2007.
Julian Assange's extradition appeal decision is deferred. After his hearing -- complete with another round of more-than-you-wanted-to-know details about Assange's sex life -- Swedish prosecutors blast the Assange legal team's "19th Century" view of sexual consent.
U.N. torture investigator Juan Mendez says the U.S. government is violating U.N. rules in refusing him access to Manning.
Blocking WikiLeaks donations prompts a competition complaint against MasterCard and Visa in Europe.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Members of Haiti's elite complained to the U.S. Embassy in 2005 about eroding security in the country.
A Taliban representative told U.S. officials in 1996 that the Taliban had shut down "Arab" training camps in Afghanistan, and had no idea where Osama bin Laden was. A U.S. embassy official met with a Taliban representative the following year to discuss the Afghan drug trade and the group's sheltering of bin Laden.
A 1999 State Department meeting with future Afghan President Hamid Karzai, identified here as the "son of an important Afghan tribal leader."
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad sizing up the Taliban's Mullah Omar, circa 1997.
Beijing was unhappy about North Korean nuclear tests in 2006, but powerless to stop them.
The Japanese island of Okinawa, host to a longstanding U.S. military presence, is tilting toward China and away from the United States.
Bahrain's recent crackdown on its Shiite minority came out of Saudi Arabia's playbook.
Julian Assange is reportedly backing off of plans to publish his memoirs.
A medic in Britain's Royal Navy has been sentenced to seven months' detention for refusing to train on account of WikiLeaks-inspired moral objections.
An excellent telling of the sad saga of Pfc. Bradley Manning from New York. (The online friend whose chats with Manning provide much of the new information in the piece has also made their correspondence available for download.)
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Was the former Chinese finance minister caught in a Taiwanese honey trap?
A Cuban cardinal pushed to close a Cuban magazine critical of the Castro regime.
The journalists who could make a fortune off of WikiLeaks.
FP rounds up WikiLeaks' recent greatest hits.
A theatrical adaptation of the WikiLeaks saga (above) debuts in Australia.
WikiLeaks parodies MasterCard's "Priceless" ads:
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. diplomats condemned the "appalling greed" of Moroccan King Mohammed VI's inner circle.
The George W. Bush administration supported Catholic clergy in Venezuela who protested against Hugo Chávez (and defied the pope in so doing).
A 2008 survey found that half of Cubans couldn't identify any of the major dissidents on the island that receive U.S. backing.
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was an influential player in Obama's China policy during his tenure as ambassador.
Gaming out the internal power dynamics of China's Politburo Standing Committee.
Julian Assange revamps his legal team.
GOP presidential hopeful and former Arizona Gov. Gary Johnson is pretty much the only Republican willing to defend WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks thinks Bitcoin is too dodgy for donations.
Remember those cameras that Assange supporters claimed were being used to spy on him? They're actually there to monitor traffic.
THE BIG PICTURE
Has WikiLeaks ushered in an era of no government secrets?
Salvadorans are not into the idea of other people investigating Salvadorans.
U.S. officials in 2006 were concerned about the security of Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure.
The granddaddy of WikiLeaks is officially released at last.
THE BIG PICTURE
Trying to make sense of the LulzSec hackers' motives.
How WikiLeaks begat the Sarah Palin email frenzy.
CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Flickr user Andy Miah
The U.S. government, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil joined forces to kill a Venezuelan oil deal in Haiti.
The frightening state of the developing world's nuclear energy programs.
China told U.S. officials it wasn't selling nuclear reactors to Pakistan, then did it anyway.
The British government worried that Russian gas behemoth Gazprom was being run by spies.
Julian Assange says WikiLeaks "played a significant role" in the Arab Spring, but that "there are no official allegations in the public domain" of anyone being hurt by the site's document dumps.
President Barack Obama nominates a replacement for the WikiLeaks-deposed U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. government to officially release WikiLeaked cables about the war on terror.
Al Jazeera's WikiLeaks-inspired document-sharing site isn't much safer than the Wall Street Journal's.
The Swedish Bar Association chastises Assange's lawyer.
Of course you want to know what Jesse Ventura thinks about WikiLeaks.
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
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
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
U.S. diplomats' relationship with Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's government wasn't always so cold.
Is Chinese demand for ivory killing Kenyan elephants?
An Israeli settlement leader tells U.S. officials he's willing to move, for a price.
Bahrain's king is proud of intelligence ties to Israel, wants his government to drop references to the "Zionist enemy."
Israel and Egypt locked horns over smuggling on the Gaza strip.
Israel suspects that Turkey is helping Iran skirt international sanctions.
What the WikiLeaks cables tell us about the United States' relationship with embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Ecuador kicks out U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges (above) over a WikiLeaks cable.
The Pentagon won't let anyone -- including U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and investigators from the United Nations and Amnesty International -- meet with Pfc. Bradley Manning in private. The British government is also raising concerns over Manning's treatment.
Julian Assange has another court date.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee proposes new penalties for leakers.
The feds won't leave friend of WikiLeaks Jacob Applebaum alone.
Karl Rove is copping WikiLeaks' style.
Qaddafi's Ukrainian nurse tells all.
Pentagon contractor (and Anonymous nemesis) HBGary's ambitious scheme to catch the next WikiLeaker.
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks has claimed another WikiLoser: U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges, who was kicked out of Ecuador today over a cable detailing alleged corruption in President Rafael Correa's government. "It is unfortunate that the published documents on WikiLeaks have made it impossible to continue collaborating with the current ambassador to Quito, but we hope to work with a new ambassador," Ecuador's Washington embassy said in a statement today, according to the Associated Press.
The offending cable, which was signed by Hodges (above, with Correa in happier times) in July 2009 and published on Monday by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, concerns Jaime Hurtado, the former commanding general of Ecuador's National Police. "The Embassy has multiple reports that indicate [Hurtado] used his positions to extort bribes, facilitate human trafficking, misappropriate public funds, obstruct investigations and prosecutions of corrupt colleagues, and engage in other corrupt acts for personal enrichment," Hodges wrote.
Hodges is the third U.S. ambassador to be forced out of an embassy post by an inconvenient cable; Carlos Pascual resigned from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City last month, and Gene Cretz was called back from Tripoli in January (though he's back in action now that the U.S. government is somewhat less concerned about Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's feelings). Of course, it's also worth noting that Correa -- like his regional allies -- drops U.S. diplomats like they're going out of style.
RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Has Hugo Chávez been selling missiles to Muammar al-Qaddafi?
The Kenyan government wanted to arrest a prominent opposition leader in 2007.
The Colombian military maintains a 100-man counter-guerrilla force inside Venezuela.
Colombia has been using U.S. drones to fight the FARC for five years.
A staffer in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress Party shows U.S. embassy aides chests full of cash being used to buy votes.
India faces a "growing Naxalite menace."
U.S. diplomats viewed Mohamed ElBaradei as "part of the problem" in the Middle East in 2009.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a "hunger for absolute power and for the material benefits of power".
U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual steps down over WikiLeaks-fueled flap with Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
Damning corruption allegations in the WikiLeaks cables have India's Manmohan Singh on the ropes.
Protesters demonstrating over Pfc. Bradley Manning's treatment are arrested at Quantico.
An art group in Russia's Ural region is building a monument to Julian Assange.
Is Michael Bay basing the villains in the next Transformers movie on Julian Assange?
THE BIG PICTURE
FP tallies the biggest losers so far in the Cablegate saga.
More on the role of WikiLeaks in the Arab revolutions.
Bradley Manning's long road to WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange, houseguest: a reenactment.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
As you've probably heard, U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual stepped down from his post in Mexico City over the weekend following his WikiLeaks-based falling out with Mexican President Felipe Calderón. In noting his departure, we thought it would be worth looking back over the arc of the U.S. State Department's slow-rolling PR catastrophe -- now rounding out its fourth month -- and tallying the casualties. The results are here.
The WikiLeaks unfortunates are a pretty varied group -- the expected array of diplomatic officials and WikiLeaks associates, plus a few politicians, a CEO, a university administrator, and a dictator -- and it's hard to draw much of a trend line through the circumstances of their respective scandals. The first and last of them were both genuine scandals: A German party official passing documents to American embassy officials, the prime minister of India's party allegedly buying votes with chests full of rupees.
But what strikes me as most noteworthy is how un-noteworthy most of the cables that got a lot of these people in trouble really were. U.S. ambassadors were pulled from their posts for noting that Mexico's drug war was going badly and that Muammar al-Qaddafi was rather eccentric. The fact that Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was a fantastically corrupt ruler was not exactly news to anyone in Tunisia. Europe's still-incomplete satellite system really is a boondoggle. There have been a few bombshells in the WikiLeaks cables -- some of them literal -- but these weren't them. They were significant only because they confirmed that the U.S. government knew what everyone else knew.
LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images
Sierra Leonean military officials blew $1.9 million in British aid money on big-screen TVs and hunting rifles.
U.S. officials helped in a corruption case against Tanzanian banking executives.
Kenyan officials told U.S. diplomats that an investigation into the country's 2007-2008 election violence would risk provoking civil war.
Nigerian politician Joseph Ibori wanted to create a "trust fund" with his stolen wealth.
The owner of Japan's currently imperiled Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant falsified inspection records for the facility.
U.S. diplomats say British defense contractor BAE bribed a Saudi prince to secure a fighter jet deal.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley
is fired quits after
calling the Defense Department's treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source Pfc.
Bradley Manning "ridiculous
and counterproductive and stupid."
The Pentagon says its own security weaknesses enabled the leaking of the WikiLeaks documents.
Mexican President Filipe Calderón is "barely on speaking terms" with the U.S. ambassador to Mexico over WikiLeaks disclosures.
A federal judge rules that Twitter must hand over its records in WikiLeaks case.
Gawker goes inside Anonymous's war room.
Jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki praises WikiLeaks.
The top lawmaker on the U.S. House of Representatives' intelligence committee says WikiLeaks have been "devastating" to diplomacy.
THE BIG PICTURE
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks sparked the Arab revolt.
How the WikiLeaks documents helped reporters covering Japan's nuclear woes.
WikiLeaks suffers the most damaging leak of them all: pictures of Julian Assange dancing.
Things just got even worse for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for WikiLeaks' cache of U.S. military and State Department documents. The Army announced today that it has filed 22 new charges against Manning, in addition to the 12 counts he was initially charged with after his arrest in May.
Wired's Threat Level blog reports that the charges, which were filed Tuesday, "include aiding the enemy, theft of public property or records, computer fraud, transmitting defense information and wrongly causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy." Although the first charge is a capital offense, the Army has said it will not seek the death penalty. Even so, Manning is still looking at the possibility of life in prison. (Politico has the charge sheet here.)
Manning's lawyer, David E. Coombs, said in a blog post today that he and Manning had been expecting the additional charges for several weeks:
The decision to prefer charges is an individual one by PFC Manning's commander. The nature of the charges and the number of specifications under each reflects his determination, in consultation with his Staff Judge Advocate's office, of the possible offenses in this case. Ultimately, the Article 32 Investigating Officer will determine which, if any, of these additional charges and specifications should be referred to a court-martial.
As Threat Level notes, the capital offense charge could play into the deliberation over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which Assange's lawyers are in the process of appealing. A British judge ruled in favor of the extradition last week, and his ruling made virtually no mention of the political context of the case, effectively dismissing as implausible Assange's lawyers' arguments that an extradition -- even on unrelated charges -- would pave the way for their client's extradition to the United States on capital charges. Now that Manning has been charged with a capital offense, such arguments will be harder to dismiss.
Proceedings against Manning, meanwhile, are still on hold pending a psychiatric review sought by his lawyers. Politico reports that that review is expected to be completed in the next two to six weeks.
Qaddafi worried about a U.S. military presence in Africa.
Bernie Madoff once discussed investment opportunities with Qaddafi.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe OK'd "clandestine operations" against FARC rebels across the border in Venezuela.
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia (and later Afghanistan) William Wood was not aware of the top Colombian military leader's dodgy résumé.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce tried to take down Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.
China used U.S. debt obligations to pressure the United States on arms sales to Taiwan.
For the first time since World War II, Japan is building a full-blown foreign intelligence agency.
U.S. diplomats pushed Norway to buy American-made fighter jets.
Britain blocked an arms sale to Swaziland over fears the weapons could end up in Iran.
Bahrain's crown prince is not a big fan of the whole democracy thing.
A British judge rules in favor of Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.
George W. Bush doesn't like the idea of sharing a stage with Assange.
Gaddafi's "voluptuous nurse" has had enough of Libya.
WikiLeaks cable revelations are factoring in Peru's 2011 elections.
PayPal freezes the account of a group raising defense funds for Pfc. Bradley Manning.
More on HBGary, the cybersecurity firm that tried to take down WikiLeaks' supporters.
WikiLeaks now has a gift shop.
Anonymous makes "The Colbert Report" (slightly NSFW)
THE BIG PICTURE
U.S. diplomats in 2008 called the Libyan city where protests erupted this week "a locus of extremist activity" not really under the control of Muammar Qaddafi's government.
What U.S. diplomats have to say about Xi Jinping, China's next leader.
NATO on Russia's military: Meh.
Inside the United States' cozy relationship with Bahrain.
Bahrain's king told U.S. officials that his country's opposition was trained by Hezbollah.
The U.S. government's WikiLeaks probe makes its courtroom debut in the United States.
The preposterously complex hacking and counter-hacking saga engulfing WikiLeaks' online allies.
Australia wants to make sure Julian Assange is treated justly in Sweden.
Anonymous is now going after Iran.
THE BIG PICTURE
Free speech advocate and celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, now Julian Assange's lawyer, tells FP why WikiLeaks is "the Pentagon Papers case for the 21st Century."
WikiLeaks' Asia cables could be a whole lot worse.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
The Libyan frogman who couldn't swim.
The FBI pursues a team of alleged Qatari would-be 9/11 conspirators in the United States.
The rift between Washington and Beijing is deeper than either government would like you to think.
The United States' secret space arms race with China.
A Croatian man tries to get back at his ex-girlfriend by telling U.S. embassy officials that she's hanging out with Osama bin Laden.
Making an oil and gas deal in Russia is really complicated.
Newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman is close to Mubarak and foreign intelligence agencies, but not Mubarak's son. And a lot of people seem to think Mubarak's new deputy prime minister is a bureaucratic dinosaur.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accuses Syria and Iran of arming Iraqi militants.
Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh wants his money.
U.S. diplomats doubt reforms are on the way in Jordan.
Did WikiLeaks hack into New York Times reporters' email accounts?
WikiLeaks' release process has become so complicated that even the papers involved don't know what's a scoop anymore.
Amnesty International wants Britain to pressure the U.S. government over the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning.
THE BIG PICTURE
George W. Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith thinks Assange will be prosecuted in the United States.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger talk WikiLeaks.
Forty-two percent of Americans have no idea what WikiLeaks is.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak thought George W. Bush was "naive, controlled by subordinates, and completely unprepared for dealing with post-Saddam Iraq."
Inside the U.S. military's $1.3 billion-a-year relationship with Egypt.
When Hillary met Hosni.
The Egyptian military's Plan B in the event of a regime change.
The U.S. military hasn't turned up any evidence of collaboration between Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Manning's supervisors warned the U.S. Army not to deploy him to Iraq.
Der Spiegel's tick-tock on the lead-up to Cablegate. (Assange: "We have to survive this leak.")
When American newspapers aren't bashing Julian Assange, they're imitating him.
WikiLeaks: the next generation.
Assange wants more media partners.
THE BIG PICTURE
Reading WikiLeaks as literature.
Is Manning Capt. James Yee all over again?
Is Algeria next?
Why the Palestine Papers aren't the next WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has done more for Arab democracy than decades of U.S. diplomacy.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Although the U.S. State Department has reportedly downplayed the impact of WikiLeaks' cable disclosures in private, the Justice Department is still trying to find grounds to bring WikiLeaks honcho Julian Assange to trial in the United States. Doing that requires proving that Assange actively collaborated with his alleged source, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to obtain the cables; Assange has said from the beginning that this never happened, and that he didn't even know Manning's name until it was reported in the media.
NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports that the U.S. military's investigation into the affair, thus far, bears out Assange's story:
U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.
Manning is still being held at the Marine Corps Quantico base in Virginia, where he has been charged with eight crimes. He was put on suicide watch for two days last week, and his lawyers have alleged that he has been abused while in detention.
U.S. officials worried about the return to Haiti of Jean-Claude "Baby-Doc" Duvalier back in 2006. (Duvalier returned to the country this week.)
Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom doesn't think Rigoberta Menchú exists.
BP's top Russia executive has his doubts about the survival of the company's partnership with Russian oil firm Rosneft.
Turkey allowed the United States to use one of its airbases for rendition flights.
Condoleezza Rice wanted U.S. diplomats in the Middle East to gather intelligence on Israeli communications technology and Palestinian leaders.
American diplomats were ambivalent about deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and alarmed by the growing opposition to him.
U.S. diplomats in Turkey fretted about a military backlash after the arrest of several officers in an alleged coup plot last year.
Julian Assange is planning to release details on 2,000 offshore bank accounts, which he says contain evidence of serious tax evasion and money laundering. Swiss authorities are now mulling filing related charges against his source, former Swiss Banker Rudolf Elmer, who was already found guilty on Wednesday of breaking other banking secrecy laws.
Alleged Assange source Pfc. Bradley Manning is placed on suicide watch; his lawyer says he's being mistreated at the Marine Corps jail.
The State Department has made a big deal about the havoc caused by WikiLeaks, but privately officials tell congressional staffers the leaks were "embarrassing but not damaging."
Assange still has a lot of supporters in his home country of Australia.
The Pentagon wants U.S. military personnel to get rid of any WikiLeaks files they might have on their computers.
Russian WikiLeaks knockoff RuLeaks posts pictures of Vladimir Putin's Black Sea estate.
French lawyers are using WikiLeaks cables to argue for the acquittal of five Guantánamo detainees.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says that Assange's extradition is a judicial matter, and that his government won't be involved in the decision.
An investigative firm alleges WikiLeaks skims documents off of file-sharing networks.
Zimbabwe's attorney general is considering pursuing treason charges against more government officials based on WikiLeaks cables.
WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Applebaum is detained at an airport again.
A German CEO is out of a job after calling Europe's multi-billion-dollar Galileo satellite system (on which his company was working) a "stupid idea" in a WikiLeaked cable. (If you're keeping track, this is officially the first time WikiLeaks has caused trouble in space.)
THE BIG PICTURE
WikiLeaks was supposed to have extensive safeguards for its whistleblowers -- so why are so many of them ending up in jail?
What the WikiLeaks cables tell us about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
The Tunisian uprising wasn't a WikiLeaks revolution, but it does help us understand how technology can and can't help spread democracy.
At last, someone thought to ask Miss America what she thinks about WikiLeaks.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Two weeks after a leaked cable cost a U.S. ambassador his job, another diplomat has found his life suddenly complicated by WikiLeaks -- this time in the Netherlands. Yesterday WikiLeaks published a September 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in the Hague detailing U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder's efforts to keep the Dutch from bailing on the war in Afghanistan after 2010. Among Daalder's interlocutors is a Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs official named Pieter de Gooijer, who at one point in the conversation suggests a means by which Daalder could secure the further support of the Netherlands in the war effort:
De Gooijer encouraged Daalder to ask [U.S. Treasury] Secretary [Timothy] Geithner to tell [Dutch] Finance Minister [Wouter] Bos that the Netherlands would not have a seat in G20 discussions but for its contributions in Afghanistan. Bos is head of the Labor party and key to the Dutch cabinet's decision on Afghanistan.
Whatever efforts were ultimately made to persuade Bos failed; the Dutch cabinet collapsed last February over the issue of Afghanistan deployment, when the contingent of Labor ministers -- who remained staunchly opposed to keeping troops in the country -- resigned. Dutch troops pulled out of Afghanistan in August.
The new revelation doesn't look all that great for de Gooijer, who last week was named the Netherlands' ambassador to the European Union. Since the cable was published, his appointment has been blocked by Frans Timmermans, a Labor member of Parliament, on the grounds that de Gooijer can't be trusted. The Dutch government has recently proposed sending Dutch troops back to Afghanistan for an Afghan police training mission, but 70 percent of the respondents in a poll taken this month were opposed to the idea, as is Timmermans's party.
WikiLeaks also claimed its first private-sector casualty today, in the form of Berry Smutny, the CEO of the German space technology company OHB System AG. Smutny was fired after appearing in a WikiLeaks cable calling Galileo, a 4.5 billion-euros-and-counting European satellite navigation system on which OHB System is a contractor, a "stupid idea."
DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images
Late Friday, the U.S. Justice Department issued a court order for the Twitter account records of Birgitta Jonsdottir (above), a member of Iceland's Parliament and early friend of WikiLeaks. At first blush, this would seem to suggest that the Feds' efforts to build a case against Assange, who was in court in London yesterday and faces an extradition hearing next month, aren't going that well -- it's hard to envision an organization as tech-savvy as WikiLeaks conveying any sensitive information via Twitter direct messages -- and it drew protest from E.U. politicians yesterday. In any case, Twitter refused to comply -- or, in the words of Wired's Ryan Singel, "Twitter beta-tested a spine."
Twitter isn't talking about why it made the decision, and in the absence of a statement the speculation on tech blogs over the past few days seems to have mostly settled on the theory that the refusal was the work of Twitter general counsel Alexander Macgillivray, an early graduate of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and former Google lawyer known for championing privacy in the slippery legal environs of the Internet.
Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student and consultant who has done exhaustive research on the subject of Internet companies' data disclosures to government, explains that this is an extremely unusual response for a tech firm -- they usually fold in a hurry when the government comes knocking -- and why it matters:
Twitter has gone out of its way to fight for its users' privacy. The company went to court, and was successful in asking the judge to unseal the order (something it is not required to do), and then promptly notified its users, so that they could seek to quash the order. Twitter could have quite easily complied with the order, and would have had zero legal liability for doing so. In fact, many other Internet companies routinely hand over their users' data in response to government requests, and never take steps to either have the orders unsealed, or give their users notice and thus an opportunity to fight the order.
It's also notable in light of Twitter's past friendliness with the State Department, which famously prevailed upon the company to keep its servers up and running during Iran's Green Revolution protests (a collaboration which Evgeny Morozov argues in the current issue of FP has proven problematic).
HALLDOR KOLBEINS/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's New Statesman has an interview with Julian Assange in its new issue out tomorrow, and the magazine is teasing a few excerpts from it today. While there's no love lost between the WikiLeaks founder and the U.S. government -- which is still trying to figure out how to extradite and charge him -- Assange says that China, not the United States, is his true "technological enemy":
China has aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We've been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site.
Asked about his relationship with alleged document source Bradley Manning -- whose interactions or lack thereof with Assange prior to Manning's acquisition of the State Department documents is central to the question of whether the U.S. government has a case against the Australian hacker -- Assange says that "I'd never heard his name before it was published in the press," adding that "WikiLeaks technology was designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never knew the identities or names of the people submitting material."
Assange also claims to have State Department documents concerning the parent company of his media bête noire Fox News, telling the New Statesman's John Pilger that "There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation and there are cables on [Rupert] Murdoch and News Corp."
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Your required WikiLeaks reading today is Sarah Ellison's Vanity Fair piece, published last night, detailing the behind-the-scenes finagling by which Julian Assange and five publications arranged their operating agreement for WikiLeaks' State Department cables. The news in it is that that agreement was far more ad-hoc than any of its adherents originally let on: That Assange changed the terms of the deal and added new partners on the fly, aggravating his original partner, the Guardian, and eventually precipitating his falling out with the paper (though Reuters's Felix Salmon suggests, plausibly, that this isn't the whole story).
The protagonists of Ellison's story are Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger and reporter Nick Davies, who won Assange's confidence last summer and brokered privileged access to WikiLeaks' mountain of soon-to-be-released U.S. military and diplomatic documents -- and then spent the rest of the year trying to keep the deal from blowing apart as Assange brought in new media partners without warning them, threatened lawsuits, and generally proved to be a colossal headache. The piece is really worth reading in its entirety, but it's also worth reading Slate's Jack Shafer, who distills the juicy particulars and pins down just why it is that Assange drives the media crazy:
Assange bedevils the journalists who work with him because he refuses to conform to any of the roles they expect him to play. He acts like a leaking source when it suits him. He masquerades as publisher or newspaper syndicate when that's advantageous. Like a PR agent, he manipulates news organizations to maximize publicity for his "clients," or when moved to, he threatens to throw info-bombs like an agent provocateur. He's a wily shape-shifter who won't sit still, an unpredictable negotiator who is forever changing the terms of the deal.
Although Ellison casts Julian Assange as a genuinely new quantity on the journalistic landscape -- which he is -- the thing that actually struck me most, reading the story, is how much he reminds me of an older one: the sort of news-chasing story-broker that was common in the era before checkbook journalism became frowned-upon, and still exists by other names in the television and new media businesses.
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Another day, another cable about alleged central-African multi-million-dollar embezzlement -- this time in Gabon.
The Obama administration dispatches a Florida senator to urge Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon not to pursue a torture case against Bush administration officials.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency quietly evolves into an international intelligence agency.
How a Brazilian who once kidnapped a U.S. ambassador managed to get into the United States.
McDonald's tries to muck up a free trade agreement in El Salvador.
The Jamaican government warned U.S. officials that extraditing a local drug lord would lead to trouble.
Britain trains a "government death squad" in Bangladesh.
Did Britain try to cheat Mauritius out of an island chain?
Inside Russia's awful prisons.
Shell thinks that Ireland could become a booming offshore gas supplier -- or not.
More U.S. complaints about Egypt's lackluster military.
Behind the scenes of an assassination in Dubai.
Julian Assange claims (dubiously) to have the names of CIA moles in Arab governments.
The FBI pays back "Operation Payback" over PayPal attack.
77 percent of Americans disapprove of WikiLeaks' cable release.
Did WikiLeaks dash Zimbabwe's hopes for democracy?
Hackers claim to have brought down Zimbabwean government websites in retaliation for a WikiLeaks-related lawsuit against a Harare newspaper.
THE BIG PICTURE
Daniel Ellsberg lawyer Floyd Abrams says Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg.
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On Thursday, Julian Assange told reporters that WikiLeaks would be releasing State Department cables concerning the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January, and he has made good on the promise with a couple of short dispatches from the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi. They don't offer any more insight into the still-unsolved killing, but they do paint a picture of the diplomatic conundrum the incident posed for the United Emirates and the United States.
Mabhouh, a Hamas military commander who had orchestrated the
kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers and was suspected of smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip, died in his room at the Al
Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai on Jan. 19, after being injected with the muscle
relaxant succinylcholine and then suffocated. Although Israel
has denied it won't confirm or deny it, the
list of people who don't believe that Mossad agents did the job is vanishingly
short. The hit squad had deftly
plotted and executed the assassination, using encrypted cell phones and passports
from half a dozen countries, and quickly scattered themselves from Hong Kong to
Paris once their work was done. Their one mistake, however, was a big one:
failing to account for the hotel's CCTV cameras, which caught
their faces on tape.
The story was first reported 10 days later by Reuters, and as it happened, U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson was at a social event with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed when it broke, according to one of the two embassy cables, signed by Olson. An unnamed UAE media advisor, Olson reports in the Jan. 31 cable, "after making a few calls reported back that the UAE's public posture was being discussed between Dubai Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The two options discussed were to say nothing at all, or to reveal more or less the full extent of the UAE's investigations."
The UAE was no friend of Hamas -- the emirate's discontent with Hamas patron Iran is a recurring theme in the WikiLeaks corpus -- but its government was, of course, not exactly eager to be seen as enabling an Israeli incursion on the sovereignty of an Arab state, either. The cable describes the UAE officials' reasoning, and decision:
Saying nothing would have been perceived as protecting the Israelis and in the end, the UAE chose to tell all. The statement was carefully drafted not to point any fingers, but the reference in the document (see below) to a gang with western passports will be read locally as referring to the Mossad.
American officials had their own decision to make about where their loyalties were -- one documented in the second cable, signed by Olson deputy Doug Greene, several weeks later. Greene reports that UAE officials requested the embassy's help in acquiring account data for credit cards, issued by a bank in Iowa, that investigators had linked to suspects in the assassination. The request was apparently turned down, and as Haaretz reports, the State Department denied at the time that any requests had been made. "By not accepting the request," Haaretz's Yossi Melman writes, "the Obama administration harmed the Dubai investigation efforts and assisted Israel instead." The U.S. government did eventually assist in the investigation, however, identifying American companies that may have been used to finance the operation.
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It's not every day when one could mistake a WikiLeaked cable for Us Weekly magazine. The exception is this one, released yesterday by the Guardian, titled "HURRICANE ANNA NICOLE WREAKS HAVOC IN THE BAHAMAS" and revealing "titillating details" about the "American B-list celebrity" and her "sordid affairs."
The document describes how Anna Nicole Smith, who died a year after the cable was written, attempted to secure residency status in the Bahamas with a $10,000 check to the immigration minister. Her application was approved in a month, when the process usually takes a year. Another cable reveals that the immigration minister was forced to resign after the publication of photographs of him "embracing Smith in her bed."
While the exploits of a former Playboy bunny in the Bahamas might not be especially pertinent on the global level, they make for fun reading:
Several months into her Bahamian residency, American B-list celebrity and regular entertainment television fixture Anna Nicole Smith has changed the face of Bahamian politics. Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau.
Not since Wallace Simpson dethroned a King and came to Nassau has an American femme fatale so captivated the Bahamian public and dominated local politics. Gossip in The Bahamas is an art form -- called "sip sip" -- and the Anna Nicole saga has been quite a show for connoisseurs. The sordid details of Anna Nicole's private life inspire readers to pick up a paper, and when they do they read about a Government bending the rules for personal benefit and the privileged elite.
A story in the Guardian on Monday, reporting on another cable from the paper's WikiLeaks master cache, opens with a bang:
The United Nations' drugs czar told NATO that Afghan insurgents were withholding thousands of tonnes of heroin and treating their drugs like "savings accounts" to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a leaked US cable.
The cable is from May 2009, and details a briefing by Antonio Maria Costa, then the United Nations' top drug official, at NATO headquarters, on the occasion of the release of his office's 2009 Afghan opium survey. My first thought reading the Guardian piece was, Wow, the U.N. drug czar has no idea what he's talking about. Then I read the cable. It turns out this is what's actually in there:
Costa said that Afghanistan has 12,400 tons of opium stocks because it produces more than the world consumes. Costa believes the insurgency is withholding these stocks from the market and treating them like "savings accounts." He said the stocks pose a serious threat as it could be used to finance the insurgency. Costa encouraged intelligence organizations to keep focus on the storage and movement of Afghanistan's opium stocks.
Costa is talking about the price of unrefined opium within Afghanistan, not the price of the finished product in London or New York -- which means the Guardian is unfairly saddling Costa with its own rather large analytical error here. If you want the long explanation for why, read this very useful paper on the Afghan opium trade and counternarcotics strategy, released by New York University's Center for International Cooperation in June, written by drug policy experts Jonathan Caulkins, Mark Kleiman, and Jonathan Kulick. If you want the short answer, read this bit of it:
[T]he price of raw opium, and even refined heroin ready for export from Afghanistan, contributes only modestly to the retail prices facing heroin users in drug-importing countries -- the effect of falling opium prices in Afghanistan would be tiny in remote markets such as western Europe, larger but still quite modest in nearer markets, and substantial only within Afghanistan itself. Effects in the United States, if any, would be even smaller than those in western Europe, since the U.S. heroin market is currently supplied primarily from Colombia and Mexico.
Rising prices are similarly insignificantly affected by price fluctuations inside Afghanistan -- which is why supply-side-only counternarcotics strategies, in Afghanistan or anywhere else, tend to work poorly.
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