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
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
A British judge has authorized WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden on rape charges. From the Australian:
The Australian founder of the WikiLeaks website instantly appealed to the British High Court against last night's verdict in the Belmarsh Magistrates Court, but Judge Howard Riddell had earlier made it clear he had no doubt about the validity of Sweden's extradition case.
Mr Assange had faced being extradited within 10 days and held in jail in Stockholm with no possibility of bail but his barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC, signalled an appeal process that could take many months.
The New York Times has the text of the ruling here. Riddell makes no explicit mention of the broader context of the case, or the frequent claims by Assange and his lawyers that extradition on the sex assault charges is the first step toward extradicting Assange to the United States over WikiLeaks' U.S. government document leaks. Pretty much all there is is a pro forma note on p. 26 in which Riddell says he believes neither Assange's arrest warrant or prosecution was the result of considerations about his political opinions.
Assange's lawyers said immediately that they planned to appeal the decision.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hasn't been charged with any crime in the United States yet, but he is preparing for the possibility that he will be sooner or later -- in a statement released via Twitter on Monday, WikiLeaks announced that Assange had secured the assistance of Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz has been a staunch civil liberties advocate for decades -- he represented Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel in the Supreme Court in 1972 after Gravel read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record -- although he's as well known today for his work as a celebrity attorney (he's represented O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, and Leona Helmsley, among others) and his outspoken defense of Israel. "This is the Pentagon Papers case for the 21st Century," he told me today. "This is a very important test case, because it tests the reach of the First and Fourth Amendments to new electronic media. It's every lawyer's dream to help shape the law, not just react to it."
Dershowitz says he was enlisted in Assange's legal team by Geoffrey Robertson, an Australian attorney who cuts a similar profile in his own country and Britain -- he helped hide his client Salman Rushdie after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa against him in 1989 -- and who signed on to Assange's case in December. "I've been involved for a while now," Dershowitz says. "I've been quietly advising them over the past weeks. I've spoken myself with Assange on several occasions."
The U.S. Justice Department's case against Assange, if it can make one, hinges on demonstrating some sort of collaboration between the WikiLeaks leader and his alleged source for his cache of U.S. government documents, Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is currently being held in a Marine Corps jail. A federal judge in Virginia agreed today to consider an order from the Justice Department compelling Twitter to hand over account information for Assange, Manning, and several other people associated with WikiLeaks -- which Twitter has so far resisted -- in an attempt to prove that the parties were communicating before Assange received the documents. Dershowitz wasn't involved in today's hearing, but says that "we will do what we can in this country to minimize the chances that [Assange] can be prosecuted here."
"In a situation like this, you're waiting to see what moves the government makes," he says. "But I never wait passively. I always wait actively."
ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS/AFP/Getty Images
During the summer of 2008, Britain, France, and the United States discussed the possibility of delaying the Internatoinal Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Sudanese President Omar Hussein al-Bashir -- if Bashir's government played ball in Darfur and Southern Sudan. According to a series of cables released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, the three powers considered enticing Sudan's president with an Article 16 deferral of his indictment -- a U.N. Security Council resolution that could suspend the investigation for up to 12 months. According to an August 2008 cable, "If 'played right,' the UK [United Kingdom] assessed the leverage of an Article 16 deferral could provide an opportunity to ameliorate conditions in Darfur and possibly the [implementation of the] Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [that ended conflict between northern and southern Sudan]."
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is back in court today for extradition hearings that could see him sent to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault. Assange's lawyers -- who have already expressed concerns about extradition to the United States and the alleged threat of illegal rendition there -- were today crying foul that Assange could face a closed-door trial if returned to Sweden. (Crimes involving sexual misconduct or minors are often closed to the public for privacy reasons.) For a self-proclaimed transparency revolutionary, such secrecy does seem the ultimate punishment.
But what strikes me about the ongoing hearings is the idea -- insinuated in Assange's defense -- that Britain and Sweden are buying time for the United States, which is presumably still working to build a case against the WikiLeaks founder. Assange's legal team has expressed repeated concern about his extradition to the United States -- not from Britain but from Sweden, despite the fact that both countries have extradition agreements with the United States. (In fact, it appears to my very untrained legal eye that the British-U.S. extradition agreement, signed in 2003, is very favorable toward allowing extradition; the burden of proof is virtually nil for the country requesting the extradition.)
In the meantime, all this buying time on both sides seems like it might actually be useful to Assange, who is passing his days in a mansion just outside London -- probably a much more conducive work environment than being on the run. If the productivity of the WikiLeaks site is any indication, that's true: The pace of cables being released picked up over the weekend.
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images.
It's been a while since WikiLeaked checked in on Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's newly embattled president and a reliably interesting character in the WikiLeaks oeuvre. Most of what we've seen from Saleh in the leaked U.S. State Department cables has followed a pattern in which U.S. diplomats try to coax more counterterrorism cooperation out of the veteran strongman, while Saleh -- whose government received $155 million in military aid from the United States in 2010, twice the previous year's amount -- tries to finagle more cash and materiel out of the Americans. A newly released December 2004 State Department cable recounting a meeting between Saleh and U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski (pictured above with Saleh in a 2007 photo) is no exception.
The meeting takes place a little more than a month after U.S. President George W. Bush's reelection; Saleh badly wants to meet with Bush in Washington to congratulate him personally, he tells Krajeski, and also talk about "important new developments in the region 'that can only be discussed face to face,'" according to the cable. Krajeski hems and haws a bit about this, at which point, the cable notes, "True to form, Saleh launched into a list of what he believes the U.S. owes him. 'Where is the money for the Army, and what about my spare (F-5) parts?' Saleh demanded." (The cable notes, a little acidly, that there have been reported problems with getting the Yemeni Ministry of Defense "to follow through with the necessary paperwork on parts and equipment in order to spend the 17 million USD in Yemen's [foreign military financing] account.")
Pointing out that any meetings with senior U.S. officials would quickly turn to the subject of Yemen's huge grey market in SA/LW [small arms/light weapons], Ambassador told Saleh that Yemen needs to gain control over the huge flow of these weapons in and through the country. Washington is very concerned about this issue and ready to help the ROYG tackle it, added Ambassador. "I will do it!" Saleh exclaimed, insisting that he was insisting that he was already "cracking down" on the SA/LWs market.
The conversation soon turns, inevitably, to counterterrorism, in which Saleh has been a longstanding if not unproblematic partner to the United States. Pressed on the subject of Hadi Dulqum, an arms dealer with alleged links to Al Qaeda, the cable reports that "Saleh stuck to his line that Hadi Dulqum is just a 'simple arms dealer:'"
The Saudis want Dulqum, said the President, "they are crazy for him. What do you expect?" he asked, "if we arrest every arms dealer in the country, we will have hundreds of them in prison." The USG [U.S. government] agrees with the Saudis, said Ambassador, adding that Dulqum's connections with AQ are too extensive for him to be simply another Yemeni arms dealer.
Months later, Saleh does manage to swing a White House invite, prompting a June 2005 cable from the Sanaa embassy titled PRIORITIES FOR WASHINGTON VISIT: SALEH NEEDS TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. The cable characterizes relations with Saleh's government as "frustrating and difficult," noting that "Saleh has indicated to top advisors in the past that he believes he can pull the wool over the eyes of the [U.S. government.]" On the political front, "Saleh touts Yemen as a leader in regional reform and has committed to democratization," the cable says. "Domestically, however, he has run-out of reforms he can implement at no political cost to himself."
The cable proposes "a public show of support via a greater role in public fora such as the G-8" as a possible inducement to greater democratization, but it seems that half a decade later, the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt may have done the job more effectively.
KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images
While the community of Middle East leak-watchers is focused on Al Jazeera's release of 1,600 documents from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, WikiLeaks has released a number of U.S. diplomatic cables that call into question the long-term viability of Algerian strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Particularly in the wake of Tunisia's revolt -- and the U.S. Embassy's success at identifying the seeds of unrest there -- these cables deserve a close read.
The most engaging report is a 2008 cable on disaffected Algerian youth known as "the harraga," or literally "one who burns." Unlike Mohamed Bouazizi, who lit himself on fire in Tunisia two years later, these men aren't burning themselves -- they're burning their identification papers before setting out on makeshift boats in an attempt to reach the shores of Spain or Italy. It's an unbelievably dangerous journey: The embassy estimates that over 90 percent of the harraga die at sea, are detained indefinitely by North African authorities, or are returned to their host country. According to one article cited in the cable, up to 50,000 Algerians and Libyans attempted to reach European shores in search of economic opportunities in 2007.
From the Algerian regime's perspective, perhaps the most troubling aspect of this story is that the harraga hail -- like Bouazizi -- from the society's educated classes. One boat, the embassy reported "includ[ed] five university graduates and two doctors." The grandson of a former Algerian president also departed the country in this way and "has not been heard from since."
A 2007 cable signed by U.S. Amb. Robert Ford -- now the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Damascus -- lays out the consequences of this disaffection more explicitly. The Algerian regime, he writes, is "plagued by a lack of vision, unprecedented levels of corruption and rumblings of division within the military rank and file."
The most explosive comments in the cable are relayed to the embassy by Said Sadi, an opposition leader. Sadi described a conversation that he had with Gen. Toufik Mediene, Algeria's head of military intelligence, who "acknowledged that all was not well with the health of Bouteflika and Algeria writ large." When the conversation turned to Algeria's endemic corruption, Sadi reports that the general "motion[ed] silently to the portrait of Bouteflika that hung over their heads" to indicate where the problem lay.
Ford hedged his bets in late 2007, writing that the embassy does not expect an imminent revolt in Algeria. But in the aftermath of the Tunisian revolt -- and with Algerian protests and self-immolations mounting -- the moment may just be now.
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."
LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images
Cables from the U.S. Embassy in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare account for just 13 of the nearly 2,000 State Department documents that WikiLeaks has posted so far, but President Robert Mugabe's government has gotten a lot of mileage out of them -- in fact, he's probably made more enterprising use of the slow-rolling scandal than any other world leader. When an independent Zimbabwean newspaper reported on a cable alleging that members of Mugabe's circle -- including his wife, Grace Mugabe -- had profited extensively from the country's black -market diamond trade, the first lady sued the paper for $15 million (a move that has prompted reprisals from hackers). When WikiLeaks published a year-old cable detailing a meeting between Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and U.S. officials, Mugabe -- who had grudgingly acceded to a power-sharing arrangement with his old nemesis -- jumped at the opportunity.
Last week, Johannes Tomana, Zimbabwe's attorney general, announced that he would consider charging Tsvangirai with high treason over the contents of the cable, in which Tsvangirai suggests the possibility of working with U.S. and other foreign officials on the international sanctions regime imposed on Mugabe's government -- penalties that Tsvangirai publicly opposed but privately insisted "be kept in place," according to the cable. High treason carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe, and a number of writers -- Christopher Albon in the Atlantic, James Kirchick in the Wall Street Journal, and James Richardson in today's Guardian, among others -- have pre-emptively placed Tsvangirai's blood on Julian Assange's hands. Richardson's piece is a particularly good summary of the events thus far and builds to a withering conclusion:
And so, where Mugabe's strong-arming, torture and assassination attempts have failed to eliminate the leading figure of Zimbabwe's democratic opposition, WikiLeaks may yet succeed. Twenty years of sacrifice and suffering by Tsvangirai all for naught, as WikiLeaks risks "collateral murder" in the name of transparency.
Before more political carnage is wrought and more blood spilled -- in Africa and elsewhere, with special concern for those US-sympathising Afghans fingered in its last war document dump -- WikiLeaks ought to leave international relations to those who understand it -- at least to those who understand the value of a life.
It's certainly true that Assange has been maddeningly unwilling to examine the implications of his actions -- or, alternately, convinced that he can have it both ways, remaking the business of geopolitics while claiming no casualties. But I'm somewhat more persuaded by Albon's measured take from last week. After noting that a Tsvangirai conviction based on the cable alone is unlikely, he writes:
It's difficult to see this as anything but a major setback for democracy in Zimbabwe. Even if Tsvangirai is not charged with treason, the opponents to democratic reforms have won a significant victory. First, popular support for Tsvangirai and the MDC will suffer due to Mugabe's inevitable smear campaign, including the attorney general's "investigation." Second, the Prime Minister might be forced to take positions in opposition to the international community to avoid accusation of being a foreign collaborator. Third, Zimbabwe's fragile coalition government could collapse completely. Whatever happens, democratic reforms in Zimbabwe are far less likely now than before the leak.
As Robert Rotberg wrote here last week, WikiLeaks may have provided Mugabe with a useful pretext for dispatching Tsvangirai from his government, but it's an open question whether he needed one. In reward for his decade-plus of political efforts, Tsvangirai has been variously arrested, beaten, tortured, thrown from a 10th-floor window, and involved in a suspicious collision with a truck that claimed his wife's life. WikiLeaks is useful to Mugabe, but it's hardly necessary.
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
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.
Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
Italy's oil company Eni has long enjoyed a privileged position in oil and gas deals in both Russia and Kazakhstan. The company enabled Russia's dismantlement of Yukos, and has been Gazprom's top-tier partner in tightening its grip on gas supplies to Turkey and Europe. Allegations in one WikiLeaked cable that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and some pals have profited personally from this intimate relationship are not entirely surprising -- nor is it particularly shocking to read allegations of similar Eni activity in Uganda.
The details come in an unusually descriptive new cable released by WikiLeaks. The cable describes a Dec. 14, 2009 meeting between U.S. Ambassador Jerry Lanier and Tim O'Hanlon, vice president for Africa for Britain's Tullow Oil. We have written previously about scrappy Tullow, a serious player around Africa's Lake Albert region, which is believed to potentially contain more than 1 billion barrels of oil.
Here is the backdrop: Tullow was wishing to exercise a right of first refusal to buy the second half of two Ugandan oilfields in which it already held a 50 percent interest. But Eni somehow stepped in and, right around the time of the Lanier-O'Hanlon meeting, announced that it, and not Tullow, would secure the $1.35 billion purchase. O'Hanlon asserted that he knew just how Eni had managed it -- the Italians had created a London shell company through which they were funneling money to Uganda's security minister, Amama Mbabazi.
This bit of news really irritated Lanier, who suggested that he was sick and tired of hearing of "corruption scandals" involving Mbabazi. From the cable:
Depending on the outcome of this major deal, we believe it could be time to consider tougher action - to include visa revocation - for senior officials like Mbabazi who are consistently linked to corruption scandals impacting the international activity of U.S. businesses, U.S. foreign assistance goals, and the stability of democratic institutions.
Lanier said in the cable that he planned to confer with the local British High Commission, plus the Irish ambassador, and talk about writing a joint letter to President Yoweri Museveni expressing their dismay "about these very troubling signs of high-level corruption in Uganda's oil sector, and advocating for the open and transparent sale of oil assets and management of future oil revenues."
We do not know if those meetings took place or if the letter was written. However, the deal was overturned just seven weeks later and given to Tullow under the same terms as Eni.
DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images
Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is clearly an "enemy of the United States," as the Wall Street Journal argues, and the Obama administration is rightly considering prosecuting him for espionage. I agree with my colleague Peter Feaver that the disclosure of State Department cables hurts our diplomats' abilities to do their jobs. But a more pressing and complex question is whether the New York Times should be prosecuted as well.
It is a crime to disclose classified information under the Espionage Act of 1917 (see 18 U.S. Code § 793, paragraph e). The Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in Schenck vs. United States (1919). The Court ruled that "Words which, ordinarily and in many places, would be within the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment may become subject to prohibition when of such a nature and used in such circumstances a to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils which Congress has a right to prevent." The First Amendment does not protect espionage.
The most famous prosecution under the Espionage Act was the Pentagon Papers case, New York Times vs. United States (1971), in which the Nixon administration attempted to stop the publication of a Department of Defense internal history of the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration lost the case and the New York Times (and others) published the history in full. Since the Pentagon Papers case, administrations have been generally reluctant to prosecute under the Espionage Act both because of the perceived difficulty of winning a conviction and because of general discomfort with the idea of suing the media for the content of what they publish.
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