Julian Assange and his team at Wikileaks have done it again – the night mare of every government across the world – releasing of classified documents which detail about what they actually think of other state heads and governments and their top secret foreign policies and related conversations.
What appears in the media – like Pakistan is the foremost ally of United States in its war against terror – is what is meant for public consumption. And what they actually mean about it – like It is important to get the enriched nuclear material out of Pakistan – is what actually transpires behind the scenes.
The leaks of this time titled ‘Secret US Embassy Cables‘ and termed by Julian Assange as ‘Diplomatic History of the United States‘ contain a whopping 251,287 documents which contain details about the exchange of information between US embassies across the world with their State Department back at Washington DC.
What’s more? More than 15000 of these documents are classified as “Secret” by the US government. These communications date from 1966 till as recent as February 2010. The leak process started yesterday ie 28 November with 226 documents being released and is expected to be completed in a few months with the total number of documents amounting to 251,287! Normally such documents would be declassified and released after around 25 years by when they would have become irrelevant in the then political context ie when current affairs has become history. But releasing these documents when they are related to currently ongoing global political events is a different matter altogether and is bound to cause political earth quake across the globe.
The news about this leaks was enough for US government to panic and start issuing warnings to all friendly countries about the impending leaks, and they even kept forcing Wikileaks not to bring these documents into the public domain. The warnings to friendly countries were probably to tell them, “We have talked really bad about you, please don’t mind” ;)
These documents are actually part of a private network called SIPRNET which is used by the United States Department of Defense and Department of State. It functions on the same principles as that of Internet except that all communications in this network are highly secure and isolated from the public internet. Now it is the technological advances of storage devices that has made wikileaks possible, no matter how secure your network is – to leak sensitive documents outside the network all you need is either a tiny USB storage device or sending out emails with disguised attachments.
The only best way to physically secure a computer in a network is to physically DISCONNECT it from the network :)
What is to be noted here is that, all US government documents classified upto the level of “SECRET” are part of SIPRNET and the current wikileaks contains around 15000 SECRET documents, which obviously mean all these documents came from SIPRNET. But the highest level of classified documents are marked “TOP SECRET” and are not a part of SIPRNET. Instead they are a part of an even more confidential US security network called JWICS. Also, there is another US government network of computers called NIPRNET which is at a lower level than SIPRNET, in that it contains unclassified but sensitive US government documents.
What is Wikileaks?
For those who are not aware, wikileaks is a global whistle blower website which obtains classified secret government documents and publishes them into the public domain via its website wikileaks.org. This brings into light the wrong doings of governments and their machinery across the world. To put it simply, wikileaks is the next generation of journalism, a more improved version of sting operation type journalism. Wikileaks says that it never hides the source of its documents ie the details of the person who gave them the documents, and that is because simply there is no need for them to do so as they themselves are not aware of the source! Wikileaks never saves any details about the person who shared the documents with them, and what’s more – they provide more secure ways to anonymously upload classified documents to their servers. Infact wikileaks founder has said that even today the most secure way to share the documents with them is by “International Post”!
Most wikileaks documents published so far are related to the activities of United States across the globe. Earlier Wikileaks had published documents related to US actions (or wrong doings) in Iraq and Afghanistan. After releasing these documents yesterday, ie Nov 28th Wikileaks has claimed that its website has received a massive DDOS attack – which basically means pounding the website with millions of invalid requests so that the website is inaccessible to others. No marks for guessing who is behind the attack, but wikileaks always makes sure that the documents to be leaked reach popular media houses across the world much in advance to the official leak on their website so that any such attacks do not disrupt the flow of the information in the documents. This time around wikileaks had pre-leaked the documents to popular newspapers like The New York Times, France’s Le Monde, Britain’s Guardian newspaper, German magazine Der Spiegel etc.
It is obvious and a well known fact that United States being the only super power – till the recent global economic crisis and the emergence of China and India – has been taking governments across the world for a ride to further its own interests. Look at the below cartoon about US wanting to bring democracy across the world :)
US government has time and again urged wikileaks not to publish its classified documents in public domain. But wikileaks founder Julian Assange brushed it aside saying,
This must be shot down, whenever this statement is made. A threat to U.S. national security? Is anyone serious? The security of the entire nation of the United States? It is ridiculous!
He also went on to say,
It is not our role to play sides for states. States have national security concerns. We do not have national security concerns
Well yes, but Wikileaks definitely has become an added national security concern to United States now, and of course to governments all across the world who want to hide their dirty political secrets from public domain. Why? Read below.
Most of the content which Wikileaks released is well known to the world in its generic nature, like US dominance in foreign policy issues, US agencies spying on foreign governments and persons, Israel running out of patience on Iran, North Korea helping Iran, China helping Pakistan, US getting irritated with Pakistan, and so on. But the specifics of individual cases is what matters, and is of enough concern to take inter-government relations, public perceptions, US foreign policies with allies and others, all for a big ride. Especially when it comes in a chunk as big as 251,287 documents related to around 274 countries, is like firing AK-47 non-stop for 7 hours! Note that US is today fighting or is on high alert with multiple wars on multiple fronts like the war in Iraq, war in Af-Pak region, the US-Israeli alliance standoff against Iran, US standoff with Russia on missile defense system in Europe, US-South Korea alliance standoff against North Korea and so on. So the wikileaks couldn’t have been more ill timed for US. Read some specific extracts below.
President of Yemen lied to his people
Now just imagine, the entire world governments getting embarrassed in front of their citizens because of the revelations of their leaders giving in to pressure from United States. Here is one such leak where in the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh accepts that he lied to his own people by pretending that US military strikes against Al-Qaeda were being carried out by Yemeni military forces! The President of Yemen tells General David Petraeus, the then commander of US forces in the Middle East that “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours”. Now imagine how embarrassing it would be for the Yemeni President when this lie of his is exposed in public. And this is from just one document of the 251,287 documents!
US officials call Putin an “alpha dog”
Now if the above leak about Yemeni president lying was an embarrassment to Yemen, now here is one for US itself. US officials have in their official communications called the energetic Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as an “alpha dog“. The US officials also have described the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as feckless, vain and ineffective ! Now leaks like this provide enough head ache for US embassies across the globe to be prepared with explanations, if at all the local governments summon them at least for public consumption again.
So the next set of wikileaks would be probably about governments across the globe asking US,
Fine you said this about us, but why on earth did you have to document what you said?
US fumes on Pakistani Nukes
Now here is the news that kept coming in the media earlier and which both US and Pakistan kept denying in public. The leaked documents reveal as mentioned in “The Newyork Times” that
US has mounted an unsuccessful secret effort since 2007 to remove from a Pakistani reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device
The newspaper says that, in May 2009 Pakistan refused to schedule a visit by American technical experts to its nuclear facilities because it said,
If the local media got word of the fuel removal, they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons…
The leaked cables also said that the king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah, called Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as the greatest obstacle to the country’s progress. Referring to the president Zardari and Pakistan, king Abdullah is alleged to have said
When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.
Iran-US-Israel nuclear Crisis: Saudi Arabia wants US to attack Iran
Another wikileaks highlight is the details of Saudi Arabia repeatedly forcing the United States to attack Iran. Saudi Arabia wants its version of Islam to dominate the world, and hence sees a Shia majority Iran as a major obstacle for that and wants to use the US-Iran nuclear crisis for its advantage.
On the other hand, another leaked document claims that Israel has given US time till the end of 2010 to resolve the Iran nuclear crisis, failing to which Israel would look for a military solution ie attack Iran – like how Israel attacked Iraq’s nuclear facilities earlier.
Now this one is of enough concern for Iran – on the one hand they have a specific ultimatum of Israeli deadline to US, and on the other hand there is the Saudi role in pressurizing US to act against Iran. What is a country like Iran expected to do at this stage? Well knowing the role of Iran in deciding world crude oil prices, it is anybody’s guess.
We don’t think this information was leaked. We think it was organised to be released on a regular basis and they are pursuing political goals.
Well, this is what he said in public. We would require another wikileak from Iran to see what actually he thinks in private in discussions with his co-policy makers.
Inside views in US about various government heads
Here are some examples leaks about the inside views in United States policy making circles about various country heads and powerful personalities across the globe
- President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is described as thin-skinned and authoritarian
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel is described as the one who doesn’t like to take any risk.
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai is said to be extremely weak and susceptible to conspiracy theories.
- British queen’s second son, Prince Andrew is said to have rude behaviour
- North Korea’s Kim Jong-il is a flabby old chap suffering from trauma of a stroke
- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is referred to as Hitler
- And here is one of THE BEST – Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya always travels with a voluptuous blonde Ukrainian nurse
Always travels with? So what? :)
The Grand Korean Plan
These are some really grand plans now. US and South Korea both are waiting for the North Korean dictatorial communist regime to collapse, and when it does so, both US and South Korea will act together to unite North and South Koreas into a single democratic large Korean country. Well a good plan indeed. But will North Korea collapse without having tried atleast one war with South Korea? Looking at recent developments I dont think so.
But will China sit idle, as losing North Korea means losing a precious ally to contain US influence in the region with South Korea and Japan? Well, they have a plan for that too, which is offering commercial incentives to China in return for keeping quiet on North-South Korea unification! In other words, bribe China to keep quiet. But what I fail to understand is that, for a country like China which is sitting on a stock pile of cash, which has stacked largest amount of dollars printed in US, what kind of commercial incentives can US or South Korea offer?!
By the way, is there any such Grand Indian Plan for Pakistan? Long time back had read a similar CIA’s possible future world prediction related to an unstable Pakistan being attacked by an India which has lost all its patience completely sometime around 2020 or 2030.
The Chinese Hacker Government – The Bad Guy in the Good Internet
Remember the recent news of Google closing down its China operations after getting angry over the hacking of its secure servers by hackers from China. Now the wikileaks report confirms the use of hackers by the Chinese Communist regime ever since 2002 to hack into US government computers and into networks of US companies. If true, isn’t this a cyber war by China on US? Would love to know the US response. Probably in a cyber war the rules of counter attack are different from that of a conventional military war. The wikileak also confirms that the Chinese government was indeed behind the cyber attacks on Google servers.
Also one should be aware that China has banned Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc and instead has its own clones of these popular internet destinations. It doesn’t want its young population to be polluted by democratic ideas, anti-communist ideologies, brutal communist history in China like Tienanmen Square etc.
Indic-leaks – US India relations
And here comes the master piece from India. Of the first set of 226 documents posted on November 28 at Wikileaks, 22 documents have an Indian connection. And wikileaks says that in the entire set being leaked there are more than 5000 documents with an Indian connection. The highlights of the initial documents are not really that provoking in any sense, but future documents may contain so far unknown information.
Turkey had sponsored an Afghanistan neighbour’s summit, but did not invite India to this summit as it did not want to hurt Pakistan.
Hmm… who cares? Next?
On the one hand we have Indian government publicly refusing the involvement of any third party including US in its talks with Pakistan. And here is what wikileaks has to say about the inside information
Indian Prime Minister Singh had requested (Turkish) President Gul’s assistance with Pakistan during the latter’s visit to New Delhi the previous week. Acting on that request, Gul had phoned Pakistani President Zardari, who was skeptical of Indian intentions.
What is this Mr Prime Minister? You never told this to us? :)
Here is a complete list of India related documents in wikileaks from the first set released last Sunday. As you can see, not much important leak related to India, which is what made our external affairs minister Mr. Krishna say
Indian government is not really concerned. But we are certainly interested in finding out what this WikiLeaks are all about because they say that they are going to put on the web 4 million documents. So we will watch with interest.
Well Mr. Krishna, hope the remaining nearly 5000 documents related to India are of little concern too :)
I pray for a day when wikileaks publishes the list of all Indians holding swiss bank accounts, obviously we want to see something that concerns our daily lives isn’t it. After all most of us are frustrated Indians.