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Wikileak cables out in the open: the first repercussions

Translated Saturday 17 September 2011, by Harry Cross and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The 250,000 diplomatic cables collected by Wikileaks were released to the public a few days ago. They had been under the watchful eye of several large daily newspapers for a year. Now the cables’ revelations are starting to produce significant effects.

Wikileaks knew of the sensitive nature of some of the documents in its keeping, namely those containing the names of individuals who could potentially be put into danger by the documents’ release. That is why the group collaborated with Le Monde, Der Spiegel, El País, the New York Times and the Guardian, whose journalistic teams progressively sorted through and filtered the recently obtained content. The hundreds of thousands of documents were safely kept on an encrypted server under password protection. This password is found on multiple occasions in a work consecrated to Assange and his organisation by a journalist of the Guardian (it is even the title of the eleventh chapter of the book – see image above). After a short period, the first confidential cables began to circulate online. In order to give the impression of still maintaining a certain degree of control, Wikileaks then published them in their entirety.

It is a shocking error on the part of this journalist of the Guardian, which greatly enraged Wikileaks. In a lengthy editorial the organisation denounced the total disregard for security by the newspaper. Assange intervened to say that “our trust was violated”. Since then, the five partner journals, including, with a certain nerve, the Guardian, condemned the Wikileaks decision to publish the 250,000 non-filtered cables.

In one week, what has been learned?

A long week has since passed during which the documents have been published and gradually decrypted. We have learnt of Robert Mugabe’s prostate cancer, of Kim Jong-Il’s mistrust of China and that he sold arms to Burma in exchange for rice. In Albania, the cables revealed the implication of numerous high-ranking political officials in the traffic of arms, narcotics as well as money laundering, which has considerably destabilised the political class. Albanian judiciaries are analysing the information and intend to launch an official enquiry.

In Lebanon the Wikileaks revelations are also starting to cause disquiet. Several cables revealed that the current Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, a political ally of Hezbollah, cannot bring himself to support the Shi’ite party. “We are confident that Mr. Berri hates Hezbollah as much, if not more, than the Western coalition”, explained an American diplomat. Even more striking than this, we have learnt that the leader of the Lebanese parliament rejoiced following the Israeli offensive of 2006, arguing that it was an effective method of discrediting Hezbollah. Since Friday, Wikileaks has also made headlines in Cameroon, where the publication of one minister’s declaration has reawakened ethnic tensions. Further still, the King of Bahrain is discovered to have written to his American allies asking if he could cut access to the television chain Al Jazeera, which was diffusing ideas somewhat too democratic for his liking.

Finally, it remains to be seen what important revelations will come to light regarding the activities of several large businesses. We know already that Blackwater, a private military company, has continued to intervene in Iraq in contravention of a ban, its mercenaries opening fire there on Iraqi civilians.

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