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منگل، 30 نومبر، 2010

WikiLeaks’ most sensational disclosure

WIKILEAKS, a Website devoted to leaking Government documents, has attained notoriety for disclosing sensational documents putting, at times, the American administration and some of its allies in an awkward position. It has again made public hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables, received from an anti-war activist, who got access to the secret files due to a glitch in the computer system.
The latest leaks reveal how real designs of the US Government about different countries of the world and contents of some of the diplomatic communications have the potential to create bad blood among different countries. One doesn’t know for sure whether these are genuine or part of the propaganda campaign to advance vested interests. The documents show how American top officials view leaders of other countries, as some of the descriptions fall within the definition of contemptuous attitude. Scanning of about two hundred and fifty thousand cables would obviously take some time but so far two important documents relate to Pakistan, which should be a cause of concern to every Pakistani. In one of the cables, it has been revealed that the US had active plans to take control of the enriched uranium in Pakistan and there are reasons to believe that it is an ongoing process. We have been pointing out in these columns that the conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan is aimed at depriving the country of its nuclear capability and the documents released by WikiLeaks confirm these apprehensions. Though publicly the US leadership has been trying to assuage such fears, these leaks clearly point out that the real designs are at variance with the stated position and, therefore, there is every reason to be apprehensive. Another document contains remarks of Saudi King Abdullah about President Asif Ali Zardari in which he has been quoted as saying that Mr Zardari was the biggest obstacle to Pakistan’s progress. Though the King is known for his penchant remarks and pragmatic assessment, in this case it is difficult to say what the King would have actually said this and on what basis. Anyhow, we would urge the Pakistani leadership to give serious thought to the comments, which, we are sorry to say, are in line with the overall perception of the President in the world. We hope that all concerned would strive hard to work out a strategy to improve the image of the President as in this way the image of the country would also improve in the comity of nations.

The leaked memos describe a Chinese government bid to hack into Google; plans to reunite the Korean peninsula after the North's eventual collapse; Saudi Arabia's king's call to the U.S. to bomb Iran to halt its nuclear drive.

The documents also showed that Israel discussed its planned war on Gaza with the Palestinian leadership and Egypt ahead of time, offering to hand them control of the strip if it defeated Hamas.

The confidential cables, most of which date from 2007 to February this year, also reveal how the State Department has ordered diplomats to spy on foreign officials and even to obtain their credit card and frequent flier numbers.

The memos, released on Sunday, recount closed-door remarks such as Yemen's president telling a top U.S. general: “We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours” when discussing secretive U.S. strikes on Al-Qaeda.

A description of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he required the near-constant assistance of a “voluptuous blond” Ukrainian nurse.

The Guardian newspaper reported that a classified directive sent to U.S. diplomats under U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's name in July 2009 sought technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials.

The directive also sought intelligence on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's “management and decision-making style,” said to the report.

UN officials declined to comment.

In another document, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his French counterpart that Israel could strike Iran without U.S. military support but the operation might not be successful.

The New York Times, Britain's The Guardian, Germany's Der Spiegel, France's Le Monde and Spain's El Pais published the first batch of the documents on Sunday, saying more would follow in the coming days.

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange described the release as a “diplomatic history of the United States” that would cover “every major issue.”

Despite coming under a cyber attack that took down its main website earlier in the day, WikiLeaks started publishing the 251,287 cables -- 15,652 of which are classified “secret” -- from 274 U.S. embassies around the world on a sub-website

In an introduction, it painted the United States as a hypocritical superpower and attacked “the contradictions between the U.S.'s public persona and what it says behind closed doors.”

U.S. officials had raced to contain the diplomatic fallout by warning more than a dozen governments of the impending leaks, but Washington refused to negotiate with WikiLeaks, saying it had obtained the cables illegally.

Assange has denied the release of the documents placed individuals at risk.

“As far as we are aware, and as far as anyone has ever alleged in any credible manner whatsoever, no single individual has ever come to harm as a result of anything that we have ever published,” he said Sunday.

The New York Times explained its decision to publish the cables by saying they “serve an important public interest.”

The newspaper said it had “taken care to exclude... information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security”.

It had consulted White House officials on sensitive issues but reserved the final decision to itself, it said.

The Guardian said all five papers had decided “neither to 'dump' the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to publish names that would endanger innocent individuals.”

But one Saudi government advisor told AFP: “The whole thing is very negative.

“It's not good for confidence-building,” he said on condition of anonymity. 

 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that the documents published by the Wikileaks website lack legal weight.

“We neighboring countries are friends, and these malicious moves will have no effect on our relations,” Ahmadinejad told reporters at a press conference late on Monday.

WikiLeaks recently published a document claiming that Arab leaders have been privately urging the United States to take military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program. 

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