November 29th, 2010


The Slow Cause of Demise of Julian Assange

Wikileaks has only posted some 200 of the 251,287 messages it says it has obtained. However, the entire bundle of cables has been made available to five publications, including the New York Times and the UK's Guardian newspaper.

The leaked cables by US diplomats posted overseas contain blunt appraisals of their host governments, and unflattering pen portraits of world leaders.

US officials are said to have described Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as feckless, vain and ineffective, sharing a close relationship with "alpha dog" Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is said to be thin-skinned and authoritarian, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is described as risk-averse.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is referred to as "extremely weak" and susceptible to conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya always travels with a "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse, according to one of the cables.

Concerns aired include the security of Pakistani nuclear material that could be used to make an atomic weapon, while the widespread use of computer hacking by China's government is also reported.

Other issues reportedly covered in the cables are:

* Iranian attempts to adapt North Korean rockets for use as long-range missiles
* Corruption in Afghanistan with concerns heightened when a senior official was found to be carrying more than $52m (£33m) in cash on a foreign trip
* Bargaining to empty the Guantanamo Bay prison camp - including Slovenian diplomats being told to take in a freed prisoner to secure a meeting with President Barack Obama
* Germany being warned in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in an operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was abducted and held in Afghanistan
* US officials being instructed to spy on the UN leadership by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
* Alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime
* Yemen's president talking to General David Petraeus (while he was responsible for US military operations in Central Asia and the Middle East as head of US Central Command) about attacks on Yemeni al-Qaeda bases and saying: "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours"
* Faltering US attempts to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon

Honestly, after having Assange bought up in rape charges and his application to Sweden, I believe, turned down, what did people expect he would do?

What I find interesting in the reporting so far, is that there has been no real engagement by the media in a lot of the accusations. Most of the report talks about how bad it is that this information is out there, and the outrage that the US has had in response. That's fair enough, of course, and it will only result in forcing Assange further underground, and have him end in a curious accidental death, or even a purposefully one which will be reported as something he courted through these releases (a fair enough assessment, I would imagine). It would be nice if it worked out differently, of course, but I doubt it will. I've long believed that people as a whole have become used to the idea of governments that lie to its people, that begin wars for reasons other than what is stated, and where kickbacks and handshakes are how things are done. As a whole, we expect no different.