March 26, 2017

WikiLeaks Releases Diplomatic Documents

Today WikiLeaks began publishing 251,287 classified documents about diplomatic issues around the world. This is the largest release of classified information to date and is seven times larger than the recently published Iraq War Logs. Even though the entire set of documents will be published over the next few months and range from December 1966 to February 2010, most of the documents released today are from the past few years. Browse the published documents here (updated link Dec. 3rd).

Various issues are discussed within the documents and include the release of US positions, as well as the positions of other countries, that were not previously in the public realm. Many worry about the impact on diplomatic relations from the release of previously unpublished positions. These positions do not pose as much risk to the relationships between the US and its enemies, but rather a greater risk to the relationships between the US and its allies. In the past week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has contacted at least 11 countries about the upcoming release of documents, including: China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France, Afghanistan, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Poland.

According to the US State Department’s labeling system of the documents, the most frequented topics are external political affairs and internal political affairs. Further, there are four levels of classified information in US communications: the most sensitive information is known as “top secret,” followed by secret, confidential, and unclassified. While none of the released documents are categorized as top secret, there are about 16,000 documents categorized as secret, about 102,000 are confidential, and the remaining 134,000 documents are unclassified. Initial findings of the documents include:

  • A meeting between former US Representative Robert Wexler and Israeli Intelligence Director Amos Yadlin in May 2009 shows that Israel has high suspicions of Iran’s ability to produce nuclear weapons. Shortly thereafter in October 2009, Wexler announced he would resign as a Representative to lead a special-interest group focused on finding peace in the Middle East, which is the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation.
  • Other documents also show that many other countries, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (these links do not currently work), are suspicious of Iran’s nuclear weapon development.
  • In February 2010, a meeting between Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini shows Gates warning of a potential war with Iran stemming from an Israeli strike on Iran.
  • Lastly, a directive from Secretary Clinton in 2009 shows requests to collect personal information about members of the United Nations. According to the order, “Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible: office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet “handles”, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”

UPDATE (Dec. 3rd): The WikiLeaks website on American servers has been shut down. As a result, the specified links of this article do not currently work.

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