Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cable News

It's been way too long since we checked in with the diplomatic cables coming from Wikileaks. Perhaps you don't like Julian Assange. Fair enough. He's quite the hateable person. It doesn't change the content of the leaks themselves, as Berry Smutny just found out when a leak came out referring to the Galileo project, a European competitor to GPS, as "a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests." Smutny is chief of OHB Technology, which won a contract to make 14 Galileo satellites. He's been suspended; most say fired.

Or ask Tunisia. 10 days prior to the utter collapse of the Tunisian government, a supposedly innocuous gossip cable came out describing the ruling family as corrupt, widely hated and out of touch. Innocuous to us. Enough in Tunisia to serve as a flashpoint of protest, and in turn enough to cause the chaos we've since seen.

US officials are privately saying the damage from Wikileaks is limited, at least as far as they're concerned. Those in northern Africa might beg to differ.

Or, while we're at it, Panama. Or South Africa.

So far, 2,444 cables of the 250,000-and-change have come from Wikileaks itself, though two places, Aftenposten and Die Welt, have copies of the entire stack and are making their own leaks at their respective paces.

That said, here's a quick roundup of other recent leaks...

*The Dominican Republic was afraid of the return of Baby Doc Duvalier as of 2006, and didn't want him returning through them. (He of course has returned, was quickly arrested, and is now waiting to see if he will face trial, which is a likely prospect.)
*A German thinktank, the Institute for Security and International Affairs, advised the US to sabotage Iranian nuclear sites, saying covert operations would be "more effective than a military strike".
*Turkey was used by the US for extraordinary rendition. I know. Big shocker. Look at the shock.
*Costa Rica: not as easy-going and neutral as you might think. They're not big fans of Venezuela.
*Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom referred to Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu as a "fabrication" of Elizabeth Burgos, who wrote Menchu's biography.
*Iran made arms deals with North Korea, and the money went through a bank in Seoul.
*Nepal was worried, as of 2005, that failure by the US to support King Gyandendra Shah could lead to the country being overtaken by a Maoist faction.
*Right before Iceland's economy went belly-up, Timothy Geithner got a letter that started "Dear Tim, could the federal reserve lend Iceland $1 billion?" (They couldn't.)
*Colombia is not keen on free trade with China, as of 2009 at least, on fears that China will pretty much run them over.

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