Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wiki Walk

You know what we haven't done in a long time? Pore through some Wikileaks diplomatic cables. Since everyone's kind of gotten bored with going through them every day and going 'hey, look at this' to every single thing, we're going to have to go to Wikileaks itself for the cables, which means the links that follow are not safe for military types.

The news organizations that don't have the entire stack of cables notwithstanding, so far 11,218 of the 251,287 cables have been released. That's 4.46% of the total.

That said, let's go browsing. Again, we're linking directly to the cables, so click with care.

First, let's just note the oldest cable in the group (for now), coming out of 1966. It comes out of Argentina, dealing with national jurisdictions in coastal waters. Argentine legislation under consideration at the time would claim territory six miles offshore, and 200 miles as "preferential". The Argentine navy claimed that it would soon be standard throughout the Western Hemisphere. (The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea set a maximum of 12 miles where a country can exert total control, a further 12 miles for more limited control, and an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles, which gives a country the rights to resources but doesn't let them restrict access. So Argentina wasn't too far off.)

The second-oldest is from February 1972, dealing with the sale of F-4E fighter jets to Iran. Ah, Cold War. How morally ambiguous you made us.

A psychological profile of Iranians in general made in 1979, written by one Victor Tomseth, isn't overly flattering. As you'd think back then. It was leaked way back in November, but it's the first you've likely heard of it. The first sentence of the profile is "PERHAPS THE SINGLE DOMINANT ASPECT OF THE PERSIAN PSYCHE IS AN OVERRIDING EGOISM." It goes on like this.

One of today's leaks comes out of Colombia, where in December 2007, president Alvaro Uribe agreed to an "encounter zone" in which to retrieve hostages taken by the paramilitary group FARC that at the time included Ingrid Betancourt. More surprising is the $100 million (US) set aside in a fund as an incentive for FARC members to release hostages and leave the group. In another cable released today, Uribe, during the visit of an American delegation led by Harry Reid, Uribe compared the threat Hugo Chavez posed to Latin America to the threat Hitler posed to Europe.

In a cable from April 2004, Panama's Supreme Court voted 8-1 that it lacked jurisdiction to prosecute Israeli arms smuggler Shimon Yalin Yelinek in the transfer of arms from Nicaragua to Colombia, despite the fact that he was living in Panama, that he was alleged with falsifying Panamanian National Police documents, and that they had used a boat registered to Panama. The cable notes charges that all eight majority judges received bribes to vote the way they did. At the time of the cable, Yelinek was also under investigation by America's DEA on money-laundering accusations. (Yelinek is at large to this day, supplying support to the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico's drug war.)

In a cable from June 2006, Ban Ki-Moon, in his days prior to becoming Secretary-General of the United Nations, offered congratulations for the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That's about all there is to that cable, but that's all one really needs to wonder if that's something becoming of a guy who'd go on to be put in charge of an organization dedicated to world peace.

A cable from January 2003 shows that supposed illegal immigrants from Pakistan within the United States, persecuted by anti-Arab attitudes in a post-9/11 America, and fearful of deportation back to Pakistan if they made themselves known in any way to the INS, re-defected to Canada to seek political asylum. The cable makes no mention of how those requests turned out.

And let's finish out with a February 2008 cable from the consulate in Kolkata, India, mentioning that in 2007, it rejected about 60% of applications for religious worker visas. Why? The applicants weren't actually religious workers. In some cases, the problem was as simple as being a maintenance guy who wasn't partaking in any actual religious duties at their place of worship, or not living within the consulate's jurisdiction. In other cases, though, people went so far as to make up a place of worship so they could claim it to the consulate. Not only didn't it work, but they'll likely have some interesting questions to answer once they meet whoever's in charge of them metaphysically.

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