Sign up to stay up to date on the latest headlines via email.
Secretary Clinton addressed the Wikileaks’ release of embassy cables earlier today, and didn’t look happy about having to play diplomacy cleanup. While there’s a lot of gossipy throwaway material fit for tabloids (like, say, the fact that Gaddafi travels with a blonde Ukranian nurse), some of the cables contain startling revelations about global governments, world leaders and the fragile balance of peace. Here are seven of the most shocking.
1. We’ve been secretly bombing Yemen. The U.S. has been bombing suspected terrorists in Yemen, but Yemen’s government is taking responsibility. Last December, three separate strikes were played out, but weren’t very successful–out of 55 people killed in one instance, 21 were children.
2. U.S. uses diplomats as spies. Speaking of Clinton… she ordered diplomats to spy on government officials at the UN, gathering such info as credit card and frequent flyer numbers, computer passwords…and DNA. A reporter at the press conference asked if she was embarrassed by any of the information leaked in the cables and her answer was a stern no, but we’re betting she’ll have an awkward time at the next diplomatic dinner with Ban Ki-Moon. At least she has company in Condi — former Secretary of State Rice started the whole operation.
3. U.S. uses Guantanamo Bay prisoners as bargaining chips. And human dignity takes another nice punch to the gut. In efforts to resettle Guantanamo detainees, the U.S. has been using them as trump cards when dealing with other countries, even going so far to offer cash to unload prisoners. In perhaps the most disgraceful instance, Slovenia had to take a detainee if it wanted a meeting with President Obama.
4. China’s been hacking our systems since 2002. One Wikileak cable states that the Chinese Politburo hacked into Google last year — no huge surprise there, other than the fact that they cracked the company’s sophisticated system of firewalls. But apparently China’s an old pro at this — it has allegedly been hacking into the systems of Western governments — and, of course, its own national human rights activists, including the Dalai Lama — for nearly a decade.
5. Afghanistan is corruption Disneyland. OK, no big surprise there, but it is interesting that Ahmad Zia Massoud was caught traveling to the UAE with $52 million in cash. After being detained by the DEA, he “was ultimately allowed to keep [the money] without revealing the money’s origin or destination.” Interesting. Meanwhile, President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was suspected of being a drug kingpin, although apparently that’s no longer the case.
6. Iran might have long-range missiles. Practically the entire Middle East has urged the U.S. to act against Iran, according to the Wikileaks cables, including the kings of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps they’ll reconsider if they know North Korea is said to have sold them 12 missiles with enough range to hit Russia and cities in Western Europe. As for other weapons, Iran appears to be building them piecemeal from different countries — including Turkey, China and Germany — under the guise of front companies, and used the Red Crescentas a front to smuggle in weaponry to war zones. As Clinton said in her address, “The concern about Iran is well-founded, widely shared, and will continue to be at the source of the policy that we pursue with like-minded nations to try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
7. Putin and Berlusconi’s close relationship causes alarm. “Alpha dog” Vladimir Putin and Italian partier/prime-minister Silvio Berlusconi have forged a close relationship, potentially involving shady business deals. TheGuardian noted:
The extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, which is causing intense US suspicion. Cables detail allegations of “lavish gifts,” lucrative energy contracts and the use by Berlusconi of a “shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between.