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Subject: Wikileaks: 11-28-2010 rss

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fightcitymayor
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Nothing about BGG in there, oh well.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?pagewa...

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A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”


Just don't tell dad.
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Gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador to Seoul. She told Washington in February that South Korean officials believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United States.


If you take these off my hands I may be able to get you a date with my hot sister.
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Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”


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Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash. With wry understatement, a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul called the money “a significant amount” that the official, Ahmed Zia Massoud, “was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or destination.” (Mr. Massoud denies taking any money out of Afghanistan.)


So much for hating the internet.
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A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.


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Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.


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Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”


Who says Islam isn't a religion of peace?
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For instance, it has been previously reported that the Yemeni government has sought to cover up the American role in missile strikes against the local branch of Al Qaeda. But a cable’s fly-on-the-wall account of a January meeting between the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the American commander in the Middle East, is nonetheless breathtaking.

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to the cable sent by the American ambassador, prompting Yemen’s deputy prime minister to “joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament” that Yemeni forces had carried out the strikes.

Mr. Saleh, who at other times resisted American counterterrorism requests, was in a lighthearted mood. The authoritarian ruler of a conservative Muslim country, Mr. Saleh complains of smuggling from nearby Djibouti, but tells General Petraeus that his concerns are drugs and weapons, not whiskey, “provided it’s good whiskey.”


And worthwhile, simply for the interesting narrative alone:
Quote:
In a 2006 account, a wide-eyed American diplomat describes the lavish wedding of a well-connected couple in Dagestan, in Russia’s Caucasus, where one guest is the strongman who runs the war-ravaged Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The diplomat tells of drunken guests throwing $100 bills at child dancers, and nighttime water-scooter jaunts on the Caspian Sea.

“The dancers probably picked upwards of USD 5000 off the cobblestones,” the diplomat wrote. The host later tells him that Ramzan Kadyrov “had brought the happy couple ‘a five-kilo lump of gold’ as his wedding present.”

“After the dancing and a quick tour of the premises, Ramzan and his army drove off back to Chechnya,” the diplomat reported to Washington. “We asked why Ramzan did not spend the night in Makhachkala, and were told, ‘Ramzan never spends the night anywhere.’ ”

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Mac Mcleod
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There are more secrets than we can even keep up with or care about. This is about 1k of text... I think the secrets to be released are in hundreds of megabytes.

Love your presentation. Two thumbs up.


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Ed Bradley
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Can someone post the rude things they said about Gordon Brown and David Cameron?

Our lapdog media are avoiding the subject
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Fwing wrote:
Can someone post the rude things they said about Gordon Brown and David Cameron?
Our lapdog media are avoiding the subject


Hey, these guys are still loyal citiezens!
The other thing that stood out in todays article from The Guardian was this:
"Inappropriate remarks by Prince Andrew about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country."
Come on...give me those details...
 
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fightcitymayor
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Koldfoot wrote:
That looks like run of the mill diplomatic stuff, barely worthy of being classified. The kind of stuff commentators discuss on news programs on any given day.

I guess it depends on perspective. You could look at it as simply the diplomatic machinations of a 21st-century superpower attempting to retain its global influence. But will exposure to the seedy underbelly of global power change peoples' perspectives of that power? After Sean Hannity gets done waving flags in my face for three-hours-a-day-every-day and singing the hosannas of "American exceptionalism" how does he react to some of the incovenient truths contained herein? (Other than blaming Obama, of course.)
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From what I've read and heard. It sounds like everything in that doc is Business as Usual. I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?
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Harald Korneliussen
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Looks like many people haven't realized it's a staged release. They want to spread it out over several weeks, or even months, to prevent important items from drowning out each other.

On day 1, I guess the government loyalists can say "this is nothing new" and perhaps get away with it (as if it was a perfectly everyday occurrence that Hillary Clinton was caught instructing diplomats to acquire DNA samples of the UN secretary general).

We'll see how easy it becomes to say it after a few more days like this. We're still only at 243 of 251287.
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MWChapel wrote:
I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?


The USA actively requesting that diplomats take part in espionage is pretty crazy-ass, frankly.
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mightygodking wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?


The USA actively requesting that diplomats take part in espionage is pretty crazy-ass, frankly.


But is it surprising?
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M@tthijs
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I think it's cool you get 1 presidential visit for stashing a Gitmo client.
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So is anyone actually READING them? I took a glance through - it appears that the "Iran is nuts and should not be allowed to get the bomb" is worse than the official line indicates in many countries

The regional leaders and neighbors of Iran are scared shitless that a nuclear Iran will mean:
1) That Iran will be able to destabilize governments around the region with impunity
2) Militarily intervene with neighbors without fear of retaliation
3) May force the US to deploy their own nuclear weapons to the middle east as a countermeasure - with further fears about what that will do to regional security.
4) That if Iran knew what they were really thinking and doing, their would be terrorist attacks against them or worse.

Unless this results in real action against Iran finally, I can't see any benefit to bored cube dwellers such as myself seeing them.

---

Also - as a side note, China comes off as the most cynical realpolitik nation on Earth. Their diplomatic staff is matter-of-fact to the state department that they are buying out dictators and strongmen for billions to get regional influence, while the US worries about little things like repression and human rights. They even suggest that if the US was serious, they should try it - just give over a billion or two, no strings attached , to dictators - rather than pussy-foot around with "humanitarian aid packages".

---

Also - things are going really off the rails in Turkey, and from the tone of the cables, I wouldn't be shocked by some crazy things happening there over the next decade. Reads like a fascist society in the making.
 
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dtolman wrote:
[..]The regional leaders and neighbors of Iran are scared shitless that a nuclear Iran will mean:
[..]
3) May force the US to deploy their own nuclear weapons to the middle east as a countermeasure - with further fears about what that will do to regional security.
[..]

...?...

...Because deploying nuclear weapons within reach of the Iranian Air Force (and a host of enemies) is far more threatening for Iran than, say, being able to target them from over the Atlantic?
 
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Daniel Eig
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Regional leaders are quite adamant in some of the cables that if Iran has nuclear strike, then they want nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

I assume the US would deploy our own for the same reason we deployed to regional theatres around the USSR - to reassure allies, and to forestall them from developing their own.
 
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mightygodking wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?


The USA actively requesting that diplomats take part in espionage is pretty crazy-ass, frankly.


I thought this happened all the time on all sides. I'm not sure if espionage is sufficient to break the "diplomatic pouch" immunity. We might do it illegally, but I'm not sure we can do it legally just because we "think" something is in the pouch.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
From what I've read and heard. It sounds like everything in that doc is Business as Usual. I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?

It could be stated that each item posted, if occurring as a "scoop" by any given world news outlet, would be front-page news. It's less about being "shocked" and more about reinforcing the fact that the government niceties that dominate your typical White House press release on ABC World News Tonight are so much hogwash and horsefeathers compared to what is really going on. That the entire political discourse of a nation relies on facile comparisons and typical partisan shoutings that barely scratch the veneer of the truth.

Are we all such callous 21st-century cynical boys that what happens behind the curtain no longer stimulates any sort of gag reflex? Or do we all just say "Duh!" and go back to numbing ourselves with conspicuous consumption?


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Quote:
“Before Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s address at the UN General Assembly, the State Department sent a memo to all European countries, telling them when their representatives should leave the room. The memo had clear instructions as to what words or topics in the Iranian President’s speech should be the signal to leave for certain countries. The instructions were carefully followed.”

A comical moment ensued, however, over the Swedish representative's confusion over the instructions.

“The Swedish representative was supposed to leave when Ahmadinejad mentioned the Holocaust…but Ahmadinejad never mentioned the Holocaust,” the article revealed. “So representatives of all European countries left, whereas Sweden stayed in the room, sending alarm signals and asking for additional instructions from the American side – what should I do?”


LOL

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fightcitymayor wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
From what I've read and heard. It sounds like everything in that doc is Business as Usual. I mean, is anyone shocked by any one of the line items?

It could be stated that each item posted, if occurring as a "scoop" by any given world news outlet, would be front-page news. It's less about being "shocked" and more about reinforcing the fact that the government niceties that dominate your typical White House press release on ABC World News Tonight are so much hogwash and horsefeathers compared to what is really going on. That the entire political discourse of a nation relies on facile comparisons and typical partisan shoutings that barely scratch the veneer of the truth.

Are we all such callous 21st-century cynical boys that what happens behind the curtain no longer stimulates any sort of gag reflex? Or do we all just say "Duh!" and go back to numbing ourselves with conspicuous consumption?




"...and in other news, it was revealed that nations act in their own self-interest, often without regard to their allies or long-range consequences. And now, for the weather..."

I don't think it takes a 21st-century cynic to register a big "sigh" with these releases. Anyone with a passing interest in political, diplomatic, or military history since the times of ancient Romans up to modern day would say that none of this is surprising in the least. Read a book about the intricate diplomacy which surrounded the American Civil War and the efforts by the Union to keep the British and French out of the conflict if you want a really interesting story.

I don't think any public interest is served by releasing these documents, but I don't know if any lasting harm will be inflicted either. But really, is anyone at all surprised, shocked, or dismayed by these revelations? Really???
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The Iranian thing doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I can't game out any scenario whereby Iran is "allowed" to become a nuclear power. Unfortunately if we're all still bogged down in Afghanistan and suffering the Iraq Hangover, so there are no troops left that can do a job in Iran that are close enough. . .oh.
 
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Fwing wrote:
The Iranian thing doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I can't game out any scenario whereby Iran is "allowed" to become a nuclear power. Unfortunately if we're all still bogged down in Afghanistan and suffering the Iraq Hangover, so there are no troops left that can do a job in Iran that are close enough. . .oh.


Of course, there are ways besides overt military action to derail Iran's ambitions...

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/26/secret-agent-cripp...

 
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desertfox2004 wrote:
But really, is anyone at all surprised, shocked, or dismayed by these revelations? Really???


This is a bit of a foreign policy hipster attitude if you ask me. Yes, there are no major surprises in there. This is because any major surprise worth its salt would be classified as Top Secret, and wikileaks doesn't have access to documents with that classification - yet.

However, the documents provide evidence of many things which would have been strongly denied, even if we "knew" *. Now we know, and it can't be denied anymore. Sometimes it's a big deal.

Anyone with passing interest in political, diplomatic, or military history since the times of ancient Romans should know that evidence makes a lot of difference for what you can say, even if you think you know what's happened.

* Hillary Clinton instructing diplomats to get DNA samples of the UN secretary general is apparently one of these obvious things, according to some commentators.
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So far I've not seen anything all that surprising. The Spanish media has gone through the documents that came from the Spanish embassy, and find pretty much what you'd expect. Apparently most of the traffic came from the elections right after the Madrid bombings, in which Bush's underlings blame the victory from the left straight on the previous government's inability to do PR properly. I was half way expecting the US analysis to have a far worse attitude towards the Spanish people, so consider me impressed.
 
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desertfox2004 wrote:
But really, is anyone at all surprised, shocked, or dismayed by these revelations? Really???


Ask the average American if they realize Pakistan has strategic nuclear weapons. Ask them if they realize that the USA does not officially recognize Pakistan as a nuclear power.

Ask the average American if they realize that the US gov't is kibbutzing with the South Korean gov't on ways to not upset the Chinese gov't. Ask them how much power they think the Chinese must have in today's world for those talks to only happen in back rooms.

Ask the average American if they know what the phrase "extraordinary rendition" means. Or how they feel about human beings being used as international bargaining chips.

Ask the average American if they know that agents of the Chinese government have knowingly carried out computer sabotage involving the US and other Western nations. Ask them if they think we do the same.

Ask the average American if they realize that the Saudis are bankrolling Sunni militant groups that kill innocent civilians, and then inform them that, yes, the Saudis who hold hands with American presidents on trips around the Rose Garden. Then remind them that all but one 9/11 hijacker was a Saudi. (And that their neighbors in Qatar are afraid to be seen with us in public.)

Ask the average American if they realize our gov't strongarms sovereign nations when they attempt to investigate the wrongful imprisonment of innocent citizens.

Ask the average American about where exactly American money goes to "support Democracy" (bonus points if they've at least heard the terms "Sandinista," "the Shah of Iran," and "Operation Menu.")

Again, there is no shock in Wikileaks. There is no surprise. The surprise exists on American news networks & the complicit media that does a bang-up job of keeping us all in the dark, pitting Left against Right, and rich against poor. And benevolently informing us of what Paris Hilton is wearing today. All of it occurring at the intersection of comedy and tragedy.

Ask the average American if Julian Assange is a sinner or a saint.

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"Every country, including the United States, must be able to have candid conversations about the people and nations with whom they deal. And every country, including the United States, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries about issues of common concern."

And if they don't keep those conversations and dialogues secure then they are incompetent fools.
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fightcitymayor wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
But really, is anyone at all surprised, shocked, or dismayed by these revelations? Really???


Ask the average American if they realize Pakistan has strategic nuclear weapons. Ask them if they realize that the USA does not officially recognize Pakistan as a nuclear power.

Ask the average American if they realize that the US gov't is kibbutzing with the South Korean gov't on ways to not upset the Chinese gov't. Ask them how much power they think the Chinese must have in today's world for those talks to only happen in back rooms.

Ask the average American if they know what the phrase "extraordinary rendition" means. Or how they feel about human beings being used as international bargaining chips.

Ask the average American if they know that agents of the Chinese government have knowingly carried out computer sabotage involving the US and other Western nations. Ask them if they think we do the same.

Ask the average American if they realize that the Saudis are bankrolling Sunni militant groups that kill innocent civilians, and then inform them that, yes, the Saudis who hold hands with American presidents on trips around the Rose Garden. Then remind them that all but one 9/11 hijacker was a Saudi. (And that their neighbors in Qatar are afraid to be seen with us in public.)

Ask the average American if they realize our gov't strongarms sovereign nations when they attempt to investigate the wrongful imprisonment of innocent citizens.

Ask the average American about where exactly American money goes to "support Democracy" (bonus points if they've at least heard the terms "Sandinista," "the Shah of Iran," and "Operation Menu.")

Again, there is no shock in Wikileaks. There is no surprise. The surprise exists on American news networks & the complicit media that does a bang-up job of keeping us all in the dark, pitting Left against Right, and rich against poor. And benevolently informing us of what Paris Hilton is wearing today. All of it occurring at the intersection of comedy and tragedy.

Ask the average American if Julian Assange is a sinner or a saint.



I would answer that the "average American" is no more or less guilty of being ignorant of these facts than the citizens of any nation on this planet. I would further answer that it has always been so. I would further answer that for the most part, this is a case of willful ignorance. While media outlets may cater to and encourage this ignorance by playing up artificial political divides and providing us with bread and circuses, I would argue that the responsibility for being ignorant of these things lies squarely with the citizens themselves in every nation.

The vast majority of people are only going to concern themselves with things that are tangible to them in their everyday lives - family, jobs, money, food and water, and so forth. They expect that their governments will take care of the "other" stuff so that they (the people) can carry on with their everyday lives. Frankly, I don't think many Americans (or people of other nations) really give a rat's ass about the messy details of geopolitical give-and-take, so long as their immediate concerns are more or less being addressed. So, for example, with our current wars, most people don't care, because there is no draft and unless they have a family member in the service, the wars are invisible to them. Hence, the media barely covers these conflicts today. Now, if there was a draft, I guarantee you that people would take a far greater interest in the subject, and the media would be covering it in far greater force.

Face it - most people don't perceive that they have a stake in these events and activities, and as a result, the general population is likely to utterly ignore these releases. To ask them to do otherwise would be to ask people to care more about such things than they ever have to date in human history.

*EDIT* - shucking off my natural American laziness, I've gone back and introduced paragraph breaks into my post, so as to facilitate its reading by a larger audience!
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