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WikiLeaks: Leaked cables reveal the rough workings of diplomacy

WikiLeaks gave some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables to several news outlets, which published them Sunday. The leaks could prove embarrassing and potentially dangerous.

By Staff writer / November 28, 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at a press conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva earlier this month. The White House called the publication of confidential diplomatic cables "reckless and dangerous,” warning that it could "deeply impact" US interests as well as those of allies and friends.

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After days of anticipation and unheeded warnings from the Obama administration, the huge and controversial data dump from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks is being published and broadcast.

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As reported by The New York Times (which, along with the British newspaper The Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel, began revealing the data Sunday afternoon), the cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables “provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders, and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.”

The Guardian reports the leaked information as including: Arab leaders privately urging an air strike on Iran, US officials being instructed to spy on the United Nation's leadership, alleged links between the Russian government and organized crime, “devastating criticism” of British military operations in Afghanistan, and claims of “inappropriate behavior” by a member of the British royal family.

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“The cables name countries involved in financing terror groups, and describe a near ‘environmental disaster’ last year over a rogue shipment of enriched uranium,” reports the Guardian. “They disclose technical details of secret US-Russian nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva, and include a profile of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who they say is accompanied everywhere by a ‘voluptuous blonde’ Ukrainian nurse.”

According to The New York Times, the cables include: “A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel … gaming out an eventual collapse of North Korea … bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison … suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government … and a global computer hacking effort” directed by the Chinese Politburo.

The “intriguing alliance” between Putin and Berlusconi

The New York Times reports leaked diplomatic message traffic indicating that “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda,” “clashes with Europe over human rights,” and an “intriguing alliance” between Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi involving “lavish gifts,” lucrative energy contracts, and a “shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between.

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