Monday, December 27, 2010

The US embassy cables enigma

Don't want people to read your stuff? Easy – send it in code. So why didn't the state department make itself WikiLeaks-proof?
An original German Enigma code encryption machine, at Bletchley
Park Museum, England. The efforts of Alan Turing and others to crack the code,
using early computers, was crucial to the Allied war effort.
 Photograph: Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico
When I was an undergraduate at Harvard, an astronomer from Berkeley came over to the physics building to give a talk. His name was Cliff Stoll, and he didn't give a talk about astronomy. He gave a talk about accounting.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

US Pressured Italy to Influence Judiciary

The CIA rendition of cleric Abu Omar in 2003 turned into a headache for Washington when a Milan court indicted the agents involved. Secret dispatches now show how the US threatened the Italian government in an attempt to influence the case. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was apparently happy to help.

In 2007, a court in Milan started trying several CIA agents in absentia for their roles in the 2003 kidnapping of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who had been living in the northern Italian city. When the indictments first came down, the US government tried to intervene -- first in Milan and then in Rome -- so as to influence the investigations of the public prosecutor's office.

At first, the efforts were conducted via diplomatic channels. But, later, they also took place during top-level talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. American diplomats and even the US secretary of defense were assured that the Italian government "was working hard to resolve the situation." And they also got to hear Berlusconi vent his rage at his own country's judicial system.

A Cesspool of Corruption and Crime in the Niger Delta

The leaked US diplomatic cables reveal just what multinational oil companies are up against in the Niger Delta. Security forces are ineffective and involved in dubious oil deals. The government demands millions in bribes. Even university students have earned pocket money by working as kidnappers.

Bombs used against civilians; millions paid to corrupt officials; and a kidnapping industry that employs students during university vacations: The US diplomatic cables from the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos paint an unusually bleak picture of the situation in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Hardly any of the international oil companies active in the delta publishes production figures, kidnappings and hostage-taking are a daily occurence and the civilian population is suffering -- not least because they too are occasionally targets of the Nigerian Army's special forces.

The central government in Abuja has neglected the delta for decades. It has failed to build schools, hospitals and roads and has simply ignored the serious environmental problems. All that mattered was that the oil kept flowing -- and continued to produce kickbacks for the political elite. "The Federal Government has not funded one road in the key Niger Delta States in the last 10 years," reads one February 2009 cable from the US Consulate in Lagos, citing a high-ranking politician.

Cables Depict U.S. Haggling to Clear Guantánamo

The detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison now number 174;
leaked dispatches show how hard it is to resettle them.
WASHINGTON — Last year, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed an unorthodox way to return Guantánamo Bay prisoners to a chaotic country like Yemen without fear that they would disappear and join a terrorist group.

The king told a top White House aide, John O. Brennan, that the United States should implant an electronic chip in each detainee to track his movements, as is sometimes done with horses and falcons.

round the World, Distress Over Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, center with militia members,
is distrusted by many leaders in the Middle East,
according to diplomatic cables.
In late May 2009, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, used a visit from a Congressional delegation to send a pointed message to the new American president.

In a secret cable sent back to Washington, the American ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham, reported that Mr. Barak had argued that the world had 6 to 18 months “in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable.” After that, Mr. Barak said, “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”

Iran Fortifies Its Arsenal With the Aid of North Korea

Iran bought 19 advanced missiles from North Korea, a diplomatic cable says.
The North displayed what some experts say are the same
kind of missiles in an October parade.
Secret American intelligence assessments have concluded that Iran has obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, that are much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal, diplomatic cables show.

Iran obtained 19 of the missiles from North Korea, according to a cable dated Feb. 24 of this year. The cable is a detailed, highly classified account of a meeting between top Russian officials and an American delegation led by Vann H. Van Diepen, an official with the State Department’s nonproliferation division who, as a national intelligence officer several years ago, played a crucial role in the 2007 assessment of Iran’s nuclear capacity.

WikiLeaks cables: US intervened in Michael Moore NZ screening

Embassy angered by 'potential fiasco' of cabinet minister hosting a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore: US officials panicked when they thought an NZ cabinet minister was
hosting a showing of his film Fahrenheit 9/11. Photograph: Gary Calton/Network
Whatever else WikiLeaks may have revealed, one fact has been repeatedly confirmed: the US government under George Bush really loathed the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.

After a leaked cable from US diplomats in Havana falsely claimed Cuba had banned Moore's documentary Sicko – when in fact it was shown on state television – another cable reveals US officials flying into a panic after hearing a rumour that a New Zealand cabinet minister was hosting a screening of Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11.

WikiLeaks cables: UK hopes to influence Islamic education in Bangladesh

Muslim students studying at an Islamic madrassah.
Photograph: Zahid Hussein/Reuters
British officials working with US to change madrasa curriculum as a 'common counter-terrorism goal', cables reveal

British government officials have made moves towards influencing Islamic education in Bangladesh as part of regional counter-terrorism strategies.

A leaked diplomatic cable, released on WikiLeaks, has revealed how the Department for International Development (DFID) has been working with the US to change the curriculum of thousands of madrasas as a "common counter-terrorism goal".

In one cable discussing British and American counter-terrorism tactics for Bangladesh, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, notes how their plans involved asking the country's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to develop and implement a standardised curriculum for unregulated Islamic madrassah schools.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WikiLeaks cables: Lamb sales behind New Zealand's 'flap' with Israel

Country's condemnation of Israeli intelligence agents in 2004 seen as attempt to increase exports to Arab states
Lamb is one of New Zealand's biggest exports. Photograph: Getty
US diplomats disparaged New Zealand's reaction to a suspected Israeli spy ring as a "flap" and accused New Zealand's government of grandstanding in order to sell more lamb to Arab countries, according to leaked cables.

WikiLeaks cables: Iranian TV channel faced UK sanction over jamming row

Foreign Office looked to use UN sanctions against Press TV after BBC Persian service was blocked by Tehran
George Galloway presents two chatshows on Press TV – a weekly phone-in called
Comment and a weekly current affairs programme, The Real Deal. Photograph: AP
Britain considered taking punitive action against the London headquarters of Iran's English-language state broadcaster earlier this year after Iran jammed the signals of the BBC's Persian TV service (PTV), according to a US state department document released by WikiLeaks.

The Foreign Office told the US embassy official who deals with Iran in February that it was "exploring ways to limit the operations of … Press TV … which operates a large bureau (over 80 staff) in London".

WikiLeaks cables: Iraq security firms operate 'mafia' to inflate prices

Halliburton executive's comments reveal tensions between security firms, oil companies and the Baghdad government
The Rumala oil field, south of Basra: the cables reveal tensions between oil companies,
security firms and Baghdad. Photograph: Atef Hassan/Reuters
Halliburton's senior executive in Iraq accused private security companies of operating a "mafia" to artifically inflate their "outrageous prices", according to a US cable.

Written by a senior diplomat in the US's Basra office, the confidential document discloses the tensions between private security firms, oil companies and the Iraqi government as coalition forces withdraw from protecting foreign business interests.

WikiLeaks cables: Mauritius sues UK for control of Chagos islands

Leaked document shows Foreign Office official told US that marine reserve would end evicted islanders' claims
Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago and the site of a
US military base. Photograph: Reuters
The prime minister of Mauritius has accused Britain of pursuing a "policy of deceit" over the Chagos islands, its Indian Ocean colony from where islanders were evicted to make way for a US military base. He spoke to the Guardian as his government launched the first step in a process that could end UK control over the territory.

WikiLeaks cables: McDonald's used US to put pressure on El Salvador

Burger giant tried to delay US legislation in order to aid lawsuit being fought in Central American country, cables reveal
US ambassador Hugh Barclay 'voiced concern that McDonald’s strategy ran directly
counter to US interests'. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP
McDonald's tried to delay the US government's implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m (£15.5m) lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald's strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.

WikiLeaks cables: Vatican vetoed Holocaust memorial over Pius XII row

Moves to beatify controversial wartime pope reveal tension between conservatives and liberals in Catholic church
Pius XII has long been a controversial figure for his failure publicly to denounce the
Holocaust in 1941 or 1942. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis
The Vatican has withdrawn from a written agreement to join an international Holocaust memorial organisation because of tensions over the activity of Pope Pius XII, the pope during the second world war, American diplomatic cables show.

WikiLeaks cables: How 'Hurricane Anna Nicole' blew away the Bahamas

Island was intoxicated by antics of former model and her death unwittingly led to government scrutiny, say cables
Anna Nicole Smith and Howard Stern during their commitment ceremony in
Nassau, in 2006. Photograph: Patrick Simpson/ANS/Getty Images
The confidential cable was written poetically and revealingly. Harnessing all the drama of a Mills and Boon novel, the US ambassador pulled out every stop when describing the impact of a B-list celebrity on the tropical Caribbean paradise of the Bahamas.

WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government

Rapid Action Battalion, accused of hundreds of extra-judicial killings, received training from UK officers, cables reveal 
Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have received training in 'investigative
interviewing techniques'. Photograph: Abir Abdullah/EPA
The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement".

WikiLeaks cables: 'Taliban treats heroin stocks like savings accounts'

Head of UN office on drugs and crime Antonio Maria Costa says Afghan gangs and Taliban stockpiling drug to manipulate street price in the west
Antonio Maria Costa presents annual UN drugs and crime report. Costas claims the
Taliban is hoarding heroin to manipulate street price
Photograph: Maxim Marmur/AFP/Getty Images
The United Nations' drugs czar told Nato that Afghan insurgents were withholding thousands of tonnes of heroin and treating their drugs like "savings accounts" to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a leaked US cable.

WikiLeaks cables, day 21: summary of today's key points

There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story

Robert Mugabe was offered a retirement opportunity by the UN, say the cables.
Photograph: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

The Observer

The UN offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement overseas: a source in the MDC told American officials that the Zimbabwe president rejected the offer from Kofi Annan.

Julian Assange is like a hi-tech terrorist, says US vice-president Joe Biden.

Egypt "turned down" black-market nuclear weapons deal.

WikiLeaks cables reveal that a Tanzania official investigating BAE "fears for his life".

WikiLeaks cables: US suspected Allen Stanford long before ECB deal

American diplomats told to avoid contacting or being photographed with billionaire two years before his fall from grace

More than two years before he touched down in a helicopter at Lord's cricket ground bearing $20m, US diplomats were so concerned about rumours of "bribery, money-laundering and political manipulation" surrounding Allen Stanford that they avoided contacting him or being photographed with him.

The extent of the widespread concern among embassy staff in Bridgetown, Barbados, where Stanford invested millions of dollars in Caribbean cricket before his empire came crashing down after being accused of an $8bn fraud of "shocking magnitude" and arrested by the FBI, will raise fresh questions about the wisdom of the England and Wales Cricket Board in getting into bed with him in June 2008.

WikiLeaks cables: Libyan attacks aimed to force out 'Zionist' Marks & Spencer

Anti-semitic smear campaign by Libyans 'at the highest levels' risked damaging ties with UK, embassy warned
The Marks & Spencer store in Tripoli opened in April 2008.
Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP
A Marks & Spencer store in Tripoli was subjected to a "repugnant anti-semitic" smear campaign by the Libyan government in an attempt to force its closure, according to US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks cables: UK businessmen 'overeducated' says Richard Branson

Virgin chief critical of British education system during discussion of entrepreneurship at Beijing business lunch
The US ambassador reported that Branson believed 'schooling does not prepare one
for entering the business world.' Photograph: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Perhaps it's because he left school at 15 and ran his own business while his peers were still studying. But Richard Branson believes that the British education system does not serve budding businessmen and women well, according to a US diplomatic cable.

Branson touched on the subject at a lunch held in January 2008 by Chinese businessmen in Beijing. During the event, titled What Makes a Good Entrepreneur?, the Chinese criticised British entrepreneurs as being "overeducated, too conservative, lacking passion for entrepreneurship and too afraid of failure".

WikiLeaks cables: Bulgarian nuclear project 'dogged by safety concerns'

German firm RWE, which owns npower, bought 49% stake in project that cable claimed 'reeked of side deals'
npower is one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers.
Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

One of Britain's biggest energy suppliers, which wants to build half a dozen nuclear reactors in the UK, helped develop one in Bulgaria which was "dogged by ongoing serious safety concerns", according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

The German firm RWE, which owns npower and supplies electricity and gas to 6.7 million UK customers, bought a 49% stake in the project in December 2008 and quit as a strategic partner in October 2009. RWE said its decision to pull out of the troubled €7bn reactor project was due to the fact that "the project's financing could not be finalised within the agreed period". It said "safety issues were not a factor".

WikiLeaks cables: Syria believed Israel was behind sniper killing

Assassination of Syrian president's top security aide caused anxiety among the political elite, US embassy cables reveal
The harbour of Syria's fishing town of Tartous, scene of a high-ranking
assassination in 2008. Photograph: Nicolas Randall/Expuesto/Alamy
It was late in the evening of 1 August 2008 in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous when the sniper fired the fatal shot. The target was General Muhammad Suleiman, President Bashar al-Assad's top security aide. Israelis, the US embassy in Damascus reported, were "the most obvious suspects" in the assassination.

Wikileaks spills Dar beans, Hoseah reacts

Dr Hoseah
By Lucas Liganga and Florence Mugarula, The Citizen Reporters
Dar es Salaam. Tanzania has been finally dragged into the Wikileaks web of revelations, complete with cable dispatches that purport to quote the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) boss, Dr Edward Hoseah, as telling a US diplomat that his life was under threat and that corrupt senior politicians were untouchable.

According to US Embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks and seen by The Citizen, the PCCB director general confided to US diplomats in July 2007 that his safety concerns a result of his involvement in graft investigation that touched high profile individuals.

The cables further quote Dr Hoseah as expressing concern over Tanzania’s anti-corruption crusade, hinting that President Jakaya Kikwete did not appear comfortable letting the law pursue corruption cases that could implicate top level officials.

Syria blames Israel for top general's assassination, WikiLeaks cable reveals

General Mohammed Suleiman, who oversaw contacts with Hezbollah and the nuclear program, was considered a close aide to President Assad.

Syrian officials believe that Israel was behind the assassination of a top military official responsible for contacts with Hezbollah and for the country's nuclear program, according to a cable sent from the U.S. embassy to Washington just two days after the attack and released Tuesday by WikiLeaks.

General Mohammed Suleiman was killed by a sniper on August 1, 2008 at his family's summer home on the Tartus Beach in northern Syria. He was considered a close associate of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

On August 3, 2008, after the assassination had been made public in the Arab media, the U.S. embassy in Damascus sent a cable revealing Syria's assessments of the murder.

Netanyahu's patience with Abbas has 'run out', says WikiLeaks cable

Premier's senior policy aide told visiting U.S. senators in December 2009 - just three weeks after settlement freeze declared - that Israel would no longer make concessions to the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's patience with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has "run out," a WikiLeaks cable leaked on Monday revealed.

In a "secret" December 2009 cable dispatched to Washington from the embassy in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu's senior policy aide Ron Dermer is also quoted as telling two U.S. senators that Israel has no partner to peace.

Dermer, who is considered once of Netanyahu's closest confidantes in the Prime Minister's Bureau, met with Michael Kuiken, of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Perry Cammack, of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in Jerusalem on December 14, 2009. The moments of that meeting were included in a cable sent by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers.

Reporters Without Borders to host mirror site for WikiLeaks

Reporters Without Borders today announced that it will host a mirror website for the leaked US diplomatic cables being published by WikiLeaks.

Earlier this month, Reporters without Borders (RSF) said it condemned any measures taken to censor websites or news media which had published the material.

According to a report on the RSF website, the mirror site will be launched tomorrow at, but it already appears to be available.

The organisation said it is hosting the site as a "gesture of support" for the WikiLeaks.

Apple pulls Wikileaks app

Apple has risked the wrath of Wikileaks supporters by removing an app for the contents of the whistle-blowing site's recent disclosures.

The app charged $1.99 for access to the embassy cable leaks, which are available for free from various sites around the web. It first appeared on the App Store on 17 December but is no longer available.

There's no word from Apple on why it took down the app, but the move could spark a reaction from the pro-Wikileaks hacktivists who have previously retaliated against sites and companies deemed to be acting against the organisation with denial of service attacks.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Latest Episode of RapNews !

Juice Media Rap News, with Robert Foster. Episode 6 of the Investigative Rap Journalism has dropped: December 2010 and Cablegate has burst open. With a steady trickle of Diplomatic communiques leaking out every single day, the Book of Revelations is expanding dramatically. In all the hubbub, the global community is forced to ask questions of its leaders. At the same time, perhaps a stronger focal point for international attention is the Wikileaks leader,

'Porn lock' heralds death of WikiLeaks, internet, democracy, universe

Analysis The British government wants to gag WikiLeaks, and is drawing up Orwellian plans to exploit fears over the effect of online smut on children to achieve that aim.

That was the snap conclusion drawn yesterday in fruitcake-friendly corners of the web in response to a Sunday Times front page splash, which reported that the communications minister, Ed Vaizey, is concerned about the availability of pornography and says he would quite like ISPs to do something about it for him.

Cables show US doubts on Mideast peace: WikiLeaks

The Palestinians see West Bank settlements as a major threat to the establishment of a viable state
PARIS — Fresh leaks of diplomatic cables from 2009 by online whistleblower Wikileaks Monday showed US doubts over Israel's commitment to the Middle East peace process due to disagreement over Israeli settlements.

Julian Assange like a hi-tech terrorist, says Joe Biden

US vice-president makes strongest remarks by any White House official over WikiLeaks founder and dipomatic cables
Joe Biden appears on NBC's Meet the Press, for a taped interview.
Photograph: Getty Images
The US vice-president, Joe Biden, today likened the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to a "hi-tech terrorist", the strongest criticism yet from the Obama administration.

Biden claimed that by leaking diplomatic cables Assange had put lives at risk and made it more difficult for the US to conduct its business around the world.

WikiLeaks cables: UN offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement overseas

Source in the MDC told American officials that Zimbabwe president rejected the offer from Kofi Annan
Robert Mugabe raises his fist at a rally in Mvurwi, 60 miles from Harare, in 2008.
Photograph by Desmond Kwande/AFP
The head of the United Nations offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement package in an overseas haven if he stood down as Zimbabwe's president, according to claims quoted in leaked diplomatic cables.

The extraordinary offer was allegedly made by Kofi Annan, who was then the UN secretary general, at the millennium summit of world leaders in New York, according to a memo drawn up by American officials which was obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks cables, day 19: summary of today's key points

There are no fewer than 251,287 cables from more than 250 US embassies around the world, obtained by WikiLeaks. We present a day-by-day guide to the revelations from the US embassy cables both from the Guardian and its international media partners in the story
A Tibetan activist burns a poster of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in
New Delhi – cables show the US is worried the Dalai Lama's influence is waning
against more militant factions. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP
The Guardian

In a 2009 meeting, the Dalai Lama told the US ambassador to India that climate change in Tibet should outweigh political concerns on the global agenda and expressed disquiet over Chinese energy policies. Embassy cables also note US fears that the Dalai Lama's influence over Tibetans in India is waning as more militant elements emerge.

China paying Nepal to nab Tibetan refugees

KATHMANDU: The reason the number of Tibetan refugees fleeing to India dropped dramatically since 2008 is because China is paying money to Nepal police to arrest them from the border areas, says a US embassy cable released by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The cable, sent by an unnamed political officer at the American embassy in New Delhi February 22 this year, is based on conversations with two people whose names were also not revealed.

Titled "Update on Tibetan refugee flow", the confidential memo says that each year, an average of 2,500 to 3,500 refugees from Tibet arrive in Dharamsala in northern India, where exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama has his government-in-exile.

Almost half of them return to Tibet after receiving an audience with the Dalai Lama.

WikiLeaks sheds light on U.S. bid to sell jet fighters to Brazil

WASHINGTON -- Recently released confidential and secret cables show that U.S. diplomats have sought to help orchestrate the sale of about $4.4 billion worth of Boeing fighter jets to Brazil, but the French aerospace industry, a longtime Boeing nemesis, may have the inside track.

The cables, released online by WikiLeaks, offer an inside look at how U.S. officials sometimes act as super-salesmen in promoting American products abroad. They also give a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes diplomatic intrigue that the United States, France and others engage in as they court such emerging powerhouse nations as Brazil.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WikiLeaks cables: Egypt 'turned down' black-market nuclear weapons deal

Cairo's ambassador to the UN claimed President Mubarak said no to offer of atomic weapons from ex-Soviet state
Hosni Mubarak rejected offers of nuclear weapons and scientists,
according to the cables. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP
Egypt was offered nuclear weapons, material and expertise on the black market after the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a senior Egyptian diplomat.

President Hosni Mubarak turned down the offer, but the incident raises new questions over what nuclear sales were made by the other states or groups in the chaos of the early 1990s in Russia and the former Soviet republics.

WikiLeaks cables: Tanzania official investigating BAE 'fears for his life'

Prosecutor Edward Hoseah voiced safety fears over inquiry into 'dirty deal' involving sale of radar system to government
President Jakaya Kikwete, pictured with George Bush in 2008, had his commitment
to fighting corruption questioned, according to the cables.
Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
The Tanzanian prosecutor investigating worldwide misconduct by BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, confided to US diplomats that "his life may be in danger" and senior politicians in his small African country were "untouchable".

WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat

Diplomatic dispatches reveal world of smugglers, ex-military fixers and radioactive materials found in unlikely locations
A worker at a uranium mine in DR Congo: the abundance and
quality of Congolese ore worries the US as terrorists could use it to create bombs.
Photograph: Schalk Van Zuydam/AP
The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.

The leaked cables tell hair-raising tales of casks of uranium found in wicker baskets in Burundi, a retired Russian general offering to sell "uranium plates" in Portugal, and a radioactive Armenian car on the Georgian border.

WikiLeaks cables: Yemen radioactive stocks 'were easy al-Qaida target'

Sana'a official told US diplomats solo sentry had been removed from atomic facility and CCTV system was broken
Yemeni soldiers stand guard outside a hearing of al-Qaida suspects at a court in Sana'a.
Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA
A senior government official in Yemen warned US diplomats that poor security at the country's main store of radioactive products could allow dangerous material to fall into the hands of terrorists, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

WikiLeaks: Cuba banned Sicko for depicting 'mythical' healthcare system

Authorities feared footage of gleaming hospital in Michael Moore's Oscar-nominated film would provoke a popular backlash
A WikiLeaks cable reveals that when Michael Moore's film was shown to Cuban
doctors, they were 'disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba'.
Photograph: Max Whittaker/Reuters
Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a "mythically" favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a "popular backlash", according to US diplomats in Havana.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Anonymous WikiLeaks protests are a mass demo against control

The actions against MasterCard and Amazon are not 'hacking'. People are just finding a way to protest in a digital space
Spanish protesters wear masks of the 'Anonymous' group and WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange. Photograph: Jon Nazca/REUTERS
 The Anonymous web protests over WikiLeaks are the internet equivalent of a mass demonstration. It's a mistake to call them hacking (playful cleverness) or cracking (security breaking). The LOIC program that is being used by the group is prepackaged so no cleverness is needed to run it, and it does not break any computer's security. The protesters have not tried to take control of Amazon's website, or extract any data from MasterCard. They enter through the site's front door, and it just can't cope with the volume.

WikiLeaks cables reveal US concerns over timing of Charles Taylor trial

Leaked dispatches retell speculation that former Liberian leader's war crimes trial is being slowed down by Ugandan judge
WikiLeaks cables detail America's lack of confidence in the proceedings against former
Liberian president Charles Taylor (right) in the international criminal court, The Hague.
Judges in one of the world's most controversial war crimes trials have been deliberately slowing down proceedings, senior US officials believe, causing significant delays to proceedings.

WikiLeaks cables describe Belarus leader as 'bizarre' and 'disturbed'

Leaked cables report Alexander Lukashenko, who is set to win Sunday's election, intends to 'stay in power indefinitely'
WikiLeaks cables paint a very unflattering picture of Belarus president
Alexander Lukashenko. Photograph: Nikolay Petrov/AFP/Getty Images
 Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic ruler of Belarus who is poised for re-election for a fourth term this weekend, is an increasingly "bizarre" and "disturbed" ruler who plans to stay in power indefinitely, according to US diplomats in Minsk.

WikiLeaks: US tapped Delhi Police officers

New Delhi: WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, has thrown up more embarrassing details claiming that US Embassy officials befriended Delhi Police officers to gain intelligence inputs.

According to a diplomatic cable sent from the US Embassy in New Delhi in April 2006, American embassy officials had tapped an anti-terror Special Cell official of Delhi Police to gather information regarding investigations into terrorism related cases, bypassing the official route.

Government sources say Union Home Ministry will examine the matter. They, however, maintain that national security was not compromised or information leaked and add that they not know how authentic the information really is.

Steven Spielberg was target of Arab League boycott, WikiLeaks cable shows

Leaked dispatch reveals diplomats from 14 Arab states voted to ban the director's films in response to his donation to Israel
A WikiLeaks cable reveals that Steven Spielberg and his Righteous Persons Foundation
were the target of an Arab League boycott.
Photograph: Vera Anderson/Vera Anderson/
 Steven Spielberg was blacklisted by the Arab League's Central Boycott Office after making a $1m (£645m) donation to Isreal during the 2006 conflict in Lebanon.

WikiLeaks cable reveals Berlusconi's efforts to duck Bono tongue-lashing

Italian prime minister considered increasing budget for foreign assistance just to avoid losing face to U2 frontman

A WikiLeaks cable reveals how Silvio Berlusconi, seen here at a press conference for
the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, decided to maintain levels of aid to Africa
to avoid a showdown with Bono. Photograph: Pier Paolo Cito/AP
Silvio Berlusconi considered increasing Italy's foreign aid budget during the country's 2009 G8 presidency to avoid a "tongue-lashing" from Irish rock hero Bono, according to a confidential US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks cables: Cuba's 'best friends forever' ignore human rights

Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Spain among countries damned by diplomat for 'kowtowing' in hope of trade favours
Fidel Castro greeting then Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien in 1998.
A WikiLeaks cable rails against Canada's softened position on Cuba.
Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters
 Australia, Canada and several European countries have stopped pressuring Cuba over human rights in the hope of winning commercial favours from Havana, according to confidential US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks cables: Sudanese president 'stashed $9bn in UK banks'

Speculation that Omar al-Bashir siphoned $9bn in oil money and deposited it in foreign accounts could fuel calls for his arrest

WikiLeaks cables recount allegations that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has personally
profited from Sudan's oil boom while his country remains one of the world's poorest.
Photograph: Phillip Dhill/EPA/Corbis
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court.

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange: Is the US pursuing him in secret?

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange claimed Friday that US prosecutors are carrying out a secretive grand-jury probe into WikiLeaks activities.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed Friday that the United States is pursuing him in secret, legally speaking. In broadcast interviews conducted following his release on bail from a British jail, he complained that US prosecutors are carrying out a secretive grand-jury probe into WikiLeaks activities – and that they may already have obtained a sealed indictment against him.

“Something is very wrong in the United States that such an investigation against me and, in effect, my organization ... is to be conducted in secret,” Mr. Assange told NBC interviewer Matt Lauer.

WikiLeaks cables: India revelations spark political rowParties trade accusations over cables about Hindu extremism and Kashmir torture

The Indian politician Rahul Gandhi, who a leaked cable said had
claimed radical Hindu groups could pose a bigger threat than
Islamic militants. Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images
A vicious political row has erupted in India after the publication today of leaked American diplomatic cables about Hindu extremism and human rights abuses.

The most explosive revelation has proved to be a cable reporting that Rahul Gandhi – the 40-year-old politician widely predicted to be India's next prime minister – told the US ambassador at a lunch last year that radical Hindu groups in India could pose a bigger threat to the country than Pakistan-based Islamic militants.

After a series of terrorist attacks by extremists from both religious communities over recent years, and a history of inter-faith violence, such views are deeply controversial.