Weak Links

by Frank Scott


The Wikileaks story has been treated by the establishment as a dangerous expose of imperial mind management and led to suppression, damage control and vindictive retribution.  Meanwhile much of what passes for an anti establishment has expressed cynical disregard for what seems like old news, or treated the entire episode as another of the  products of an all controlling deity-like complex of near invisible forces. These involve  theories of manipulative plots and conspiracies to plot conspiratorial manipulations, all of them unknown to any but a chosen sect who seem to understand everything but how to stop the evil conspirators. The most extreme members of this cult  are dangerously close to believing sunrise, sunset and the seasons are the result of machinations by a group of Talmudic billionaire Mossad agents sitting in a room in Tel Aviv or New York. In often mentally disabling ways  these sources almost make the dangers of global capitalism and Zionist dominance of the American government pale in importance or even existence beside the threat of seemingly invisible forces that conspire to arrange just about everything. But many establishment figures, among them some of the foremost jackals and hyenas of the foreign policy establishment, have joined in cynically asking “who is manipulating us here?” All but totally submerged in consciousness is the risk that has been run by the Wikileaks group and its sources, nor is there enough awareness of the  panic among keepers of the public mind and their lashing out in ways as irrational as some of the critics, though far more threatening. 


Along with near comical” illuminati” based theories of conspiracies, plots and counter plots, we have defamation of the character and intelligence of people taking heroic risk in making public what was once private. They are maligned as criminals, fools or enemy agents. A citizen of Australia is accused of being a traitor to America while Sweden charges him with a horrendous sex offense seemingly invented by otherwise sane Scandinavians: he refused to use a condom! It is almost bizarre enough to be funny but the potential tragedy is hardly humorous. The Wikileakers are subjected to death threats and demands for their execution by irrational voices in and out of government while small, shrill voices claim they are counter-counter-counter spies or dupes of dupes of dupes. Just what is going on here?

Instead of being grateful to people informing the public about matters normally kept secret from them, we have a variety of suspicions on the one hand, and the spinning of cables and messages by corporate media on the other. When major sources reveal only those parts of the information that fit the governing mind control operation and focus on Iran or China, it is not those media sources that are charged with misinforming but those bringing the information out of the darkness and into public light. Instead of often mindless speculation about what motivates Assange we would all do better to heed his warnings that the so-called journalistic process itself is nothing more than “ a craven sucking up to official sources”, as is clearly indicated in the editorial opions rendered and major media reportage of this story. This giant step towards democracy and anti secrecy is reduced to the vicious charges being made by some of the most scurrilous and murderous individuals and institutional forces in the society. Indeed, what is going on here? Imperial business as usual, and what else is new?

Calls for the execution of Assange have been made by elected fanatics and their crackpot rehab counterparts in media, with segments of the public whipped into a frenzy over his alleged treachery and nonsense that these leaks risk the lives of military personnel, despite not one shred of evidence to indicate anything of the sort. In fact and with rare exceptions, care has been taken by the Wiki leakers to omit what might indeed be dangerous to innocent employees of the empire. And the heroic military worker who turned the information over to Wikileaks is in a cell and facing a fifty-year prison sentence for the crime of actually serving his people and not their rulers. The murderous pretenders to democracy who send thousands to their death in foreign wars now shriek that Manning and Assange are endangering the lives of those who would be safe in their homes if not for these political employees of global capital and its Zionist affiliates who allegedly serve “public” interest with their bloody and racist militarism.


Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and their cohorts are definitely a threat to diplomacy that hides reality from the public when not totally distorting it, and to perverted government policies of war carried out in the public’s name and called dedication to peace. Establishment leaders and their stenographers in media treat this assault on logic, language and morality as patriotism. Meanwhile, efforts to bring information that should have reached us long ago if corporate media were not under control of the very forces it supposedly reports on, are seen as treason, disregarded as nothing new or treated as an adventure story. Maybe we’d be better off is all of this were just the sort of conspiracy from a supernatural realm that some suspect, but it is very real and demands the concern of all who wish for a different reality. Assange, Manning, and all their cohorts yet unknown in this drama need and demand the support of all who believe in peace, social justice and open democratic government to achieve those things. They have given the lie to the notion that there are, or should be, secrets in an open society or that there should be behind the scenes manipulation of nations, governments and media sources.


The Wikileaks group are sending a signal that we can know and should know everything that is done in our name and that in this electronic age there are no longer any secrets that can be kept from us, if we would simply demand  completely open government and defend those who take great risk to bring it about. The first call ought to be to come to the aid of Assange, and especially Manning. If we allow either of them to be made scapegoats and suffer more than they already have for their acts on behalf of humanity, we may all  suffer far more ourselves. And we will deserve it.

On the Historical Necessity of Wikileaks

Saturday, 04 December 2010 14:00

Historical Precedent
Given the ahistorical nature of the public mind, few people will recall that as the United States prepared to enter World War I, American citizens were quite exercised over the issue of "open diplomacy." Indeed, at the time, President Woodrow Wilson made it the number one issue of his fourteen points–the points that constituted U.S. war aims, and so the ones for which some 320, 518 American soldiers were killed or wounded in the subsequent year. Here is how the president put it while addressing Congress on 8 January 1918. “The program of the world’s peace…is our program” and among the fourteen prerequisites to peace is “1. Open covenants of peace must be arrived at, after which there will surely be no private international action or rulings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

Why did Wilson make this number one on his list of war aims? Because those Americans who paid attention to such issues did not trust the European style of international relations. They thought it was corrupt and tainted by narrow interest that seemed always to lead to conflict. This was one of the beliefs that encouraged American isolationism. However, Wilson was not an isolationist. He wanted the United States to engage in the world and take a leadership position. He imagined that America was a morally superior nation and its involvement in international affairs would make the world better. "Diplomacy proceeding frankly and in the public view" was his first move in the effort to assert that idealistic American leadership. So what would Woodrow Wilson, or for that matter the educated and aware American citizen supporting him in 1918, say about Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other U.S. officials and "pundits" running about and insisting on the absolute need for secret diplomacy, while calling those who defy that standard criminals? What indeed?!
Historical Need
The truth is that there has always been a gap between the interests of the general citizenry and interests as they take shape at the level of state policy. It is within that gap that secret diplomacy thrives. One can see this most clearly in the case of dictatorships. For instance, if you travel about the Middle East, say to Jordan or Egypt, everyone takes it for granted that there is no connection between the business of the people and the business of the state. The state is run by narrow elites who make policy according to their own needs and the public plays no role and is given little consideration. Its fate is to be lied to and manipulated. So, of course, those elites are going to operate from back rooms and behind censored media. The person on the street knows this to be so and accepts it because, if he or she protests, the "security" services will come after them. They will be charged with endangering the state or framed for some other crime. And their lives will be ruined.
But what about democracies? Well, the truth is that they too are run by political and economic elites whose interests are rarely the same as the general public. That is why, when the government uses the term "national interest," one should always be suspicious. When it comes to foreign policy this can be most clearly seen in the policies long adopted toward places like Cuba and Israel. A very good argument can be made that the policies pursued for decades by the US government toward these two nations is no more than product of special interest manipulation with no reference to actual national interest or well being. Indeed, in the former case it led to an illegal invasion of Cuba by US backed forces in 1961 and no doubt encouraged the Cubans to allow Soviet missiles on their territory in 1962. The latter has contributed to numerous disastrous actions on the part of the US in the Middle East out of which came the attack on September 11, 2001. None of this is in the interest of anyone other than the elites whose semi-secret machinations lead to the policies pursued.
The difference between dictatorships and democracies are ones of style and, in a democracy, the option to shift emphasis in terms of elite interests served, each time there is an election. Democratic elites have learned that they do not need to rely on the brute force characteristic of dictatorships as long as they can sufficiently control the public information environment. You restrict meaningful free speech to the fringes of the media, to the "outliers" along the information bell curve. You rely on the sociological fact that the vast majority of citizens will either pay no attention to that which they find irrelevant to their immediate lives, or they will believe the official story line about places and happenings of which they are otherwise ignorant. Once you have identified the official story line with the official policy being pursued, loyalty to the policy comes to equate to patriotism. It is a shockingly simple formula and it usually works. Given this scenario, Woodrow Wilson and his notion of open diplomacy represents an historical anomaly. When, in 1919, he arrived at Versailles for the peace conference the representatives of Britain, France and Italy thought him a hopeless idealist. And perhaps he really was.
Incompatibility with Democracy
Whether Wilson was or was not an idealist cannot affect the fact that secret diplomacy almost never represents the public interest. It cannot affect the fact that an honest assessment of secret diplomacy, an honest look at what most of the time it has historically wrought, leads to the conclusion that it is harmful. It often leads to unnecessary conflict and it undermines the democratic process because it denies the public’s right to know what is being done in its name. And, in a democracy, it cannot be sustained without the help of massive state lying and propaganda.
So, what does that say about those American leaders railing against Wikileaks and crying for Julian Assange’s head? Does it mean, to use Noam Chomsky’s characterization, that they have a "deep hatred for democracy"? I doubt they have thought it out that far. Some of them, such as Sarah Palin, who wants Assange hunted down like Osama bin Laden (which means, I guess, hunted down ineffectively), Newt Gingrich, who likens Assange to an "enemy combatant," and Bill Kristol who wants the government to kidnap and then "whack" Assange, are personalities of the extreme right who essentially advocate the policies of dictators. It is not hard to identify these folks with a particular ideology and elite interest group. Others, like Senator Joseph Lieberman, have done their utmost to shut down Wikileaks through pressuring on-line operators such as Amazon who, until recently, have cooperated with the whistle blowing website. Lieberman has taken it upon himself to use his political clout to determine what the entire American population can and cannot know. Is Joe Lieberman doing all this for the public good? It is unlikely. He does declare, with a lot of righteous indignation, that the information Wikileaks has made public is "stolen." Yet, as Daniel Ellsberg has suggested, Julian Assange and Wikileaks are "serving our [American] democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country." In other words, Lieberman is on shaky legal grounds when he throws around a word like "stolen." But, I suspect he cares little about this and his real motivation is probably special interest driven. Given Liberman’s history as an obsessive devotee of Israel, would he be so fixated on Wikileaks if the Zionist state was not embarrassingly involved in recent revelations?
Woodrow Wilson had it wrong about America. The United States is not a morally superior nation and its elites have always been just as corruptible and obsessed with secrecy as any in Europe. His plea for open diplomacy never had a chance on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. If Wilson’s idealism was seriously wounded at Versailles, it was killed outright by the Republican majority in the Senate which refused to ratify the peace treaty he brought home. Why? Largely because of the desire to frustrate and ruin a Democratic president. Sound familiar?
Can one imagine circumstances in which diplomatic interaction necessities secrecy? I am sure one can. However, those circumstances should be exceptional. They should not constitute the norm. And, there should be clear criteria as to what constitutes such circumstances. Arriving at those criteria should be part of a widespread public debate over a seminal right– the right to know what your government is doing in your name. At this point you might ask, what widespread public debate? Well, the one that supporters of Julian Assange and Wikileaks are trying desperately to begin.


Lawrence Davidson is a Professor of Middle East History at West Chester University in West ChesterPennsylvania.He is the author of America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood (University Press of Florida, 2001), Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood Press, 2003), and, co-author with Arthur Goldschmidt of the Concise History of the Middle East, 8th and 9th Editions (Westview Press, 2006 and 2009). His latest book is entitled Foreign Policy, Inc.: Privatizing American National Interest (University of Kentucky Press, 2009). Professor Davidson travels often and widely in the Middle East. He also has taken on the role of public intellectual in order to explain to American audiences the impact of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Davidson is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker. (source of bio)

WikiLeaks: US diplomats make fun of EU leaders, spy on EU citizens

By Valentina Pop

Today @ 07:49 CET

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - American diplomats speak about EU leaders in terms of "Teflon Merkel," "authoritarian Sarkozy" and a "feckless, vain and ineffective Berlusconi" who is a "mouthpiece" for Russia, a first batch of secret cables sent to and from US embassies abroad and published by WikiLeaks shows.

The latest release of the whistle-blowing website, which recently published US war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq exposing war crimes and torture, began on Sunday evening (28 November) and will carry on throughout the next months until all 251,287 intercepted embassy cables are onlined.

The documents, dating from 1966 until the end of February 2010, are the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The move comes amid the US government's repeated warning to WikiLeaks that it will compromise relations with allies and military operations abroad.

"The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities" and expose "the extent of US spying on its allies," a statement on the WikiLeaks site says.

A first batch of documents, already processed by leading newspapers in Britain, Germany, Spain and the US, offers unflattering comments about European leaders and gives precise details about how US diplomats stationed in Europe should gather personal data such as email passwords and credit card data of European citizens.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for instance, is described as "avoiding risk" and being "seldom creative." A cable issued on 9 September 2009, three weeks before the parliamentary elections which swept her back into power, bears the headline: "Chancellor Angela 'Teflon' Merkel takes limelight as FDP waits in the wings."

Her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, is seen as "arrogant" and "fixated on maintaining his 'cult of personality'," US diplomats note. They almost call him a liar, when reporting a meeting with the US ambassador following a crucial vote in the European Parliament in February, when the legislature rejected a data transfer deal with the US, known as the "Swift agreement."

"His comment that he was unable to affect the vote in the EU Parliament on TFTP [Terrorism Finance Tracking Program] was a bit disingenuous; on 4 February, an MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] official acknowledged to visiting Treasury officials in Berlin that German MEPs were in fact leading the charge against TFTP in the EU Parliament with the tacit support of the FDP [Mr Westerwelle's party], if not of specialists in the Justice Ministry and MFA themselves," the cable reads.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is described as having a "thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style," with US diplomats noting his tendency to noisily rebuke his team and the French prime minister, Francois Fillon.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader," according to Elizabeth Dibble, the US charge d'affaires in Rome. In reference to lavish parties and numerous scandals involving young escort girls, the US embassy noted that Mr Berlusconi is a "physically and politically weak" leader whose "frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest."

As for the Italian leader's growing fondness of Russian premier Vladimir Putin, the Rome embassy expressed its concern in 2009 over the "lavish gifts," lucrative energy contracts and a "shadowy" Russian-speaking Italian go-between. US diplomats even went as far as saying that Mr Berlusconi "appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin" in Europe.

Mr Putin himself was dubbed an "alpha dog" by the US embassy in Moscow, while the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, "plays Robin to Putin's Batman." In a separate report, Mr Medvedev is described as "pale and hesitant" and having "none of the bravado" of the former KGB officer who is now, technically, his subordinate.

Regional leaders such as Chechnya's Ramzan Kadyrov, also came to the attention of American diplomats.

In a 2006 cable, Mr Kadyrov was spotted bringing "a five-kilo lump of gold" as a gift to a lavish wedding in Dagestan, where drunken guests were throwing $100 bills at child dancers, while nightttime water-scooters zig-zagged around on the Caspian Sea.

German regional politicians also make it into the cables sent to Washington. On 16 February, the US consulate in Munich, Bavaria's capital, reported on a meeting with Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Ms Merkel's sister party in Germany's wealthiest state.

"An unpredictable politician," Mr Seehofer "revealed only shallow foreign policy expertise" and "seemed uninformed about basic things," for instance that his state, Bavaria, hosts 20,000 out of a total of 40,000 US soldiers stationed in Germany.

Entire countries are mocked too: the Belgian government was told that accepting Guantanmo inmates would be "a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe." Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if its leader wanted to meet with President Obama.

Spying diplomats

Other news likely to resonate loudly is the detailed "human intelligence" gathering US diplomats are being instructed to perform in Europe, blurring the traditional demarcation line between spies and government envoys.

A cable on Bulgarian "reporting and collection needs" dating back to 16 June 2009 reads that "intelligence on the rule of law, corruption, and crime in the national leadership is the top priority of a directive issued to diplomats in the months ahead of secretary of state Hillary Clinton's meeting with her Bulgarian counterpart."

Reporting officers are requested to include "as much of the following information as possible" on Bulgarian citizens in their texts: names, organisational titles, private phone numbers, email addresses, credit account numbers, frequent flyer numbers and work schedules.

"Details about organized crime groups, including leadership, links to government and foreign entities, drug and human trafficking, credit card fraud, and computer-related crimes, including child pornography," are also listed on the diplomat-spies' to-do-lists.

"Corruption among senior officials, including off-budget financial flows in support of senior leaders," is another area to be worked on, as well as "assessment, vulnerability, personality, financial, health, and biometric information about current and emerging leaders and advisers."

According to the New York Times, whose reporters analysed hundreds of cables prior to the Sunday release, "the more intrusive personal information diplomats are now being asked to gather could be used by the National Security Agency for data mining and surveillance operations. A frequent-flier number, for example, could be used to track the travel plans of foreign officials."

The details emerge just as a number of Nordic countries have launched investigations into alleged spying by the local US embassies on regular citizens, after Norwegian public TV uncovered that Washington secretly commissioned surveillance of hundreds of Norwegian nationals believed to pose a threat to US interests, such as the embassy in Oslo.

Washington has repeatedly denied that its diplomats are engaged in any illegal activities.

"Our diplomats are just that, diplomats," foreign affairs spokesman Philip J. Crowley told the New York Times on Sunday. "They represent our country around the world and engage openly and transparently with representatives of foreign governments and civil society. Through this process, they collect information that shapes our policies and actions. This is what diplomats, from our country and other countries, have done for hundreds of years."

WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

The US state department's wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned.

The disclosure comes as new information emerged about Washington's intelligence gathering on foreign diplomats, including surveillance of the telephone and internet use of Iranian and Chinese diplomats.

One of the most embarrassing revelations to emerge from US diplomatic cables obtained by the whistleblowers' website WikiLeaks has been that US diplomats were asked to gather intelligence on Ban, other senior UN staff, security council members and other foreign diplomats – a possible violation of international law.

US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11.

Humint is part of the CIA, which deals with overseas spying overseas and is one of at least 12 US intelligence agencies.

The manager of Humint sets out priorities for the coming year and sends them to the state department. The actual form of words used in the diplomatic cables is written by the state department but a US official confirmed tonight that the original directives are written by the "intelligence community".

The US has been keen to stress that its diplomats are not acting as spies, a label that could endanger their lives.

A senior US intelligence official said: "It shouldn't surprise anyone that US officials at the United Nations seek information on how other nations view topics of mutual concern. If you look at the list of topics of interest in this routine cable, the priorities represent not only what Americans view as critical issues, but our allies as well.

"No one should think of American diplomats as spies. But our diplomats do, in fact, help add to our country's body of knowledge on a wide range of important issues. That's logical and entirely appropriate, and they do so in strict accord with American law."

Earlier, Crowley continued to deny that the American diplomatic corps is involved in spying in any way. "They are diplomats, they are not intelligence assets," said Crowley. "They collect information that is of use in helping inform our policies and actions … the secretary of state is not telling her diplomats to be spies."

The intelligence gathering directives were sent from the intelligence operations office within the state department's bureau of intelligence and research, which describes itself as "at the nexus of intelligence and foreign policy".

They made clear that the intelligence operation was not merely a useful addition to the work of a secret service, but that "the [intelligence] community relies on state-reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide". Biographic reporting is defined in the cables as including "credit card account numbers, frequent flyer account numbers" as well as "compendia of contact information".

New cables released tonight reveal that US diplomats at the embassy in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, were ordered to obtain dates, times and telephone numbers of calls received and placed by foreign diplomats from China, Iran and the Latin American socialist states of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. The US is concerned about an increasing Islamist terrorist presence in Paraguay, and the influence of China.

Washington also wanted the foreign diplomats' internet user account details and passwords, and the same depth of information for some local government and military leaders and "criminal entities or their surrogates", according to a US cable sent in 2008.

New cables released tonight also reveal that Washington has called for diplomats in Romania, Hungary and Slovenia to provide "biometric" information on "current and emerging leaders and advisers" as well as information about "corruption" and information about leaders' health and "vulnerability".

Clinton continued to face awkward questions about an intelligence directive which went out under her name in 2009 aimed at the UN leadership, which was revealed in a separate "national human intelligence collection directive". It called for the collection of "biometric" data on permanent security council representatives, and passwords and personal encryption keys used by top UN officials – in possible contravention on international law.

The UN directive also specifically asked for "biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats".

A similar cable to embassies in the Great Lakes region of Africa said biometric data included DNA, as well as iris scans and fingerprints.

A leading expert on UN law today said the proposed activity in the directive breached two international treaties and could lead to the US being censured by the UN general assembly or even, in extreme circumstances, prosecution at the international criminal court.

The targeting of diplomats from North Korea and the permanent representatives of the security council from China, Russia, France and the UK leaves the US government exposed to action from any of those countries.

Dapo Akande, lecturer in international law at Oxford University, said: "Obtaining passwords and information on communications systems violates the 1947 headquarters agreement between the US and UN and the general convention on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations.

"The only reason they can be asking for this information is to break into the communication systems or monitor them in some way."


2 December 2010 7:50PM Speranza

This is not surprising. ALL nations keep an eye on each other. The U.S. does it, as we've been shown, and you can bet that China, Russia, the U.K. etc. all do it, too.I was lucky enough to do an internship at the Foreign Office, working with Protocol.

Foreign relations and diplomacy is full of mistrust, childish games, and bureaucracy.It's also full of people who overestimate their own importance, which is why I'm taking this leaked documents with a pinch of salt.

2 December 2010 8:01PM Viper

Just goes to show how gutless the UN is, based in New York founded on a treaty which expressly forbids that any nation spy on it and then we find out that the nation hosting it, is spying on it - Says it all really.

With friends like these....

2 December 2010 8:02PM Proudon

The lack of surprise speaks a volume on the complete lack of confidence in our rulers. However this is corrupt behaviour and is disgraceful. Spying on the United Nations is probably the worst of the leaks. It is not surprising but it shows the complete disregard in America for an International organisation that might be seen to challenge US hegemony.