WASHINGTON – Wikileaks has dropped a bombshell cache of U.S. diplomatic cables.
Wikileaks – the biggest dump yet.
A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
Also revealed, is that the U.S. State Department has employed Bat Boy for special espionage missions. Bat Boy was unavailable for comment.
There’s more than a quarter-million back-channel cables that include brutally candid assessments of world leaders and previously undisclosed details of nuclear and antiterrorism activity — represents the most embarrassing and potentially damaging disclosure of American diplomatic material in decades.
“I don’t see the world ending … but lots of red, sputtering faces in D.C., embassies and capitals,” a senior American diplomat told POLITICO early Sunday, just before the release of the documents, which chronicle the sprawling growth of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence corps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The diplomat also predicted that governments and individuals overseas are likely to clam up as a result of the disclosures, “since no one will trust us to keep a secret for a while,” while “various and sundry interest groups will cherry-pick whatever can be found in the documents to support whatever version of reality they are peddling.”
For weeks, the Obama administration had been pressuring WikiLeaks, and its controversial founder, Julian Assange, to withhold publication of the documents, arguing that their publication could compromise the lives of U.S. service members and officials.
But they are also deeply embarrassing, providing off-the-cuff assessments by American diplomats of world leaders, critiques that were expected to be released only decades from now. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is compared to Hitler, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is called an “emperor with no clothes,” Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is “driven by paranoia,” according to the cables, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel earns high marks as a “Teflon” politician.
The sheer size of the dump — a mountain of gossip, intrigue, high-stakes policy and lowbrow humor — may ensure that some damaging revelations that might have been front-page stories if leaked one by one get lost in the shuffle.
The long-expected release of the documents — scheduled to be published simultaneously at around 4:30 p.m. EST by The New York Times, Germany’s Der Spiegel, Spain’s El Pais, France’s Le Monde and Britain’s Guardian — was accelerated by a few hours after a German Twitter user obtained an early copy of Der Spiegel and began posting tidbits online.
One especially damaging revelation — previously unknown — details a conversation between Petraeus and the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in which Saleh offers to claim U.S. airstrikes on suspected Al Qaeda militants were actually conducted by his forces.