WikiLeaks shatters American diplomacy

Published: November 29, 2010
Whistleblower website WikiLeaks unleashed a flood of US cables detailing shocking diplomatic episodes. PHOTO: AFP

Whistleblower website WikiLeaks unleashed a flood of US cables detailing shocking diplomatic episodes. PHOTO: AFP

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to US documents revealed by WikiLeaks and published by several newspapers on Sunday.

A cable to Washington from the US embassy in Riyadh recorded the king’s “frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons programme.”

The memo said that the king told the Americans to “cut off the head of the snake,” and said that working with the US to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq was “a strategic priority for the king and his government.”

The documents also show US Defence Secretary Robert Gates believed any military strike on Iran would only delay its pursuit of a nuclear weapon by one to three years.

WikiLeaks on Sunday released around 250,000 classified cables – some sent as recently as February this year – to several media outlets worldwide. The Guardian reported that the documents were allegedly downloaded by a US soldier and passed on to the website. WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange said the released documents addressed “every major issue in every country in the world”.

According to a review of the WikiLeaks documents published by the New York Times, the documents show Saudi donors remained chief financiers of militant groups like al Qaeda and that Chinese government operatives have waged a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage targeting the United States and its allies.

Among scores of other disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, alleged links between the Russian government and organised crime and devastating criticism of the UK’s military operations in Afghanistan.

Global Espionage

The cables also reveal how the US uses its embassies as part  of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.

Classified “human intelligence directives” issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA.

The most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations. That directive requested the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of “private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, personal encryption keys”.

Pakistan’s nuclear program

The cables reveals that since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor 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.”

King Abdullah on Zardari

The cables also disclose frank comments behind closed doors. Dispatches from early this year, for instance, quote the aging monarch calling President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to Pakistan’s  progress. “When the head is rotten,” he said, “it affects the whole body,” reported the New York Times.

Damage control

The Pentagon immediately condemned WikiLeaks’ “reckless” dump of classified State Department documents and said it was taking steps to bolster security of US military networks.

The White House said the leak of the diplomatic cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders and may put at risk the lives of named individuals living “under oppressive regimes.”

The US government, which was informed in advance of the contents, has contacted governments around the world, including in Russia, Europe and the Middle East, to try to limit any damage. Sources familiar with the documents say they include corruption allegations against foreign leaders and governments.

WikiLeaks had reported earlier on Sunday that its website was under attack, but said later that media outlets would publish some of the classified documents it had released even if the group’s website crashed.

El Pais, Le Monde, Speigel, Guardian & NYT will publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down,” the website said in a Twitter posting an hour after it tweeted that its site was under attack.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (52)

  • @@
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:11AM

    This is a dangerous world, thats only what I can say !!!! Recommend

  • khurram kaleem
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:38AM

    Probably washington is behind wikileaks and wants to leak these documentsn for designed purposes.Recommend

  • M.H.
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:42AM


  • Anonymous
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:26AM

    Anything malicious can be inferred from these leaks …. be it the vicious intentions of super powers … but I appreciate the comment of Saudi King about Zardari, “When the head is rotten,it affects the whole body”.Recommend

  • U S
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:27AM

    I agree with khurram kaleem comment that all that is to raise concerns regarding any future planning by Ameriacan personnel.Recommend

  • Ahsanullah Mehsud
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:28AM

    i agree with khurran kaleem, when a protest of millions of people failed to stop US invasion of Iraq how can a small group of people can publish such confidential reports. which can create a security situation for America. Freedom of expression is there but not to this extent. “DAAL MAE KUCH KALA HA”.Recommend

  • American Taxpayer
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:32AM

    The US State Department is concerned about the effects of these leaks on individuals living “under oppressive regimes.”

    From the manipulative nature, lies, and oozing arrogance in these cables, apparently they should be most concerned about we Americans they are
    supposedly “serving.”Recommend

  • Salman
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:36AM

    Bravo wikileaks for exposing the real face of USA and allies!Recommend

  • Amer
    Nov 29, 2010 - 10:59AM

    I think ALL Pakistanis can really appreciate the comment of Saudi King about Zardari, “When the head is rotten,it affects the whole body”.
    It’s no surprise that the King knows our society so well and can sum it up in a line :)
    The Saudis along with the Americans and most certainly all other governments in the world don’t see the PPP government as a trust worthy partner or reliable by any standards. That’s the reason the Saudi Prince had written to the chief justice about corruption in the Hajj ministry. Recommend

    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:01AM

    This is a new drama from US… Beware one day will see that US has attacked some country because of Wikileaks mastermind… :)Recommend

  • SK
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:12AM

    @Khurram Kaleem, absolutely on the mark. As they say, not even a bird can span a wing in US without govt’s and secret agencies’ permission. Wikileaks is just another mechanism of US govt. to reach to some new milestone.
    BTW, Amen to King Abdullah’s statement about ZardariRecommend

  • Arifq
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:16AM

    Head is rotten in Pakistan can be an opinion but the core being corrupt in the land of self righteousness cannot be denied. What these Wikileaks prove is that we live in a very dangerous world and appearances can be deceptive. Recommend

  • Saad Iftikhar
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:19AM

    I totally agree with Khurram Kaleem and US with the fact that it is all being propulgated by US Think Tanks to make a base for future atrocious acts in the form of killing thousands of innocent people to secure their so called national interests.Recommend

  • commo
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:28AM

    Shame on Khadim-e-Hamrikain-o-WashintainRecommend

  • Someone
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:29AM

    “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons” ……seriously, these are the words of a Pakistani official? I’m starting to think that the people running our country might as well sell of our nukes too. They’ve handed over the country, so whats left anywayRecommend

  • Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:41AM

    President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan the greatest obstacle to that country’s progress. “Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah… BUT WHAT ABOUT he and his saudi involvement made situation worsen not only in Pakistan but across Muslim world. Saudis pumped billions of dollars into the religious fundamentalism into our society and we are suffering more than any other person did to this country. Recommend

  • reader
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:49AM

    its state craft…new analysis after this leak, listen to the world what they have to say, then formulate another program to move forward…Recommend

  • Masroor
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:51AM

    we cant ignore this information, & this is not strange for me atleast that suadia wants america to attack iran, but it is painfull for me that a muslim ruler wants this,

    the Holy prophet peace be upon him said ” muslims are like a body if there is a pain in one part the whole body aches”Recommend

  • Masroor
    Nov 29, 2010 - 11:53AM

    I am feeling like, my two brothers are fighting Recommend

  • Syed Farrukh Hussain Shah
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:14PM

    Dear All,

    We should not believe blindly on these leaks, as they this can also serve the purpose of americans. Americans are never trustworthy so as their links.

    Thank you

    Syed Farrukh Hussain ShahRecommend

  • IZ
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:29PM

    Of course Saudi Arabia was also the country that was pushing Bush to invade Iraq as wellRecommend

  • Rana Amjad
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:42PM

    For once King Abdullah is so correct on Zardari:

    Dispatches from early this year, for instance, quote the aging monarch calling President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to Pakistan’s progress. “When the head is rotten,” he said, “it affects the whole body,” reported the New York TimesRecommend

  • Amer
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:59PM

    @Masroor: Have you ever asked your two brothers if they really think that they are brothers? :)Recommend

  • khan
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:14PM

    No one should be surprised as to what the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ thinks of the current President of Pakistan.

    What is more interesting is what Wikileaks exposes about our previous President. Wikileaks has also published a diplomatic a cable sent by the US Ambassador in Israel to Washington. In this document the Ambassador relates that in his August 2007 meeting with the Mossad Chief, General Meir Dagan, the boss of the Mossad expressed support for Musharraf and his deep concern for Musharraf’s political future.

    This is not all that surprising when one comes to think about it.

    In 2005 the German magazine Der Spiegel interviewed Musharraf (28 May 2005 edition) in which our former President went out of his way to praise Ariel Sharon as ‘a bold man, a great soldier, a courageous leader’. The fact that Sharon has been implicated – by the Israeli government itself and subsequently sacked from his job as Minister for Defence) – in the savage and brutal 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon where 3500 innocent civilians (unarmed men, women and children) were slaughtered seems to have escaped the Commando President.

    What intrigues me is: Why were the Israelis and Musharraf scratching each others backs? I think the citizens of Pakistan need to know more about this whole episode.

    Der Spiegel Extract:

    DER SPIEGEL: Will Sharon succeed or will he be stopped by religious extremists?
    MUSHARRAF: He is a bold man, a great soldier, a courageous leader…Recommend

  • Noor
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:15PM

    Thank you Wikileaks for making the documents public.

    The rulers of this world are asking for a global revolution. And if they don’t change, they are going to get it, sooner than later! Recommend

  • ZZQ
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:18PM

    The uproar over Leaks does seem fishy… remember how everything in Western Media was censored in Operation Desert Storm and its later versions… how come a website is spreading so sensitive information without collusion of these powers… Where was Free Expression then?

    Lastly, Thumbs up to the remarks by Saudi Monarch! Everyone knows it but we cant do anything about it…There’s nothing left to be proud of in this Land of pure… each passing day brings so much new to be ashamed off!Recommend

  • Ijaz Khan
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:30PM

    “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body,” I have developed a new sense of respect for Saudi King.

    If only the power to toss the current govt was in the hands of the Pakistani people, it would have happened a long time ago. Only the blind and criminal dont realize how corrupt our current government is. Recommend

  • parvez
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:34PM

    How did you miss the leak of Gaddafi having a voluptuous Ukeranian nurse 24/7 ?Recommend

  • Tyrone
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:48PM

    Guys that’s why it’s called diplomacy because you say one thing and mean another!

    I’m not surprised that you are surprised by the revelation of how Saudi and the Arabs really feel about Iran!

    All that talk we hear whenever there’s a bomb blast about no Muslim can ever kill another Muslim belies history and fact. But why go so far most people getting killed in our country and most doing the killing aren’t they from the same religion?

    When will our people wake up ? The media is irresponsible, its savage, its reckless but it toes the religious line. Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 2:37PM

    Am sure this is a plot by CIA, FBI, RAW, IB, Mossad, KGB, RSS, VHP, BJP, Congress etc to defame the pure land of Pakistan ;)Recommend

  • the guy who cried "Uncle Sam"
    Nov 29, 2010 - 2:48PM

    idon’t know abut the rest…but i think we need to reevaluate how friendly America “really” is to other countriesRecommend

  • Amer
    Nov 29, 2010 - 2:59PM

    The people who think that muslims cannot hurt other muslims etc are living in a fools paradise to be very polite! I know exactly what our beloved Prophet (SAW) has said about the muslim ummah but in today’s practical terms governments and nations would go to any extend if they feel threatened by others. I didn’t feel a bit surprised when I read the what the Saudis had to say about Iran.
    As for the Saudi Kings thoughts on Pakistan’s President, every Pakistani would agree with that thought and we know that our society has practically decayed when it comes to social dealings & ethics. And that corruption is the biggest barrier in the progress of Pakistan, NOT the lack of anything else…Recommend

  • Disco Molvi
    Nov 29, 2010 - 4:00PM

    No surprise. It’s a well known fact that Wahhabi Sunni dominated Saudia Arabia has been at loggerheads with Shia dominated Iran (which according to Wahhabi ideology are ‘kafirs’).

    Funny how Pakistanis will believe in the Wikileaks leaked documents related to US atrocities and War Crime, but will cry about conspiracies on this on.
    This nation of hypocrites.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 29, 2010 - 6:15PM

    For most nuclear power states, the nukes protect the states. But, in Pakistan’s case the state has to protect the nukes. Recommend

  • noise
    Nov 29, 2010 - 7:00PM

    The Saudis are the worst pro-west stooges. They only came to power through a British sponsored insurgency against the Ottoman Empire. Now they strut about calling themselves the Khadims of the Haram al Sharif? The threw their support behind wars. They oppose the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance. They fund sectarian groups and cause violence all over the Muslim world. They are the paymasters of the Taliban. Macca and Madina need to be liberated from their rule and purged of their simplistic,ultra-literal extremist creed which gives Islam a bad name.Recommend

  • falak sher
    Nov 29, 2010 - 7:18PM

    Were all these so called “leaks” a hidden matter ever?? I wonder gentlemen!, I wonder.Recommend

  • Amer
    Nov 29, 2010 - 7:22PM

    @Anoop: Indians can’t mind their own business even for a day. I think Pakistanis know exactly why we have the nukes! Recommend

  • ally K
    Nov 29, 2010 - 8:11PM

    I cant believe people are harping on about the US! How about saying sthg about the Saudis who have always wanted to create discontent in the Muslim worlD (DIVIDE AND RULE) why else would they be funding terrorist organizations left right and centre (who only operate outside Saudi Arabaia) while they themselves have been in bed with the US.Recommend

  • Imran
    Nov 29, 2010 - 8:16PM

    Can we Get the Leaks on 9/11 already?? Recommend

  • Farhan
    Nov 29, 2010 - 9:40PM

    Okay: so King Abdullah think Mr Zardari is not in Pakistan’s favour…Wow.

    Okay so who is in favour of Pakistan?

    1) I want to know helped US in sowing the seeds of extremism in Pakistan?
    2) Who always helped US in giving its bases use againsts its neighbours?
    3) Which regime fought war in Afghanistan for US to destroy the future of Pakistan?
    4) Which regime helped in bringing our establishment to the extremism?
    5) Which country has fanned religious hatred not only in Shia-Sunni but also in Sunni-Sunni fabrics in pakistan?…..a long long list of the bounties of “our friend country,”Recommend

  • Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig
    Nov 30, 2010 - 3:14AM

    I agree with Farhan and I put the same questions to the readers earlier, Saudi Monarchs are the biggest hurdle in everyone’s progress, even who we can responsible for the suppression of their own people, who are involved in most and major terrorist incidents across the globe as per news reports.

    Wikileak reveals black sheep in Muslim world particularly and in the world generally. They are the ones who polluted our societies with religious fundamentalism, kalashnikov culture, sectarian violence, corruptions and above all sponsored dictator and corrupt politicians.

    This doesn’t mean Zaradari or his administration are not involve in malfunctioning, but we need democratic process to throw them out of system, but not on corrupt peoples’ advice and conspiracies.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:22AM

    Disclosure of classified documents has shown the real faces of many in the world.

    The damage done to diplomacy is beyond imagination. Unless people whose names are leaked in the wikileaks are replaced, their counterparts won’t rely on them any more.

    Wikileaks is not unusal thing in the world. People do share classified information verbally, but this is for the second time that cables available with the publisher are published for the information of every one in bulk quantity.

    After the leaks, people know exactly what is the other side of the picture.Recommend

  • SA
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:52AM

    the documents show Saudi donors remained chief financiers of militant groups like al Qaeda” this is what particularly adds to grief!!Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:28AM


    When you have a country like Pakistan as a neighbour which is constantly figuring in the Top 10 failed states and has nuclear weapons, how can one ignore. Not only us the Wikileaks reveal that even Pakistan’s allies are worried about it.Recommend

  • Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig
    Nov 30, 2010 - 1:21PM

    Failed State terminology has an interest with their self generated indexes. The question you have raised about Pakistan, can you reverse for India?

    The entire region has in problem due its interference in others business.

    Does Pakistan has anything to do with your 41% of poverty (world Bank)
    Does Pakistan killed hundred of innocent people in riots
    India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation and estimate this problem affects 20 to 65 million Indians, Is it something to do with Pakistan. But the point is not show this that we don’t have problems, but these are real issue has nothing to do with NUKES, its a trap to misguide nations from real issues.

    Bottom line: every country has its own problems, we try to share our expertise to resolve the problems, instead of blame game.Recommend

  • rahul
    Nov 30, 2010 - 6:36PM

    Wikileaks is not unusal thing in the world. People do share classified information verbally, but this is for the second time that cables available with the publisher are published for the information of every one in bulk quantity.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:15PM

    @Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig,

    “Does Pakistan has anything to do with your 41% of poverty ”

    –> Oh, I think there is another World Bank that I am unfamiliar with. All I know is of this one which says India’s poverty rate is 28%..

    Since, you like to talk about World Bank lets see Pakistan’s data.

    So, I advice you to not to throw stones at people when you are living in a glass house.

    “Does Pakistan killed hundred of innocent people in riots”

    –> Yes. 3000 people died in 2009 due to ideological violence.Recommend

  • Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig
    Dec 1, 2010 - 1:38AM

    I am glad you have sent me the link of world bank but you didn’t read what figures tell the story. The point of argument to understand the ground realities and put our share to make things better rather reinventing the wheel. Intimidating by Pretentious and bamboozle attitude leads to nowhere. Recommend

  • Cherish Raj
    Dec 1, 2010 - 8:48AM

    “For most nuclear power states, the nukes protect the states. But, in Pakistan’s case the state has to protect the nukes.”- now, that was a real stab.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 1, 2010 - 5:50PM

    @Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig,

    Just because I dont talk about Indian issues here doesn’t mean I dont recognize them or give them importance. The reason why Indians dont whine about their country’s problems is because of 2 things,

    1) They have an outlet to vent out their frustrations or share their feelings through regular, uninterrupted elections every 5 years for National as well as State level seats. They dont have to come on media and criticize when they have the power to vote. Look at recent Bihar elections. They have chosen a man who has made the most backward state in India the 2nd fastest growing state in India, marginally behind Gujrat.

    2) They see progress happening, democracy working, albeit in its usual slow way. But, its real growth. I can show you World Bank reports,that you love so dearly, which say that India has brought out more than 10 million people out of abject poverty.That rate of decrease in poverty is only going to increase.

    Just today we found out India grew at a rate of 8.9%! What rate is Pakistan going to grow in this fiscal? Answer: 4.1%. India is growing at double the rate of Pakistan.

    In 3 to 5 years India will become THE fastest growing economy in the world. Then, every 5 or 6 years, India will bring a population, the size of Pakistan, out of poverty.

    I question governance through the power of vote. Only vote. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 1, 2010 - 5:52PM

    @Tasawar-ul-Karim Baig,


    Wall Street Journal carrying report of India growing at 8.9%.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Dec 7, 2010 - 6:42PM

    “I am feeling like, my two brothers are fighting”
    You should add “and killing each other”. How did you feel during the 10 year Iran-Iraq war during which nearly 10 million MUSLIMS were killed by their brother Muslims. Incidentally, closer to home, have you stopped killing Shias, Ahmadis, Qadhianis while they are praying in their mosques in Pakistan itself? I do understand that Sunnis recognize those others as part of non-Muslim subhumans! But come on, even goats are killed on a particular occasion in celebration. There seems to be an open season on those others. We will not even talk about Hindus, Sikhs or Christians.Recommend

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