Over 250,000 classified document sent from American embassies to Washington have been leaked on the Internet, in spite of warnings from the Obama administration.
The watchdog website WikiLeaks published the files and sent them to specific international newspapers; including the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and The Guardian.
The US government insists the leaks could put lives at risk and threatens US national security. In the wake of the release, US President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the government’s classified data procedures and the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and possibly its founder, Julian Assange. US Congressman Peter King (R-NY) has even called on the US State Department to designate WikiLeaks a terrorist organization.
European leaders, Pakistan and others joined the US in condemning the release and Australia, Assange’s state of citizenship, is conducting an investigation as to whether the leak violated Australian law. Israel however cited the release as a justification for its Iran policy, highlighting the portion of the documents that showed many Arab states pressed the US to use force against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
This WikiLeaks release is distinctly different from previous leaks, expalined Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the director for external communication at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies and author of the book “Operation Dark Heart”.
“There was a great deal of good information that came out regarding issues the American people needed to know,” said Shaffer. “There were lines crossed though.”
In some instances relationships between US and foreign governments may be damaged because of the release, which may have a very bad effect on the war on terror.
“I cite for you Yemen,” he said. “There is a perception that the President of Yemen has been lying to his own people, that creates a problem.”
Similarly, the cables shine a bad light on Pakistan, highlighting Pakistani cooperation with the US in opposition to the Pakistani people.
In previous WikiLeaks releases, there were not implications of this type.
The Pentagon and US government in general has a problem of over classification, explained Shaffer. The government is working to protect too much, not disclosing what should and could easily be disclosed to the public. This enables Assange and WikiLeaks to gain clout.
This release does not call for action, unlike some past leaks. WikiLeaks essentially released information on what the US government does and allowed others to connect the dots. Some are calling this release an information war, inciting reactions from the US, including the aforementioned investigations and call by congressional members to list the organization as a terror group.
Shaffer commented WikiLeaks is not a terrorist organization, but he understands the harsh rebuke. He does argue that the leaks should be looked into.
“There is no law that we can cite that would allow us to arrest Mr. Assange for espionage. The espionage was conducted by someone else,” he explained.
The system needs to be looked into in order to stop future leaks and secure sensitive information.
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen argued none of the major points taken from the leak were significant or new. All of the information was either known or speculated already, the leaks merely confirmed the details.
What is unique about this leak is its impact on Israel.
“Israel benefits from these leaks, this is good for Israel,” Madsen said. “Who is harmed? The Arab countries are harmed, Iran is definitely harmed, Turkey, which has had an adversarial relationship with Israel, is harmed.”
Madsen argued the leak focused on coverage on Russia, Turkey, Iran, Arab states, China and Venezuela and the documents may have been cherry-picked to focus on specifics, adding that the editor of the New York Times said the documents were not received directly from WikiLeaks, but from intermediary.
“These are digital documents; we don’t know if they’ve been altered, cherry-picked,” he said. “I think there is probably some validity to the fact, at the very least, these documents were cherry picked carefully.”
Radio host Alex Jones argued much of the information in the leak should not come as a surprise to the public.
“There are some gems in there giving us an inside view into what’s happening,” said Jones. “Overall a lot of it is just an echo chamber of the same disinformation we’ve see over and over again.”
He said further analysis is needed to determine whether the release was a real leak, or if the information was packaged and passed to WikiLeaks by a global government run by corporations.
The reveal that Arab states have pressed for greater action on Iran and the Pentagon rhetoric on Russia indicated the world is headed towards a police state, he argued.
“The entire world is being nudged and guided by these private corporate interests,” Jones said. “They need police state measures in every nation to get away with the looting of the population. A lot of this is just a regurgitation of propaganda and disinformation that we’ve seen put out by the Anglo-American establishment based in the United States and England.”
Jones said he thinks WikiLeaks is a good organization, but may be a victim of cherry-picked information.
“Time will tell, as we have time to go through the documents,” he added.
The very fact that someone was capable of downloading such a vast quantity of documents without triggering any basic kind of alarm makes the story very complicated, believes the editor of the investigative website WhoWhatWhy.com, journalist Russ Baker, who joined RT live from San Francisco.
Most of the published documents have a sort of a gossiping element, said Baker, who also notes that “it is not impossible that there could be some larger agenda at play because there are always factions within a government who want to unsettle things” and, after all, “Barack Obama is the person who is hurt worst.”