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Secret U.S. Embassy Cables reveal US Government foreign activities

By Jeaneane Payne

Publication of the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain began on November 28th by Wikileaks. Wikileaks, a high-profile, secretive whistle-blowing web site, claim the documents give people around the world "an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities." These United States embassy cables include 251,287 documents which contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC.

Of the 251,287 documents being released 15,652 are classified as secret, 101,748 are confidential, and 133,887 are unclassified. The most discussed country in these leaks is Iraq with 6,677 cables coming from that country. The most frequent subjects discussed in the cables, according to the US State Departments labeling system are:

• External political relations - 145,451
• Internal government affairs - 122,896
• Hunan rights - 55,211
• Economic Conditions - 49,044
• Terrorists and terrorism - 28,801
• UN security council - 6,532

The cables originate from 274 embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions and cover from December 28, 1966 to February 28, 2010.

Although 15,652 of the leaked cables are classified as Secret, "secret" is not the highest level of classification. WikiLeaks does not possess any top secret documents; however, the cables detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments. US Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated "These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world." Gibbs added "Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government."

These documents include named individuals who, in many case, live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies. Gibbs further stated "President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information."

Wikileaks reports that since its formation in 2007, they have been victorious over every legal (and illegal) attack, including those from "the Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former president of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies." WikiLeaks has released more classified intelligence documents than the rest of the world press combined.

Published November 29, 2010

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