This is a quick guide to the most recent Wikileaks news, for those people who can’t be bothered reading it in detail. I’ve discovered lately that a few friends I respect – intelligent, well-meaning people – have managed to extract the totally wrong idea about what’s going on from the deliberately spin that most of the mainstream media is indulging in.
So here’s what you need to know:
1. Cablegate: 250,000 US Embassy Diplomatic Cables – On Sunday 28th November 2010, Wikileaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables.
2. A number of major news outlets, including The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel, have been running in depth coverage of the cables. Every media outlet in the world is covering the news in some form, but most aren’t delving into detailed analysis, content just to smear Wikileaks and founder Julian Assange and mention a couple of the less important cables.
3. Despite most of the media’s focus on a minority of cables that highlight snarky comments made about politicians and diplomats, the cables of MAJOR importance show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
4. Despite the media’s incessant coverage of the “rape” charges that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is facing in Sweden, the facts of the case are rarely mentioned. As far as I can gather, they seem to be that Assange had *consensual* sex with two female volunteers during his visit to Sweden in the middle of the year. However both women have since alleged that, although the sex *was* consensual, in both cases there were “condom malfunctions” – situations where the condom either broke or there wasn’t a condom present, they asked Assange to stop, and he didn’t. One of the women behind the charges gave an interview to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet in August. She stated that she was surprised to learn that the accusations were treated as a rape charge and denied that there had been any encounter with Assange involving violence or force. She suggested that the controversy had to do with Assange’s failure to use a condom during intercourse. This is the basis of the rape or “unwanted sexual conduct” charges. This is the basis of the “red notice” issued by Interpol. When was the last time Interpol issued a “red notice” for someone over a case of consensual sex? Update 02122010: According to this post about one of the accusers, Anna Ardin, she was tweeting positively about Assange for a few days after the alleged incident. Read a cached copy of her since-deleted tweets here. James Catlin has more on the story of the accusers in Crikey.
5. Of course, even if the charges of rape *are* justified, Assange’s personal life has nothing at all to do with the content of the diplomatic cables or Wikileaks’ mission. They are merely a tool the media is using to try to distract the public from the content of the leaked cables.
6. Various American and international figures are calling for the shutting down of the Wikileaks site and/or Assange’s arrest and/or assassination as well as the assassination of whoever released the cables to Wikileaks (assumed to be Bradley Manning but we don’t know for sure).
7. Of course, these same authorities aren’t calling for the shutting down of The Guardian, Der Spiegel or the New York Times’ papers and sites, or the arrest or assassination of their management. How are Wikileaks’ actions different from those of the major media outlets? Wikileaks received the cables (from sources unknown) and published them. The media outlets received them (from Wikileaks) and published them. Why the double standard?
8. The rumour is that Wikileaks is about to release some damaging information to do with the Bank Of America. Once corporations start getting attacked directly by Wikileaks, you can expect the establishment to come after him even harder than they are at the moment. Bank of America Corp experienced a 3 per cent fall on Tuesday.
Quite a few people – who obviously are too lazy to actually read beyond the headlines – seem to be under the opinion that the only thing the diplomatic cables have exposed is some embarrassing snippets about diplomats. Below is a list of some of the most incriminating cables released so far.
Saudi Govt controls the media to prevent dissident ideas and criticism of the royal family or SAG policy. (Where’s all the criticism of the Saudi govt then in the US media, the same as Cuba or Venezuela attracts for censoring the media?)