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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:03 am 
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This developing saga is important enough to warrant its own topic at this point.

:goodjob: :happy0065:



(The posting date will be from today (as I copy the relevant posts), so please refer to the date under the headlines as the original publication date -- until we reach present time.)

5 February 2011

As other leaks, non-WikiLeaks, are becoming available, they will also be posted here.

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:04 am 
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Whistle-blower site taken offline
Monday, 18 February 2008

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Interlaken in Switzerland, with the Eiger in the background

A controversial website that allows whistle-blowers to anonymously post government and corporate documents has been taken offline in the US.

Wikileaks.org, as it is known, was cut off from the internet following a California court ruling, the site says. The case was brought by a Swiss bank after "several hundred" documents were posted about its offshore activities. Other versions of the pages, hosted in countries such as Belgium and India, can still be accessed.

However, the main site was taken offline after the court ordered that Dynadot, which controls the site's domain name, should remove all traces of wikileaks from its servers. The court also ordered that Dynadot should "prevent the domain name from resolving to the wikileaks.org website or any other website or server other than a blank park page, until further order of this Court."

Other orders included that the domain name be locked "to prevent transfer of the domain name to a different domain registrar" to prevent changes being made to the site. Wikileaks claimed that the order was "unconstitutional" and said that the site had been "forcibly censored".

Web names

The case was brought by lawyers working for the Swiss banking group Julius Baer. It concerned several documents posted on the site which allegedly reveal that the bank was involved with money laundering and tax evasion.

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The site was founded in 2006

The documents were allegedly posted by Rudolf Elmer, former vice president of the bank's Cayman Island's operation. A spokesperson for Julius Baer said he could not comment on the case because of "pending legal proceedings". The BBC understands that Julius Baer asked for the documents to be removed because they could have an impact on a separate legal case ongoing in Switzerland.

The court hearing took place last week and Dynadot blocked access from Friday evening. Wikileaks says it was not represented at the hearing because it was "given only hours notice" via e-mail. A document signed by Judge Jeffery White, who presided over the case, ordered Dynadot to follow six court orders.

As well as removing all records of the site form its servers, the hosting and domain name firm was ordered to produce "all prior or previous administrative and account records and data for the wikileaks.org domain name and account". The order also demanded that details of the site's registrant, contacts, payment records and "IP addresses and associated data used by any person...who accessed the account for the domain name" to be handed over.

Wikileaks allows users to post documents anonymously.

Information bank

The site was founded in 2006 by dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and technologists from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. It so far claims to have published more than 1.2 million documents. It provoked controversy when it first appeared on the net with many commentators questioning the motives of the people behind the site. It recently made available a confidential briefing document relating to the collapse of the UK's Northern Rock bank.

Lawyers working on behalf of the bank attempted to have the documents removed from the site. They can still be accessed. Dynadot was contacted for this article but have so far not responded to requests for comment.

Source: BBC News.

PS --- the site can still be reached directly through its IP address:
http://88.80.13.160/wiki/Wikileaks

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:06 am 
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Photo: DPA

CIA leak shows plans to market Afghan war to Europeans

27 March 2010
Online: http://www.thelocal.de/national/20100327-26159.html

A CIA expert has called for optimistic Afghans and their womenfolk to be recruited as flag-wavers for the NATO mission, to persuade sceptical Europeans to support the war, according to a document leaked on Friday.

"Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanising," the mission for European audiences, according to the CIA analysis, posted on WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website. The views of Afghan women would carry special weight as they could express "their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory," it said. German audiences might also respond to marketing efforts emphasising Afghan optimism about the mission, while the dangers of failure should also be played up to get them onside, the document read.

The Central Intelligence Agency declined to confirm or deny if the document was genuine. But WikiLeaks has previously posted government and corporate documents that were later verified. The report also suggested taking advantage of President Barack Obama's popularity in Germany and France, arguing that appeals from the US president on the importance of the allied role in the war could have a positive effect. And scare tactics could be used on the German public in particular, it said. "For example, messages that illustrate how a defeat in Afghanistan could heighten Germany's exposure to terrorism, opium, and refugees might help to make the war more salient to sceptics," it said.

The report by a CIA expert on "strategic communications" and State Department analysts of public opinion warned that popular support for the war in Europe was weak and could easily collapse, citing the recent fall of the Dutch government over the issue. "The tone of previous debate suggests that a spike in French or German casualties or in Afghan civilian casualties could become a tipping point in converting passive opposition into active calls for immediate withdrawal," it said.

The analysis, dated March 11, suggested public relations strategies to drum up support for the war in Germany and France, which maintain the third and fourth largest troop deployments in Afghanistan. "Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive scepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission," it said.

Public relations efforts could "tap into acute French concern for civilians and refugees," the report said, suggesting highlighting polls that show most Afghans support the presence of coalition troops. Such an approach could stress the potential dangers facing Afghan civilians if NATO-led troops were defeated and play on European guilt for abandoning them.

The memorandum is titled: "Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission -- Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough."

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:07 am 
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Bank raid could have been warning against planned WikiLeaks Russian corruption expose says Alexander Lebedev

By Glen Owen And Will Stewart
14th November 2010

Billionaire newspaper magnate Alexander Lebedev could have been targeted in a raid by secret service agents as a warning against co-operating with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to expose Russian corruption.

Sources in Moscow believe that Mr Lebedev, owner of The Independent and the London Evening Standard in the UK and the Novaya Gazeta in Russia, was being sent a "message" not to threaten powerful interests.

The Mail on Sunday told last week how Mr Lebedev"s National Reserve Bank was raided by dozens of heavily armed law-enforcement officers, on the pretext of a fraud investigation, leaving the former KGB spy fearing he would be arrested.

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Targeted: Billionaire newspaper magnate Alexander Lebedev was planning to collaborate with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to expose corruption in Russia

Last night, Mr Lebedev said that one of his Russian journalists met Mr Assange at his base in Sweden — but it was "just a guess" that the move provoked the raid. Wikileaks recently caused huge embarrassment to America and Britain by releasing almost half a million secret US files on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last month it announced that it was planning to make public classified documents about the "despotic" Moscow regime.

There is speculation the papers focus on hidden business links and fortunes of government figures, top-level corruption or covert espionage operations. Russia"s domestic security service, the FSB — formerly the KGB — reacted angrily to the threat.

Mr Lebedev, who has campaigned against corruption for more than a decade, said a "young, talented and brave" reporter from Novaya Gazeta visited the WikiLeaks boss — an assignation the FSB is likely to have known about. "He went to Sweden and he met Assange and he has spoken to him on the phone a number of times," he said.

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Meeting: One of Lebedev's Russian journalists had met with founder and editor of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange

Asked if that could have provoked the raid, he said: "It is just a guess — one of the possibilities. But I don"t think the information [on Russian corruption] is being contained in one place. The information is all over the world, in dozens of jurisdictions such as Belize, Luxembourg, Monaco, involving lots of front companies and what I call "dirty lawyers"."

The Kremlin is known to be nervous about the leak threat, with one FSB source threatening to make Wikileaks "inaccessible forever".

Mr Lebedev declared yesterday that "the fight against corruption should be compared to the fight against apartheid". He warned: "Mr Assange should be looking for allies — people who can look into the computers in the banks. But I would rather advise him against going to Russia after announcing that he is going to tackle its corruption."

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:08 am 
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Bradley Manning, suspected source of Wikileaks documents, raged on his Facebook page
By Heidi Blake, John Bingham and Gordon Rayner
30 July 2010

Bradley Manning, the prime suspect in the leaking of the Afghan war files, raged against his US Army employers and "society at large" on his Facebook page in the days before he allegedly downloaded thousands of secret memos

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Bradley Manning on a gay pride march.

The US Army intelligence analyst, who is half British and went to school in Wales, appeared to sink into depression after a relationship break-up, saying he didn't "have anything left" and was "beyond frustrated". In an apparent swipe at the army, he also wrote: "Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment," and quoted a joke about "military intelligence" being an oxymoron.

Mr Manning, 22, who is currently awaiting court martial, is suspected of leaking more than 90,000 secret military documents to the Wikileaks website in a security breach which US officials claim has endangered the lives of serving soldiers and Afghan informers. Supporters claim the war logs leak exposed civilian deaths in Afghanistan which had been covered up by the military, and Mr Manning's family, who live in Pembrokeshire, said he had "done the right thing".

The Pentagon, which is investigating the source of the leak, is expected to study Mr Manning"s background to ascertain if they missed any warnings when he applied to join the US Army. The postings on his Facebook page are also likely to form part of the inquiry.

Mr Manning, who is openly homosexual, began his gloomy postings on January 12, saying: "Bradley Manning didn't want this fight. Too much to lose, too fast." At the beginning of May, when he was serving at a US military base near Baghdad, he changed his status to: "Bradley Manning is now left with the sinking feeling that he doesn't have anything left." Five days later he said he was "livid" after being "lectured by ex-boyfriend", then later the same day said he was "not a piece of equipment" and was "beyond frustrated with people and society at large". His tagline on his personal page reads: "Take me for who I am, or face the consequences!"

Mr Manning was arrested at the end of May on suspicion of leaking a video of a US helicopter attack, and quickly became the main suspect when the Afghan war documents were leaked earlier this week. His uncle, Kevin Fox, said the soldier"s arrest and imprisonment in a military jail had taken its toll on his mother Susan, who lives in Haverfordwest. "She hasn"t been well," he said, adding that if Mr Manning had leaked the documents: "I think the boy did the right thing." Another close relative, who asked not to be named, said: "His mum didn't know anything about what he was doing and it's come as a big shock. She's very upset."

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Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks suspect, grew up in Wales after his parents split up Photo: AP

Susan Manning, 56, moved to the US in 1979 after marrying Bradley"s American father Brian Manning, a former serviceman who was based at the Cawdor Barracks in Brawdy, near Haverfordwest. Bradley Manning was born in Oklahoma but the couple divorced in 2001 and Mrs Manning moved back to Wales with her son, who sat his GCSEs at the Tasker Milward secondary school in Haverfordwest.

Joseph Staples, Mr Manning's uncle by marriage, said: "It's one of those Catch 22 situations, because freedom of speech is great but if you do something that endangers other people's lives then I can understand why you're going to get flattened by the American military. Some people are saying that Bradley was a trouble-maker but he was anything but. He was just an introverted kid who loved computers and was fired up politically."

Scott Lewis, a former classmate, said: "He was a bit hot-headed. If there was something he didn't agree with, he spoke up about it." Other school contemporaries recalled him as a computer "nerd" who had a difficult relationship with his father.

Jenna Morris, a 23-year-old sales manager who went on holiday to Disney World in Florida with Bradley and his cousins, said: "He was a quiet lad and he"d had a tough upbringing. "His parents had an acrimonious divorce. He didn"t get on well with his dad; they had quite a volatile relationship. His dad was very strict and shouted at him a lot. He had a tough time when he came back here with his mum because moving to another country after a break-up was hard. He was quite a loner and he didn"t really have a lot of friends. He had quite a bit of trouble at school and was picked on, but he didn"t care."

James Kirkpatrick, who became friendly with him through their shared interest in computers, said: "I last contacted him about six months ago. He didn"t mention anything about what was happening, but at the same time he did seem a bit secretive, he was being a bit paranoid about what we spoke about on the net. "He wouldn"t mention anything about what he was doing in the army and what he thought of it."

Image
Bradley Manning holding up a placard demanding equality on 'the battlefield'.

Pictures on Mr Manning's Facebook page include photos of him on school trips during his time in Wales and at a gay rights rally, where he is holding up a placard demanding equality on "the battlefield". Yesterday Mr Manning, who is reportedly on suicide watch, was transferred from a military jail in Kuwait to a prison in Washington DC, as the Pentagon called in the FBI to assist in the hunt for the source of the leak.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the leakers "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family" because, he said, the leaked documents included the names of Afghan informants.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:08 am 
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WikiLeaked cable from Bob Gates: 'Russian democracy has disappeared'

Posted By Josh Rogin
November 28, 2010

Image
Robert Gates and Vladimir Putin

When Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with French Minister of Defense Herve Morin Feb. 8 in Paris, he had a harsh assessment of the Russian government and some severe differences with his French counterpart on several issues of international security.

"SecDef (Gates) observed that Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services," read a cable about the meeting classified by Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow and leaked to the self described whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The website posted Sunday just over 200 of the over 250,000 sensitive State Department documents it claims to have in its possession.

"President [Dmitry] Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia than [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin, but there has been little real change," Gates told Morin, according to the cable.

Gates was pressing Morin to rethink the French sale of the amphibious assault ship the Mistral to Russia, a sale that several NATO member countries and the country of Georgia loudly protested around the time of the meeting. The cable details how strongly Gates pressed the French on the issue and how strongly he was rebuffed.

Gates' comments about the Russian leadership were an attempt to explain why he and many central and eastern European countries couldn't accept Morin's statement that the West must trust the Russians when they claimed the ship would not be used for aggressive purposes. In fact, Morin told Gates that he personally pushed hard for the sale, despite that Russia has not lived up to its agreements following its 2008 war with Georgia. Ultimately, the sale of the Mistral went through and U.S. officials never publicly condemned it.

Gates' frank analysis of the Russian government matches the take of top Russian opposition leaders, such as Russia's former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who told Foreign Policy last month that, "We have no democracy at all. We don't have any future of a democratic state. Everything has been lost, everything has been taken from the people by the authorities."

But the comments go far beyond what top U.S. officials have said in public about their concerns of the retreat of democracy and good governance in Russia. In a separate cable sent in late 2008, the U.S. embassy in Moscow reported that Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman," the Guardian reported.

In their February meeting, Morin told Gates that expanding NATO to include Georgia would weaken NATO Article 5, which provides for a common defense. In response to that remark, Gates "stated his preference for NATO to focus its efforts in the Euro-Atlantic area, perhaps extending into the Mediterranean," the cable stated.

The cable also reveals how strongly the French defense minister opposed U.S. plans for missile defense in Europe, especially the drive to link the plans with NATO, as was codified at the Lisbon summit only last week. Morin said the Obama administration's new plan would "give publics a false sense of security," and argued for a system based more on deterrence. He asked Gates who the system was aimed at and told Gates European countries don't have "infinite" funds to spend on such a system.

Gates replied that the system did add to deterrence and would have increased the capability as opposed to the Bush administration's plan. The new scheme also allowed Russian participation, which was impossible under the previous design, he said.

On Iran, Gates told Morin that Israel had the capability of striking Iran's nuclear facilities, but "he didn't know if they would be successful." He also told Morin that even a successful Israeli strike would only delay Iran's nuclear program "by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker."

The full cable

Reference ID: 10PARIS170
Date: 2010-02-12 13:01
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Origin: Embassy Paris


VZCZCXRO4066
RR RUEHSL
DE RUEHFR #0170/01 0431349
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 121349Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8302

INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/ISA-EURNATO//
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 6557
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3937
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1783
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0955
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 000170

NOFORN
SIPDIS


E.O. 12598 DECL: 02/12/20
TAGS: PREL MOPS MAR FR IR AF NATO
SUBJECT: SECDEF GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH MINISTER OF DEFENSE HERVE
MORIN, FEBRUARY 8, 2010.

PARIS 00000170 001.2 OF 004
Classified By: Alexander Vershbow, ASD/ISA. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).
Ref: USNATO 56



¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (SecDef) was hosted by French Minister of Defense Herve Morin for a working lunch during an official bilateral visit to Paris on February 8, 2010.

SecDef and Morin agreed on the basic themes to be included in NATO's revised Strategic Concept. On Missile Defense, SecDef refuted Morin's contention that a European Missile Defense system is both unwise and unnecessary but pledged to give France and other Allies better information on the costs and command and control structure of the U.S. proposal. Both Morin and Gates agreed that Iran's rejection of an engagement track meant that the time for pressure had arrived, but both noted concern over China's opposition to a new UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR). On Afghanistan, SecDef praised French contributions and highlighted ongoing trainer shortfalls. SecDef raised U.S. concerns over the sale of a Mistral-class helicopter carrier to Russia as sending a mixed signal to both Russia and our Central and East European Allies. Morin refuted this idea, arguing that the sale was a way to send a message of partnership to Russia at a critical time. Morin requested that the upcoming U.S. Air Force Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new in-flight refueling tanker aircraft be unbiased. SecDef told Morin that he had full confidence that the RFP would be as fair as possible. END SUMMARY.

----------------------
NATO Strategic Concept
----------------------

¶2. (S/NF) Morin welcomed SecDef to France and asked about U.S positions regarding the revised NATO Strategic Concept. Morin noted France's interest in a document that would inject new ideas, be adopted with great momentum, and define NATO's roles and missions. It should not just be a restatement of the conventional wisdom.

¶3. (S/NF) SecDef told Morin he favored a short document that was perhaps three to five pages in length. The Strategic Concept should move NATO from a traditional defensive alliance to a security alliance that can address a wide range of global threats. SecDef said that the Strategic Concept must better align resources with NATO's level of ambition; it must lay out a comprehensive approach to civil-military cooperation and enhance partnerships with the EU, UN and other international organizations. SecDef concluded that, above all, financial and broader structural reform must be pursued -- either as part of the Strategic Concept or in parallel.

¶4. (S/NF) Morin agreed on length and the need for NATO to take on new missions, but he wondered what types of missions members had in mind. Cyber attacks? Terrorism? Proliferation? Missile Defense? Morin also stated his belief that NATO needed to bring some clarity to its area of operation so that NATO did not end up extending to the Pacific. He added that, in his view, extending the Alliance to Georgia would weaken Article 5. SecDef stated his preference for NATO to focus its efforts in the Euro-Atlantic area, perhaps extending into the Mediterranean. He concurred with Morin that a bigger Alliance posed challenges.

¶5. (S//NF) Morin told SecDef that the UK MoD had proposed drafting a joint French-UK proposal on NATO reform to then present to the U.S. Noting that the objective was to overcome blockages from those countries that had underwhelming General Staffs, Morin asked whether SecDef thought it would be better for Europe to build consensus at home and work its own ideas, or for Europe and the United States to develop joint proposals. SecDef replied that he thought it best not to have two proposals, but that he would consult with SecState. He also said he hoped that the Senior Officials Group would come up with some concrete and viable ideas for reform.

---------------
Missile Defense
---------------

¶6. (S/NF) Morin, having expressed strong reservations to new U.S. and NATO missile defense (MD) plans at the NATO ministerial in Istanbul (reftel), said he wanted to explain how France sees MD and raise some questions. First, he believes that the shift from Theater Missile Defense (TMD) to defense of populations and territory will give publics a false sense of security, since the sword was ultimately stronger than the shield. For France, security came from strong defense and deterrence. Second, Morin asked what threat the system aims to counter. Nuclear states or rogue states? Third, Morin asked about funding and how European countries would participate in command and control (C2) decisions. Morin summarized his own personal opposition to MD by asserting that the U.S. and Europe have differing mentalities on defense spending. He said the U.S. has true resiliency with

PARIS 00000170 002.2 OF 004

"infinite" means, while in Europe defense spending has collapsed in every country but the UK and France. As a result, any development needing common funding will dilute the already weak European defenses. Morin concluded by stating that it was folly to assume that MD would give us added security.

¶7. (S/NF) SecDef refuted Morin's arguments, pointing out that MD contributes to deterrence. SecDef explained to Morin that the system was aimed at nations with a handful of nuclear weapons and a limited but growing missile capability to launch them. Noting Iran fits that profile, SecDef said that MD provides a good deterrent against limited attacks.

¶8. (S/NF) SecDef agreed with MoD Morin that the U.S. owed NATO answers on C2, costs, and the role of common funding. He pledged to provide more details on these issues, as well as on how ALTBMD and the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) fit together. However, SecDef said it was important to move ahead with the MD study that was endorsed at the 2009 NATO summit, since it would provide some of the answers France was seeking. SecDef reminded Morin that POTUS will want to obtain a decision affirming the Alliance role in MD at the Lisbon summit in late 2010.

¶9. (S/NF) Responding to SecDef's discussion of MD, Morin asked why there was a need to shift from theater to population defense. SecDef said the systems the U.S. was deploying have broader applications. For example the THAAD system, which the U.S. had deployed to Hawaii as a measure against North Korean threat, protects both the theater and the population. Gates offered the Aegis ship-borne SM-3, which was used to shoot down a defunct satellite, as a second example of a system that could also have broader applications and deter Iran from holding us hostage by threatening missile launches.

¶10. (S/NF) Recalling that Russian Prime Minister Putin once told him Iran was Russia's greatest threat, SecDef noted that Russia could plug into the new system. SecDef highlighted two Russian objections to the former system: first, the radar in the Czech Republic would have been so powerful that it could see into Russia; second, Russia believed that the three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor could have been converted easily to an offensive weapon. The SM-3 missiles in the new approach can only be defensive in nature, however. For these reasons, the U.S. believed partnering with Russia is once again potentially possible.
(NOTE: Following the meetings, Morin's critical comments on Missile Defense were disavowed by senior officials at the MoD and the MFA, who said that his views were his own and that the U.S. should essentially "erase" what he had just said. END NOTE.)

-----
Iran
-----

¶11. (S/NF) Shifting from Missile Defense to Iran, SecDef noted that Russia is now of a different mind on Iran because of Tehran's persistent rejection of international proposals for negotiated solutions and its concealment of the Qom facility. SecDef believed Russia would be supportive of a new UNSCR, although it may have different views on the severity of sanctions, but he expressed concern about China. SecDef said that Russia could perhaps help on China, but that securing the support of other non-permanent Security Council members was also an issue. In this regard, SecDef told Morin he had been blunt with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, telling him that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, we were facing two scenarios: nuclear proliferation in the Middle East or a regional war (or perhaps both).

¶12. (S/NF) Morin asked SecDef if he believed Israel had the capability to strike Iran without U.S. support. SecDef responded that he didn't know if they would be successful, but that Israel could carry out the operation. SecDef told Morin that he believed a conventional strike by any nation would only delay Iranian plans by one to three years, while unifying the Iranian people to be forever embittered against the attacker.

¶13. (S/NF) MoD Morin agreed that China could be problematic on the UNSCR and queried SecDef how the U.S. believed we could ensure their vote, especially in light of the upcoming Dalai Lama visit and the U.S. weapons sale to Taiwan. SecDef told Morin that because of Congressionally mandated rules, the U.S. was required to provide defensive weapons for Taiwan. He observed that every time the U.S. makes the sales to Taiwan, the Chinese suspend military-to-military relations, but only for the short term.

--------
Pakistan
--------

¶14. (S/NF) Morin expressed doubt about the willingness of the Pakistani

PARIS 00000170 003 OF 004

government to fight extremists at home. He noted that Karzai had told the French that if the Pakistan-Afghanistan border were closed, it would largely solve issues in Afghanistan. SecDef replied that he had told the Pakistani government two weeks earlier that Al Qaeda was helping the Pakistan Taliban to destabilize Pakistan. SecDef highlighted the dramatic changes in Pakistan over the past 18 months, especially in Swat and Bajaur provinces, which offered some hope of progress. SecDef said that there was increasing coordination between U.S. and Pakistani forces across the border.

-----------
Afghanistan
-----------

¶15. (S/NF) Turning to Afghanistan, MoD Morin began by stating that although he had announced an additional 80 trainers, France had also sent a non-official contribution as well. (NOTE: Morin was referring to a classified deployment of French Special Forces that have a limited mission to find two kidnapped French journalists. END NOTE.) France had also sent an additional deployment of engineers to work exclusively on the Counter-IED mission. Morin underscored that France had significantly increased its contributions in Afghanistan in the past 18 months from 2700 troops to nearly 4000.

¶16. (S/NF) SecDef said the U.S. understood the domestic situation and that he would not have pressed France publicly for more forces until after the March elections. However SecDef requested that France strongly consider substantially increasing military and police trainers. SecDef said that while he would publicly praise French troops, which U.S. troops consider terrific fighters, he was fine with keeping these discussions close hold.

¶17. (S/NF) Shifting topics, Morin questioned the decision to specifically name mid-2011 as the start of a withdrawal, which Morin thought would simply make the Taliban wait it out. SecDef noted that whether to set a date for transition had led to one of the most protracted debates in Washington in recent months. SecDef had come to the conclusion, however, that the Afghans needed to be put on notice that they would need to take responsibility for their own security. He pointed out that there is no end date for U.S. involvement; July 2011 is just the beginning of a process. POTUS was very clear that the transition would be conditions-based. Morin agreed with this and urged that clear benchmarks be set that could reassure public opinion. SecDef concurred and observed that the U.S. public will not tolerate a prolonged stalemate.

--------------
Russia/Mistral
--------------

¶18. (S/NF) SecDef expressed U.S. concerns about the Mistral sale to Russia. He told Morin that because of Sarkozy's involvement in brokering a ceasefire in Georgia, which Russia was not fully honoring, the sale would send the wrong message to Russia and to our Allies in Central and East Europe.

¶19. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef pointedly that he had pushed hard for the sale. He conceded that it was indeed a warship for power projection. But Morin asked rhetorically how we can tell Russia we desire partnership but then not trust them. Morin told SecDef that he understood the U.S. position on considering Central and East European Allies' concerns about the perceived threat from Russia. Morin argued, however, that this single ship would not make any difference with respect to Russian capabilities, as Russia's naval production ability was severely degraded.

¶20. (S/NF) SecDef replied that U.S. concerns were not about military capacity but about messaging. Some allies, because of their past experiences, are still very concerned with Russia and are not sure how much to trust the West. SecDef observed that Russian democracy has disappeared and the government was an oligarchy run by the security services. President Medvedev has a more pragmatic vision for Russia than PM Putin, but there has been little real change.

--------------
KC-X Tanker RFP
--------------

¶21. (S/NF) Morin told SecDef he had one final, but major, topic to raise, the U.S. contract tender for a new tanker plane. He asked that the RFP be issued so that competition was equal for both companies and there was no bias. Morin stressed that it was important for our market economy to be a two-way street. He told SecDef that if the terms of competition are unequal, EADS would not submit a bid.

¶22. (S/NF) SecDef stated his belief that the RFP would be fair. He

PARIS 00000170 004 OF 004

told Morin that the Air Force had established the requirements. He noted that since the previous competition, he had fired both the civilian and military leaders of the Air Force and that there was a new person in charge of the Pentagon's acquisition policy. SecDef said that it would be disappointing if EADS did not submit a proposal.

¶23. (U) SecDef has cleared this cable. Drafted by OSD Staff.

Source: The Cable.

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Sarkozy, the emperor with no clothes. Putin is Batman... and Ahmadinejad is like Hitler: What America REALLY thinks of our world leaders

By Nick Pisa
29th November 2010

The leaking of top secret classified cables from America's embassies has catapulted the United States into a diplomatic crisis that experts believe could destabilise relations around the world.

But what the leak has also revealed is the astonishing way in which the United States describes other world leaders. Among them are controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose 'close relationship' with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is among WikiLeaks documents released.

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Berlusconi has been friends with former KGB agent Putin for more than five years and the two have held numerous bilateral meetings as well as entertained each other on holiday. Of concern to Washington was said to be the deal between Italian energy firm ENI and Russian gas giant Gazprom, over the South Stream pipeline as well as the 'very cordial relationship between Putin and Berlusconi'.

America's former ambassador to Italy Ronald Spogli, who was in Rome between 2005 and 2009, said in an interview yesterday with Corriere Della Sera: 'The Rome-Moscow axis did worry us.' In true diplomatic style Mr Spogli did not go into specific details but did add: 'Certainly, we have always said that a democratic Russia was always desirable. In the last few years when there was a differing shift by Russia, we Americans always thought this (Putin-Berlusconi relationship) was not the right direction.'

Italian newspapers highlighted how Berlusconi had holidayed on the Black Sea with Putin and in return the Russian leader had been a guest at his counterpart's luxury villa in Sardinia. They published once again an infamous picture of Berlusconi pretending to 'shoot' a Russian journalist as she asked awkward questions of Putin at a press conference in Italy two years ago. Also mentioned was Berlusconi's 'soft stance' towards Russia during the recent conflicts in Cechnya and Georgia.

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'Close relationship': Italy's President Silvio Berlusconi, right, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2008 (file pic)

Mr Spogli's comments were published as Berlusconi's government insisted there was a 'plot' by foreign powers to damage Italy's international reputation highlighting intense coverage of recent domestic events, as well as the release of WikiLeaks files. Among these were the ongoing rubbish crisis in Naples and the poor maintenance of the Roman ruins of Pompeii which had led to the collapse of the House of the Gladiators earlier this month.

The plot theory had first been raised by Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who briefed Berlusconi and the government on the documents expected to be leaked telling them that there was 'nothing exceptional'. Yesterday Mr Frattini said:'We will not be commenting on any of these documents as their publication is a crime. We are also looking at a possible criminal investigation against [the founder of WikiLeaks Julian] Assanage. I am worried that a combination of different factors, all put together could damage our national interests and the reputation of Italy,' he said without saying who was behind the attempt.

Berlusconi's government has been in crisis for a month after a series of sleaze scandals involving him and a 18-year-old belly dancer as well as an escort who said she was paid to have sex with him. Next month a crucial confidence vote will be held and if he loses Berlusconi is expected to call a general election in the spring and the suggestion of a 'plot' was seized upon by the opposition as a sign of losing control.

Pierluigi Bersani, of the Democratic Left, said:'This is proof that the executive no longer exists and is just trying to create dangerous instability.' While his colleague Emanuele Fiano said:'The government should not invent theories about non existent conspiracy plots to cover up its ineffectiveness.' In a front page editorial La Repubblica newspaper wrote the plot theory was 'fruit of madmen who had invaded the Prime Minister's office' and who were 'using it to regain consensus and prepare for an election campaign.'

Berlusconi is confident of winning next month's crucial vote although an opinion poll in Corriere Della Sera showed that if they were voting MP's 61 per cent of those asked said they would not back him.

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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Clinton quips: You should hear what they say about us
29 November 2010

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Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday sought to downplay the gravity of a massive leak of secret US cables revealing candid assessments of foreign leaders -- by joking that their opinions of US officials were worse.

"I can tell you that in my conversations, at least one of my counterparts said to me, 'Well don't worry about it, you should see what we say about you,'" Clinton told reporters.

Clinton acknowledged talking with several top diplomats at the weekend in what could be seen as damage control in the wake of the publication of some quarter million US documents by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

"This is well understood in the diplomatic community as part of the give and take and I would hope that we will be able to move beyond this and back to the business of working together on behalf of our common goals."

Her joke was the only moment of levity in comments to reporters at the State Department in which said the United States "deeply regrets" the release of the confidential documents, and that such action amounted to an "attack" on the international community.

Washington was left red-faced by some of the embarrassingly frank assessments in the leaked documents. One described Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader," while another said Germany's Angela Merkel was "risk averse and rarely creative."

The US embassy in Russia referred to Vladimir Putin as an "alpha dog" who made all the decisions in the Russian president's place. It vividly added that President Dmitry Medvedev -- who one dispatch said often looked indecisive and pale -- simply "plays Robin to Putin's Batman."

And one of the documents released by WikiLeaks said veteran Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi almost never travels without his "voluptuous blond" Ukrainian nurse.

Source: breitbart.

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Main revelations of WikiLeaks diplomatic cables
30 November 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government said it would tighten security after WikiLeaks released more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables that include candid views of foreign leaders and blunt assessments of security threats.

Here are the main revelations in the cables:

IRAN

-- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program and is reported to have advised Washington to "cut off the head of the snake" while there was still time.

-- The Bahraini king told U.S. diplomats that Iran's nuclear program should be halted by any means, and the crown prince of the emirate of Abu Dhabi saw "the logic of war dominating" when it comes to dealing with the Iranian threat.

-- Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia offered to promote energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, U.S. diplomatic cables said.

-- The top diplomatic adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a senior U.S. diplomat last year that Iran was a "fascist" state and the time had come to decide further steps.

-- A non-Iranian businessman traveling often to Tehran told U.S. diplomats last year one of his contacts had been told by former President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had terminal leukemia and could die in a few months.

-- Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe, and the United States is concerned Iran is using those rockets as "building blocks" to build longer-range missiles.

CHINA

-- China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the U.S. Embassy in January, as part of a computer sabotage campaign carried out by government operatives, private experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into U.S. government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

KOREA

-- Some Chinese officials do not regard North Korea as a useful ally and would not intervene if the reclusive state collapsed, a South Korean official told the U.S. ambassador to Seoul citing conversations with high-level officials in Beijing.

-- In April 2009, He Yafei, then China's vice foreign minister, told a U.S. diplomat in Beijing that North Korea acted like a "spoiled child" to attract U.S. attention through steps such as firing a three-stage rocket over Japan.

-- U.S. and South Korean officials discussed the prospects for a unified Korea should the North's economic troubles and political transition lead the state to implode.

-- The South Koreans considered commercial inducements to China to "help salve" Chinese concerns about living with a reunified Korea that is in a "benign alliance" with Washington, according to the American ambassador to Seoul.

UNITED NATIONS

The State Department asked U.S. envoys at U.N. headquarters and elsewhere to procure credit card and frequent flyer numbers, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and other data from foreign diplomats and top U.N. officials, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

RUSSIA

-- Russian Prime Minister Russia's Vladimir Putin is an "alpha-dog" ruler of a deeply corrupt state dominated by its security forces, U.S. diplomatic documents said. By contrast, President Dmitry Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman.

AFGHANISTAN

-- U.S. diplomats described Afghan President Hamid Karzai as "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts," but was easily swayed by conspiracy theories. They said his brother was widely believed to be corrupt and a drug trafficker.

PAKISTAN

-- Since 2007, the United States has mounted a secret and so far unsuccessful effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor out of fear it could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.

AL QAEDA

-- Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar was the "worst in the region" in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.

GUANTANAMO

-- American diplomats have bargained with other countries to help empty the Guantanamo Bay prison by resettling detainees. Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Barack Obama, and Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees. In another case, accepting more prisoners was described as "a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe," a cable said.

TURKEY

-- U.S. diplomats cast doubts on the reliability of NATO ally Turkey, portraying its leadership as divided and permeated by Islamists and said advisers to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had "little understanding of politics beyond Ankara.

ITALY

-- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is "feckless, vain and ineffective" and his "frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest," a U.S. diplomat said.

SYRIA

-- The United States has failed to prevent Syria supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel, the cables said.

ARGENTINA

-- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, asking U.S. diplomats to investigate whether she was on medication.

(Compiled by Jon Hemming)
Source: Reuters.

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Turkmen leader "not very bright": leaked U.S. cable
2 December 2010

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Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Turkmenistan's leader is described as "not very bright" and "a practiced liar" in a cable from the U.S. embassy in the gas-rich Central Asian state that was published on Thursday by the website WikiLeaks.

Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov does not like the United States, Iran or Turkey, but is fond of China, said the cable. Fastidiously neat, he also once insisted that all men who worked in his dental clinic had creases in their trousers. The cable, sent on December 18, 2009 by then Charge d'Affaires Sylvia Reed Curran, did not reveal the identity of the source who delivered the withering analysis of the Turkmen leader. Curran is now Consul General in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

The classified message, part of the biggest ever leak of U.S. diplomatic documents, is sure to embarrass Washington at a time when U.S. firms are seeking to strike deals to develop lucrative oil and gas deposits in the former Soviet republic. "Since he's not a very bright guy, our source offered, he is suspicious of a lot of people," the U.S. diplomat was quoted as relaying in the cable published by Britain's Guardian newspaper. It said he was "not fond of" two leaders of nearby Central Asian states, Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Several calls to Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry for comment on the contents of the cables went unanswered.

In another cable, sent by Curran on October 23, 2008, unnamed expatriate sources were quoted as saying Berdymukhamedov had set sail on a 60 million euro presidential yacht. The president had wanted a yacht similar to that owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, but had to settle for a smaller model that would be able to fit through canals leading to the Caspian Sea, the cable quoted a source as saying.

'THE DECIDER'

Turkmenistan, holder of the world's fourth-largest gas reserves, was largely isolated under the eccentric rule of Berdymukhamedov's predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died four years ago after imposing a formidable personality cult.

Berdymukhamedov is now the "decider" in Turkmenistan, the 2009 cable read. "Since his word is often law, it is beneficial to understand what makes him tick." The source said Berdymukhamedov "did not like America, Iran or Turkey, but likes China." Curran qualified this by saying he probably viewed countries in terms of what they could do for him and Turkmenistan, rather than "liking or disliking."

Turkmenistan fell out with Russia, its traditional gas market, after a pipeline rupture last year and is seeking to diversify its energy sales to China -- which has supplied billions of dollars in loans -- as well as Iran and Europe. U.S. oil companies Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips and TXOil Ltd, chaired by a younger brother of former U.S. President George W. Bush, were named by state media in August as preferred bidders for oil blocks in the Caspian Sea.

The cable also quoted the unidentified source as describing Berdymukhamedov as "vain, suspicious, guarded, strict, very conservative, a practiced liar, a good actor and vindictive."

He also, said the cable, never forgets.

(Reporting by Moscow bureau; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Source: Reuters.

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Foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys', WikiLeaks cable reveals

Episode fuelled Afghan demands that private security firms be brought much more under government control

by Jon Boone
Thursday 2 December 2010

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WikiLeaks cables show Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar was in a panic over the scandal involving foreign contractors. Atmar resigned in June this year. Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young "dancing boys" to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and "quash" the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would "endanger lives" and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public.

The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz.

There is a long tradition of young boys dressing up as girls and dancing for men in Afghanistan, an activity that sometimes crosses the line into child abuse with Afghans keeping boys as possessions. Although rarely discussed or criticised in Afghanistan, it is conceivable that the involvement of foreigners could have turned into a major public scandal. Atmar himself warned about public anger towards contractors, who he said "do not have many friends" and said they needed far greater oversight. He also said tighter control was needed over Afghan employees of such companies as well.

"He was convinced that the Kunduz incident, and other events where mentors had obtained drugs, could not have happened without Afghan participation," the cable said.

Two Afghan policemen and nine other Afghans were arrested as part of investigations into a crime described by Atmar as "purchasing a service from a child", which the cable said was against both sharia law and the civil code. He insisted that a journalist looking into the incident should be told that the story would endanger lives, and that the US should try to quash the story. But US diplomats cautioned against an "overreaction" and said that approaching the journalist involved would only make the story worse. "A widely-anticipated newspaper article on the Kunduz scandal has not appeared but, if there is too much noise that may prompt the journalist to publish," the cable said.

The strategy appeared to work when an article was published in July by the Washington Post about the incident, which made little of the affair, saying it was an incident of "questionable management oversight" in which foreign DynCorp workers "hired a teenage boy to perform a tribal dance at a company farewell party".

In fact, the episode was causing palpitations at the top of government, including in the presidential palace. The cable records: "Atmar said that President Karzai had told him that his (Atmar's) 'prestige' was in play in management of the Kunduz DynCorp matter and another recent event in which Blackwater contractors mistakenly killed several Afghan citizens. The President had asked him 'Where is the justice?'"

According to a separate cable both incidents helped fuel Afghan government demands "to hold a tighter rein over [private security companies]" — a demand that also led Atmar to offer that the overstretched police should take over protection for military convoys in the south of Afghanistan.

Earlier this year Karzai issued a decree calling for the dissolution of all private security companies by the end of the year, an edict that has since been slightly watered down. In a meeting between Atmar and the assistant ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, the US diplomat said he was deeply upset by the incident and that the embassy was considering Afghan demands that the US military should beginning overseeing the DynCrop operations.

Privately, however, they knew that such an arrangement was not "legally possible under the DynCorp contract".

Source: Guardian UK.

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Bradley Manning is not an argument for DADT

Repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' must not be stalled because the alleged source of the WikiLeaks US embassy cables is gay

by Philip Dayle
Thursday 2 December 2010

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Bradley Manning, the US army intelligence analyst who is alleged to have copied the diplomatic cables and passed them on to WikiLeaks. Photograph: AP

The closing arguments for repealing DADT are unassailable. The American public supports repeal; the military top brass has come out in favour of congressional changes; and rank-and-file servicemen and servicewomen have been polled and the overwhelming majority (70%) of them are comfortable serving alongside openly gay men and lesbians. The substantive points have already been canvassed in umpteen studies, with the recent Pentagon report geared towards implementing repeal in a manner that retains unit cohesion. The Obama administration, with maddening diligence, has flattered every bit of the military's penchant for process.

Aside from the legislative logjam in Congress, the issue itself seemed finally to have been put beyond contention this week — until the WikiLeaks dump.

It turns out that Bradley Manning, the US army intelligence analyst widely reported as the likely source for the leak and currently in military custody awaiting court martial, is gay. He is charged with "transferring classified data" and "delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source". Arrested and held since May, Manning faces a prison term of up to 52 years, if convicted.

Opponents of DADT repeal are wasting no time to connect what they see as the dots. At a moment of hyper-patriotism, with one Republican presidential hopeful calling for the execution of those who exposed classified material, a new argument has arisen: homosexual men and women are potentially subversive and open to nefarious influences. Above all, they are unpatriotic. No way can DADT be repealed.

In a profile last summer, the New York Times sought to paint a picture of Manning's psychological makeup. DADT was part of the background of this story. A small-town boy from Bible-belt Oklahoma, Manning fretted about fitting into the straitened ways of the military. Friends worried about his state of mind caused by a lack of adjustment and seeming disaffection. He is said to have eventually found intelligence work liberating, making friends, falling in love and developing a political voice. So far, so good.

Except that, according to the narrative, Manning at some point fell in with a bunch of hackers and lefties who were ideologically supportive of a radical freedom of information agenda. His brooding moroseness — which has been imputed to his homosexual orientation — led him to display erratic behaviour. Carelessly, he bragged to a blogger: "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack." He told people that he "wouldn't mind going to prison for the rest of [his] life" as long as his pictures were "plastered all over the world press". At the same time, he fretted about being "emotionally fractured", a "wreck" and "self-medicating like crazy".

For what he is alleged to have done, Manning will face a military court where the law will take its course. Based on his published statements, people are entitled to weave an image of his persona as they see fit. But the line of conservative attack — to say that Manning's supposed dysfunctional behaviour is evidence for the argument to bar gays from serving openly in the military — is preposterous.

First, there is no proof that whatever disaffection Manning harboured was connected in any way to his sexuality. Divining how people become radicalised is not a scientific endeavour. If Manning did engage in subversive activities, his motivation for doing so does not necessarily have anything to do with his sexuality, simply because he is gay.

But even if — hypothetically — Manning did become disaffected with the military establishment because of his impatience with the hypocrisy of DADT (he did, apparently, participate in a gay pride march, calling for equality on "the battlefield"), the conclusion should surely be not that DADT has merit after all, but that repeal of the flawed policy would remove it, once and for all, as a source of grievance.

Ultimately, though, the issues concerning DADT repeal are not complicated — and have nothing to do with Bradley Manning. Attempts to drag the WikiLeaks imbroglio into this debate are a red herring. At its core, the arguments for repeal of DADT are about fundamental human rights — and whether the US government is prepared to continue state-supported homophobia and discrimination. Those who resist reform are on the wrong side of history.

Source: Guardian UK.

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WikiLeaks cables: Berlusconi 'profited from secret deals' with Putin

Russian PM allegedly promised Italian leader a cut of energy contracts, leaked US dispatches say

by Rob Evans, Luke Harding and John Hooper
Thursday 2 December 2010

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Wikileaks cables reveal allegations of corrupt financial links between Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Corrado Giambalvo/AP

US diplomats have reported startling suspicions that Silvio Berlusconi could be "profiting personally and handsomely" from secret deals with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, according to cables released by WikiLeaks. Exasperated by Berlusconi's pro-Russian behaviour, American embassy staff detail allegations circulating in Rome that the Italian leader has been promised a cut of huge energy contracts. The two men are known to be personally close, but this is the first time allegations of a financial link have surfaced.

Hillary Clinton's state department in Washington sent a special request to the Rome embassy this year, asking for extra intelligence-gathering on the allegations about the men: "What personal investments, if any, do they have that might drive their foreign or economic policies?".

References to Berlusconi's "financially enriching relationship" originated both from members of his own political party and from the hostile government of Georgia, according to the leaked cables. The US ambassador in Rome, Ronald Spogli, first reported the claims in a series of dispatches in 2008-09. He said the prime minister had taken "single-handed" control of Italy's dealings with Moscow, with the over-riding aim of pleasing the Russian leader. Berlusconi acted as a "mouthpiece" for Putin, he reported, supporting him in public when Russia was being criticised.

Personal ties between the two were close, "with Putin's family spending long visits at the Berlusconi family mansion in Sardinia at Berlusconi's expense". Berlusconi in turn has the rare privilege of being invited to Putin's dacha in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for what the embassy speculated on one occasion would be a "blow-out party". A contact in Berlusconi's office told the embassy of "exchanges of lavish gifts".

In January 2009, according to the leaked cables, Spogli wrote it was "hard to determine" the basis of the Berlusconi-Putin friendship. "Berlusconi admires Putin's macho, decisive and authoritarian governing style, which the Italian PM believes matches his own". However, "contacts in both the opposition centre-left Partito Democratico and Berlusconi's own PdL party … have hinted at a more nefarious connection. They believe that Berlusconi and his cronies are profiting personally and handsomely from many of the energy deals between Italy and Russia." Spogli continued: "The Georgian ambassador in Rome has told us that the government of Georgia believes Putin has promised Berlusconi a percentage of profits from any pipelines developed by Gazprom in co-ordination with ENI."

The Italian energy conglomerate is partially owned by the Italian government. It works in close collaboration with state-controlled Gazprom, the energy giant which sells Russian gas and oil abroad.

Details of the allegations began to surface last night and were covered extensively by the Italian media this morning. Berlusconi denied the claims in the cables. Currently on a visit to Kazakhstan, he told the Ansa news agency: "The [United States] is quite clear that I have absolutely no interest in any other country; that there are absolutely no personal interests, and that I only look after the interests of the Italians and my country."

But his denial did not satisfy opposition representatives who called for him to make a statement to parliament. Dario Franceschini, chief whip in the lower house of Italy's biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, defied Bersluconi to deny the allegations. "We hope that those claims are not true. In any event, the prime minister should come to parliament to deny them next week," he said.

Though the episode is not referred to in the cables, Berlusconi has publicly counselled Italians to buy ENI shares. On 10 October 2008, when the US credit crunch was at its height, Italy's prime minister surprised financial observers. According to Ansa, he told a press conference in Naples: "It's the moment to buy ENI and [another Italian energy giant] Enel, both of which are undervalued." In particular, he said, ENI "will this year make extraordinary profits".

The private views of Georgian government sources were accurately relayed by the US embassy, according to Guardian inquiries. But neither Georgia nor the US record any concrete proof of their suspicion.

Spogli wrote: "Whenever we raise the issue of Russia and the P with our contacts in PdL, Berlusconi's own party, they have usually pointed us to Valentino Valentini, a member of parliament and somewhat shadowy figure who operates as Berlusconi's key man on Russia, albeit with no staff or even a secretary. Valentini, a Russian-speaker who travels to Russia several times a month, frequently appears at Berlusconi's side when he meets other world leaders. What he does in Moscow during his frequent visits is unclear but he is widely rumoured to be looking after Berlusconi's business interests in Russia."

Elsewhere the US describes Valentini as Berlusconi's "unofficial intermediary/bagman".

After the allegations were published, Valentini dismissed them as "corridor chatter". He said: "Leaving aside certain mischievous headlines, you only have to read in their entirety the reports leaked by WikiLeaks to understand what they are: [the] corridor chatter of politics and diplomacy; partial and inaccurate information that has been raised to the level of confidential news. In fact, there is nothing mysterious about the relations between Italy and Russia, as I have several times had the opportunity to argue directly to ambassador Spogli in the course of numerous lunches at his residence, Villa Taverna."

Valentini said that Spogli had omitted to note in his reports that until 2006 he had an official position representing Italian companies in Russia, where "it is known to all that I have good relations and friendships".

The relationship between Putin and Berlusconi was also the subject of a long dispatch sent in November 2008 by the US ambassador to Condoleezza Rice, the then secretary of state, to prepare her for a meeting with the Italian prime minister.

"Berlusconi's close personal (and, some suspect, financial) relationship with Putin has led him to champion unquestioningly every initiative the Kremlin has rolled out. Italy's Russia policy is his personal game, one which he conducts on a tactical basis to gain the trust and favour of his Russian interlocutors. He consistently rejects the strategic advice of his demoralised, resource-starved and increasingly irrelevant foreign ministry in favour of his business cronies, many of whom are deeply dug into Russia's European energy strategy."

Italy's foreign ministry contained "only one full-time diplomat assigned to cover Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union". In the office of the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister, the official responsible for Russia was "a mid-level diplomat who is in the process of being transferred". He added: "No replacement is likely to be named."

An Italian contact later told the Americans that they "only learn of conversations between [prime minister] Berlusconi and [prime minister] Putin after the fact, and with little detail or background", leaving diplomats "in the dark". Spogli reported in another cable that Berlusconi conducted "his own brand of foreign policy … as a way of gaining favour with his Russian interlocutors, with whom many (including his own party officials) suspect he has a personally and financially enriching relationship".

The ambassador similarly briefed Dick Cheney, the then US vice-president, before his visit to Rome, that Putin and Berlusconi shared "mutual commercial interests".

In June last year, President Obama was briefed ahead of Berlusconi's arrival in Washington. Elizabeth Dibble, deputy chief of mission, reported: "Dependence on Russian energy, lucrative and frequently non-transparent business dealings between Italy and Russia, and a close personal relationship between Berlusconi and Putin have distorted [Berlusconi's] view to the point that he believes much of the friction between the west and Russia has been caused by the US and Nato."

US diplomats repeatedly make clear their anger at "a string of inflammatory" declarations by Berlusconi in favour of Putin and urging a softer line with Russia. Berlusconi, they say, has "tried to derail US-led efforts to contain Moscow's worst instincts". Although a "valuable ally", in other respects, Berlusconi's continual support for Moscow is seen as "troubling".

In late 2008, Spogli wrote that Berlusconi's "overwhelming desire is to remain in Putin's good graces and he has frequently voiced opinions and declarations that have been passed to him directly by Putin". As an example, he added, after the war between Russia and Georgia that year, "Berlusconi began (and continues) to insist that Georgia was the aggressor".

Berlusconi has long been Putin's most ardent friend in Europe, and sees himself as the man best able to explain Russia's leader to an often perplexed west. Such is their friendship that transcripts of an audio tape recorded in Berlusconi's Rome villa capture the Italian leader speaking lucidly about "Putin's bed".

The bed was the scene of an alleged intimate encounter in November 2008 between Berlusconi and a high-class call girl, Patrizia D'Addario.

Berlusconi: "I'm going to take a shower too. And if you finish before me, wait for me on the big bed."

D'Addario: "Which bed? Putin's?"

Berlusconi: "Putin's."

D'Addario: "Oh, how cute. The one with the curtains."

Soon after his release from hospital in December 2009, Berlusconi appeared wearing a sweatshirt with the Russian Federation double-headed eagle logo, an apparent gift from Putin. But the Berlusconi-Putin friendship has had serious consequences. In March this year, Walter Litvinenko — the father of the murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko — complained that Berlusconi had blocked his bid to receive asylum in Italy. Litvinenko arrived in Italy with his wife and other relatives in April 2008. Despite the family's well-founded fears that they would face persecution or worse at home, the Italian authorities failed to process their claim. The Litvinenkos also complained of harassment by the Italian police.

"We have fallen victim to a political game," Litvinenko told the Guardian in March. "Berlusconi is no better than Putin. All European governments have been flirting with Putin. Berlusconi's dependence on him, and on Russian gas, means that we don't get asylum."

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:12 am 
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WikiLeaks cables: Berlusconi 'profited from secret deals' with Putin

Russian PM allegedly promised Italian leader a cut of energy contracts, leaked US dispatches say

by Rob Evans, Luke Harding and John Hooper
Thursday 2 December 2010

Image
Wikileaks cables reveal allegations of corrupt financial links between Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Photograph: Corrado Giambalvo/AP

US diplomats have reported startling suspicions that Silvio Berlusconi could be "profiting personally and handsomely" from secret deals with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, according to cables released by WikiLeaks. Exasperated by Berlusconi's pro-Russian behaviour, American embassy staff detail allegations circulating in Rome that the Italian leader has been promised a cut of huge energy contracts. The two men are known to be personally close, but this is the first time allegations of a financial link have surfaced.

Hillary Clinton's state department in Washington sent a special request to the Rome embassy this year, asking for extra intelligence-gathering on the allegations about the men: "What personal investments, if any, do they have that might drive their foreign or economic policies?".

References to Berlusconi's "financially enriching relationship" originated both from members of his own political party and from the hostile government of Georgia, according to the leaked cables. The US ambassador in Rome, Ronald Spogli, first reported the claims in a series of dispatches in 2008-09. He said the prime minister had taken "single-handed" control of Italy's dealings with Moscow, with the over-riding aim of pleasing the Russian leader. Berlusconi acted as a "mouthpiece" for Putin, he reported, supporting him in public when Russia was being criticised.

Personal ties between the two were close, "with Putin's family spending long visits at the Berlusconi family mansion in Sardinia at Berlusconi's expense". Berlusconi in turn has the rare privilege of being invited to Putin's dacha in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for what the embassy speculated on one occasion would be a "blow-out party". A contact in Berlusconi's office told the embassy of "exchanges of lavish gifts".

In January 2009, according to the leaked cables, Spogli wrote it was "hard to determine" the basis of the Berlusconi-Putin friendship. "Berlusconi admires Putin's macho, decisive and authoritarian governing style, which the Italian PM believes matches his own". However, "contacts in both the opposition centre-left Partito Democratico and Berlusconi's own PdL party … have hinted at a more nefarious connection. They believe that Berlusconi and his cronies are profiting personally and handsomely from many of the energy deals between Italy and Russia." Spogli continued: "The Georgian ambassador in Rome has told us that the government of Georgia believes Putin has promised Berlusconi a percentage of profits from any pipelines developed by Gazprom in co-ordination with ENI."

The Italian energy conglomerate is partially owned by the Italian government. It works in close collaboration with state-controlled Gazprom, the energy giant which sells Russian gas and oil abroad.

Details of the allegations began to surface last night and were covered extensively by the Italian media this morning. Berlusconi denied the claims in the cables. Currently on a visit to Kazakhstan, he told the Ansa news agency: "The [United States] is quite clear that I have absolutely no interest in any other country; that there are absolutely no personal interests, and that I only look after the interests of the Italians and my country."

But his denial did not satisfy opposition representatives who called for him to make a statement to parliament. Dario Franceschini, chief whip in the lower house of Italy's biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, defied Bersluconi to deny the allegations. "We hope that those claims are not true. In any event, the prime minister should come to parliament to deny them next week," he said.

Though the episode is not referred to in the cables, Berlusconi has publicly counselled Italians to buy ENI shares. On 10 October 2008, when the US credit crunch was at its height, Italy's prime minister surprised financial observers. According to Ansa, he told a press conference in Naples: "It's the moment to buy ENI and [another Italian energy giant] Enel, both of which are undervalued." In particular, he said, ENI "will this year make extraordinary profits".

The private views of Georgian government sources were accurately relayed by the US embassy, according to Guardian inquiries. But neither Georgia nor the US record any concrete proof of their suspicion.

Spogli wrote: "Whenever we raise the issue of Russia and the P with our contacts in PdL, Berlusconi's own party, they have usually pointed us to Valentino Valentini, a member of parliament and somewhat shadowy figure who operates as Berlusconi's key man on Russia, albeit with no staff or even a secretary. Valentini, a Russian-speaker who travels to Russia several times a month, frequently appears at Berlusconi's side when he meets other world leaders. What he does in Moscow during his frequent visits is unclear but he is widely rumoured to be looking after Berlusconi's business interests in Russia."

Elsewhere the US describes Valentini as Berlusconi's "unofficial intermediary/bagman".

After the allegations were published, Valentini dismissed them as "corridor chatter". He said: "Leaving aside certain mischievous headlines, you only have to read in their entirety the reports leaked by WikiLeaks to understand what they are: [the] corridor chatter of politics and diplomacy; partial and inaccurate information that has been raised to the level of confidential news. In fact, there is nothing mysterious about the relations between Italy and Russia, as I have several times had the opportunity to argue directly to ambassador Spogli in the course of numerous lunches at his residence, Villa Taverna."

Valentini said that Spogli had omitted to note in his reports that until 2006 he had an official position representing Italian companies in Russia, where "it is known to all that I have good relations and friendships".

The relationship between Putin and Berlusconi was also the subject of a long dispatch sent in November 2008 by the US ambassador to Condoleezza Rice, the then secretary of state, to prepare her for a meeting with the Italian prime minister.

"Berlusconi's close personal (and, some suspect, financial) relationship with Putin has led him to champion unquestioningly every initiative the Kremlin has rolled out. Italy's Russia policy is his personal game, one which he conducts on a tactical basis to gain the trust and favour of his Russian interlocutors. He consistently rejects the strategic advice of his demoralised, resource-starved and increasingly irrelevant foreign ministry in favour of his business cronies, many of whom are deeply dug into Russia's European energy strategy."

Italy's foreign ministry contained "only one full-time diplomat assigned to cover Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union". In the office of the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister, the official responsible for Russia was "a mid-level diplomat who is in the process of being transferred". He added: "No replacement is likely to be named."

An Italian contact later told the Americans that they "only learn of conversations between [prime minister] Berlusconi and [prime minister] Putin after the fact, and with little detail or background", leaving diplomats "in the dark". Spogli reported in another cable that Berlusconi conducted "his own brand of foreign policy … as a way of gaining favour with his Russian interlocutors, with whom many (including his own party officials) suspect he has a personally and financially enriching relationship".

The ambassador similarly briefed Dick Cheney, the then US vice-president, before his visit to Rome, that Putin and Berlusconi shared "mutual commercial interests".

In June last year, President Obama was briefed ahead of Berlusconi's arrival in Washington. Elizabeth Dibble, deputy chief of mission, reported: "Dependence on Russian energy, lucrative and frequently non-transparent business dealings between Italy and Russia, and a close personal relationship between Berlusconi and Putin have distorted [Berlusconi's] view to the point that he believes much of the friction between the west and Russia has been caused by the US and Nato."

US diplomats repeatedly make clear their anger at "a string of inflammatory" declarations by Berlusconi in favour of Putin and urging a softer line with Russia. Berlusconi, they say, has "tried to derail US-led efforts to contain Moscow's worst instincts". Although a "valuable ally", in other respects, Berlusconi's continual support for Moscow is seen as "troubling".

In late 2008, Spogli wrote that Berlusconi's "overwhelming desire is to remain in Putin's good graces and he has frequently voiced opinions and declarations that have been passed to him directly by Putin". As an example, he added, after the war between Russia and Georgia that year, "Berlusconi began (and continues) to insist that Georgia was the aggressor".

Berlusconi has long been Putin's most ardent friend in Europe, and sees himself as the man best able to explain Russia's leader to an often perplexed west. Such is their friendship that transcripts of an audio tape recorded in Berlusconi's Rome villa capture the Italian leader speaking lucidly about "Putin's bed".

The bed was the scene of an alleged intimate encounter in November 2008 between Berlusconi and a high-class call girl, Patrizia D'Addario.

Berlusconi: "I'm going to take a shower too. And if you finish before me, wait for me on the big bed."

D'Addario: "Which bed? Putin's?"

Berlusconi: "Putin's."

D'Addario: "Oh, how cute. The one with the curtains."

Soon after his release from hospital in December 2009, Berlusconi appeared wearing a sweatshirt with the Russian Federation double-headed eagle logo, an apparent gift from Putin. But the Berlusconi-Putin friendship has had serious consequences. In March this year, Walter Litvinenko — the father of the murdered Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko — complained that Berlusconi had blocked his bid to receive asylum in Italy. Litvinenko arrived in Italy with his wife and other relatives in April 2008. Despite the family's well-founded fears that they would face persecution or worse at home, the Italian authorities failed to process their claim. The Litvinenkos also complained of harassment by the Italian police.

"We have fallen victim to a political game," Litvinenko told the Guardian in March. "Berlusconi is no better than Putin. All European governments have been flirting with Putin. Berlusconi's dependence on him, and on Russian gas, means that we don't get asylum."

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: The WikiLeaks story
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:13 am 
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Another US company pulls plug on WikiLeaks
2 December 2010

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View of the WikiLeaks homepage taken in Washington.

A US company whose software was being used by WikiLeaks to create and display charts of its cache of secret US diplomatic cables said Thursday that it had pulled the plug on the whistleblower website.

Tableau Software said it cut WikiLeaks off on Wednesday, the same day that Amazon booted the website from its servers, in response to a public request from Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Tableau Software said WikiLeaks had published data visualizations of the more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables obtained by the site to Tableau Public, a free service offered by the company. "Wednesday afternoon, Tableau Software removed data visualizations published by WikiLeaks to Tableau Public," the company said in a blog post.

"Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available," it said. "Furthermore, if we receive a complaint about a particular set of data, we retain the right to investigate the situation and remove any offending data, if necessary," the Seattle-based company said. "Given the controversy around the WikiLeaks data, we've closely followed the debate about who actually has the rights to the leaked data," it said.

Tableau Software said the decision to no longer host the WikiLeaks charts was "not an easy decision, nor one that we took lightly." "This will inevitably be met with mixed reaction," the company said. "However, our terms of service were created to ensure responsible use of data."

Tableau Software had received about three dozen comments on its blog Thursday afternoon, most of them negative.

"This act of cowardice and capitulation in the face of government censorship makes it impossible for me to use your services with a clear conscience," said a message from "veelo2." "I'm very disappointed by your decision."

Senator Lieberman welcomed Amazon's decision on Wednesday to no longer offer its Web-hosting services to WikiLeaks and called on other companies not to cooperate with the site. "No responsible company -- whether American or foreign -- should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials," he said.

Source: Breitbart.

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