Cables quote Kissinger as joking about breaking the law, violating Constitution

It was a dark era in U.S. history.  The homeland was rife with protests.  The communist Soviet Union was threatening nuclear action.  Israel was at war with Egypt and Syria.  And in Asia scores of young Americans were dying in the bloody stained jungles of Vietnam.

I. Wikileaks Parses, Publishes Late Vietnam-era Cables Collection

Wikileaks and its controversial editor-in-chief Julian Assange have scoured recently published diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department from this period --1973-1976.  After meticulous script-driven extraction of the raw data, the leaks site is advertising some of its controversial findings in a release called the "Kissinger Cables".

In one cable titular U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger quips, "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer."

Of course that quote may be a bit out of context; but it's certainly a bad joke at best.

Kissinger wide
U.S. SoS Henry Kissinger is quoted joking about illegal actions. [Image Source: Foreign Policy]

To build its searchable database Wikileaks combed through 1.7 million declassified PDF files, which totaled over 380 gigabytes of data and 700 million words.  The records were released via a declassification/publication process, that's supposed to occur within 25 years of their publication, according to U.S. State Department policy.

The cables join previous leaks in the central WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) database.

Wikileaks PlusD

The publication process of State Department cables is initiated by the State Department declassifications and releases.  The cables are then passed off to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for final review.

II. Documents for 1976-1988 are Behind Schedule

The leaks site points out that the cables for 1976 through 1988 should be out, but that the release is 12 years "behind schedule."  But Wikileaks cites a 2006 review by US National Security Archives, an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at George Washington University, which suggests the delay was not entirely accidental.  The review found that the Bush administration had reclassified 55,000 releasable pages.  And reportedly, that process has been ongoing under President Obama's regime in the years since the review.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange jabs, "The [Kissinger Cables] collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on Earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published.  The US administration cannot be trusted to maintain the history of its interactions with the world. Fortunately, an organisation with an unbroken record in resisting censorship attempts now has a copy."

Julian Assange
Julian Assange has accused the U.S. government and global media of a grand conspiracy. 
[Getty Images/AFP]

Unlike a past release of current State Department classified cables, which drew a harsh rebuke from U.S. politicians and charges for alleged-leaker U.S. Private Bradley Manning, the current release was more of an exercise in targeted data mining.  While it's likely to ruffle feathers, it did not involve gaining any sort of unauthorized access.

To date over 95 percent of the leaks on Wikileaks have targeted the U.S. individually or in collective activities with its allies.  While these leaks have exposed some interesting and potentially incriminating details, they also have been at times indiscriminate, releasing sensitive, but not-incriminating documents along with more sensitive releases.

An important on-going question is whether Wikileaks -- which claims it needs tens of millions of dollars yearly to stay online -- is acting as a true whistleblowing site (which typically only publishes incriminating evidence, not sensitive, but immaterial operational details) or as a foreign espionage organization.  That question is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, though, as site founder Julian Assange explicitly refused multiple requests from reporters to identify whether any nation states fund his site or funding levels by nation.

Source: Wikileaks

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