Wikileaks Targets U.S. Government With 1970s Diplomacy Memo Database
April 8, 2013 4:24 PM
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
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 "
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.
U.S. SoS Henry Kissinger is quoted joking about illegal actions. [Image Source: Foreign Policy]
To build its searchable database
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)
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
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 has accused the U.S. government and global media of a grand conspiracy.
Unlike a past release of
State Department classified cables
, which drew a
from U.S. politicians and
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
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
-- which claims it needs
tens of millions of dollars yearly to stay online
-- is acting as a true whistleblowing site (which typically
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.
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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