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Wikileaks Releases Diplomatic Cables, Draws Criticism

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 30, 2010 2:30PM

2010_07_27_wikileaks.jpg Whistleblowing information clearinghouse Wikileaks began releasing over a quarter million documents on Sunday. The documents contain cables between the U.S. State Department and 274 other embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions across the globe dating as far back as 1966. The data dump is seven times larger than “The Iraq War Logs,” the last information release from Wikileaks. So far, the website has released a few hundred documents to the New York Times, the Guardian UK and other news organizations, who then removed names and other items that could put individuals at risk.

Condemnation from officials, politicians and pundits came swiftly. Hilary Clinton called the information release an attack on America and the international community. Ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security Peter Kin (R - NY) called Wikileaks a “clear and present danger to America” and wants Wikileaks labeled a terrorist organization. Sarah Palin stated Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda” and National Review columnist Bing West said whoever leaked the documents should be given the death sentence.

Much like the last Wikileaks information dump, there has yet to be anything “explosive” in the cables and there hasn't been any evidence yet the revelations contained in the cables have done actual harm. The documents that have already been analyzed however, do reveal some startling details about U.S. foreign policy. According to what's been released so far, several Saudi leaders urged the U.S. to bomb Iran; dozens of civilians have been killed in U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, which the Yemeni government took responsibility for; and the brother of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who owned a restaurant in Lakeview, is suspected to be a corrupt drug trafficker.

It will take weeks and months to sift through all of the documents Wikileaks will release. While plenty of officials and pundits have claimed that this could damage the way countries work together diplomatically, we're left with almost the same statement we made last time: The cornerstone of democracy is the ability to hold our officials accountable for the direction of the country. If we're to perform that essential democratic function, we need to be an informed populace.