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Wikileaks: The Faucet Has Opened!

By jimstaro - Posted on 28 November 2010

I'll say this again: Sadly it looks like these don't go back far enough, I for one want to know how much it cost this country for the so called 'coalition of the willing' for the invasion of Iraq, and there's still plenty that needs to be added to what has already come out as to the previous admin!!

US embassy cables: browse the database

Sunday 28 November 2010 - Use our interactive guide to discover what has been revealed in the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables. Find stories and original documents by country, subject or people Visit to Use Their Interactive Globe and More

"President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world . . ." I have some unclassified corruption to tell about at the US Department of State, which cannot even award a contract for glassware without falling headlong into corruption.

Why? Because we hired a former military guy to supervise a program and to him that meant give our contract to a friend. Or maybe Hillary told him to do it. The bottom-line is that we ended up with a corrupt no-bid padded contract where before we used to have fair and open competition. Senators (from both parties) know, the OIG knows and the under secretary for management knows. So far the only person who has lost a job is me.

Further below is a link for the Wikipedia Web site for the new dataset. And following that part of this post will be an excerpt from on this Wikileaks release, which the FAS is critical about.

Possible errors with the interactive map at the Guardian, UK:

Very nice format, but I just clicked on three locations. First, I tried what I'm guessing is Venezuela and the text or heading, whatever it's called, displayed for this location only says that France and the US exchanged "views on Iran" on Sept. 16th, 2009. The third location I chose is in the US and the text displayed for this shows dates of Nov. 2010, while Wikipedia says that cables date from Dec. 28th, 1966 to Feb. 28th, 2010; not as recent as the month we're now in.

That evidently would need to be cross-checked against the archive that can be downloaded from, and maybe a considerable number of other data displayed at the Guardian, UK, will need cross-checking. If Wikipedia says the most recent cables are of Feb. 2010, then there should be no cables dated more recently than this in this particular dataset of cables.

"Secret US Embassy Cables" had a copy of most of this page on Nov. 28th, but only the article and bar chart part, so it excluded the links for translations (French, Russian, Spanish, and two other languages) and the link for downloading the full of the above Web site as a 7-Zip archive via torrent.

(For people who don't have 7-Zip, which is an excellent freeware archival utility, the Web site is, which is perfectly safe to directly download from; or people can download from as well as, safely, i.e., cleanly. It's a utility that works with many archive formats, including for .rar, with possibly a little limitation for .rar, but still be able to open these and many other archive formats.)

The cables in this dataset date from Dec. 28th, 1966 to Feb. 28th, 2010, which is stated near the end of the short introductory text.

Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.

The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret. (my emphasis)

The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. ...

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.


How to explore the data

Search for events that you remember that happened for example in your country. You can browse by date or search for an origin near you.


Key figures:

* 15,652 secret
* 101,748 confidential
* 133,887 unclassified

* Iraq most discussed country – 15,365 (Cables coming from Iraq – 6,677)
* Ankara, Turkey had most cables coming from it – 7,918
* From Secretary of State office - 8,017

According to the US State Departments labeling system, the most frequent subjects discussed are:

* External political relations – 145,451
* Internal government affairs – 122,896
* Human rights – 55,211
* Economic Conditions – 49,044
* Terrorists and terrorism – 28,801
* UN security council – 6,532

Graphics of the cablegate dataset

* Cables by origin and classification
* Cables by Subject
* Cables by Country
* Cables by Organization
* Cables by Program
* Cables by Topic

(snip - bar chart)

Click here to download full site in single archive.

Please also read our FAQs

So nearly half of these cables were classified as confidential and secret.

What does confidential precisely mean? Who is and who is not permitted to see these? Are foreign governments, representatives thereof, permitted to see these types of documents and cables? Are any American citizens, like certain organizations, the ACLU, f.e., permitted to see these? What about the Congress; are all or only some members of the Congress permitted to see these?

And who is not permitted to see documents and cables classified secret? Is the Congress permitted to see the secret ones?

"Classified information"

"Classified information in the United States"


Accessing classified information

Regardless of sensitivity level, information that is classified may be given only to people who need to know the information. Having a top-secret clearance does not give one access to all documents classified at that level. Rather, people may access classified information only if they are cleared at the information's sensitivity level and have a need to know. In addition, dissemination of information is often compartmentalized, requiring special additional clearance requirements. People with access to one type of compartmentalized information may, for that reason alone, be denied access to other compartmentalized information. People who need access to the most sensitive intelligence information hold a TS/SCI (Top-Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance. Special clearances are required for access to cryptographic and nuclear secrets. In addition, there are Special Access Programs, or "SAPs", that restrict access to all information relating to that program or project to a limited number of pre-approved people.


Levels of classification used by the U.S. government



This is the second-highest classification. Information is classified secret when its release would cause "serious damage" to national security. Most information that is classified is held at the secret sensitivity.


This is the lowest classification level. It is defined as information that would "damage" national security if disclosed.


Sharing of classified information with other countries

In cases where the United States wishes to share classified information bilaterally (or multilaterally) with a country that has a sharing agreement, the information is marked with "REL" (release) and the three-letter country code.

For example, if the U.S. wanted to release classified information to the government of Canada, it would mark the document "RELCAN". There are also group releases, such as NATO or UKUSA. Those countries would have to maintain the classification of the document at the level originally classified (top secret, secret, etc.).

(snip)'s critical view on the new Wikileaks release:

I don't have an opinion on this FAS article because of not having sufficient related knowledge. People who do have enough or more than enough related knowledge will need to be the ones to analyse the perspective presented in the FAS piece, below, and then make the results of the analysis known. I'll just quote some, around half of the article.

"The Race to Fix the Classification System"
by Steven Aftergood, Nov. 29th, 2010

I got that link from FAS's Secrecy blog, the first entry in it today, and got the link for it from a Wikipedia page linked in the Wikipedia page further above. I was looking for more clarity on who is and is not permitted to see confidential and secret classified US government documents and cables.

This FAS article has links that would be expectable, btw.

The massive disclosure of a quarter million diplomatic records by Wikileaks this weekend underscores the precarious state of the U.S. national security classification system.

The Wikileaks project seems to be, more than anything else, an assault on secrecy. If Wikileaks were most concerned about whistleblowing, it would focus on revealing corruption. If it were concerned with historical truth, it would emphasize the discovery of verifiably true facts. If it were anti-war, it would safeguard, not disrupt, the conduct of diplomatic communications. But instead, what Wikileaks has done is to publish a vast potpourri of records — dazzling, revelatory, true, questionable, embarrassing, or routine — whose only common feature is that they are classified or otherwise restricted.

This may be understood as a reaction to a real problem, namely the fact that by all accounts, the scope of government secrecy in the U.S. (not to mention other countries) has exceeded rational boundaries. Disabling secrecy in the name of transparency would be a sensible goal — if it were true that all secrecy is wrong. But if there is a legitimate role for secrecy in military operations, in intelligence gathering or in diplomatic negotiations, as seems self-evident, then a different approach is called for.

Although it has rarely been front-page news, important progress has been made this year in shifting U.S. government secrecy policy away from its cold war roots, and promoting greater discernment and discrimination in the use of national security classification.

In May, the U.S. government formally disclosed the current size of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal for the first time (5,113 warheads as of September 30, 2009). Declassification of this information, which is integral to future arms control and disarmament efforts, had been sought — and resisted — for decades. That battle for public disclosure has now been won. Also this year, the Report of the Nuclear Posture Review, the basic statement of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, was produced and released in unclassified form for the first time.

In September, the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense revealed the total intelligence budget ($80.1 billion in FY2010) as well as its “national” ($53.1 billion) and military ($27 billion) components. This is a more complete and detailed disclosure of U.S. intelligence spending than has ever been provided before. ...

These are not cosmetic changes. They represent real discontinuities with past practice. ...

In fact, the deepest significance of these disclosures may lie in the fact that they demonstrate the feasibility of effective public advocacy in national security secrecy policy. ...

Of course, efforts to reduce government secrecy have not been uniformly successful. For example, the Obama Administration’s use of the state secrets privilege to derail litigation on sensitive national security topics is indistinguishable from that of the Bush Administration, despite a September 2009 policy change promising “greater accountability” and more limited use of the privilege. Moreover, it appears that the Obama Justice Department has failed to fulfill its own policy of referring to agency Inspectors General any legitimate cases against the government that could not be litigated because of the state secrets privilege. (We are still attempting to confirm and to document that this is indeed the case.) Nor has it offered any other alternative remedy to those who may have been wronged by U.S. government actions concealed by state secrets claims.

But even when the wheels of progress move slowly — or slip into reverse — proponents of greater openness are not helpless. ...


It’s impossible to say whether the race to fix the classification system can be won through our kind of advocacy from the outside and by enlightened self-interest within government. Before that happens, classification itself could be rendered moot and ineffective by leaks, abuse or internal collapse. Or, in a reflexive response to continuing leaks, officials might seek to expand the scope of secrecy rather than focusing it narrowly, while increasing penalties for unauthorized disclosures.

But in the coming year, we see some promise in what is called the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review. ...


Attn: Secrecy News
Federation of American Scientists
1725 DeSales Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

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