[International Herald Tribune, France]



Folha, Brazil

WikiLeaks: Is It News to Embarrass U.S. Diplomats?


"Does anyone doubt that the Lula government is a 'heap of leftist militants,' as stated in a cable from then-Ambassador Clifford? … the Lula Administration is proud of having leftist militants in its midst, just as the leftist militants are proud to be there. No one needs a foreign ambassador to discover this."


By Clóvis Rossi*



Translated By Brandi Miller


November 29, 2010


Brazil - Folha - Original Article (Portuguese)

Founder, spokesperson and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks Julian Assange: While his organization's latest data dump is more gossip than news, he and WikiLeaks appear to be in much more hot water than they were after releasing Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.  

BBC NEWS AUDIO: 'New York Times' executive editor Bill Keller has justified the newspaper's decision to publish the confidential reports published by WikiLeaks, Nov. 30, 00:02:58RealVideo

The disclosure of secret documents from North American diplomacy by the Web site WikiLeaks, greatly amplified by the consortium comprised of some of the biggest brands in global print journalism, is all a journalistic spectacle.


[Editor's Note: The consortium of newspapers publishing the WikiLeaks data include The New York Times (U.S.), Der Spiegel (Germany), Le Monde (France), El País (Spain), and The Guardian (U.K.)]


As stated by Spain's El País, one of the members of the consortium, "these secret and confidential papers allow us an eye through the keyhole look to discover, for the first time, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering" of United States diplomacy.


In other words, it throws light on the shadows, and light is always a great disinfectant. Too bad there isn't, strictly speaking, anything new. Not at least in what has been released so far by the news magazine Der Spiegel, which is also involved in the operation.


According to the summary written by the creator of the WikiLeaks site, Julian Assange, in a special text for Folha, "the documents show the infiltration of U.S. policy into almost all countries, even those considered 'neutral,' such as Sweden and Switzerland. Embassies closely observe local media, the intelligence service, and the arms and oil industries, and strongly lobby for all kinds of U.S. companies."


Does anyone out there doubt that this is how embassies of the United States work? As a matter of fact, not only U.S. embassies. All global and regional powers work in the exact same way, including Brazil. Of course, the scale may be different because the United States has a global presence.


Or, do you believe that the Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires doesn't send cables (I know it's no longer technically a cable, but it continues to be called one) about political life in Argentina, with value judgments on relevant personalities in the country?


Unless the publications of the consortium have committed a crime against journalism by leaving the most important information for tomorrow or after, that which has been released so far gives the impression that U.S. diplomacy is guided by the media, not vice versa.


For example: the curiosity about a supposed "hidden agenda" of the Muslim prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Whenever I read about Turkey, this expression appears in analyses from specialists or editorials in the Turkish press. The suspicion, therefore, is public, so we can dispense with "bringing our eyes to the keyhole." Furthermore: neither the U.S. Embassy nor the specialists I speak to have been able to discover anything beyond "circumstantial evidence" of this "hidden agenda."


Likewise, one doesn't need a confidential document to know that the primordial drive behind U.S. diplomacy is to stop Iran from obtaining an atomic weapon.


Of course, it's shocking to see the crude manner in which the leaders of Arab nations refer to the need to contain Iran, even by force. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia even preaches cutting off the "head of the snake."


It must be this type of revelation that El País is referring to, because the antipathy of a substantial part of the Arab world toward Iran has frequented newspapers for years. This gives an official stamp to what were, up to now, newspaper articles.


Nor is it a secret that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi throws "wild parties," as one of the leaks says. Or that the Lula government is a "heap of leftist militants," as stated in a cable from then-Ambassador Clifford Sobel and recovered by Fernando Rodrigues - another beautiful piece of journalism from Folha.


Setting aside the "heap" that is derogatory, the Lula Administration is proud of having leftist militants in its midst, just as the leftist militants are proud to be there. No one needs a foreign ambassador to discover this.  



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Toronto Star, Canada: WikiLeaks Dump Reveals Seamy Side of Diplomacy

Guardian, U.K.: WikiLeaks Cables, Day 3: Summary of Today's Key Points

Guardian, U.K.: Leaked Cables Reveal China is 'Ready to Abandon' North Korea

Hurriyet, Turkey: American Cables Prove Turkish Claims on Missile Defense False

The Nation, Pakistan: WikiLeaks: An Invaluable Exposure of American Hypocrisy

Kayhan, Iran: WikiLeaks Revelations a 'U.S. Intelligence Operation': Ahmadinejad

Novosti, Russia: 'Russia Will be Guided by Actions, Not Leaked Secrets'

Guardian, U.K.: Job of Media is Not to Protect Powerful from Embarrassment

ANSA, Italy: WikiLeaks: 'No Wild Parties' Says Berlusconi

Guardian, U.K.: Saudi Arabia Urges U.S. Attack on Iran


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In any case, El País implies that yes - there is news here related to Spain's politics. It says that the reproduction of conversations with U.S. diplomats leave Spanish colleagues, "in areas that are ethically borderline or compromised before public opinion." The newspaper would offer, it adds, "destructive information about senior personalities of state."


But it didn't disclose any in the Monday edition, despite the fact that it has dedicated almost the entire front page plus 13 inside pages to the WikiLeaks papers.


Thus, the lack, so far, of substantive news, doesn't take away from the value of the leak, simply because it sheds light on the gestures and words that had been in the shadows. The problem now is that no one will ever want to talk to U.S. diplomats again.


Clovis Rossi is a special correspondent and member of the Folha editorial board, is a winner of the Maria Moors Cabot award (USA) and is a member of the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism. His column appears on Thursdays and Sundays on page 2 and on Saturdays in the World Notebook section. He is the author, among other works, of Special Envoy: 25 Years Around the World and What is Journalism?





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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US December 1, 3:04pm]



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