Sampling the cables


Of the more than 250,000 cables that WikiLeaks say they have, they have released close to 1,500 so far, releasing 50 to 60 cables daily. The cables, which are communications between the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies around the world, contain a variety of missives, ranging from summaries of meetings with world leaders to reports of events in an embassy’s region. A lot of the cables are full of gossip and rumor, with strong opinions on world leaders. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is called “weak” and “paranoid,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy was described as “thin-skinned” and an “emperor with no clothes,” and Russia’s Vladmir Putin is accused of bribing Kremlin figures, while his Russia is described as a “mafia state.”

Here are more that caught our eye.

North Korea wants Eric Clapton

For years the United States has been trying to have some sort of peaceful relationship with North Korea and its dictator, Kim Jong-il. In a May 23, 2007, cable, the suggestion of organizing an Eric Clapton concert in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, was raised to “build good will” with the country. Apparently, Kim Jong il’s second son, Kim Jong-chol, is a huge fan of classic rock. The United States passed on the suggestion.

Qadhafi’s habits, superstitions

In a Sept. 29, 2009, cable, the phobias and habits of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi are exposed. According to an informant, Qadhafi will only stay on the first floor of any facility that’s rented for him, will not climb more than 35 steps, has a fear of flying over water and will not fly for more than eight hours. In an overseas trip to New York, Qhadhafi stopped in Europe for an overnight, then continued his journey the next day. There’s also a nurse named Galyna who is described as a “voluptuous blonde” and never leaves his side. It’s rumored they have a romantic relationship.

Afghanistan asks U.S. to intervene on reporting of ‘dancing boys’

Earlier this year, PBS Frontline broadcast the documentary The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, which gave the details of “bacha bazi,” an Afghani practice in which adolescent boys dress up as girls, dance and then are sexually abused by rich, powerful men. According to a June 24, 2009, cable, employees of U.S. security contractor DynCorp hired “dancing boys” to entertain them in early 2009. Afghanistan Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar said the U.S. government should “quash” a July 2009 Washington Post story reporting on the incident for fear that publicity would “endanger lives” and harm the image of “foreign mentors.” Even though the Post story downplayed the incident (or was it “quashed” by the State Department?), calling it a “questionable management oversight,” two Afghan police officers and nine other Afghanis were arrested for facilitating the event and charged with “purchasing service from a child.” The cable doesn’t describe what happened at the event.

Saudi king wants US to attack Iran

According to an April 20, 2008, cable, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus met with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abd al- Aziz. During the meeting, they talked about their policies on Iraq and the influence of Iran. Saudi king Abdullah had a strong opinion on Iran and was adamant about the U.S. attacking Iran. The cable reports that Abdullah said “to cut off the head of the snake.”

Spying on United Nations leaders?

According to several treaties, it is illegal to spy on the U.N. But according to a July 31, 2009, cable, the U.S. State Department was asking its agents to gather intelligence on the U.N’s top brass. This included everything from phone numbers, e-mail addresses and work schedules to credit card numbers, passwords and personal encryption keys.