Don’t expect the Guardian’s coverage of this developing story to slow down any time soon. Guardian investigations executive editor David Leigh told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now on Tuesday that this is only the beginning, and the biggest revelations are still forthcoming:
In the coming days, we are going to see some quite startling disclosures about Russia, the nature of the Russian state, and about bribery and corruption in other countries, particularly in Central Asia . We will see a wrath of disclosures about pretty terrible things going on around the world.- Lauren Kirchner
Der Spiegel’s international site keeps up its coverage with its own story on the U.S.’s haggling for a place to dump Guantanamo detainees—focused on Germany’s refusal, and in particular, its refusal to take seventeen Uigher detainees—that is more condemnatory than the Times’s. The detailed report from John Goetz and Frank Hornig and translated into English by Jan Liebelt, focuses heavily on the failure of the Obama administration to meet its Guantanamo closure deadline and includes some colorful details not found in other reports, such as the complaints of Uighurs moved to Albania.
The Uighurs complained to the US Embassy in Tirana that before leaving Guantanamo they had been told, “in two months (from arrival in Albania), you will have a house, a job, money, documents. You will have everything you need.” In fact, it had been impossible for them to find work or permanent accommodation. They couldn’t marry either, they said, because Albanian fathers didn’t want former Guantanamo detainees as sons-in-law. They also claimed they were being overcharged by the state electricity company.
The German focus continues too, with another piece hewn from Berlin cables titled, “How America Views the Germans.” There are some great gossipy details—the “Teflon” Chancellor is “risk averse” and the German Foreign Minister a “wild card”—and more details on the informant who was feeding the U.S. embassy details on the government’s 2009 coalition negotiations. And there are the inflammatory, perhaps exaggerated, claims we’ve come to expect from the German magazine’s coverage.
The emergence of the documents is a disaster of global proportions for US foreign policy, one that will also affect Washington’s relations with Berlin. Faith in the Americans’ ability to protect their diplomatic traffic is deeply shaken—that alone will change German-American relations. A superpower’s diplomacy has never been revealed to quite the same degree.
Der Spiegel’s other big story also follows the Times thematically, a two-part look at cables focused on North Korea in which much is made of Kim Jong Il’s personal behavior and diplomatic speculation about a unified Korea. Like much of Spiegel’s treatment of the cables, it is detail-rich and offers intriguing behind-the-curtain explanations of the machinations of diplomacy.
One of the most convenient observation posts is the US Consulate that Wickman oversaw in Shenyang, the capital of the Chinese north-eastern border province of Liaoning, where the Kim regime also maintains a diplomatic outpost. The North Korean post, an informant assured the Americans, is more commercial than political in nature. According to the informant, it was “staffed by consuls whose primary responsibility was to make money” and it offers first-rate services to businessmen in return for a good bit of hard currency: “A single phone call” was sufficient to “resolve paperwork.” Such cross-border commuters make it possible to form an image of what life is like within North Korea. SPIEGEL has opted to protect their identities, due to the danger of arrest within North Korea.
The magazine also has an excellent round-up of how various German outlets are reacting to the leaks. - Joel Meares
The cables are pretty much absent from the NPR website home page, but analysis continues in bits and pieces throughout the day’s broadcasts. On Morning Edition on Tuesday, WikiLeaks updates focused on blowback from Clinton’s office, Der Spiegel’s side of the WikiLeaks publication, and the likelihood that Julian Assange will be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act. Says Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer who has defended The New York Times in several court cases:
I think there’s a pretty good argument that [the Espionage Act] would apply to WikiLeaks. The language of the statute is very broad, and it bars the unauthorized possession or control over basically classified information by outsiders, which they have reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States.
Abrams went on to explain that a prosecution of this kind typically requires that the defendant actually meant to do harm to the United States through their actions. And Assange, of course, has said in interviews that that is his intention; he “has gone a long way down the road of talking himself into a possible violation of the Espionage Act.”