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Entries in Wikileaks (56)

Tuesday
Nov302010

Sen. McCain Wants Heads to Roll for WikiLeaks, But Others Say Not Likely

Photo Courtesy - NBC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., demanded Tuesday that top brass be disciplined for the massive security breach of classified documents that are now spilling out of the WikiLeaks website, but former Washington officials said it is unlikely that anyone will be held accountable beyond the lowly private who is now in jail.

"Let's go back to the principle of need-to-know. Why would a private first class have access to all of this information? Somebody is responsible for that and it isn't just the private first class. They should be held accountable for a change," McCain told ABC News Tuesday.

WikiLeaks' latest release Tuesday will no doubt continue to strain already sensitive relationships and add pressure on the military to hold someone accountable.

Since the first tranche of cables was released Sunday, federal agencies have launched investigations, promised improved regulations, and vowed to prosecute Army Private Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks director Julian Assange.

Manning has been held in a Quantico, Va., brig awaiting court-martial since July, but no senior officials or military officers have taken responsibility for the historic security breach and none have been threatened with losing their jobs.

"We probably are not going to see heads roll," said Gen. Jack Keane, a retired four-star general and former Acting Army Chief of Staff. "The supervisors in this case will likely get a pass because this is a major deception."

The military says it will not comment on who, if anyone else might be held responsible until it completes an ongoing investigation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov302010

McCain Wants Heads to Roll for Wikileaks, Others Say Not Likely

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain demanded Tuesday that top brass be disciplined for the massive security breach of classified documents that are now spilling out of the Wikileaks website, but former Washington officials said it's unlikely that anyone will be held accountable beyond the lowly private who is now in jail.

"Let's go back to the principle of need-to-know. Why would a private first class have access to all of this information? Somebody is responsible for that and it isn't just the private first class. They should be held accountable for a change," McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News.

Wikileaks' release of the latest tranche of secret diplomatic cables spurred federal agencies to launch investigations, promises of improved regulations, and vows to prosecute Army Private Bradley Manning and Wikileaks' director Julian Assange.

Manning has been held in a Quantico, Va., brig awaiting court martial since July, but no senior officials or military officers have taken responsibility for the historic security breach and none have been threatened with losing their jobs.

"We probably are not going to see heads roll," said Gen. Jack Keane, a retired four star general and former Acting Army Chief of Staff. "The supervisors in this case will likely get a pass because this is a major deception."

The military says it will not comment on who, if anyone else might be held responsible until it completes an ongoing investigation.

Manning is alleged to have downloaded vast numbers of secret diplomatic cables and military documents while working as an intelligence analyst, committing the greatest security breach in U.S. history using little more than a memory stick and a Lady Gaga CD.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

WikiLeaker Seeks to Expose 'Lying, Corrupt and Murderous Leadership'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chief WikiLeaker whom the U.S. promised Monday to prosecute said his Internet site was just beginning to unload its diplomatic secrets and said the documents will skewer "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil."

Julian Assange, the Australian who heads the secret-sharing website, told ABC News Monday he believes his safety and freedom are in danger. He responded to questions by e-mail from a clandestine hideout.

He was undaunted by vows from the U.S. and Australia to prosecute him and said the forthcoming diplomatic cables are aimed at "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil."

"We're only one thousandth of the way in and look at what has so far being revealed. There will be many more," he wrote defiantly.

Assange also dismissed a warning Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said the dump of secret documents "puts people's lives in danger," particularly those sources who provided the U.S. with information about abuses in foreign countries.

The Obama administration's top diplomat and lawyer put WikiLeaks and Assange on alert Monday, promising to prosecute any individual, regardless of nationality, who broke U.S. law by making public hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables.

"[To] the extent that we can find anybody involved of breaking American law who has put at risk the assets and the people that I have described...they will be held responsible. They will be held accountable," Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference.

"Some mistakenly applaud those responsible," Clinton said. "There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people...nothing brave about sabotaging peaceful relations between nations."

Though dedicated to bringing to light secret government documents, WikiLeaks operates in the shadows, running a sophisticated website, manned by an international team from a bunker in Iceland.

The current raft of documents, some 250,000 diplomatic cables that span decades and include various -- and sometimes embarrassing -- details about the way U.S. envoys see their foreign counterparts, is the latest document dump WikiLeaks received last year from Army Private Bradley Manning, currently awaiting court-martial.

Holder's declaration that he would seek to hold WikiLeaks responsible was met with praise from across the aisle.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he supported the efforts Holder was taking and said Assange's "purposeful intent to damage not only our national interests in fighting the war on terror, but also undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Both Holder and King agreed that WikiLeaks should not treated as a media outlet, but a criminal entity intimately involved in the effort to steal secret documents and make them public.

King also called on Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a foreign terrorist organization.

Over the course of the year, WikiLeaks has released secret military documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

Wikileaks Cable Details American's Harrowing Escape from Iran

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A 75-year-old Los Angeles dentist made a harrowing escape from Iran on horseback in January after officials in Tehran confiscated his passport, a U.S. State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks reveals. Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, paid $7,500 to two drug smugglers who led him on an extraordinary three-day trek into Turkey, including a 14-hour overnight ride through the mountains in temperatures below freezing.

A "visibly shaken" Vahedi ended up at the U.S. consulate in Ankara, suffering only from "some aches and pains," the cable said. Officials later helped him avoid deportation back to Iran by Turkish authorities and fly home to the U.S. to reunite with his family.

Vahedi had traveled to Tehran in May 2008 to visit his parents' gravesite and spent an uneventful four weeks there with family and friends. But when he tried to leave the country on June 6, authorities confiscated his passport and refused to let him leave.

Authorities sought a $150,000 fine to "make the process move more quickly" and assurances that his sons -- popular Persian pop singers who use "occasional anti-regime rhetoric" -- would end their music business, he told consular officials, according to the cable.

But after seven months of unsuccessful appeals before an Iranian court, Vahedi became desperate, believing a covert escape would be his only option of getting home.

Vahedi's story is one of dozens of interesting anecdotes buried within the initial release of secret U.S. government documents exposed by Wikileaks Sunday and posted online by The New York Times, the U.K.'s Guardian and France's Le Monde.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

More Classified U.S. Documents Exposed by WikiLeaks

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- To no avail, the State Department warned the founder of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks that its latest planned document dump puts the lives of “countless individuals” in danger.

Despite the plea to reconsider, Julian Assange went ahead with the massive leak of 250,000 records Sunday although their appearance was delayed by a denial-of-service attack that WikiLeaks blamed on hackers determined to stop their release.  Just the same, Assange provided the materials to The New York Times as well as Britain’s The Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel.

This sensitive trove of information contains information that is at the very least embarrassing to Washington because of some unflattering portrayals of world leaders and at worst, jeopardizes those who expected their conversations with Americans to be confidential while giving enemies of the U.S. a heads-up on formely classified information that they can exploit to their advantage. 

Among some of the revelations:

-- Washington believes that Iran has obtained advanced missiles from North Korea that are capable of reaching Moscow and various Western European capitals.

-- Arabian Peninsula governments have implored the U.S. time and time again to launch a military preemptive strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities which they consider a threat to the stability of the region.  In particular, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was said have to repeatedly asked the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” before it’s too late.

-- Israel has always expressed its trepidation about allowing a nuclear Iran to develop.  Last year, Israeli defense Ehud Barak told U.S. lawmakers that attacking Iran later than 2010 “would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”

-- The U.S. has tried unsuccessfully since 2007 to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor that could be used to build an illicit atomic bomb.  The Pakistanis have resisted inspections because they’re worried that an attempt “certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons.”

-- Deep suspicions remain about corruption inherent in the Afghan government as the U.S. tries to work with an unreliable ally.  Last year, Afghanistan’s vice president was caught by the Drug Enforcement Agency carrying $52 million in a suitcase while on a visit to the United Arab Emirates.  The official was still allowed to keep the money without explaining what he was doing with it.

-- China’s Politburo, a group of 24 who oversee the Communist Party of China, authorized the hacking of Google’s computer systems in that country while operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the government have broken into the computers of the U.S. and its western allies since 2002.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov242010

US Prepares for New WikiLeaks Release

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The whistleblower website WikiLeaks is once again preparing to release a large number of classified U.S. documents believed to be State Department diplomatic files that could contain unflattering comments about America’s international partners. 
 
The State Department’s diplomatic outposts worldwide have begun contacting foreign governments to prepare them for an expected document release as early as Friday which may prove damaging to America’s international partners.  Relevant congressional committees have also been notified of the pending release by both the State Department and the Pentagon.
 
Private internal communications between the State Department and its diplomats based overseas are known as “cables”.  It is believed that Wikileaks has obtained thousands of cables that are wider in scope than the classified military intelligence documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the site has already released this year. A State Department official says the cables will touch on a variety of America’s global partners.
 
State Department officials are concerned that the sometimes blunt language contained in these cables may fray relationships with America’s allies. “They involve discussions that we’ve had with government officials, with private citizens.  They contain analysis.  They contain a record of the day-to-day diplomatic activity that our personnel undertake ,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. 
 
Crowley told reporters today that the cables are “diplomacy in action” as they describe the back and forth between the American government and other governments around the world.  He said those relationships are built on the premise that any communications are done in confidence.
 
"When this confidence is betrayed and ends up on the front pages of newspapers or lead stories on television or radio, it has an impact, we decry what has happened" Crowley said.
 
"These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests," he added.  "They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world."
 
As with past document dumps by Wikileaks, U.S. officials expect that major international news outlets have been provided the documents in advance and that their news stories about what the documents contain will be published around the same time that the website reveals its cache of documents.
 
Crowley said the State Department "has known all along" that WikiLeaks has been in possession of classified State Department documents. 
 
Army Private Bradley Manning was arrested in June and charged with leaking a classified video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians.  There has been speculation that Manning may also have been the source for the Iraq and Afghanistan military intelligence reports released by Wikileaks.  He may also be the source of the State Department cables because prior to his arrest Manning boasted in e-mails to a former hacker that he had passed along thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.
 
“We wish that this would not happen.  But we are, obviously, prepared for the possibility that it will,” said Crowley.  

COPYRIGHT 2010 ABC NEWS RADIO

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