The Wiki Week
“You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends,” Hillary Clinton once said. If only all politicians will practice what they preach all the time the world might be, well, even more entertaining, as can gathered from the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
What some US diplomats had to say about their “friends”:
French President Sarkozy is “thin-skinned,” have an “authoritarian personal style” and is “an emperor with no clothes”.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “feckless, vain and ineffective as a modern European leader”.
Prince Andrew Windsor, fourth in line to the British throne, is “cocky” and “verged on rude” and thinks that “Americans don’t understand geography. Never have”.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was described as “weak” and “unstable”.
Current British Prime Minister David Cameron was thought to be “lightweight”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is “risk-averse and rarely creative”.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is “physically and politically weak” and “feckless, vain, and ineffective”.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is suggested to be a corrupt closet Islamist.
Tunisia President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali apparently has a deep hatred of his wife and her family.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler”.
North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-il is a “flabby old man”.
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is “vain, fastidious, vindictive,” a “practiced liar” and “not a very bright guy”.
Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimov is a “greedy, power-hungry individual” and “the single most hated person in the country”.
Azerbaijan first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, also an MP, is “poorly informed about political issues” and has problems showing a “full range of facial expression” following “substantial cosmetic surgery.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is “driven by paranoia”.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is “dismissive, bored and impatient”.
Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki is an “unhinged dictator”.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is “a crazy old man”.
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was thought of as a “flawed figure”.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is a “pale and apprehensive man” and is “Robin” to Vladimir Putin’s “Batman”.
Hillary Clinton views Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as a “behind-the-scenes puppeteer”.
The diplomatic communiqués, written between 2006 and 2009, were leaked by Bradley Manning, a United States Army soldier. Known as Cablegate, there are 251,287 diplomatic cables from more than 250 US embassies and consulates. 11,000 of the documents are marked “secret”, some 9,000 are “noforn” (information not meant to be shared with anyone outside the United States), and 4,000 are “secret/noforn”.
Since the documents are not “Top Secret” almost 3 million US government employees are cleared to see this level of documents. Some 500,000 employees have access to the document database, the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRnet). But the documents certainly were not meant for foreign eyes.
The documents released on WikiLeaks are rather boring to read. But the response to them is like being entertained by Tom Wolfe , Bob Woodward, John Pilger and Matt Taibbi on the same stage: explosive and, in the very least, very exciting. Both the New York Times (in State’s Secrets) and The Guardian (in The US Embassy Cables) provide excellent coverage of the ongoing satire.
The word “wiki” means “fast” in the Hawaiian language. The concept for a wiki, as a platform for sharing information, was started in 1995 by Ward Cunningham as the WikiWikiWeb. Today there are thousands of wikis, the most known of which are Wikipedia, started in 2001, and WikiLeaks, which was founded by Julian Assange in 2006.
The Wiki Week
With the release of the Cablegate documents – from November 28, 2010 onward – the whistleblowing WikiLeaks raised even more controversy than usual, truly a wiki week. The question: Is WikiLeaks a platform for political activism or conspiracy or a tipping point in international journalism?
Whichever, the above quoted “friends talk about friends” (also ala Hillary Clinton) quips will most likely pale in comparison about what backbiting bankers have to say about each other in the forthcoming WikiLeaks release of bank documents.
If ever you contribute to WikiLeaks, keep the Slovenian proverb in mind: “Speak the truth, but leave immediately after.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Investigative sites worth visiting:
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Network
Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development
Committee to Protect Journalists
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index