Wednesday, 10 April 2013

WikiLeaks' “Kissinger Cables” Drop and How TNA Scooped Mainstream Media

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WikiLeaks released 1.7 million new U.S. diplomatic cables from during the Henry Kissinger era this week, but the mainstream media has focused upon a long-public quote by the former U.S. Secretary of State as evidence of the revelatory nature of the once-secret cables.

Specifically, the media glommed onto the following Kissinger quote: “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.But The New American's William F. Jasper reported this exact same quote from another source back on November 8, 2010 — more than two years earlier.

Kissinger's statement above was made in a March 10, 1975 meeting between high-level foreign policy officials of the United States and Turkey in the wake of the Cyprus crisis. The conversation involved whether U.S. foreign aid could resume to Turkey after the Turkish invasion of the Greek island of Cyprus, in which the Turkish foreign minister suggested he needed more military supplies from the U.S. government:

[Turkish Foreign Minister Melih] Esenbel: “The Europeans should find ways to meet quick needs; for example, the Air Force needs spare parts. For other items that they can't find in the stocks, maybe you could make a deal with the Dutch or others to send it here.

[U.S. Ambassador to Turkey William] Macomber: “That is illegal.

[U.S. Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger: “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I'm afraid to say things like that. We'll make a major effort.”

The WikiLeaks’ “Kissinger Cables, which the whistleblower website has dubbed “Plus D: The Public Library of US Diplomacy,” includes 1,707,500 diplomatic documents from 1973 to 1976” during the time Henry Kissinger was U.S. secretary of state. WikiLeaks’ largest source of information from the U.S. government has been former U.S. Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning, who recently pled guilty to a number of charges related to giving secrets to the Internet whistleblower website. Manning is fighting other, more serious, charges that could land him in prison for life; he argues that his disclosure of classified government information was not intended to damage national security but to reveal war crimes and the cost of the Iraqi occupation. It's unclear if the Kissinger Cables were acquired by WikiLeaks from Manning, however.

“Much of the work was carried out by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 41, during his time in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying since last summer,” according to the London Daily Mail. Assange is in legal trouble himself, possibly as a result of diplomatic pressure from the U.S. government, as he is fighting an European Union extradition order to appear in a Swedish court to answer charges relating to having consensual sex with two women. Swedish law allows a woman to charge rape against a man under some circumstances if he does not use a condom. The mainstream media has also reported information on the following incidents using the Kissinger Cables:

• Bulgaria's communist past;

Unflattering assessments of recently deceased British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher;

• Vatican doubt over claimed massacres by Chilean dictator Pinochet;

Arms deals by former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi; and

• Even the bizarre: The wife of former Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos forced Filipino generals to dress up in drag for a party. 

More revelations from the WikiLeaks document drop are expected in the coming weeks, as reporters and researchers pore over the formerly secret documents.

Photo of Henry Kissinger from 1979: AP Images

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