The more than 250,000 documents, given to five media groups by the WikiLeaks, provide candid and at times critical views of foreign leaders as well as sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation filed by US diplomats, according to the NYT. Among the revelations in Britains Guardian newspaper, which also received an advance look at the documents along with Frances Le Monde, Germanys Der Spiegel and Spains El Pais, King Abdullah is reported to have frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme. Cut off the head of the snake, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, quotes the king as saying during a meeting with US general David Petraeus in April 2008.
The leaked documents, the majority of which are from 2007 or later, also disclose US allegations that Chinas Politburo directed an intrusion into Googles computer systems, part of a broader coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by Chinese government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws, the NYT reported.
As described by German news weekly Der Spiegel, the cables contain tart comments such as a US diplomats description of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as someone who avoids risk and is seldom creative. Another document described by the NYT cites a US embassy cable raising the possibility that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may have had a romantic relationship with his Ukranian nurse, who is described as a voluptuous blonde. The newspaper said many of the cables name diplomats confidential sources, from foreign lawmakers and military officers to human rights activists and journalists, often with a warning: Please protect or Strictly protect.
Comments such a description of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev playing Robin to (PM Vladimir) Putins Batman, are sure to embarrass the Obama administration and to complicate its diplomacy.
The White House said the release of the documents could endanger the lives of people who live under oppressive regimes and deeply impact the foreign policy interests of the US, its allies and partners around the world.
To be clear such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open government, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals, he said.
Security analysts tended to agree that the release of the documents was a severe blow to US diplomacy, undermining the confidentiality that is vital for foreign leaders and activists to talk candidly to US officials. This is pretty devastating, Roger Cressey, a partner at Goodharbor Consulting and a former US cyber security and counter-terrorism official, said in an e-mailed comment. The White House had warned readers that the field reporting in the documents was often incomplete and did not necessarily reflect, or even shape, US policy decisions.
Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the dramatic revelation that Saudi King Abdullah counseled a US strike on Iran may have been exaggerated for diplomatic effect. Its very much possible that the Gulf states have in private adopted very aggressive rhetoric just to stress the urgency of the issue, Hokayem said. But I personally doubt that there is an appetite for war as such.
Among the disclosures reported by NYT were:
* Suspicions Iran has obtained sophisticated missiles from North Korea capable of hitting western Europe, and the US is concerned Iran is using those rockets as building blocks to build longer-range missiles
* Allegations that Chinese operatives have broken into American govt computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and US businesses since 2002
* Talks between US and South Korean officials about the prospects for a unified Korea should the Norths economic troubles and a political transition lead the state to implode;
* The South Koreans considered commercial inducements to China to help salve Chinese concerns about living with a reunified Korea that is in a benign alliance with Washington, according to the American ambassador to Seoul
* Reporting that Saudi donors remain chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like al Qaeda, and the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the worst in the region in counterterrorism efforts, according to a state department cable last Dec
* Since 2007, the US has mounted a secret and so far unsuccessful effort to remove highly enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor out of fear it could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.