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WikiLeaks CableGate Live Updates: December 9

Check this page often for the latest news and views on the WikiLeaks saga, as well as our special report.

 DECEMBER 9, Day 12

Fact: WikiLeaks has released 1,203 cables so far, less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the total number of U.S. diplomatic cables they have procured.

Fact: Wikileaks is currently mirrored on 1,368 sites. has a visual of the international spiderweb of mirrors.

[Guardian]  Julian Assange has been moved to a segregation unit of Wandsworth prison, and officials are expected to give him some access to the Internet.  The WikiLeaks founder's lawyers will attempt to free him on bail when he appears before the court Dec. 14.

[Guardian] Today's drop of cables includes: 

Pfizer used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout

The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996.

Last year, the company came to a tentative settlement with the Kano state government which was to cost it $75m.

But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases - one civil and one criminal - brought by the Nigerian federal government.

WikiLeaks cables suggest Burma is building secret nuclear sites 

Witnesses say North Koreans are helping to construct underground facility in jungle, heightening concerns that military regime is seeking to develop nuclear weapons

WikiLeaks cables: China 'fed up' with Burma's footdragging on reforms

China, in spite of its closeness to the Burmese dictatorship, shares the same concerns as the US about the country's instability and is keen to work with Washington in promoting change, according to American diplomats.

WikiLeaks cables cast Hosni Mubarak as Egypt's ruler for life 

WikiLeaks cables: Kosovo sliding towards partition, Washington told 

WikiLeaks cable exposes US-UK rift over Croatian accession to EU   

[CBS News] The U.K. site of the online retailer Amazon has had an ebook with the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables for sale for viewing on their Kindle mobile reading device. Going to the page now offers this message: "We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site. Go to's Home Page."  It's not clear whether Amazon closed shop on the ebook or there is some other explanation. Hat tip, Greg Mitchell.

[Forbes (Australia) Advocate] GetUp!, a community advocacy group from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's home country of Australia, has raised more than $165,000 to attempt to buy full-page advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Times, the Forbes Advocate reported Thursday.

The ads would condemn calls the organization interpreted that Assange be hunted as a terrorist, GetUp! said on its website.

In a recent Facebook post criticizing Assange, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin asked, "Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?"

[HuffingtonPost] PayPal appears to be the latest victim of Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of hackers that have launched a cyberwar against what they perceive to be WikiLeaks' enemies. The Huffington Post is reporting that Anonymous took down PayPal's API page, which is where PayPal software may interact with other website's software. Previously, Anonymous had only disrupted the main webpage of companies like Mastercard and Visa, and not the web pages through which money or services might flow.

[CBS News] WikiLeak foes caught in hackers' crosshairs

Websites that likely expected to be on the sidelines of the battle between WikiLeaks and governments for the United States and European nations have found themselves square in the crosshairs of hackers. 

The attacks haven't gone unnoticed by the U.S. government. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the Justice Department was "looking into" them, Bloomberg News reported. Similarly, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the government was coordinating with the "private sector" on cyber issues. 

WikiLeaks has said it has no connection and no contact with Anonymous.

[ReadWriteWeb] A little Wiki-overload, perhaps? Wikipedia editors have reportedly taken down WikiLeaks' entry on the online encyclopedia about the media organization's mirror sites. In an online discussion of Wikipedia editors, one such editor writes: "The list of mirrors is freely available (elsewhere). Any other content can be merged with the main article."

[The Hill] Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has decided to join his Senate colleagues up-in-arms over WikiLeaks' diplomatic cable dump by introducing legislation aimed at stopping WikiLeaks by making it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants. England already has a similar law. As of this moment, the closest existing applicable law to the WikiLeaks cable dump in the U.S. is the Espionage Act of 1917.

[NYSE] In the first sign of serious real-world consequences for the actions of the anonymous Anonymous group carrying out cyberattacks in alleged defense of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: Amazon share prices fell on the news that an online distributed denial-of-service attack was being planned against it. As of 1:30 p.m. (EST) they had fallen 1.39 percent and were trading at $174.90. News broke in the morning about the alleged attack, and at 10 a.m. there was heavy trading of Amazon shares.

[Naked Security IT Blog] A 16-year-old Dutch boy has been arrested in the Netherlands in connection with the cyberattacks related to WikiLeaks on MasterCard and PayPal, reports IT security expert Graham Cluley on his blog. Details are very sketchy, but it is reported that the unnamed boy is in police custody and is being interrogated by detectives from the Netherlands' National High Tech Crime Team. Computers have also been seized, and it appears that the authorities are not ruling out further arrests.

[The Guardian] Wearing a gray prison jumpsuit, Julian Assange was "quite chipper, he seemed to be bearing up" during a visit with his lawyer Thursday, writes the newspaper. The lawyer added: "He doesn't have access to a computer, even without an internet connection, or to writing material. He's got some files but doesn't have any paper to write on and put in them. People have unjustly accused WikiLeaks of inspiring cyber attacks and they have in no way inspired cyberattacks."

[] What would a WikiLeaks company Christmas party be like? Wiki-Awkward...

[Pew Research Center] About 60 percent of Americans said they think WikiLeaks hurts American interests in a new poll by the Pew Research Center. In a survey of slightly more than 1,000 adults following the story, just 31 percent said WikiLeaks is helping America. While nearly four-in-ten (38 percent) said news organizations have gone too far in reporting the confidential material, a comparable number (39 percent) said the media has struck the right balance.

Comment: Have we struck the right balance in our coverage?

[The Economist] WikiLeaks' rivals may offer more damning, more intrusive leaks to the world with less redaction in the near future. Guided by accessible software like BitTorrent, the number of sites offering the opportunity to leak digital documents are likely to multiply, and they may be less kind than WikiLeaks. One rival says redacting leaked documents "is a sign of self-importance by those who run whistle-blowing sites."

[The Guardian] "Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help (Julian Assange)...maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate," said a Russian source close to President Dmitri Medvedev to the newspaper. It appears for now that Russia has decided to step back from being negative in response to the WikiLeaks saga, perhaps because it is doing more damage to America's geopolitical interests than Russia's.

[Nieman Journalism Lab] "The impact of WikiLeaks on journalism is more an impact of degree than of kind; what's happening isn't entirely new, but it is happening on a greater scale than ever before. While it might be heartening to swell the ranks of journalism by drawing all advocates of digital transparency into our ranks, journalists need to ponder what aspects of these powerful online communities they want to embrace and what aspects they might want to leave behind."

[] Former President Bill Clinton: WikiLeaks saga also producing countless untold stories of people losing their jobs. Clinton also said at a recent technology conference that the saga highlights the instability of cybersecurity.

[Foreign Policy] Are the cyberattacks in support of WikiLeaks by Anonymous for Operation Payback a threat to national security or the equivalent of a "sit-in?" Evgeny Morozov, author of the forthcoming "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom" writes:

"As far as long-term developments are concerned, I think that much depends on whether the WikiLeaks saga would continue being a debate about freedom of expression, government transparency or whistle-blowing or whether it would become a nearly-paranoid debate about the risks to national security. Anonymous is playing with fire, for they risk tipping the balance towards the latter interpretation - and all the policy levers that come with it."

[The Age Australia] "The U.S. government refused repeated requests from the Australian government to be given the WikiLeaks cables relating to Australia before their publication, so it would be better prepared to deal with their impact. All the Americans would provide was a general briefing on some 1400 documents that mention Australia."

[WikiLeaks] From a WikiLeaks press release: "The internet gathering known as not affiliated with Wikileaks. There has been no contact between any Wikileaks staffer and anyone at Anonymous. Wikileaks has not received any prior notice of any of Anonymous' actions. Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said: 'We neither condemn nor applaud these attacks. We believe they are a reflection of public opinion on the actions of the targets.'"

[Financial Times] Facebook and Twitter have removed the accounts of hackers supporting WikiLeaks. The hackers belong to an online campaign called Operation Payback, and had been using the social networking sites, as well as other chat rooms, to coordinate their computer assaults on companies perceived to be anti-WikiLeaks. Both sites have removed accounts that appear under the campaign's name. Operation Payback's Twitter account linked to a file appearing to contain consumer credit card information before the account was taken offline.However, Evgeny Morozov wrote for Foreign Policy magazine that the campaign created new accounts within minutes.

[The Guardian] Venezuela's tottering economy is forcing Hugo Chavez to make deals with foreign corporations to save his socialist revolution from going broke. From the related cable: "Chavez is betting that short term measures can delay the long term consequences of his ill-conceived policies."

[AP] Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yesterday that the U.S. won't forget Afghan President Hamid Karzai's "statesmanlike response" to embarrassing criticism (such as the U.S. ambassador to Kabul describing Karzai as a "paranoid and weak individual" and a cable claiming that Karzai had freed dangerous detainees and drug dealers from prison because of their connections to influential Afghan figures). Gates maintains that the leaked diplomatic cables won't have a lasting effect on U.S. diplomacy. "At the end of the day," he said, "nations and leaders make decisions based on their interests."

Comment: What would interesting to see are the communications that led up to Karzai's conciliatory statement. After exposure to the unvarnished underbelly of U.S. diplomacy via the release of cables by WikiLeaks, a somewhat cynical audience might ask what Karzai got in return for his statesmanlike response, and what was said behind closed doors.

[CBS News] WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's lawyer tells CBS News that rape and sexual molestation allegations against Assange in Sweden are a "stitch up," and the Swedish prosecutor's failure to provide him with documentation on the claims, or any evidence, makes it impossible to begin crafting a legal response.

[CBS News] The U.K. site of the online retailer Amazon now has the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables for sale for viewing on their Kindle mobile reading device. Just last week, Amazon's web hosting services dumped WikiLeaks from its servers, allegedly after pressure to do so from Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Amazon has not responded to an interview request by CBS thus far regarding the Kindle WikiLeaks offering. One Amazon reviewer, M. Graney from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, says this is not hypocrisy, but actually "this is obviously a scheme by a supporter of wikileaks to create a backup of the wikileaks cablegate archive on Amazon itself using the ebook "self publishing" option that Amazon provides."  The 'author,' Heinz Duthel, promises a more thorough analysis of the documents "in a subsequent article. A prolific ebook author, he has 383 books for sale in the Kindle store.

[NYT] U.S. diplomatic cables show that in 2008, a Somali pirate attack on a Ukrainian freighter uncovered a shipment of 32 Soviet-era tanks that was bound to the regional government in southern Sudan.

The Ukraine initially said the weapons were being sent to the Kenyan government, which supported the claim. But the cables confirm that it was just one in a series of underground arms shipments in support of southern Sudan's resistance against the Khartoum-based government, which had been responsible for the human rights abuses in Darfur.

The cables suggest the Bush administration knew of the shipments but turned a blind eye toward them. The Obama administration, however, shifted the U.S. stance on them after the pirate attack made them public, even threatening sanctions against the Ukrainian and Kenyan governments.

[The Telegraph] The latest casualty of the cyberwar being waged on behalf of WikiLeaks is the Swedish government's website.

Anonymous hackers, engaged in a online campaign dubbed "Operation Payback," brought down the site for several hours overnight and threatened that more attacks were coming.

Next Media Animation has a humorous take on the WikiLeaks situation and the hunt for Julian Assange.

[AP] WikiLeaks' payment processor said Thursday that it was preparing to sue credit card companies Visa and MasterCard over their refusal to process donations to the secret-spilling website. Andreas Fink, the CEO of Iceland's DataCell ehf, told The Associated Press that he would seek damages from the American financial companies over their decision to block WikiLeaks funds.

"It's difficult to believe that such a large company as Visa can make a political decision," Fink said in a telephone interview from Switzerland. In an earlier statement, his company had defended the self-described whistle-blowing website, saying that "it is simply ridiculous to think WikiLeaks has done anything criminal." [AP] Afghan President Hamid Karzai took the high road after being criticized in the deluge of sensitive State Department documents released by WikiLeaks, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday. And for that, Gates said, he is very grateful. Standing next to Karzai during a news conference, Gates said Karzai and other allies "have responded to this, in my view, in an extraordinarily statesmanlike way. I'm deeply grateful, and frankly I think the American government will not forget this kind of statesmanlike response." [AP] Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera has posted all U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that pertain to Bolivia on his official website. He told reporters Wednesday he wants people to know the "barbarities and insults" of what he called Washington's "interventionist infiltration."

As Wikileaks' own sites come under attack, sympathizers have created "mirror" sites that duplicate them partially or in full.

Bolivia's leftist leaders expelled the U.S. ambassador in 2008, accusing him of conspiring against it. Garcia's site includes two quotes:

"The truth will set you free," from the New Testament.

And from WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange: "Every organization rests on a mountain of secrets."

 DECEMBER 8, Day 11

[Guardian] Cables about China's role in Africa provide an unvarnished example of U.S. thinking the region.

A U.S. official in Africa wrote, "The United States does not consider China a military, security or intelligence threat. China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals. China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons. China is in Africa for China primarily." 

[Technology pioneer Dave Winer] Applying perspective to the escalating WikiLeaks war

"WikiLeaks is the perfect storm for all past issues on the net, but I'm afraid it also will draw us into a future that I've believed was coming and didn't want to talk about. We don't like to think about how much our civilization depends on the proper running of computer networks, and how vulnerable they are. Whoever it is that attacking Mastercard and Paypal are anonymous. They could be teenagers (that's what we hope) but they could also be professionals working for foreign governments, or even the US government."

[Reuters] Guantanamo files may star in next WikiLeaks release  

"WikiLeaks' next assault on Washington may highlight U.S. government reports on suspected militants held at Guantanamo Bay, which some U.S. officials worry could show certain detainees were freed despite intelligence assessments they were still dangerous.Skip related content

"The leaks could be an embarrassment to President Barack Obama's administration, already angered over WikiLeaks document dumps of U.S. State Department cables..."

Mathew Ingram of GigaOm captures the developing cyberwar in his post, "WikiLeaks Gets Its Own 'Axis of Evil'" 

"Defense Network If the WikiLeaks saga was a comic book, it would be starting to look a lot like the Justice League of America vs. the League of Supervillians -- or maybe it's more like Star Wars, with the plucky rebel alliance up against the might of the Empire."

Twitter Suspends Account Organizing Support for WikiLeaks

The Twitter account of the hacker group Anonymous' 'Operation Payback' appears to have been blocked. The pro-WikiLeaks group has been linked to payback takedowns against companies that have suspended access to fund-raising for WikiLeaks--including MasterCard and Visa.

[El Pais] Cables indicate French President Sarkozy wanted the release from captivity of Ingrid Betancourt at any price

The release of Ingrid Betancourt so obsessed French President Nicolas Sarkozy , who was willing to get payment of ransom. Sarkozy arranged the intervention of then U.S. president George Bush before the Colombian Government, and expressed together with Manuel Marulanda, Sureshot, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). He suggested exchanging the French-Colombian hostage by another of the guerrilla "Simon Trinidad", imprisoned in the U.S.

Sarah Palin: WikiLeaks Supporters Hacked Me

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday that her personal credit card information and the website of her political action committee were attacked online by supporters of the document-dumping website WikiLeaks.

[New York Times] Officials Pressed Germans on Kidnapping by C.I.A.

American officials exerted sustained pressure on Germany not to enforce arrest warrants against Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in the 2003 kidnapping of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist, diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks show.

WikiLeaks: Shell Oil Infiltrated Nigerian Gov't

Anglo-Dutch Oil Giant Could Access Movements of Oil-Rich Nation's Politicians, Secret State Department Cables Show  

[SearchEngineLand]  Why Wikileaks Will Never Be Closed Or Blocked

Danny Sullivan explains why no one is going to shove the diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks back into the darkness.

Visa Disrupted in WikiLeaks Blowback

Visa Website Targeted in Payback Hacks in WikiLeaks Affair

WikiLeaks: Contractors Hired Afghan Dancing Boys

Afghan Gov't Pleaded with Embassy to Assume Authority over Police Training Camps Run by American Private Security Contractors

Legal Analysis: What's Next for Julian Assange?

Charging the Wikileaks Founder with a Crime for Releasing U.S. State Department Cables Could be Challenging

Can the U.S. Actually Prosecute WikiLeaks?

A New Report from the Congressional Research Service Sheds Light on the Few Laws Applicable to CableGate

Partying Saudi Style: Elite, Boozy and Secret

WikiLeaks Releases Insider Account of Jiddah's Upscale Party Scene, Which Goes Against the Middle East's Conservative Values

See also the latest reports from the Guardian, New York Times, The Nation

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