Wikileaks Cable Release Rattles Diplomatic World; U.S., South Korea Start Military Exercises

BY News Desk  November 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM EST

WikiLeaks Publishes Stash of Secret Diplomatic Documents


View of the WikiLeaks homepage.(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The web site WikiLeaks has released the first in a series of secret State Department cables online, sending ripples through the diplomatic community and eliciting a strong reaction from the White House, which released a statement to “condemn in the strongest terms” the release of classified information. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the leak “a reckless action which jeopardizes lives by exposing raw, contemporaneous intelligence.”

Echoing past Wikileaks releases, the New York Times and other media organizations have published some of the documents, which shed light on the State Department’s dealings in embassies around the world. The revelations range from planning for a possible collapse of the North Korean government, talks over closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and Iran’s nuclear facilities to a vivid description of the entourage traveling with Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi. Most of the documents released are from recent years.

The Guardian, which also published coverage of the document deluge, is also organizing the data around the leak to help visualize when and where the cables were sent.

Though many of the revelations may strike some diplomacy-watchers as unsurprising, there is concern within the diplomatic community that they could damage relations with foreign governments by publicizing sometimes informal observations and pulling back the curtain on talks around international hot spots.

WikiLeaks has said it will disclose more than 250,000 documents over the course of the coming months. We’ll have more on the leaked cables here on the Rundown later today and on Monday’s NewsHour.

South Korea Calls Artillery Attack “Inhumane Crime”

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak expressed regret at being unable to protect residents of Yeonpyeong island from an “inhumane crime” by North Korea, which unleashed a barrage of artillery last week. The U.S. and South Korea have been holding joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea with a flotilla of ships including the USS George Washington. The tensions come at an especially uncertain time as North Korea has introduced leader Kim Jong-Il’s likely successor, his son Kim Jong-Un.

China, North Korea’s main benefactor and ally, has called for an emergency meeting to address the crisis. China has been criticized for its muted reaction to the attack.

Reports of Irregularities Mar Elections in Haiti

Twelve of the 19 candidates vying for the presidency in Haiti have cast doubt on the results of the country’s election on Sunday, suggesting that the vote was rigged in favor of the government.

The vote comes after an especially chaotic year for Haiti, which began with a devastating earthquake in January and more recently massive flooding and the spread of cholera. The country’s election officials declared the vote a success, despite one candidate’s call for “people to mobilize right now to show their opposition to the election”. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff in January.

Climate Change Summit Kicks Off In Mexico

Representatives from 200 countries are gathered in Cancun for 12-day, U.N.-sponsored talks on climate change. The conference comes a year after the much-hyped talks in Copenhagen, which did not produce any significant pact.

Alleged Portland Bomb Plotter Expected in Court

Mohamed Osman Mohamud

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who is accused of trying to set off a bomb at a Portland, Ore., Christmas tree lighting, is expected in court Monday. The 19-year old, who attended classes at Oregon State University, was arrested as he prepared to detonate the bomb. He had unknowingly been communicating with FBI agents as part of a months-long sting operation. The mosque he occasionally attended was targeted by arsonists this weekend, leading to fears of a backlash against Muslims in the area.