WikiLeaks overnight has announced its intention to release a massive new tranche of 35,000 US diplomatic cables, more than doubling the amount of cables published since releases began in November last year. The release is still under way and at last count the latest torrent from WikiLeaks already contains 25,706 more cables than the day before.

The top 15 sources for the latest cables, comprising 70% of the new collection, come mostly from countries in or around the Middle East, including Turkey, Israel, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Embassies in France, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Germany also heavily featured.

It is clear that with so many new cables related to the Middle East and the intense global interest in the area, reporting by mainstream media outlets will most likely cover revelations from those embassies.

However, as always with WikiLeaks it is impossible to say whether the preponderance of cables from one region is due to WikiLeak’s selective leaking, a measure of US interest in the area, or simply that the US diplomats in those embassies were more prolific than public servants at other outposts.

Turkey features heavily in the new release, with more than 5000 new cables from embassies in Ankara, Adana and Istanbul. Media reports already include international unease over Turkish naval clashes with Cyprus, Turkey’s apparent “high levels of intolerance toward non-Muslim, American, homos-xual, and non-married neighbours”, and US pharmaceutical companies trying to use diplomatic leverage to their advantage against Ankara.

The government in Israel will also probably be sweating a bit as crowd source journalism picks apart the 2500 cables leaked from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Washington Times is already reporting an uncomfortable cable where the Israeli ambassador to Turkey says the Prime Minister “hates us religiously”, while twitter has jumped on a cable that shows that cross-border drug, s-x and weapons trafficking is on the rise in the Holy Land. The cable notes, perhaps ironically, that “Arab and Jewish criminal networks in Israel work efficiently across language, religious, cultural, and physical barriers”.

The lack of new cables from Tripoli in Libya is not surprising, given that WikiLeaks did a large release of presumably most of their Libyan material back in February in an attempt to undermine Gaddafi during the early days of the revolution. However, many of the new cables from embassies outside Libya deal with the regime there. At least 457 new cables reference Libya, including some from as far back as 1986, and paint a picture of a regime that strongly supported international terrorism over the years.

Even with over 51,000 cables now in the public sphere, this still represents only one fifth of the total in existence, underlying just how massive has been the breach in US security. While international diplomacy rolls on mostly unimpeded, coalescing out of the WikiLeaks saga is a sense that it is getting harder and harder for officials, especially from Western countries, to ignore corruption and pretend it is business as usual. This may be the real legacy of WikiLeaks and the person (allegedly the  imprisoned US soldier Bradley Manning) who leaked the documents.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey