Over a quarter of a million diplomatic cables, marked – “secret” , “confidential”, or “unclassified” – to and from the US State Department have been “leaked” to the public, presumably by a whistleblower. On the surface, it seems like the sort of thing that restores power to the people. It arms us all with knowledge and reminds those in power that they must answer to the public.

Then you pause to think. And that’s when the holes in this narrative become obvious.

Although WikiLeaks claims to provide a counter balance to the decades of disinformation served up in heaps by the “old media”, it chose to allow the vetting of these documents by these same outlets. Other highly respected media outlets, like al Jazeera and various independent media, were excluded. I find that odd, for starters.

If we take a look at the content of the cables themselves, the most remarkable thing to come out of these secret and confidential memos is what they do not contain. Granted, only 290 have actually been released so far. But it seems far from a coincidence that nearly every cable to and from Arab states released thus far has to do with villainizing Iran and mum’s the word on most major diplomatic hooplas of the past few years.

Take for example the bombshell briefing by a senior military officers to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen earlier in the year. The team was dispatched by Commander General David Petraeus to brief the Pentagon on intelligence that Israeli intransigence in the peace process was jeopardizing American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and that America was perceived as weak, ineffectual, and unable to stand up to Israel. Such political commentary from the highest echelons of the military was unprecedented and when news of this briefing broke, you can bet there was a significant diplomatic flurry. Yet a simple search of Petraeus’ name in the cablegate database on the Guardian website only turns up cables indicating that Arab countries were eager for an attack on Iran, which coincidentally happens to bolster Israel’s drumming for more war.

You can’t even find Vice President Joe Biden’s name in the keyword search even though Israel’s announcement of the construction of more illegal Jewish-only settlements in East Jerusalem on the eve of Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv amounted to an epic public spanking of Obama. Subsequent statements from the White House were as harsh as America ever dares to be with Israel, although they did not approach Obama’s reported ire over the matter. Thus far, there is not a single cable on the matter.

If you search cables originating in Dubai, all you’ll find are those denouncing and accusing Iran in titles like “Arab states scorn ‘evil’ Iran”, “AbuDhabi favors action to prevent nuclear Iran”, or “Emiratis fret over Iranian meddling”. This is quite amazing considering that the biggest diplomatic crisis this year occurred after a senior Hamas leader was assassinated in Dubai. The evidence and the world’s collective finger pointed at the Mossad and several diplomatic fallouts ensued when it was confirmed that Israel had forged foreign passports of the hitmen. And yet, there is not a word about this in any of the cables released so far. Instead, everything referencing the UAE or originating from Dubai only discusses “evil Iran”, much like the cables referencing Gen. Petraeus.

The list goes on. For all of Israel’s well known subterfuge (to put it mildly) – their espionage against the US; their persistent requests for money, weapons, special favors, and political cover; their well documented crimes against Palestinians; their mafia tactics of assassinating leaders, intellectuals, and scientists across the globe; and their US-based powerful lobby, AIPAC, which was the center of an FBI investigation that found their senior officers passing sensitive and classified US intelligence to Israel – there is nothing referencing any of this in the memos to and from the US State Department in the cables thus far released.

Something else to note.

Someone with access to hundreds of thousands of classified communications and with the ability to move them without detection must have exceptionally high security clearance. He or she must be on the far upper end of the ladder. Why would individuals like that risk their careers, possibly their lives, just to embarrass the US, presumably their own country?

Whistleblowers tend to be people who obey the call of their conscience and moral codes to expose crimes and injustices committed. But there is nothing of the sort in this “leak”. Even more absurd is the notion that Manning, a soldier, leaked all these documents while in custody and under surveillance.

Finally, does anyone find it odd that while most world leaders are quietly bracing themselves for embarrassment and diplomatic repercussions, Benjamin Netanyahu is confidently speaking and gloating about how Saudia Arabia has urged attacking Iran? I sure do.

There are still thousands more cables to be reviewed and redacted by the good old boy network of ‘old media’ and I hope that the cables they release in the coming days and months will prove my suspicions moot. I’m willing to keep an open mind until we’ve seen the full leak. In the meantime, what we know so far does not add up and frankly smells rotten.

susan abulhawa is a writer and activist. Her most recent novel is Against the Loveless World. Read other articles by Susan.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. E.R. Bills said on December 1st, 2010 at 9:14am #

    I had the same first reaction. WikiLeaks now a tool for establishment tweaks of international conversation. Shrewd, really. And will be effective.

  2. Max Shields said on December 1st, 2010 at 9:44am #

    Yes, America/US is an empire and is structurally functioning as one. It appears these cables, for the most part, confirm that.

    Just because the Arab “leaders”, many of whom are and have been in the pocket of US, fear a Persian dominance in the region, and thus are noted in communication as stating that they have this fear as leaked, again, simply confirms what one would expect of these autocratic powers that rule that region. In no way does that speak for the people of the region.

    Here for what the people in the region think regarding Iran.

    Shooting the messenger is rarely appropriate. That doesn’t mean a good dose of skepticism regarding all messages shouldn’t be top priority.

    To those who have a jaundice eye on Wikileaks, I would say: If you can connect your assumptions you are making in this article, than I think the burden of proof (not just speculation, which can serve as a starting point ONLY) is on YOU. And the sources better be damn good (not just a bunch of self-reinforcing bloggers). And that proof required needs to show how Wikileaks reshaped the facts to an Israel advantage. Israeli spin is not enough to “convict” Assange.

  3. Samhain3783 said on December 1st, 2010 at 12:36pm #

    “Someone with access to hundreds of thousands of classified communications and with the ability to move them without detection must have exceptionally high security clearance. He or she must be on the far upper end of the ladder. Why would individuals like that risk their careers, possibly their lives, just to embarrass the US, presumably their own country?”

    Alot of this stuff from WikiLeaks is low-level diplomatic chatter, minimally encrypted. 99% of what I’ve seen would be classified as “Confidential”, which would mean it’s only accessible to 3-4 MILLION people in Federal, state, and local government. There’s probably at least 1 disgruntled clerk in that group who wouldn’t mind embarassing his bosses. Security on this type of stuff (especially government electronic communications) is notoriously lax. Joe Biden’s name probably isn’t in there because his communications would be encrypted at a higher level and available to fewer people.

    And does anybody believe that American citizens, one of the most xenophobic peoples on earth, would actually be swayed by Arabic opinions on Iran?

    No, I think this is just a pissed-off file clerk who’s looking to get even but doesn’t have the clearance to REALLY hit his bosses hard.

  4. jay08701 said on December 1st, 2010 at 1:36pm #

    The larger question is does any of this really matter? Is not the cornerstone of “dissident” thinking that those in power are always oppressive and evil. If the “dissidents” themselves take power isn’t it axiomatic that they will in turn be the same. Unless the ego says “dissidents are better people; superior people”………….

  5. Don Hawkins said on December 1st, 2010 at 1:57pm #

    Jay I’ll get back to you on that but am very busy today.

  6. jay08701 said on December 1st, 2010 at 2:06pm #

    Think of Foucault. Missing from his writings is any reference to the “seer” himself. We are all created by societal forces; everyone that is but Michel Foucault et al apparently. The intellectual fallacy is blatant.

  7. chegitz said on December 1st, 2010 at 2:44pm #

    This is a very sloppy article. It makes a lot of assumptions that could be cleared up by, you know, checking.

    #1st, files are being added all the time. Last I checked there were 500 of the “Cablegate” files available, 486 when I started looking through Wikileaks. The entire db is available as a torrent.

    #2, given the source of the documents, is it any surprise that they support the U.S. position? They are documents OF the U.S. position?

    #3, lasting, Manning is alleged to have sent Wikileaks these documents BEFORE he was caught. He was bragging to someone in a hacker chatroom what he had done. Wikileaks has been sitting on them for some months, doling them out slowly. If they had done it all at once, it would have been one story, rather than three so far.

  8. jayn0t said on December 1st, 2010 at 6:20pm #

    The prime minister of Israel says the cables confirm what Israel has been saying for the last sixty years. What a surprise! Hilary Clinton backs him up. Noam Chomsky rejects the allegation that Arabs see Iran as a bigger threat than Israel, but ‘democratises’ the issue:

    “There’s a filtering process – we don’t know how much it distorts the information” says Chomsky. In the above article, Susan Abulhawa has done better than America’s token left-wing intellectual!

  9. commoner3 said on December 1st, 2010 at 8:18pm #

    This a good article that makes sense and I agree with it.
    But I take issue with the following statement:
    “Other highly respected media outlets, like al Jazeera”
    In my humble opinion, al Jazera is controlled by Zionists elements from behind the curtains.!

  10. Deadbeat said on December 1st, 2010 at 10:44pm #

    Here’s the “Left-wing” WikiLeaks SPIN …

    The Peace Movement Responds by Cindy Sheehan signed by the following …


    Cindy Sheehan Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
    Medea Benjamin CODEPINK
    Leslie Cagan
    Tim Carpenter Progressive Democrats of America
    Gael Murphy United for Peace and Justice
    David Swanson
    Debra Sweet World Can’t Wait
    Kevin Zeese Voters for Peace
    Ann Wright Veterans for Peace

    We have long known that the war on terrorism was increasing, rather than diminishing, terrorism. These leaks show Saudi Arabia to be the greatest sponsor of terrorism, and show that nation’s dictator, King Abdullah, to be very close to our own government in its treatment of prisoners. He has urged the United States to implant microchips in prisoners released from Guantanamo. And he has urged the United States to illegally and aggressively attack Iran. Congress should immediately block what would be the largest weapons sale in U.S. history, selling this country $60 billion in weapons. And Congress should drop any idea of “updating” the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force to permit presidents to unconstitutionally launch more wars. We see what sort of wars our allies urge on our presidents.

    There is no “Peace” movement here. It’s more likely the Zionist deflection squad.

  11. hayate said on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:52am #

    Wikileaks to expose banks

    Dec 1, 2010 09:09 Moscow Time

    “The next revelations that will be appearing on the site “Wikileaks” will be regarding some of the world’s largest banks.

    The founder of the infamous site, Julian Assange, told this to Forbes Magazine in an interview.

    “At the beginning of next year thousands of documents related to the leading U.S. banks will be released.” ITAR-TASS quotes Assange as having said.

    The published data will certainly lead to investigations and reforms in the banking sphere and in financial institutions.

    The founder of Wikileaks also stated that in future he plans to expose world-famous entrepreneurs and some pharmaceutical companies.”


  12. hayate said on December 2nd, 2010 at 12:55am #

    Eric Garris, December 01, 2010

    “Earlier today, took down the cloud servers that were being used by WikiLeaks to serve their site. One of the products Amazon sells is space on their cloud servers at a very competitive rate. Thousands of websites, including WikiLeaks, use their service. gave no notice to WikiLeaks. Normally, in an ethical and legal business relationship, notice is given when contracts are terminated to allow for smooth transition. In fact, if WikiLeaks had chosen to terminate the contract with Amazon, they would have been required to give 30 days notice. gave no such notice, they just unplugged the servers. As a result, WikiLeaks was down for several hours today.

    Why did they do this? got a call from Senator Joe Lieberman who threatened to start a boycott. Other officials reportedly leaned on Amazon. I can understand Amazon’s fear of the government, but that is no excuse to unethically target a customer without notice.

    In the past year, has received about $10,000 from for referrals on the sale of books and merchandise. We cannot continue to profit from or deal with We are removing the Amazon ads and book widgets from our website, and urge other supporters of WikiLeaks to join the boycott.”


  13. hayate said on December 2nd, 2010 at 1:27am #

    Tariq Shadid – Wikileaks leaks toxic acid in every direction, except to Israel
    By Dr. Tariq Shadid • Dec 1st, 2010 at 13:07


    “However, the definition of ‘Wikileaking’ seems to be following entirely different laws of nature. Indeed, the information is flowing away from the secret pipelines it was originally guided into. However, the strange thing about ‘Wikileaking’ is that Israel, a country widely known for its secret dealings and cunning intelligence service, is managing to keep dry feet in spite of the massive political flooding allegedly caused by Wikileaks’ founding father, Julian Assange.

    The lack of control that is so typical of other forms of ‘leaking’, certainly does not seem to apply to ‘Wikileaking’ – instead it looks like it is under perfect control, and carefully guided in such a way that it only serves the interests of one state, namely that of Israel.”…

    Rest at:


  14. John Andrews said on December 2nd, 2010 at 3:14am #

    I too have my doubts about al jazeera, and certainly don’t “highly respect” it.

  15. PatrickSMcNally said on December 2nd, 2010 at 4:19am #

    The fact that Al Jazeera is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, does at least imply that the Emir Sheikh Hamad of Qatar has somehow rubber-stamped it. The US has a base west of Doha, the Al Udeid Air Base. That at least suggests that Al Jazeera has been OK’d by some segment of the US ruling class, although it’s not clear whether this would be the CFR/Trilateral/Bilderberg sector or the JINSA/AIPAC/WINEP sector. Qatar did sign a defense agreement with Iran earlier this year and has also declared its support for Iran’s right to nuclear power. That doesn’t sound like the Qatari Emirate would be likely to approve Al Jazeera’s existence as a favor to Zionists, although they might as a favor to Zbigniew Brzezinski. But there’s always open possibilities.

  16. asa said on December 3rd, 2010 at 4:01am #

    While I respect Susan Abulhawa for taking down Alan Dershowitz (and I’m told she’s a great novelist too) this article has just not been thought-through at all. The three supposed examples of “gaps in the narrative” given all occurred AFTER the period covered by the cables released so far (i.e. up until 12th February).

    Michael Mullen’s “bombshell briefing” was in June:

    Biden’s visit was in March:

    And the Dubai police chief did not accuse Mossad of the al-Maboueh assassination until February 18th:

    (Wikileaks says that the cables as a whole cover up till the “end of Feb” so it’s possible that others will come out later that mention the Mossad assassination — but it’s beyond me why anyone would expect US embassy cables to be particularly critical of Israel. Remember that only a fraction of the cables have been released so far)

    The point about Bradley Manning falls at the first hurdle of logic considering that Manning was arrested in June. We do not know if Manning was the source or not (although personally I think that if he was he deserves a medal).

    The only thing in this article I can detect that even resembles anything like a valid point is that more media organisations were not given access to the data. But the author is mistaken on that too, considering the leftist Lebanese paper just exclusively released some very interesting cables

  17. jayn0t said on December 3rd, 2010 at 8:16am #

    ‘Asa’ is an unusually clear commenter, looking at logic, timescales etc., which most of us are too lazy to check.

    However, I still think Abulhawa’s basic point stands: there are rumblings of discontent in the establishment about the Lobby, and Arab leaders don’t generally regard Iran as a worse threat than Israel, so the cables released by Wikileaks give a misleading impression which just happens to help Israel.

    The Angry Arab post given by ‘Asa’ above confirms this. The cables don’t seem to mention Israeli threats: a. many American officials toe the lobby line, and b. those who don’t have been censored, either by Wikileaks, or by Wikileaks’ sources.