Cablegate Round-Up: Bombs for Israel, Cleaning Up Agent Orange
Here’s an attempt to inform people who want to know what people are uncovering as they sift through the batch of over 120,000 cables WikiLeaks recently made available to the public:
US secretly delivered GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel (November 18, 2009) –
In an Executive Session of the 40th Joint Political Military Group (JPMG), US and Israeli “counterparts” had a discussion about keeping pressure on Iran. China’s position on Iran was of great concern. And, in the context of talk about China’s policy toward Iran, Israel discussed an upcoming delivery of “bunker busting bombs.”
Several questions were raised about China’s position on Iran’s efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. Both sides
agreed that continued engagement with China and Russia is needed — as well as building a consensus in Europe. The USG speculated, and the GOI concurred, that China will follow Moscow’s lead. USG participants argued that China would seek to avoid an international confrontation over Iran. The GOI described 2010 as a critical year — if the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them. Both sides then discussed the upcoming delivery of GBU-28 bunker busting bombs to Israel, noting that the transfer should be handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran. [emphasis added]
The privatization of Libya’s Central Bank was seen as an opportunity for American banks (March 17, 2008) –
In addition to shining a light on Libyan oil, the cables also provide insight into US efforts to advance banking reform in Libya. The summary for the cable on Libya’s progress in its push toward privatization reads:
Libya’s banking reform program continues to make progress. Buoyed by the windfall that accompanied the February 13 sale of a share in state-run Wahda Bank to Jordan’s Arab Bank, the Central Bank is pressing forward with its own restructuring and training programs. There may be opportunities for increased private sector cooperation with U.S. banks and opportunities for the USG to help train Libya’s next generation of bankers. [emphasis added]
Look out Libyans, who think they have just won freedom from tyranny. Libya may one day have people like Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Vikram Pandit of Citigroup. That should be frightening. So, be vigilant in pushing for economic justice in post-Gaddafi Libya.
UN Permanent Representative & his wife were strip searched at the JFK International Airport (October 27, 2009) –
Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa “summoned” the US ambassador to Libya to his office on October 26. He told the ambassador he was angry and disappointed at the treatment Libyan UN Permanent Representative Abdulrahman Shalgam and his wife experienced at the hands of John F. Kennedy Airport security officials when they recently departed from New York. What happened to them deeply angered Muammar Gaddafi and Koussa called on the Ambassador to investigate and respond with a report so the government could decide what “measures” to take in response:
…Kusa said Shalgam and his wife were put in a room and subjected to “strip searches and rude behavior as if they were criminals.” The trauma had affected Shalgam’s wife so deeply that, according to Kusa, she is currently under hospital care.
Kusa called the incident unjustified and immoral: “Morally speaking, Shalgam is a guest in your country. If he had done something wrong or was a security threat, then that would have been a different story. How would you like it if your diplomats were treated by us in such a manner?” He argued that if a high level diplomat such as Shalgam — a former foreign minister — could experience such treatment by U.S. officials, then other Libyan diplomats or average Libyan travelers were probably facing even worse treatment.
Saudi Arabian captain questioned why TSA was restricting toilet use on flights (February 27, 2010) –
On February 3, US diplomats met to discuss issues that needed to be resolves so the US and Saudi Arabia could sign an Open Skies agreement (an agreement designed to “liberalize” rules and regulations on aviation, i.e. opening up a market for the aviation industry). Saudi Arabian Captain Ali Jamjoom, Vice President of Safety and Economic Regulation at the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) was present. He shared his thoughts on new security measures TSA had just put in place:
Jamjoom said that while SAG adheres to its agreement with TSA to implement screening for U.S.-bound flights, he personally doubted the efficacy and applicability of some new in-cabin measures, such as restrictions on using the toilets during the last hour of the flight or banning blankets on laps. Speaking as an ex-pilot, Jamjoom opined that protection in the aircraft is too late; no one in the aircraft should be a threat. Jamjoom also questioned whether some of the new rules could be implemented because of cultural differences, commenting that flight attendants on Saudi airlines are foreign workers, and will not be listened to and obeyed by Saudi passengers. In terms of security at the airport, Jamjoom wondered if there are alternatives to mandatory full-body x-rays of all passengers, such as optional hand searches by same-gender security staff.
The diplomat that wrote the cable noted Saudi media had criticized GACA for “receiving a memo from TSA outlining new security procedures directed at Saudis on US-bound flights.”
FBI terminated Hague Embassy telephone operator’s employment after operator viewed anti-US government websites (February 26, 2010) –
A program called Visa Viper was put into place after the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. As Fox News describes, the intent of the program is to identify potential terrorists and then make their names available in a consular support system.
In the batch of cables released, there are 446 which mention the Visa Viper program. Some of the cables are even reports on a person being nominated to the Visa Viper watchlist. One report indicates a Dutch and Croatian female working for the US Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, as a telephone operator faced an FBI investigation:
…After a coworker alerted Post’s [Regional Security Officer (RSO)] to subject’s use of workplace computers to browse websites that espoused anti-USG points of view, RSO requested post’s Information Management Officer (IMO) to investigate subject’s workplace internet use.
IMO’s investigation yielded evidence that subject had posted information and commentary on 9/11 conspiracy websites. Furthermore, on her Facebook page, under the alias XXXXXXXXXXXX, she had exchanged views and information with multiple people who appeared to espouse jihadist viewpoints. She also posted a hyperlink to a YouTube video, Winds of Paradise, which extols the virtues of al-Qaeda fighters and jihad, to which she added the comment, just beautiful…
The telephone operator had her employment terminated after being confronted with records of her Internet use. An FBI investigation into her activities was launched.
US DoD team visited Vietnam to address environmental/health problems but had no interest in cleaning up former US installations (August 10, 2000) –
A four-person US Department of Defense team traveled to Vietnam to discuss enhancing cooperation with the Vietnamese military on environment and health issues. An agreement to hold an “environmental workshop” was made. And, the American Chamber of Commerce was part of the discussions, which would center on what to do about “contaminated military sites including those involving herbicide orange [Agent Orange] and tear gas (CS).” This all seems like it would be a good thing, but Gary Vest, who was leading the team, spoke at a press conference after agreements were made.
…VIETNAM IS CONSIDERING THE ENHANCED COOPERATION THAT WILL HELP THE COUNTRY ADDRESS ITS ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS — A KEY U.S. OBJECTIVE HERE. [GARY VEST] STRUCK JUST THE RIGHT NOTE IN ALL OF HIS MEETINGS AND IN HIS PRESS CONFERENCE. HE CONVEYED EFFECTIVELY THE MESSAGE THAT THE USDOD IS NOT INSENSITIVE TO VIETNAMESE ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS RELATING TO HO AND CS AND THAT WE ARE PREPARED TO COOPERATE TO BUILD VIETNAMESE INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY TO MANAGE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, INCLUDING THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH HO AND CS. THE INTER- AGENCY TEAM DID NOT OFFER TO CLEAN UP FORMER U.S. INSTALLATIONS OR SITES SUSPECTED TO BE CONTAMINATED [emphasis added]
Might as well have just written a letter on the environment and health problems in Vietnam that read, “Dear Vietnam, you broke it, you bought it. But we may know some people who might like the business opportunities. Signed, US DOD.”
Vietnam War? What Vietnam War?