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On the Diplomatic Cables the Military Charged Bradley Manning With Providing to WikiLeaks

In the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the government read into the record stipulated testimony from State Department officials that revealed what United States embassy cables Manning is charged with disclosing without authorization to WikiLeaks.

One hundred and seventeen diplomatic cables have been charged. Ninety-six of them were classified “confidential.” Twenty-one were classified “secret.”

Two uncharged diplomatic cables were reviewed by retired Ambassador Stephen Seche, who happens to also be an original classification authority who can review classified information. He reviewed this diplomatic cable sent by the State Department on February 18, 2009, on a National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP).

The other cable is from Doha, Qatar. It was sent on March 26, 2009, and involves US investments in Qatar’s energy industry.

The cables charged came from countries all over the world. Twelve cables sent from the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, were charged, the highest number for a diplomatic post. After that, five from the diplomatic post in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, were charged, four from the State Department were charged and four from Kabul, Afghanistan, were charged.

After glancing over the cables, it does not appear any of the cables the military charged are cables that received widespread attention in the media because they were covered by The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel or other media organizations which covered the cables.

Peter Van Buren, a former Foreign Service Officer for the State Department who helped lead two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq from 2009-2010, told Firedoglake that none of the cables from the US Embassy in Baghdad that Manning is charged with disclosing to WikiLeaks jump out at him as “anything special or concrete.” He suggested that many of them were reports done by State Department employees as if they were journalists.

The fact that none of the cables appear to be any that received widespread attention in the media when WikiLeaks published them is, to Van Buren, a possible symptom of the State Department’s “schizophrenia about WikiLeaks.” They have wanted to claim the release of cables was an “incredible crime against the US government” while at the same time wanting to “reassure” leaders of countries around the world that the “really important stuff was protected” and not compromised.

The cable on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might be “significant” if they were truly reporting a “breakthrough,” however, none of the cables the military charged seemed particularly significant.

Asked what might have been happening in January 2007 that would lead the military charged him with the unauthorized disclosure of multiple cables from that month, he noted that 2006 had been the year of “the surge.” That made 2007 an important year for the State Department because the agency, according to Van Buren, wanted to “prove it was a player in Iraq.” It wanted to carve out a niche and show it could play a key role in bringing about political progress.

One of the cables charged features a meeting between Abdulaziz al-Hakim, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi (also from SCIRI). National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, ambassador to Iraq, was present as well. It focuses on how “the Sunnis” had been “the weak link in Iraq’s national unity government.” [cont’d.]

Image by Jared Rodriguez / Truthout under Creative Commons license

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."