WikiLeaks appeared to be emptying its file cabinets with the announcement of the release of over 55,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Tuesday night. No major bombshells have been uncovered in the immediate wake of the data dump, but some bumps in the road suggests that the organization could be in some trouble. Not long after announcing the massive release, WikiLeaks tweeted that they were "under a sustained DOS attack and have regressed to backup servers" and soon thereafter reported that their "Californian DNS hoster, Dynadot, has received [and complied with] a PATRIOT act production order for information on Julian Assange." The servers appeared to be back online Wednesday morning when the organization posted the rest of the cables.
The countries involved span the globe and represent some of America's most tenuous international relationships. The sheer volume of the dump ensures that journalists and volunteers will be digging through the data for days, but WikiLeaks has made it easier for everyone. The cables are available at a searchable database and sorted based on the location of the U.S. Embassy involved: Libya, China, Israel, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Germany, Afghanistan, France, Indonesia, Rwanda, Turkey, Poland, Syria, Bahrain, South Africa, Somalia. WikiLeaks has asked volunteers to tweet their findings with the #wlfind hashtag on Twitter, where we've found a few interesting revelations.
- U.S. saw a benefit in the privatization of Libyan banks. "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." [Full cable from March 2008]
- Israel believed "the Palestinians are only Israel's number four threat in the IDI's assessment, following Iran, Syria, and Hizballah" [Full cable from December 2008]
- The U.S. "Ask an Ambassador" query attracted some insults in Israel. "Most messages condemned the U.S. for "double standard" policies, with some asking why the U.S. did not take action to stop Israel. One message read, "Stop the Israeli violence in Lebanon. Zionist barbarians are killing babies. You are not a super power; only a super Masonic puppy." [Full cable from August 2008]
- Diplomats closely monitored Israel's opinion of Bush during his re-election campaign. Among the quotes collected: "Conventional wisdom in Israel," wrote a senior columnist from pluralist Yediot Aharonot on November 1, "is that Bush was and will be the ideal American president from Israel's perspective. The best there is. Israel has no interest in seeing him replaced, and it has every interest in seeing him reelected." [Full cable from December 2004]
- Turks don't like Americans, homosexuals, bikinis. "Istanbul's Bahcesehir University conducted a face-to-face survey with 1,714 Turks on radicalism and extremism as measured by neighborhood tolerance in 34 cities. The poll revealed high levels of intolerance toward non-Muslim, American, homosexual, and non-married neighbors. It also revealed conservative attitudes toward atheists, alcohol consumption, and modern revealing clothes such as women's bathing suits and shorts." [Full cable from June 2009]
- Iran got a hold of some German-made weapons equipment. "We want to advise German officials of information indicating that as of June 2009, two Iranian intermediary firms offered test equipment manufactured by the German firms Rohde & Schwarz and Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik (HBM) to Iran's primary developer of liquid-fueled ballistic missiles, the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG)." [Full Cable from December 2009]
- Anti-terrorism efforts in the Philippines included building "dual use" airports. "Our $10 million Philippine 1207 initiative would build upon existing U.S. Agency for International Development and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines activity to improve dual-use infrastructure on the islands of Jolo and the neighboring island of Tawi-Tawi, where we have made significant gains in separating the terrorists from the population." [Full cable from April 2007; report from an activist]
We'll update this post with more interesting findings as they're revealed, but based on recent news, some of WikiLeaks best secrets might be lost. Meanwhile, it was also reported earlier this week that former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg had destroyed a cache of 3,500 important documents, including Bank of America secrets and the U.S. no-fly list. Domscheit-Berg has since disputed that allegation.
Update: Salon's Justin Elliott post about "a pair of fascinating cables about American citizens who are living in illegal West Bank settlement" is also worth a look.
Update 2: Vivian Giang at Business Insider caught some interesting factoids in the cables from China, including but not limited to the fact that China thinks "the U.S. should 'not be paranoid' about the alleged Chinese hacking. Saying Chinese technology is 'so sophisticated that it scares the United States'.