WikiLeaks Releases Secret Saudi Documents


Editor's Note: The transparency advocacy organization WikiLeaks has begun publication of hundreds of thousands of electronically stolen cables from the government of Saudi Arabia in cooperation with a Lebanese newspaper. The Justice Integrity Project is reprinting as a guest column the group's announcement of its plan and purpose. In general, we disapprove of stolen documents, especially of as-yet Saudi King Salman bin Abdull Aziz Dec. 9, 2013unknown authenticity. A spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the leaked cables were related to a recent cyberattack and suggested that some of the documents were “clearly fabricated.”

But additional factors are relevant here. These include the heavy influence of Saudi money and oil on U.S. policies, decision-makers, and world peace. One of the world's most repressive, autocratic and anti-democratic regimes is suspected of instigating and otherwise fostering many crimes, including funding of the 9/11 terrorists and the rampages of Al Qaeda and ISIS. World Trade Center 9/11 via Creative CommonsAs we here and others have reported in Senators: Expose Financers Of 9/11 Hijackers, only one 2016 presidential candidate and a few elected members of the U.S. Senate and House dare even look at the secret report by Congress in 2002 identifying which country funded the 9/11 terrorists. Even fewer dare co-sign resolutions in Congress to release those 28 pages to the American public and thereby risk their ongoing support from the Saudis and their allies on Wall Street, arms manufacture, energy extraction, intelligence services, and the corporate media.

Additionally, the Saudi government is now using U.S.-supplied arms and logistical help to perpetrate a one-sided air war and deadly food boycott targeting its neighbor Yemen, thereby inflicting death and disease on such a scale as to pose a threat soon of genocide.

The Saudi war of aggression intruding into a civil war began in March with no basis in international law under Nuremberg precedents and thus constitutes war crime. The devastation (portrayed at right in a typical scene) has generated no effective response from the global community, especially with the total breakdown of UN peace discussions June 19.

Also, the Saudi Royal family has undergone a historic succession following the death of King Abdullah in January and installation of a younger, more militant leadership under King Salman, shown in a file photo.

Moreover, June 21 marks the third anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's flight to secure political asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London, Yemen epawhich was forced by the unjust and oppressive political prosecution of Assange by Swedish and British authorities who are suspected of succumbing to pressure from United States officials who wanted to suppress his organization's work. Our project broke major stories in 2010 and 2011 showing serious irregularities in Sweden's claims it was pursuing a non-political investigation of Assange. One example was on the Huffington Post, Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks.  Assange has never been charged with a crime arising from claims by two women who invited him to sleep with them during an August 2010 speaking trip to Sweden. Assange has refused to leave the embassy to travel to Sweden for fear that its government would repeat its occasional past practice of renditioning prisoners illegally at CIA request. Swedish officials have agreed to question him at Ecuador's embassy now that the five-year statute of limitations is set to expire on any crimes that might be alleged.    

For such reasons, we publish a WikiLeaks summary of documents that go far beyond what the mainstream media is willing or able to share about Saudi leadership.

 

WikiLeaks publishes the Saudi Cables 

By WikiLeaks

On June 19 at 1pm GMT, WikiLeaks began publishing "The Saudi Cables," more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.

The publication includes "Top Secret" reports from other Saudi State institutions, including the Ministry of Interior and the Kingdom's General Intelligence Services. The massive cache of data also contains a large number of email communications between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign entities. The Saudi Cables are being published in tranches of tens of thousands of documents at a time over the coming weeks. WikiLeaks is releasing around 70,000 documents from the trove as the first tranche.

The Saudi Cables provide key insights into the Kingdom's operations and how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting key individuals and institutions. The cables also illustrate the highly centralized bureaucratic structure of the Kingdom, where even the most minute issues are addressed by the most senior officials.

Julian Assange file photo (John Stillwell)Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher (shown in a file photo), said: "The Saudi Cables lift the lid on a increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbours and itself."

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a hereditary dictatorship bordering the Persian Gulf.

Despite the Kingdom's infamous human rights record, Saudi Arabia remains a top-tier ally of the United States and the United Kingdom in the Middle East, largely owing to its globally unrivaled oil reserves. The Kingdom frequently tops the list of oil-producing countries, which has given the Kingdom disproportionate influence in international affairs. Each year it pushes billions of petro-dollars into the pockets of UK banks and US arms companies. Last year it became the largest arms importer in the world, eclipsing China, India and the combined countries of Western Europe. The Kingdom has since the 1960s played a major role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and dominates the global Islamic charity market.

For 40 years the Kingdom's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was headed by one man: Saud al Faisal bin Abdulaziz, a member of the Saudi royal family, and the world's longest-serving foreign minister.

The end of Saud al Faisal's tenure, which began in 1975, coincided with the royal succession upon the death of King Abdullah in January 2015. Saud al Faisal's tenure over the Ministry covered its handling of key events and issues in the foreign relations of Saudi Arabia, from the fall of the Shah and the second Oil Crisis to the September 11 attacks and its ongoing proxy war against Iran.

Since late March 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been involved in a war in neighboring Yemen.
 
The Saudi Foreign Ministry in May 2015 admitted to a breach of its computer networks. Responsibility for the breach was attributed to a group calling itself the Yemeni Cyber Army. The group subsequently released a number of valuable "sample" document sets from the breach on file-sharing sites, which then fell under censorship attacks.
 
The full WikiLeaks trove comprises thousands of times the number of documents and includes hundreds of thousands of pages of scanned images of Arabic text. In a major journalistic research effort, WikiLeaks has extracted the text from these images and placed them into our searchable database. The trove also includes tens of thousands of text files and spreadsheets as well as email messages, which have been made searchable through the WikiLeaks search engine.

By coincidence, the Saudi Cables release also marks two other events. Today marks three years since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London seeking asylum from US persecution, having been held for almost five years without charge in the United Kingdom.

Also today Google revealed that it had been been forced to hand over more data to the US government in order to assist the prosecution of WikiLeaks staff under US espionage charges arising from our publication of US diplomatic cables.

For additional background, visit the WikiLeaks site.
 
 
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King Salman of Saudi Arabia with his entourage prepare to greet President and Mrs. Obama in Riyadh Jan. 27, 2015 (White House photo)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Related News Coverage

Update

AP via New York Times, WikiLeaks Files Said to Show N.S.A. Spied on French Leaders, Staff report, June 23, 2015. WikiLeaks published documents late Tuesday that it says shows the United States National Security President Obama and President Hollande Press Conference Feb. 11, 2014Agency eavesdropped on the last three French presidents. President Obama and his national security team have insisted that broad surveillance powers are vital to tracking terrorist threats. Claudine Ripert-Landler, a senior spokeswoman for President François Hollande of France, said on Tuesday night that Mr. Hollande would convene “the Defense Council to evaluate the nature of the information reported in the media and draw the necessary conclusions.” An aide to Mr. Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, said the former president considered these methods unacceptable, generally speaking and especially from an ally. The aide was not authorized to be publicly identified. Obama and Hollande are shown at a press conference in February 2014.

New York Times, Cables Released by WikiLeaks Reveal Saudis' Checkbook Diplomacy, Ben Hubbard, June 20, 2015. Revelations appear in a trove of documents said to have come from inside the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and released on Friday by the group WikiLeaks. While the documents appear to contain no shocking revelations about Saudi Arabia, say, eavesdropping on the United States or shipping bags of cash to militant groups, they contain enough detail to shed light on the diplomacy of a deeply private country and to embarrass Saudi officials and those who lobby them for financial aid. And they allow the curious to get a glimpse of the often complex interactions between a kingdom seen by many as the rich uncle of Middle East and its clients, from Africa to Australia. The documents also indicate concerted Saudi efforts to shape news media coverage, both inside and outside the kingdom. One cable suggested that the government pressure an Arab satellite provider to take an Iranian television station off the air. In another cable, the foreign minister suggests that the provider use “technical means to lessen the Iranian broadcast strength.” Other documents suggest intervention at the highest levels to shape domestic media coverage in a way that suits the rulers. Missing from the documents is any evidence of direct Saudi support for militant groups in Syria or elsewhere.

Guardian, Saudi Arabia tells citizens to ignore latest WikiLeaks release, Ian Black, June 21, 2015. 61,000 leaked cables give rare insight into kingdom’s habit of buying influence and monitoring dissidents. Saudi Arabia has warned its citizens to ignore thousands of its diplomatic documents leaked by the transparency site WikiLeaks, which give a rare insight into the kingdom’s habit of buying influence and monitoring dissidents. The 61,000 Saudi cables, the first tranche of 500,000 promised by Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, also show the country’s sharp focus on its strategic rival Iran and the revolution in Egypt, and support for allies and clients in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East. Nothing yet published matches embarrassing revelations about the Saudis in WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of US diplomatic documents, which reported King Abdullah calling to “cut off the head of the [Iranian] snake” as well as drink- and drug-fuelled partying by minor royals in Jeddah. But routine secret correspondence from the foreign ministry in Riyadh and embassies abroad, some from as recently as April this year, catalogs many of the preoccupations of the conservative monarchy, the world’s biggest oil exporter, especially during the turbulent period of the Arab spring from early 2011. According to one document, Gulf states were prepared to pay $10bn (£6.3bn) to secure the release of the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, which appears to support a previous claim about this by a leading Muslim Brotherhood politician.

President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabian honor

The late Saudi King Abdullah bestows his country's Medal of Honor on Presidents Obama and Bush

President Bush and King Abdullah

 Washington Post, How leaked Saudi documents might really matter, Marc Lynch, June 21, 2015. Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. On Friday, WikiLeaks and the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar released just over 60,000 out of a half-million leaked diplomatic cables from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The immediate response to the announcement followed a predictable script. First, elites sympathetic to Saudi Arabia rushed to minimize the importance of the cables, declaring (remarkably quickly, given the number of documents to be perused) that there was nothing new or interesting to be found in the release. Then, a legion of online Arabs dug into the archive and posted titillating nuggets online, while media outlets began reporting the major finds. Now, those documents are circulating widely through social media, dominating public discourse and could continue to do so for quite some time, with more than 400,000 more documents slated for release over the course of the month of Ramadan.

Don’t expect the cables to cause uprisings in Riyadh or the expulsion of Saudi diplomats from Arab capitals anytime soon. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss the significance of these leaks. They are likely to matter more than many of the previous such leaks because of how they resonate with two of the most potent issues in today’s Middle East: the regional proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran; and fierce Arab regime efforts to control an inexorably expanding Arab public sphere and erase the gains of the 2010-2011 uprisings.

But the absence of “smoking gun” documents is not the point. As Henry Farrell and Marty Finnemore argued a few years ago with regard to the leak of the U.S. State Department cables, the most important consequence was that “they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why.” It’s one thing for everyone in the region to “know” about Saudi efforts to control the media, but it’s something else to read the details in an official document — and to know that everyone else is reading them, too.

OpEdNews, WikiLeaks publishes the Saudi Cables, WikiLeaks Staff, June 20, 2015. On June 19 at 1pm GMT, WikiLeaks began publishing "The Saudi Cables," more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world. 

Justice Integrity Project, Rand Paul, 2 Other Senators: Expose Financers Of 9/11 Hijackers, Andrew Kreig, June 9, 2015. The campaign to expose the financiers of the 9/11 attacks has heated up as GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul and two other senators co-sponsored legislation to require release of a 2002 joint House-Senate report that has remained secret. Paul, shown in an official photo, spoke at a June 2 press conference on Capitol Hill with representatives of 9/11 families to urge his senate colleagues and President Obama to release the report, which reputedly states that Saudi Arabia funded several of the accused 9/11 hijackers in Florida and California. “Information revealed over the years does raise questions about [Saudi Arabia’s] support, or whether their support might have been supportive to these Al Qaeda terrorists,” said Paul, whose legislation co-sponsors are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Neither of the two Democratic senators was present.

WhoWhatWhy, New FBI Tactic Hints at Big DC Cover-up of Saudi 9/11 Funding, Russ Baker, April 2, 2015. In the latest indication of a rolling government cover-up of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is disowning an explosive internal report that suggests high-level Saudi involvement. And Washington seems only too happy to accept this latest peculiar FBI apologia. The Bureau claims that an internal FBI document indirectly tying the alleged Al Qaeda hijackers to a prominent Saudi prince was fabricated. If the FBI is telling the truth and its own agent simply made the whole thing up, that would in itself be a remarkable and essentially unprecedented development. But since we have reason to believe — as you shall see — that the FBI agent did not make it up, the Bureau’s claim is prima facie evidence of a cover-up: one that could only be authorized at the highest levels, for reasons which will become apparent.

WikiLeaks Background

Reuters, Swedish prosecutors plan to question Assange in June or July, Daniel Dickson, June 15, 2015. Swedish prosecutors plan to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (shown in a file photo) at Ecuador's embassy in London in June or Julian Assange 2014July, the prosecutor said on Monday. The prosecutors have submitted a request for legal assistance to the English authorities and a request to Ecuador for permission to interview Assange during those two months, the prosecutor said in a statement. The 43-year-old Australian has been in the embassy building since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault against two women in 2010. He denies the accusations. Prosecutors first insisted Assange should travel to Sweden for questioning, but in a U-turn in March agreed to conduct the interview in London.

Editor's note: Assange has not been charged with any offense by Sweden during his long legal ordeal. Speculation in legal circles is that the most relevant five-year statute of limitations are likely to expire this summer and so authorities feel pressure to justify their huge expenses in investigating him.

Guardian, Julian Assange says Swedish prosecutor is 'reckless' for scrapping interview, Ben Quinn and David Crouch, June 17, 2015. A Swedish prosecutor has cancelled an appointment to interview Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, according to the Wikileaks founder, who has been living in the building for nearly three years to avoid extradition. Assange said Marianne Ny had led his lawyers to believe that an appointment to take a statement from him would take place on Wednesday and described the cancellation as reckless. But Ny said the meeting would have to be called off because she had not received official permission from Ecuador to enter its London embassy.

News from Underground, Eight BIG PROBLEMS with the “case” against Assange, Naomi Wolf, Feb. 11, 2011. Now that Andrew Kreig, of the Justice Integrity Project, has confirmed Karl Rove’s role as an advisor to the Swedish government in its prosecution of Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges, it is important that we note the many glaring aberrations in the handling of Assange’s case by the authorities in Sweden. Dr. Brian Palmer, a social anthropologist at Uppsala University, explained on Kreig’s radio show last month that Karl Rove has been working directly as an advisor to the governing Moderate Party. Kreig also reported, in Naomi WolfConnecticut Watchdog, that the Assange accusers’ lawyer is a partner in the law firm Borgström and Bodström, whose other name partner, Thomas Bodström, is a former Swedish Minister of Justice. In that office, Bodström helped approve a 2001 CIA rendition request to Sweden, to allow the CIA to fly two asylum-seekers from Sweden to Egypt, where they were tortured. This background compels us to review the case against Assange with extreme care.

Based on my 23 years of reporting on global rape law, and my five years of supporting women at rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters, I can say with certainty that this case is not being treated as a normal rape or sexual assault case. New details from the Swedish police make this quite clear. Their transcript of the complaints against Assange is strikingly unlike the dozens of such transcripts that I have read throughout the years as an advocate for victims of sex crimes.

Ask Sweden to produce ANY other police report in which any action was taken in a situation in which there is no stated lack of consent or threat of force. Police simply won’t act on a complaint if there is no indication of a lack of consent, or of consent in the face of violence. The Assange transcripts, in contrast to any typical sex crime report, are a set of transcripts in which neither of the women has indicated a lack of consent.

Specifically, there are eight ways in which this transcript is unusual: 1) Police never pursue complaints in which there is no indication of lack of consent. Click here for others.

Justice Integrity Project, UN Prober Cites U.S. For Manning Abuses As Security Issues Fester, Andrew Kreig, March 12, 2012. A United Nations investigator cited the United States on March 12 for pre-trial mistreatment of Army private Bradley Manning, a suspected accomplice to WikiLeaks who was concerned about U.S. human rights violations. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez concluded that the United States has imposed improper punitive conditions on Manning for some 18 months in advance of any formal charges, much less a finding of guilt. Mendez, at left, demanded to know why the United States is holding an “unindicted detainee in solitary confinement.” Government officials responded that Manning, right, is under “prevention of harm watch.” But they have refused to allow Mendez to interview Manning alone to determine the facts. Officials kept Manning in isolation and sleeping naked in a cell until worldwide human rights pressure forced his removal from a military brig to a maximum security prison to await further developments.   

Justice Integrity Project, WikiLeaks Claims Secret U.S. Charges Against Assange, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 29, 2012. WikiLeaks announced Feb. 28 that it has obtained a hacked email from Stratfor, a Texas political intelligence company with ties to Karl Rove, discussing a secret U.S. indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Reported also is evidence that Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, a former prime minister, is a longtime CIA informant in Sweden, which is ostensibly a neutral country that boasts of a strong human rights record.  The U.S. Justice Department and Stratfor have declined comment. But the email claiming a secret indictment of Assange would, if true, further undermine the credibility of Sweden’s massive effort to gain custody of Assange from the United Kingdom in proceedings that began in 2010. Assange, at right in a Wikipedia photo, has claimed the proceedings are a legal ruse for Sweden to gain custody so that its officials can extradite him by prearrangement to the United States for disclosing secret U.S. cables. A lower court in the United Kingdom disregarded his arguments, and ordered him extradited to undergo questioning on sexual relationship had in Sweden. A decision on his appeal to the top United Kingdom court is expected within weeks.

New York Times, Swedish Police Report Details Case Against Assange, John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya, Dec. 18, 2010. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was released from a British jail late last week, is facing a new challenge: the leak of a 68-page confidential Swedish police report that sheds new light on the allegations of sexual misconduct that led to Mr. Assange’s legal troubles.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 18, 2010. It's really not an overstatement to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the new Iraqi WMDs because the government and establishment media are jointly manufacturing and disseminating an endless stream of fear-mongering falsehoods designed to depict them as scary villains threatening the security of The American People and who must therefore be stopped at any cost.

OpEd News, WikiLeaks Hearing on the Hill: Issues Raised by Desires to Prosecute Assange & WikiLeaks, Kevin Gosztola, Dec. 17, 2010. For over three hours on December 16th, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on legal and constitutional issues raised by WikiLeaks. The hearing focused on the Espionage Act and whether the government could prosecute Julian Assange and others affiliated with the organization or not. The hearing also focused on the limits of the law and how the U.S. could adjust the classification process to guard itself from future "attacks" from WikiLeaks.

 

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Huffington Post, Wife Of Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom Apologizes For Obama Tweet, James Gerken, June 21, 2015. Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, an Israeli TV and radio personality and the wife of Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, apologized on Sunday after tweeting, and then deleting, a joke (at right) about U.S. President Barack Obama.