‘Chipped’ Detainees, Iran Mega-Missiles And More in Latest WikiLeaks
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told a senior White House official to consider surgically implanting homing devices under Guantanamo Bay detainees’ skin. That’s one of the many potentially embarrassing comments from diplomatic back rooms now being made public by WikiLeaks.
During a March 2009 meeting with John Brennan, President Obama’s closest counterterrorism adviser, Abdullah proposed shooting electronic chips into the residual Guantanamo population, “allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth.” Abdullah appears to have come up with the idea on the fly during their meeting — “I’ve just thought of something,” the cable quotes him saying — and considered forced subcutaneous chip implantation uncontroversial, since it’s already “done with horses and falcons.”
Brennan appears to have gingerly waved him off: “[H]orses don’t have good lawyers,” he replied, “but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.”
That’s a particularly bizarre proposal revealed inside the third large trove of U.S. secrets the radical anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks has published in the last six months. This current one — reported on Sunday by the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and the Guardian — centers around more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic communications, earning the dump a furious condemnation from the State Department and the White House. Our sister blog Threat Level first reported in June that WikiLeaks got ahold of the cables, and reports today on the U.S. information-sharing initiative that made the leak possible.
Perhaps the most worrisome news to come out the diplo doc dump is that North Korea secretly gave Iran 19 powerful missiles with a range of 2,000 miles. The missiles, known as the BM-25, are modified from Russian R-27s, which were submarine-based missiles carrying nuclear weapons. “If fired from Iran,” the New York Times notes, a missile with that range could “let its warheads reach targets as far away as Western Europe, including Berlin.” The BM-25, unveiled in a North Korean military parade last month, may be North Korea’s longest-range missile yet. Ares’ David A. Fulgham observed that its design “is showing second-stage and nose-cone design characteristics associated with Iran’s Shahab 3 missile,” indicating growing missile ties between the two rogue states.
No wonder why European leaders are suddenly so keen on missile defense. And no wonder why so many of the leaders of the Arab Middle East are increasingly freaked out by Iran’s growing conventional arsenal — and nuclear program.
Bahrain’s King Hamad argued last November “for taking action to terminate [Iran’s] nuclear program, by whatever means necessary,” one cable reads. Sounding like George W. Bush, Hamad told General David Petraeus, “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” In the same meeting with Brennan, Abdullah said he declined an invitation to visit Iran from its foreign minister, saying instead, “All I want is for you to spare us your evil.”
A crown prince of the United Arab Emirates is said to be “somewhat incredulous” of U.S. claims that Iran may not be aiding Yemeni rebels, and laments that “our focus on Al Qaeda has caused us to lose sight of the bigger picture of Iranian adventurism.” Pakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi tweets, “Arab leaders are like high school bitches.”
Ronald Neumann, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, tells Danger Room he fears the impact of forced candor on U.S. foreign relations. “A man might say things to his wife about his mother-in-law that he would be horrified to hear her repeat to her mother and the doing of which might even put great strain on his marriage,” Neumann says. “That is what a lot of classification is about. I believe it serves the public. There is always an argument for publicizing malfeasance. I do not believe there is one for making more difficult just getting on with the nation’s diplomatic business.”
The White House responded to the latest WikiLeaks trove with furious denouncement. “[S]uch disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs emailed reporters on Sunday. “These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.” Interestingly, WikiLeaks tweeted Sunday that it’s under a “mass distributed denial of service attack.”
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