Either Washington wasn't particularly worried about the content of these cables, or President Obama's Defense and State departments had a mammoth security hole.
Plainly, Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- a former CIA chief -- would prefer that the attention be focused on Julian Assange rather than on the fact that the egregious security problem occurred on Gates' watch. Gates, who has spent a career as a security professional, would seem far more culpable than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who would have been far less familiar with the details of security issues.
As Washington lobbies foreign governments to hold Assange and prepare to deliver him to the United States for prosecution, secret cables show that U.S. officials quietly pressured German authorities to prevent them from issuing international arrest warrants for CIA operatives responsible for kidnapping Khalid al-Masri, who was wrongly identified as a terrorist. (See cable below.)
It's quite interesting BTW that Sweden demands the extradition of Assange -- though no charges have been filed -- but has, the Independent reports, told U.S. officials Sweden will only transfer Assange to U.S. custody if the United States files charges. This implies that the international arrest warrant was a gimmick meant to hold Assange until Washington could cook up something that was politically sellable to the American people.
Assange asked the State Dept. to indicate which cables it thought would endanger lives but a State Dept. official replied Nov. 27 that it would not "engage in negotiations regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials."
Sen. Diane Feinstein rejected Assange's offer as inadequate and yet the New York Times reported that the White House had worked with that newspaper in sifting the cables for true "national security" material.
See Judith Miller's latest column (sidebar) for a full account.
VZCZCXYZ0015 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHRL #0242 0371748 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 061748Z FEB 07 FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6940
S E C R E T BERLIN 000242 SIPDIS NOFORN SIPDIS FOR S/ES-O, EUR AND L E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2017 TAGS: KJUS PTER PREL PGOV GM SUBJECT: AL-MASRI CASE -- CHANCELLERY AWARE OF USG CONCERNS REF: A. BERLIN 230 Â¶B. BERLIN 200 Classified By: DCM John M. Koenig for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) Â¶1. (S/NF) In a February 6 discussion with German Deputy National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel, the DCM reiterated our strong concerns about the possible issuance of international arrest warrants in the al-Masri case. The DCM noted that the reports in the German media of the discussion on the issue between the Secretary and FM Steinmeier in Washington were not accurate, in that the media reports suggest the USG was not troubled by developments in the al-Masri case. The DCM emphasized that this was not the case and that issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship. He reminded Nikel of the repercussions to U.S.-Italian bilateral relations in the wake of a similar move by Italian authorities last year. Â¶2. (S/NF) The DCM pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S. We of course recognized the independence of the German judiciary, but noted that a decision to issue international arrest warrants or extradition requests would require the concurrence of the German Federal Government, specifically the MFA and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). The DCM said our initial indications had been that the German federal authorities would not allow the warrants to be issued, but that subsequent contacts led us to believe this was not the case. Â¶3. (S/NF) Nikel also underscored the independence of the German judiciary, but confirmed that the MFA and MOJ would have a procedural role to play. He said the case was subject to political, as well as judicial, scrutiny. From a judicial standpoint, the facts are clear, and the Munich prosecutor has acted correctly. Politically speaking, said Nikel, Germany would have to examine the implications for relations with the U.S. At the same time, he noted our political differences about how the global war on terrorism should be waged, for example on the appropriateness of the Guantanamo facility and the alleged use of renditions. Â¶4. (S/NF) Nikel also cited intense pressure from the Bundestag and the German media. The German federal Government must consider the "entire political context," said Nikel. He assured the DCM that the Chancellery is well aware of the bilateral political implications of the case, but added that this case "will not be easy." The Chancellery would nonetheless try to be as constructive as possible. Â¶5. (S/NF) The DCM pointed out that the USG would likewise have a difficult time in managing domestic political implications if international arrest warrants are issued. He reiterated our concerns and expressed the hope that the Chancellery would keep us informed of further developments in the case, so as to avoid surprises. Nikel undertook to do so, but reiterated that he could not, at this point "promise that everything will turn out well." TIMKEN JR