Former head of India’s counter-terrorism division expects next Wikileaks release to be about corruption


2030 hrs CET, 28th November,

The Wikileaks release has started and will likely continue through the night. The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The New York Times, El Pais and Le Monde have received the material in advance under embargo and have all started releasing the  US State Department cables.

Wikileaks has been subjected to a cyber-attack today and its site is currently inaccessible.

Link to Guardian ability to download all cables


The BBC headline is

US warns Wikileaks’ Assange on possible leak

The US has stepped up its threats of legal action against Wikileaks while at the same time rushing to contact all “friendly” governments to try and defuse some of the expected fallout of such a release. The flurry of US government activity seems almost panicky and constant repetition of the claim that “countless lives could be put at risk” does not carry much credibility. Instead of taking responsibility for whatever might have been done or written in the past – and presumably they had good reason to believe it was the right and proper thing to do at the time – the strategy seems to be one of “shooting the messenger”.  But in the current paradigm of ease of information dissemination and increased covert operations by governments around the world, attacks on the messenger only reduce the credibility of the attacker and are counter-productive.

B. Raman: image

B. Raman is a former Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India. He is the former head of the counter-terrorism division of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He has been applying his mind to the imminent release of confidential US State Department information by Wikileaks and he expects the main subject to be corruption in high places. His thoughts make fascinating reading.

B. Raman writes on his blog:

1. Wikileaks announced through Twitter on November 22,2010, that it will be shortly releasing its third instalment of classified US documents.

2. The first instalment of 77,000 documents related to Afghanistan. The second instalment of 400,000 documents related to Iraq. According to the Twiiter message, its third instalment will contain a much larger number of documents.

3. Wikileaks did not say in its message what will be the subject-matter of the third instalment. However, a Reuters despatch from Washington DC said that classified US diplomatic cables reporting corruption allegations against foreign governments and leaders are expected in the official documents that Wikileaks plans to release. It added: “Three sources familiar with the US State Department cables held by Wikileaks say the corruption allegations in them are major enough to cause serious embarrassment for foreign governments and politicians named in them. They said the release was expected next week, but it could come earlier. The detailed, candid reports by US diplomats also may create foreign policy complications for the administration of US President Barack Obama, the sources said. Among the countries whose politicians feature in the reports are Russia, Afghanistan and former Soviet republics in Central Asia. But other reports also detail potentially embarrassing allegations reported to Washington from US diplomats in other regions, including East Asia and Europe. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said Washington was assessing the implications of what Wikileaks may reveal and was notifying foreign governments about the possible release. “We wish that this would not happen, but we are obviously prepared for the possibility that it will,” he said.

4.The media has reported that the US has warned India and other key governments across the world about the expected release. Crowley has been quoted as saying: “We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents.” Among other Governments reportedly cautioned are those of Israel, Russia, Turkey, Canada and the UK.

5. After October last year when Wikileaks reportedly developed electronic access to the data bases of the US State Department and the Pentagon and the US military formations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US authorities were reported to have tightened document security to prevent further leaks. If this tightening has been effective, it is likely that the latest load of documents acquired by Wikileaks (is) related to the period before October last year.

6.While corruption allegations as collected by the US Embassis in these countries could form a part of these documents, it is likely that considering the large number of documents mentioned by Wikileaks, the documents also cover US Embassy reporting on other subjects. Previously, Pakistan’s relations with the US were the focus of Wikileaks. It now seems to be focusing on India’s relations with the US too. It is, therefore, possible that in addition to corruption involving Indian personalities, the documents about India which have reached Wikileaks also relate to India’s policies on Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

7. Among the various events relating to Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran in which India figured during this period, four could be sensitive from India’s point of view. Firstly, the pressure on the Atal Behari Vajpayee Government by the administration of George Bush to send a Division of the Indian Army to Iraq. By July,2003, the Vajpayee Government had decided to say no to Washington DC, but there was a lot of voices in Delhi in favour of accepting the US request. Secondly, the papers captured by the US intelligence after the occupation of Iraq from the Iraqi Government Departments showing or corroborating the alleged involvement of a leader or leaders of the Congress (I) in contacts with the Saddam Hussein Government for acquiring preferential quotas for the import of oil from Iraq (the oil for food scandal). Thirdly, the pressure exercised by the Bush Administration on the Manmohan Singh Government for voting against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. The Government of India succumbed to this pressure as a quid pro quo for the Indo-US civil nuclear co-operation agreement of July,2005. Fourthly, the analysis and assessment made in the State Department and the Pentagon regarding Pakistani allegations of Indian involvement in Balochistan.

8. Is it possible that Wikileaks might have also got hold of diplomatic cables between the US Embassy in New Delhi and Washinton DC on Indian political leaders, bureaucrats and policy-making? Has it also got hold of messages sent by the US Embassy in New Delhi to Washington DC about the escape of Major Rabinder Singh, the mole of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Research & Analysis Wing, to the US in 2004 and about the detection by the Indian counter-intelligence of a US mole in the sensitive National Security Council Secretariat in 2006? The documents to be released by Wikileaks need to be carefully scrutinised.. ( 28-11-10)

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