The United States expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries.
Sanctions on Iran
President George W. Bush, hamstrung by the complexities of the Iraq war and suspicions he might attack Iran, struggled to put together sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program. President Barack Obama, determined to merge his promise of "engagement" with his vow to raise the pressure on the Iranians, assembled a coalition that agreed to impose an array of sanctions considerably harsher than any before attempted.
Secret American intelligence assessments concluded that Iran obtained a cache of advanced missiles, based on a Russian design, that are much more powerful than anything Washington has publicly conceded that Tehran has in its arsenal. Iran obtained 19 of the missiles from North Korea.
After U.S. diplomats met with Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half brother of the Afghan president and a power broker in the Taliban's home turf of Kandahar, a cable reads: "Note: While we must deal with AWK as the head of the Provincial Council, he is widely understood to be corrupt and a narcotics trafficker." (Karzai has repeatedly denied such charges.)
King Abdullah speaks scathingly about the leaders of Iraq and Pakistan. Speaking to another Iraqi official about Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, King Abdullah said, "You and Iraq are in my heart, but that man is not." The king called President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan the greatest obstacle to that country's progress: "When the head is rotten it affects the whole body."
As he left Zimbabwe in 2007 after three years as ambassador, Christopher Dell wrote a sardonic account of President Robert Mugabe. The cable called Mugabe "a brilliant tactician" but mocked "his deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics)."
In 1990, a U.S. diplomat sent an excited dispatch from Cape Town: He had just learned from a lawyer for Nelson Mandela that Mandela's 27-year imprisonment was to end. The cable conveys the momentous changes about to begin for South Africa.
New York Times
Founded in December 2006, WikiLeaks.org is a website that publishes leaked government and corporate documents. It says its goal is to reveal "unethical behavior." The website received widespread attention when it released nearly 400,000 Iraq war files in October and when it released a batch of files in July pertaining to the war in Afghanistan. Founder Julian Assange remains the target of a sexual assault investigation in Sweden. Assange, 39, an Australian, has denied the allegations and claimed they're part of a smear campaign.