WikiLeaks has released the the "Kissinger Cables," a collection of over 1.7 million pieces of diplomatic communications totally over 1 billion words, send in 1973-1976, when Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State and the Cold War was in its détente phase. With a cache this massive (and thus far, not that shocking), what you find all depends on what you're searching for — like, say, the Russian predilection for soft rock. To put the size of this leak in perspective, it's roughly five times the size of the Cablegate, the original WikiLeaks dump published incrementally from 2010-2011. (The last major release by the organization was last summer, regarding Syria.) And this time, instead of a pre-screening by selected media outlets (that didn't always go over so well), Julian Assange and Co. have created a searchable database, to save your eyeballs from all those words at once. And it also means what you find in there depends on what you're looking for, even though WikiLeaks promises "significant revelations about US involvements with fascist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America, under Franco's Spain (including about the Spanish royal family) and in Greece under the regime of the Colonels."
For example, plug in "NODIS" (no distribution) or "ONLY" (eyes only) and you'll get get more classified materials than you could ever ask for (13,245 for NODIS; 9,895 for ONLY), some more historically relevant than others — like this document from Ho Chi Minh city, detailing the tenuous ceasefire situation in the region:
It's pieces like that, which you look at and weave together with history (war restarting in 1974, and over 25,000 South Vietnamese dying in battle during 1973), that make these cables fascinating. But again, it all depends what you're searching for, and there will be discoveries new and weird. Plug in "Joni Mitchell," for example, and you'll find communications between the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the State Department, asking for more Mitchell and Don McLean in Russian lives — and to a lesser extent Neil Young — because, well, that's the Russians wanted in January 1975:
"Soul" music, not so much:
Which is kind of fun, right? Unlike Cablegate, these documents are more of a threat to FOIA fanatics than they are to American diplomacy — they're all technically publicly available documents, and not exactly a "leak" in the classic sense. Assange and his friends will be having a press conference today, announcing plans to work with the Associated Press and The Nation along with other international publications, to help give you a digestible version of this massive cache. None of the group's former media partners made the list of new ones that will be "reporting this week" — but then again Der Spiegel probably wasn't that into Neil Young either.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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