The WikiLeaks Australian cable dump: choice picks

Sourced at Crikey.com by Bernard Keane

After a stoush with Jonathan Holmes on Twitter last night after Media Watch accused Fairfax of hoarding diplomatic cables for commercial purposes, WikiLeaks promised overnight to make public all available Australian cables. And just after 11.30am AEST, after an abortive released of all the Viennese cables, it released the remaining Australian cables. Here are some highlights so far, which will be updated as we go through them:

  • In 2005, Australian diplomats, in particular Australian Safeguards and Nonproliferation Office (ASNO) Director General John Carlson, discussed with US officials ways to prevent Mohamed ElBaradei’s re-election at the International Atomic Energy Agency, complaining about ElBaradei’s management style and handling of Iran.
  • In 2005, then-foreign minister Alexander Downer joked with US General Leon LaPorte, Commander of the UN Command in Korea ,about “letting North Korea go to shit”, the problems with New Zealand’s “bleeding hearts” and talked about a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s artillery positions threatening Seoul.
  • At the launch of WorkChoices, Howard government ministersprivately worried that the benefits of WorkChoices wouldn’t become obvious to voters before 2007 election.
  • In a bizarre cable, US diplomats were convinced that even moderate Australian Muslims were inclined to engage in terrorism, in the aftermath of the London bombings.
  • In a 2006 meeting with Federal Liberal Director Brian Loughnane, US diplomats were told John Howard was well-placed to win the 2007 election if the Australian economy stayed strong. In a significant revelation of Loughnane’s partisan mindset, he “noted that the close ties between President Bush and Howard where reflected in the similarly strong ties between the Australian Liberal and US Republican parties”.
  • Then-opposition leader Kim Beazley told US diplomats on returning the leadership: ”David Hicks was a ratbag who had almost certainly been up to nefarious things, and should probably spend a long time in jail, Beazley said. Still, he predicted most Australians would never accept his conviction by a military commission, even if the Administration manages to structure one acceptable to the Supreme Court. Unless he can be tried by a civil court or by a fully constituted court marshal, it would be better, Beazley argued, to let him go.”
  • ANU academic Professor John Wanna correctly predicted to diplomats late in 2007, after Kevin Rudd had become Prime Minister, that Rudd “will retain his centralist, workaholic tendencies, operating through a few chosen advisors.”

More to come … See also Luke Miller’s Crikey piece on the Bill 

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