Posted by: maboulette | October 5, 2016

WikiLeaks and CableGate


CableGate occurred during the tenure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. 

The US diplomatic cables leak is referred to as CableGate, started on Sunday, November 28, 2010 when WikiLeaks started leaking classified cables referred to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions all around the world. They were dated anywhere between December 1966 and February 2010.  These cables covered diplomatic analysis of world leaders, and the diplomats’ valuation of host countries and their officials. WikiLeaks stated that the 251,287 cables contained 261,276,536 words, making CableGate “the largest set of confidential documents ever leaked into the public domain.” Today, more recent leaks have surpassed that amount. 

This was a year after Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State for newly elected President Obama and you have to believe that she wasn’t thrilled to have this land on her door-step. 

 Reykjavik 13 

The first leaked document, often referred to Reykjavik 13 cable, was leaked by WikiLeaks on February 18, 2010, and was followed by the leak of profiles written by State Department personnel concerning Icelandic politicians a month later.  Later in 2010, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, made an agreement with media partners in the US as well as Europe to leak the remaining cables in redacted format; eliminating names of sources and those in at risk positions. On November 28th, the 220 cables were leaked under this agreement by El País (Spain), Le Monde (France),  Der Spiegel (Germany), The Guardian (United Kingdom) and The New York Times (United States).  WikiLeaks plan was to release the other cables over several months, and as of January 11, 2011, 2,017 had been published (leaked).


There was a problem with the remaining cables that were published in September 2011.  They were released only after a series of events compromised the security of a WikiLeaks file comprising all the cables. This involved the WikiLeaks volunteers in July 2010, placing an encrypted file with all WikiLeaks data online as “insurance”, in case something happened to their organization. 

In February 2011 David Leigh of The Guardian published the encryption passphrase of this file in a book; he had received this passphrase from Assange so he could access a copy of the CableGate file, and he thought the passphrase used was a temporary one, unique to that file. In August 2011, a German magazine, Der Freitag, published some of these details, which enabled others to piece the puzzle of information together and decrypt the entire CableGate files. These cables were then available online, fully unredacted. WikiLeaks then decided to publish on September 1, 2011 all 251,287 unedited documents.

3rd Largest Leak

The publication of these cables was the 3rd in a sequence of U.S. classified document “mega-leaks” due to WikiLeaks in 2010.  They followed the Afghan War documents that were leaked in July, and the Iraq War documents that were leaked in October. Over 130,000 of the cables were unclassified, almost 100,000 were labeled “confidential”; over 15,000 had the higher classification “secret”, with none being classified as “top secret” on the classification scale.


Reaction to the leak in 2010 was varied. Western governments had strong disapproval, while the material generated strong interest from the public and journalists. Some political leaders referred to Assange as a criminal, while blaming the U.S. Department of Defense for security lapses.


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