The New York Times published a number of documents from a planned Wikileaks release on Sunday evening, including one regarding Defense Minister Ehud Barak's views on the peace process and Iran's nuclear ambitions.
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The document, dated June 2, 2009 and sent from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, details Barak's visit with a two Congressional delegations. It quotes Barak as saying that "'no option should be removed from the table' when confronting Iran and North Korea."
"Barak asked rhetorically how a lack of firm response to North Korea would be interpreted by Iran's leadership, speculating the US government would be viewed as a 'paper tiger'," the diplomatic cable reads.
The embassy official also writes that "Barak said he was personally skeptical that engagement would lead to an acceptable resolution, and argued in favor of a paradigm shift to confront the triple threat posed by nuclear proliferation, Islamic extremist terrorism, and rogue/failing states." Barak also encouraged a "strategic partnership with China, Russia, India, and the EU...in facing these threats."
Also on Sunday, pages from German newspaper Der Spiegel
were leaked, revealing some of the contents of the Wikileaks documents to be released later in the day.
The documents quoted in the leaked article include nicknames for a number of world leaders. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is referred to as "Hitler," French President Nicolas Sarkozy as a "naked emperor," the German Chancellor is called Angela "Teflon" Merkel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia." Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is an "Alpha Male," while President Dmitry Medvedev is "afraid, hesitant."
The documents also say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffers from epilepsy, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi's full-time nurse is a "hot blond," and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi loves "wild parties."
The article also quotes the State Department as saying that US President Barack Obama "prefers to look East rather than West," and "has no feelings for Europe."
"The US sees the world as a conflict between two superpowers," the diplomatic cables say. "The European Union plays a secondary role."
On Sunday evening, the Wikileaks site was made unavailable to users. The whistle-blower site experienced a "distributed denial of service attack," according to the its Twitter account.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a tour of work being done on a new fence on the Egypt-Israel border that Israel has received no new "specific" warnings regarding what is in the WikiLeaks documents scheduled to be released later in the evening.
Netanyahu said that he does not even think the Americans know exactly what is in the document. He said there is often a gap between what is said in private and what is said publicly.
"There are three million documents, so I don't know if the Americans were able to clarify" their contents, Netanyahu said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Sunday that the documents released by Wikileaks will not harm the relations between Israel and the US.
"There's nothing to get excited about," Ayalon said. "We have to be patient. As someone who knows Israel-US relations from up close, I can say that our joint interests are the basis of the relationship, and not small issues hear and there."
"No document can damage our friendship with the US," Ayalon added.
Israel, along with various US allies around the world, was on high alert
Sunday morning, after being briefed by American diplomats about the expected release of classified files.
An Israeli government source said that already last Wednesday the US had
informed Israel that it could be mentioned in the anticipated WikiLeaks
release of the classified US cables and documents.
“They did not want us to hear about it from the media. We appreciated
the phone call and we thanked them for giving us the heads up,” the
Another Israeli official added that the American Embassy in Tel Aviv had
been calling Israelis named in the documents in order to warn them in
advance. The list includes officials in the Foreign Ministry, as well as
aides to prime ministers, this official said.Obama: Leaked documents will endanger "countless" lives
The Obama administration on Sunday told whistle-blower WikiLeaks
its expected imminent release of classified State Department cables
will put "countless" lives at risk, threaten global counter-terrorism
operations and jeopardize US relations with its allies.
In a highly unusual step reflecting the administration's grave concerns
about the ramifications of the move, the State Department released a
letter from its top lawyer to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his
attorney telling them that publication of the documents would be illegal
and demanding that they stop it.
It also said the US government would not cooperate with WikiLeaks in
trying to scrub the cables of information that might put sources and
methods of intelligence gathering and diplomatic reporting at risk.
The letter from State Department legal adviser Harold Koh was released
as US diplomats around the world are scrambling to warn foreign
governments about what might be in the secret documents that are
believed to contain highly sensitive assessments about world leaders,
their policies and America's attempts to lobby them.
In the letter, Koh said the publication of some 250,000 secret
diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, which is expected on Sunday, will "place
at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals," ''place at risk
on-going military operations," and "place at risk on-going cooperation
"They were provided in violation of US law and without regard for the
grave consequences of this action," he said. Koh said WikiLeaks should
not publish the documents, return them to the US government and destroy
any copies it may have in its possession or in computer databases.Gil Hoffman and Tovh Lazaroff contributed to this report.