December 18, 2010
|Government takes serious view of the matter|
NEW DELHI: The Indian government regards as “highly improper” the unauthorised channel of communication established by an FBI representative in the U.S. embassy here with an officer of the Delhi Police Special Cell.
Reacting to the disclosure in a confidential cable released by WikiLeaks that the Regional Security Officer (RSO) in the American embassy often gathered more information on terrorism-related issues by “discreetly contacting” a local officer in the Special Cell rather than by sending a request through proper channels, senior Indian officials told The Hindu that the government took a very serious view of the matter.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was allowed to set up shop in India by the NDA government several years ago, staffs the designated RSO post. Indian officials said the RSOs were supposed to interact with designated nodal officers in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Ministry of Home Affairs.
While every diplomat — and especially those with a law enforcement or intelligence background — tries his or her best to tap as wide a variety of sources as possible, the Government of India has strict ground rules for its own officials, who are not meant to make unauthorised contact or information transfers to foreign envoys. “I am quite sure the Intelligence Bureau will be very interested in [finding out] who these people are in the Special Cell who have been “discreetly” interacting with the FBI,” a former head of the IB said on condition of anonymity. Another official said that the cable was significant not because it revealed the ingenuity of the Americans but because it showed the “porousness” of the Indian system.
The cable also noted that forensics was weak in India – as only two DNA labs service the entire country. “Few police officers outside major cities are trained in safeguarding and exploiting electronic data, although this capacity is expanding under indigenous cyber security and cooperative training with U.S. agencies,'' it said.
During the current visit of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China to Pakistan, the focus has been on projecting China and Pakistan as military allies helping each other in defending their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
2.The Chinese Government controlled Xinhua news agency quoted Wen as telling Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani on December 17 as follows: "China and Pakistan were, are and will always be good neighbors, good friends, good partners and good brothers.China appreciates the strong support Pakistan has long been offering on issues concerning China's core interests, and will continue backing Pakistan's efforts in defending national sovereignty, maintaining social stability and achieving independent and sustainable economic development.” Noting that Pakistan has made huge sacrifice for and important contributions to the global counterterrorism campaign, Wen said his country is ready to work together with Pakistan to promote regional peace and stability.
3. During a meeting with Gen.Khalid Shameem Wynne, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir, Chief of the Naval Staff, and Air Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, at Islamabad on December 18, Wen , according to the Xinhua, called for enhanced military exchanges and cooperation between China and Pakistan so as to cement the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation. He said: " The Pakistani military is a steadfast supporter and vindicator of the China-Pakistan friendship, and has played an important role in consolidating and developing their strategic partnership of cooperation."He applauded the close exchanges between the two militaries in the areas of anti-terrorism and disaster relief, and hoped to further enhance the military links to contribute to the development of bilateral ties.
4. According to the Xinhua, the Pakistani military chiefs who called on Wen described China as an all-weather strategic partner of Pakistan and said the bilateral friendship had withstood severe challenges. The Pakistani military was ready to work jointly with China to play a positive role in developing their strategic partnership of cooperation. ( 19-12-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate, Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: email@example.com )
An unnecessary political controversy has been created over a diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in New Delhi to the US State Department in Washington DC summarising, inter alia, a discussion on terrorism in India which the US Ambassador Timothy Roemer reportedly had with Rahul Gandhi, the General Secretary of the Congress (I), at a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July last year. It is one of the cables leaked out by WikiLeaks.
2. A careful reading and analysis of Rahul Gandhi's observations as reported in the cable would indicate that the theme of the discussions was about the relative threat faced by India from the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), a Pakistani organisation, and indigenous extremist elements belonging to the Hindu as well as Muslim communities. My reading is that Rahul Gandhi had said that the indigenous elements----whether the Indian Muslims who have taken to terrorism or some Hindu elements taking to terrorism--- cause him greater concern than the LET.
3. This is what I have been saying since the Indian Mujahideen (IM) made its appearance in 2007 and since some Hindu elements, angered by what they perceived as the soft policy of the Congress(I) controlled Governments towards Muslim terrorists, took to reprisal terrorism against the Muslims and their places of worship. I have been saying that while we can be ruthless without any qualms of conscience against the LET and other Pakistani jihadi organisations, we cannot be so against our own citizens who take to terrorism---whether they are Hindus or Muslims. We have to be more nuanced in dealing with our indigenous terrorist elements without adding to the anger in the two communities against each other. The LET has been active in India for over 17 years. We are used to dealing with it with no holds barred. The new indigenous elements----Indian Muslims and Hindus--- are of recent origin and it is going to be more difficult to deal with them--- unless we pay attention to the anger in the two communities----- the anger in the Muslim community over perceptions of unfair policies towards their community and the anger in the Hindu community over perceptions of softness towards the Muslim terrorists.
4. I, therefore, do not take serious objection to the views of Rahul Gandhi. However, I wonder whether it was wise on his part to have discussed this with the US Ambassador lest his views be misinterpreted as has happened now following the leak of the cable. (19-12-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Contrary to media reports and popular perception, the ‘secret’ cable despatched from the US Embassy in New Delhi on August 3, 2009 was not only about Mr Rahul Gandhi’s views on Hindu terror. A close reading of the cable, marked for the State Department and signed by US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer, would show that it was a report on efforts by the American mission aimed at “reaching out to Rahul Gandhi and other young parliamentarians”. The cable’s summary says: “In a review of the career and potential of Rahul Gandhi, 40-year-old heir apparent to the leadership of India’s ruling Congress party, the US Ambassador reports conversations with the young politician, speaking appreciatively of recent statements and potential for the future.” The key words, lest you miss them, are “reaching out”, “career and potential”, “heir apparent”, “appreciatively” and “future”. The man who represents American interests in India was keen on establishing ‘contact’ with the second most important person in the current, US-friendly dispensation in New Delhi; and it’s a hurrah! note to headquarters from him after having established that contact. As Mr Roemer highlights in his cable, “(Rahul) Gandhi… could become a key interlocutor… as we pursue a strategic dialogue with India.” Diplomats know who matters how much in which regime and which ‘key interlocutor’ can help push their country’s agenda. In this case, the agenda of the US, as it would like to see implemented in its newly discovered outpost in South Asia.
The cable mentions that Mr Roemer met Mr Gandhi at a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister “in honour of the Secretary” — his reference is to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Among the invitees was Indian Congress Party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, as well as other prominent figures from politics, business and civil society.” But notwithstanding their ‘prominence’, these worthies do not merit mention by name in the cable. Mr Gandhi does — he “was seated next to the Ambassador” and “shared his views on a range of political topics, social challenges and electoral issues for the Congress in the next five years”. Since the discussion took place three months after the UPA won a second term in office, we can assume that Mr Gandhi had by then worked out everything for the Congress till 2014; he had charted the course for the party, so to say, to a third, and spectacular, victory in a row, thus enabling his transition from heir apparent to ruler. In between pointing out that the Congress, or the UPA if you wish, had a rather short honeymoon in its second term and detailing his plans to “find younger party members who would not carry some of the baggage of older Congress candidates” to contest and win elections, he commented on “the tensions created by some of the more polarising figures in the BJP such as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi” (these words have been used by Mr Roemer, we can’t be sure whether Mr Gandhi used them in his conversation). It is in this context that Mr Roemer asked Mr Gandhi about the “Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s activities in the region and immediate threat to India”. It would be in order to mention here that another US Embassy cable that the LeT’s threat to India is real, has not diminished since 26/11 and the Pakistan-based group is planning high profile strikes, including a plot to assassinate Mr Narendra Modi.
We can only speculate on whether Mr Roemer’s query was in the context of that cable or he was subtly provoking a political response to a security issue to gauge any shift in the Government’s policy. It would be absurd to believe that the American Ambassador was unaware of hostilities between the Congress Dynasty and the Congress Destroyer in Gujarat. Be that as it may, Mr Gandhi’s response provides a glimpse into the intellectual abilities of the Prince who would be King one day. “(Rahul) Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim community. However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community… The risk of a ‘home-grown’ extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention.” (The emphasis is that of Mr Roemer’s and not this writer’s.)
The US Ambassador’s conclusion, based on the lunch table conversation, tells its own story: “Over the last four years, he was an elusive contact, but he could be interested in reaching out to the United States, given a thoughtful, politically sensitive and strategic approach on our part. We will seek other opportunities to engage with him…” It’s natural that there should be some amount of concern in Washington, DC about policy after the Regent vacates the masnad of Delhi for the Prince. If there’s one thing the American establishment is mindful of, it is that continuity is of the essence to promote and push national interest in foreign lands; regime change can have disastrous consequences. As for what the US mission really (emphasis added by this writer) thinks of Mr Gandhi, readers should look up the ‘secret’ cable tagged ‘Delhi Diary, January 30-February 19, 2010’, in which “A US diplomat romps through three weeks of Indian politics, from the chauvinism of the Shiv Sena to a new law allowing gay couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
In keeping with the style of the cables that have been ‘leaked’ into the public domain, here’s a summary: Outrage over Mr Gandhi’s frivolous analysis of the internal security scenario of India and his ill-informed commentary on terrorism is fine, but only up to a point. What is of greater import is the ease with which the proverbial ‘Quiet American’ can co-opt those who desire to rule India through “a thoughtful, politically sensitive and strategic approach”. Somewhere out there, Mrs Indira Gandhi’s soul would be most distressed following the disclosure of this particular cable, but then, when alive she carried the “baggage of older Congress candidates” as her grandson disparagingly describes those who have served the party (and presumably the country) for decades.
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December 17, 2010
By F. William Engdahl, 7 December 2010
The story on the surface makes for a script for a new Oliver Stone Hollywood thriller. A 39-year old Australian hacker holds the President of the United States and his State Department hostage to a gigantic cyber “leak,” unless the President leaves Julian Assange and his Wikileaks free to release hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive US Government memos. A closer look at the details, so far carefully leaked by the most ultra-establishment of international media such as the New York Times, reveals a clear agenda. That agenda coincidentally serves to buttress the agenda of US geopolitics around the world from Iran to Russia to North Korea. The Wikileaks is a big and dangerous US intelligence Con Job which will likely be used to police the Internet.
It is almost too perfectly-scripted to be true. A discontented 22 -year old US Army soldier on duty in Baghdad, Bradley Manning, a low-grade US Army intelligence analyst, described as a loner, a gay in the military, a disgruntled “computer geek,” sifts through classified information at Forward Operating Base Hammer. He decides to secretly download US State Department email communications from the entire world over a period of eight months for hours a day, onto his blank CDs while pretending to be listening to Lady Gaga. In addition to diplomatic cables, Manning is believed to have provided WikiLeaks with helicopter gun camera video of an errant US attack in Baghdad on unarmed journalists, and with war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Manning then is supposed to have tracked down a notorious former US computer hacker to get his 250,000 pages of classified US State Department cables out in the Internet for the whole world to see. He allegedly told the US hacker that the documents he had contained "incredible, awful things that belonged in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, DC." The hacker turned him in to US authorities so the story goes. Manning is now incommunicado since months in US military confinement so we cannot ask him, conveniently. The Pentagon routinely hires the best hackers to design their security systems.
Then the plot thickens. The 250,000 pages end up at the desk of Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian founder of a supposedly anti-establishment website with the cute name Wikileaks. Assange decides to selectively choose several of the world’s most ultra-establishment news media to exclusively handle the leaking job for him as he seems to be on the run from Interpol, not for leaking classified information, but for allegedly having consensual sex with two Swedish women who later decided it was rape.
He selects as exclusive newspapers to decide what is to be leaked theNew York Times which did such service in promoting faked propaganda against Saddam that led to the Iraqi war, the London Guardian and Der Spiegel. Assange claims he had no time to sift through so many pages so handed them to the trusted editors of the establishment media for them to decide what should be released. Very “anti-establishment” that. The New York Times even assigned one of its top people, David E. Sanger, to control the release of the Wikileaks material. Sanger is no establishment outsider. He sits as a member of the elite Council on Foreign Relations as well as the Aspen Institute Strategy Group together with the likes of Condi Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former CIA head John Deutch, former State Department Deputy Secretary and now World Bank head Robert Zoellick among others.
Indeed a strange choice of media for a person who claims to be anti-establishment. But then Assange also says he believes the US Government version of 9/11 and calls the Bilderberg Group a normal meeting of people, a very establishment view.
The latest sensational Wikileaks documents allegedly from the US State Department embassies around the world to Washington are definitely not as Hillary Clinton claimed "an attack on America's foreign policy interests that have endangered innocent people." And they do not amount to what the Italian foreign minister, called the "September 11 of world diplomacy." The British government calls them a threat to national security and an aide to Canada’s Prime Minister calls on the CIA to assassinate Assange, as does kooky would-be US Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.
Most important, the 250000 cables are not "top secret" as we might have thought. Between two and three million US Government employees are cleared to see this level of "secret" document,1 and some 500,000 people around the world have access to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRnet) where the cables were stored.
Siprnet is not recommended for distribution of top-secret information. Only 6% or 15,000 pages of the documents have been classified as even secret, a level below top-secret. Another 40% were the lowest level, "confidential", while the rest were unclassified. In brief, it was not all that secret.2
Most of the revelations so far have been unspectacular. In Germany the revelations led to the removal of a prominent young FDP politician close to Guido Westerwelle who apparently liked to talk too much to his counterpart at the US Embassy. The revelations about Russian politics, that a US Embassy official refers to Putin and Medvedev as “Batman and Robin,” tells more about the cultural level of current US State Department personnel than it does about internal Russian politics.
But for anyone who has studied the craft of intelligence and of disinformation, a clear pattern emerges in the Wikileaks drama. The focus is put on select US geopolitical targets, appearing as Hillary Clinton put it “to justify US sanctions against Iran.” They claim North Korea with China’s granting of free passage to Korean ships despite US State Department pleas, send dangerous missiles to Iran. Saudi Arabia’s ailing King Abdullah reportedly called Iran’s President a Hitler.
Excuse to police the Internet?
What is emerging from all the sound and Wikileaks fury in Washington is that the entire scandal is serving to advance a long-standing Obama and Bush agenda of policing the until-now free Internet. Already the US Government has shut the Wikileaks server in the United States though no identifiable US law has been broken.
The process of policing the Web was well underway before the current leaks scandal. In 2009 Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller and Republican Olympia Snowe introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (S.773). It would give the President unlimited power to disconnect private-sector computers from the internet. The bill "would allow the president to 'declare a cyber-security emergency' relating to 'non-governmental' computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat." We can expect that now this controversial piece of legislation will get top priority when a new Republican House and the Senate convene in January.
The US Department of Homeland Security, an agency created in the political hysteria following 9/11 2001 that has been compared to the Gestapo, has already begun policing the Internet. They are quietly seizing and shutting down internet websites (web domains ) without due process or a proper trial. DHS simply seizes web domains that it wants to and posts an ominous "Department of Justice" logo on the web site. See an example at . Over 75 websites were seized and shut in a recent week. Right now, their focus is websites that they claim "violate copyrights," yet the torrent-finder.com website that was seized by DHS contained no copyrighted content whatsoever. It was merely a search engine website that linked to destinations where people could access copyrighted content. Step by careful step freedom of speech can be taken away. Then what?
NEW DELHI: The U.S. had pressured India in a variety of ways in an attempt to persuade it to downgrade its ties with Iran, according to several confidential cables from the New Delhi American Mission leaked by WikiLeaks on Friday.
In cables sent after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad briefly stopped over in India in mid-2008, the then U.S. Ambassador, David Mulford, told the then Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon that “Americans, particularly members of the Congress, will view Ahmadinejad's visit as India providing a platform for an enemy of the U.S.”
This was also the time when India was negotiating the civil nuclear deal with the U.S., and Mr. Mulford sought to link it with New Delhi maintaining close ties with Iran.
While in one cable Mr. Mulford served a mild warning, he later got told off by Mr. Menon when he sought to put the screws on. The telling-off led to Mr. Mulford concluding that “the India-Iran relationship does not need U.S. interference.”
A year earlier, several cables reveal how the U.S. harried India on one of its companies trying to supply graphite blocks to allegedly further the Iranian nuclear programme. The Americans served a demarche to India on the issue and forced New Delhi to cancel or withhold the shipments.
One cable also has a U.S. Embassy official complaining to South Block about a meeting between an official of the Indian company with a person they suspected of furthering Iran's ballistic missile programme. In the end, the U.S. was all praise for India's non-proliferation efforts by blocking the graphite shipment.
While the India-U.S. deal was being negotiated, Mr. Mulford told Mr. Menon that “the average American will wonder why the U.S. has gone out of its way to have a nuclear cooperation initiative with India, when India is so friendly to Iran. I cannot predict what the effect of this visit will be, but noted that he expected the Ahmadinejad stop to exercise those members of Congress who have gone out of their way on India's behalf [for the nuclear deal].”
Mr. Menon responded by observing that “there is nothing in this visit that should upset you,” and explained that the Indian government had little choice to say yes when the Iranian government requested a stop in transit. Moreover, he said India and Iran needed to talk about Afghanistan and energy issues.
“We can talk with him without affecting our other relationships,” Mr. Menon contended, and cited the strong India-Israel relationship that withstood India's flirtation with Iran. He also said that in his view, Mr. Ahmadinejad's criticism of the West was a “performance.”
‘No dictation from U.S.'
Mr. Menon later got tough with Mr. Mulford when he persisted with this line.
“Menon also cautioned the U.S. against telling India what to do, especially in public. This government has to be seen following an independent foreign policy, not responding to dictation from the U.S. He recognised that Iran presents a global problem, and the U.S. and India differ in how to fix the situation because of geography. For instance, Menon pressed, India must work with Iran to deal with Afghanistan,” the cable said.
The U.S. does not seem to have been mollified by briefings given by Mr. Menon after Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit. Mr. Menon's reading was that Mr. Ahmadinejad “voiced more mild opinions, and called for strengthening the governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
In another briefing, Mr. Menon said Mr. Ahmadinejad was “broadly ideological but mild on specifics.” He admitted: “I had not realised how ideological Ahmadinejad is, and noted that while Mr. Ahmadinejad did not attack the U.S. explicitly, he opined that the U.S. has destabilised Iraq and would withdraw soon.”
When asked about specifics, Mr. Menon said: “Ahmadinejad became relatively mild.” He highlighted Mr. Ahmadinejad's opinions on Afghanistan and Iraq wherein he noted that “there was no alternative to Hamid Karzai and called for strengthening the government in Kabul, and regarding Iraq, he called for greater law and order, but considered the Maliki government good. There was no fire and brimstone in the details.”