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WikiLeaks: Confessions from a Urinal


A secret so secret, you can pick up a copy at a bookstore.

Remember when catholics used to get absolution from their local priest? They apparently still do it today. You rock up, enter this darkened box and speak to a guy you have known probably since birth and he pretends not to know you. You then divulge your sins of the week, he pretends to be shocked, administers some homework, waves a stick and you are magically cured.

Well WikiLeaks is nothing like that at all.

In the case of catholicism, the idea is you divulge YOUR sins. WikiLeaks divulges someone else’s. It is akin to walking into a toilet for a piss and reading the graffiti.

WikiLeaks success stems from our love of tabloids. Who is fucking whom. Who likes to cross dress. Who eats fried bananas with peanut butter. All that juicy stuff. Problem is, none of what they are publishing can stand up in a court of law. Why? Well most if not all the data in the cables are an interpretation of what someone else has told the writer.

It is a case of <so and so> told <so and so> that <so and so> and <so and so> like to meet <so and so> in their underwear.

Despite the surprise revelation that diplomats get information from other people, not one traditional media source is challenging the validity of the information revealed. To a blind man, light bulbs are useless. So getting information from them is limited to how they perceive the world. I am not saying the information is not true for them, but it may not be the truth.

For example, the blood diamond saga. One diplomat sends a cable that someone told him that someone else was giving someones else blood diamonds. I think the legal term for this is hearsay. Of course a diplomatic post is not concerned with legal terms and passes the information onto their employer.

Now if the employer gets similar dispatches from other eyes and ears that corroborate this data, then this gives that data more weight, sure. But the sources of the information is as important as the information itself. In the blood diamond saga, a diplomat in Greece is told by a British mining executive that those close to Mugabe including his wife have been “have been extracting tremendous profits” from a particular mine in Zimbabwe.  He then alludes that the diamonds are then resold to “foreign buyers” for hundreds of thousands a months.

An intriguing tale. More so because the mining executive failed to tell the police his story and obviously waiting to keep it for a diplomatic soiree where he can regale others with his intricate knowledge. But would it not be funny if it turned out that this named executive was one of the buyers. At least that would give the story a tang of validity. Still, he would need to explain why he chose to purchase stolen goods if indeed they were stolen.

Another intriguing element of the tale is why tell it? What benefits could a mining executive have by reporting the secrets of a rival mining executive? And again, if the executive has information of corruption, why not report it to the authorities. Enough said.

There is another side to the gritty world of diplomats and that is the data given to them could actually be concocted. It does not require an in depth knowledge of espionage movies to know that misinformation is as important as information. The idea is to do it in such a way as to make it appear valid. A dropped word or two in a far flung embassy party that is ‘confirmed’ by some other dropped word or two at another embassy party in another part of the word and so on till a message is sent that appears to be truth, but is in fact a piece of a crafted jigsaw puzzle that the inventor hopes the target actually is smart enough to believe but stupid enough to not reject.

Ultimately, it is up to the diplomat to actually scribe a message about any information they consider scribe worthy. Sometimes they discount what they have been told outright and file it in their mental waste paper basket. But other times they may discount it, but still send it with the reasons why they find the information invalid. At least it probably worked that way prior to the fear created post 9/11. Now fewer diplomats would be keen to withhold data (just in case) or even label the data’s validity (just in case). If a data analyst rejects the data because of what the diplomat said and it turns out to be true and lives are lost, then this is a mistake no one wants to wear.

So, out of fear, information that would not normally have gone anywhere, is consigned to a text message to headquarters. The data analysts whack out the abacus and sift through it all and work out scenarios, probabilities, possibilities and from that all, see if there is enough data here to actually formulate information from it all.

What WikiLeaks is publishing is data. It is not even claiming the validity of this data as it is assuming since it all came from one place, it must be true.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I tend be in a party situation and I am discussing something and sometimes a story gets bigger with the telling to the point where my recollection of what happened becomes less clouded by what actually happened and more clouded by my story telling ability. In my desire to impress, the truth I suppress and apply grandiose doses of largesse.

Basically what I am saying is it is not about the case of what is in one cable so much as how that cable relates to others that may not seem related but turn out to be exactly that. But mostly, it stems from the information one person sends.

This is the cable that resulted in Mugabe’s wife suing a privately owned newspaper.


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 001016



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2018


REF: 2007 HARARE 319

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

1. (C) The CEO of a British mining company described to us how high-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds from the Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zimbabwe. They are selling the undocumented diamonds to a mix of foreign buyers including Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese, Russians and South Africans who smuggle them out of the country for cutting and resale elsewhere. Despite efforts to control the diamond site with police, the prospect of accessible diamonds lying just beneath the soil’s surface has attracted a swarm of several thousand local and foreign diggers. The police response has been violent, with a handful of homicides reported each week, though that number could grow as diggers arm themselves and attract police and army deserters to their ranks. END SUMMARY

High-Ranking Officials Trading Diamonds

2. (C) On November 6, poloff met with Andrew Cranswick, the CEO of African Consolidated Resources (ACR), the publicly-traded British firm that had its Chiadzwa diamond claim in the Marange district of Manicaland seized by the government parastatal Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) in 2006 (reftel). According to Cranswick, there is a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials who have been extracting tremendous diamond profits from Chiadzwa. Cranswick said that RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, Grace Mugabe, wife of President Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joyce Mujuru, Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi, General Constantine Chiwenga and wife Jocelyn, CIO Director Happyton Bonyongwe, Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe, and several white Zimbabweans, including Ken Sharpe, Greg Scott, and Hendrik O,Neill, are all involved in the Marange diamond trade.
3. (C) On October 14, econ specialist traveled to the periphery of the no-go area around the Chiadzwa diamond site located about 60 km southwest of Mutare in Manicaland. Repeated inquiries about who was involved in the diamond trade elicited many of the same names mentioned by Cranswick.

4. (C) Econ specialist also met with Manatsawani Mutasa, a ZANU-PF Central Committee member and Manicaland resident, who added that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Women’s Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri, and Sabina Mugabe-sister of President Mugabe–have also been profiting from the purchase and sale of Chiadzwa diamonds.

How the Chiadzwa Diamond Trade Works

5. (C) The GOZ possesses the diamond mining rights to Chiadzwa, but the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) does not do any extraction itself. The ZMDC brought in some mining equipment in 2006 after seizing the mining rights from ACR, but their efforts were minimal and soon halted altogether. According to Cranswick, all extraction is now being done by hand panners who merely sift the top meter of soil. Some of these panners operate in teams that sell

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their diamonds to representatives of the above-named officials and connected elites. Other panners are individual operators who merely sell to the highest bidder. Often the panners who are affiliated with a particular regime buyer, will only sell a portion of their diamonds to that person’s representative, holding back the remainder to sell for higher prices to foreign buyers offering hard currency.
6. (C) The diamonds that are sold to regime members and elites are sold for freshly printed Zimbabwean notes issued by the RBZ. These diamonds are aggregated and resold to foreign buyers for US dollars or rand in nearby Mutare, in Harare, over the border in the Mozambican towns of Manica and Chimoio, or even in South Africa. (NOTE: Econ specialist reported that Mutare was awash with diamond money. The Holiday Inn was booked with guests checking in for weeks at a time. Food prices in shops near Marange were exorbitant, with meat prices four times higher than in Harare. END NOTE.)

7. (C) The diamonds that are not sold to regime members and elites, but instead are sold directly to foreign buyers, actually constitute the majority of the diamond trade in Chiadzwa. Cranswick said that around 85 percent of the diamonds extracted from Chiadzwa are sold directly to foreign buyers. Even so, he conservatively estimated that Mujuru, Gono and the rest were probably each making several hundred thousand dollars a month.

8. (C) Whether bought first by regime members or not, eventually the diamonds are sold to a mix of Belgians, Israelis, Lebanese (the largest contingent), Russians, and South Africans. A well-known buyer named Gonyeti fronts for Gono, as do two other buyers named Tendai Makurumidze and Takunda Nyaguze, according to Mutasa. Once sold to foreigners, the majority of the diamonds are smuggled to Dubai and sold at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority, a dedicated economic free-trade zone created in 2002 for the exchange of metals and commodities, most notably gold and diamonds. Although Zimbabwe is a participant in the Kimberley process, the diamonds from Chiadzwa are undocumented and therefore are not in compliance with Kimberley, which requires loose uncut diamonds to be certified.
9. (C) The highest quality diamonds are not sent to Dubai, but are shipped to Belgium, Israel, or South Africa for cutting. Despite this wide dispersal, Chiadzwa diamonds are very distinctive because of their age, color, and clarity and can easily be traced back to the Marange mine, according to Cranswick.

He implicated Ernie Blom, president of South Africa’s Diamond Merchants Association in the illicit trade of Chiadzwa diamonds, and said that Blom had been known to boast of his involvement in illegal Zimbabwean diamonds. When asked why purportedly reputable diamond dealers would involve themselves in Chiadzwa, Cranswick said that the site was “massive” with tremendous profit potential that was attracting numerous buyers. One such group consisted of Russians who had recently bought US$500,000 worth of diamonds at an MMCZ auction, paying US$29/carat. They bought eight to ten carat rough diamonds, five to ten percent of which were gem quality.

Diamond Trade a Violent Business

10. (C) The diamond frenzy in Chiadzwa has led to hundreds and possibly thousands of homicides. Word of easy diamonds spurred a rush of Zimbabwean and foreign diggers to the area including Angolans, Congolese, Mozambicans, South Africans and Zambians, as well as diggers from as far away as Sierra

HARARE 00001016 003 OF 005

Leone and Cote D’Ivoire Cranswick estimated there are currently around three or four thousand diggers swarming over the 70 hectare Chiadzwa site. The police have unsuccessfully tried to prevent the site from becoming overrun, and routinely use live fire to chase away diggers. Anyone trying to enter the area has to present a Zimbabwean national identification card with a registration number that ends in “75”, signifying the person is a resident of the Mutare region of Manicaland.

WikiLeaks Document on Marange Diamond Fields

* DOCUMENT — Zimbabwe: Military Expansion Fuels Diamond Chaos
* DOCUMENT — Zimbabwe: Military Plans to Displace Thousands of Residents

11. (C) During the first weekend of November, police killed at least five panners in Chiadzwa, according to the on-line newspaper Zimbabwe Times. While usually operating on foot with attack dogs, this time the police used a helicopter to shoot at panners. Passmore Nyakureba, a lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said, “This has become an everyday scenario. Up to five people die every week as a result of being shot at by police or after being bitten by dogs.” Cranswick said that at the peak of the frenzy in 2007, up to a hundred panners were shot in a week.

12. (C) In response to aggressive police action, diggers began arming themselves with handguns and in some cases automatic weapons. They also formed loose gangs in an attempt to protect themselves as well as “claimed” areas. Cranswick said that some members of the police and army have deserted in order to join the digging, and they typically brought their firearms with them. Some former police even still wear their uniforms as they search for diamonds.

Police Corrupted; Community Destroyed
13. (C) Cranswick said that the police were rotated into the area on two-week shifts to control the mining and keep unauthorized diggers out, but they were immediately corrupted. Police officers routinely charged 100 rand or US$10 a person for a day’s digging in Chiadzwa. The military has largely avoided the area out of fear that commanding officers would lose control of their troops, according to Cranswick.

14. (C) Cranswick maintained that local chiefs were on ACR’s side in its pending court battle to win back its claim. They realized that the “curse” of diamonds had wreaked havoc in the community. Children were no longer attending school, the environmental degradation was severe, lawlessness and
violence reigned, and the community was not benefiting from the resource. According to an independent weekly newspaper, three quarters of the schools in Marange, Buhera, and Chimanimani districts failed to open this term because teachers and students alike were digging for diamonds.

What’s At Stake?
15. (C) Chiadzwa has the potential of being a major source of industrial and gem quality diamonds. What makes it so commercially valuable is that it possesses a diverse mix of different size and color stones, all within just a few meters of the surface. It also has a high carat per hundred tons
(CPHT) ratio, a measure the industry uses to characterize the diamond concentration. Cranswick told us he was confidentially shown a report prepared for the De Beers Corporation by noted geologist John Ward. The report estimated that Chiadzwa had a CPHT of over 1,000. By comparison, the Rio Tinto/Rio Zimbabwe-owned Murowa diamond mine near Zvishavane in Midlands province has a CPHT of 120.

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16. (C) Eye witnesses and panners told us that they were extracting both industrial and gem quality stones, but predominantly the former. Cranswick believed that the site had 30 to 40 percent industrial diamonds and the rest gem quality, including very good quality five to 30 carat colored diamonds. In his view, the area could be commercially exploited for five to 25 years, including excavation of diamond yielding hard rock that ran deeper than the one meter depth currently being worked. Econ specialist also was told that another diamond field was discovered this year within five km of Chiadzwa at the village of Chirasika. Panners had begun working the site and it had not yet become a police-restricted area. We have no estimates for the potential of this new diamond discovery.

17. (C) On October 27, Gono publicly declared that the Zimbabwean economy could be turned around by stemming losses caused by illegal mining at Chiadzwa. According to Gono, “A reliable estimate shows that US$1.2 billion per month would be realized from diamond sales in the country, enough to solve the economic challenges the country is currently facing.” Cranswick said that while the estimate is probably exaggerated, Gono may be looking for a large one time dividend by selling a share of the mine or the mining rights to an outside investor. This would dwarf the relatively small profits he is now accruing from the mine.

18. (C) ACR has offered the government a deal in which ACR would take a 49 percent share of all diamond proceeds and give the rest to the GOZ, but Cranswick did not seem optimistic that the government would accept the deal.
Two Other Major Diamond Mines

19. (U) Murowa is a well-regulated mine operated by the British multinational mining giant Rio Tinto, which since 2004 has held a 78 percent share in the open-pit Murowa diamond mine in Zvishavane district, in southern Masvingo province. Murowa is a deep kimberlitic deposit that requires heavy machinery to extract the soil and rock.

20. (U) River Ranch is partially owned by retired General Solomon Mujuru (husband of Vice President Joyce Mujuru) and is located in Beitbridge in Matabeleland South. Mujuru gained a 20 percent stake in the mine at the expense of a local company, Bubye Minerals, which was pushed out to Mujuru’s benefit. Bubye Minerals contested the ownership change, but was thwarted by the Zimbabwean courts. It is unclear if Mujuru purchased his stake.

21. (C) In a country filled with corrupt schemes, the diamond business in Zimbabwe is one of the dirtiest. Mining in general remains the largest single source of foreign exchange, but the potential of Chiadzwa is being lost to Zimbabwean corruption. While Gono talks about using diamonds to stabilize the Zimbabwean economy, he would only do so if he thought he could personally make more in the process. At present, police trying to bring order to Chiadzwa are benefiting Zimbabwean officials who see the diamond field as a new source of illegitimate income; the people of Zimbabwe are seeing little return.

22. (C) It is also clear that Cranswick is a businessman trying to find any pressure point he can through which to leverage his own claim. At the same time, he sheds light on

HARARE 00001016 005 OF 005

an industry that is enriching many of the same old corrupt Zimbabwean elite–and causing violence and deaths that so far have received little attention. END COMMENT.


I find this cable fascinating. Why? Because of the detail laid out by the writer, but also their astute comments which they clearly label as comments at the end of the cable. If only we can get traditional media to adopt this kind of style. The cable has a beginning, middle and a end. It separates fact from conjecture and it concludes with their direct commentary as they were the person that received the information directly.

In this case Ambassador James McGee details the information given and concludes that the diamond industry in Zimbabwe is a dirty grubby business and the man telling him so is a member of that dirty grubby business.

Of course the majority of the leaks are just informational in their nature. For example, here is one from 2008 and relates to us here in Australia.


6/13/2008 2:13


Embassy Canberra






REF: 06 CANBERRA 1943 Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Clune for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: Two stars have emerged in the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: Rudd himself and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard (who will be Washington for the June 23-25 American Australian Leadership Dialogue). Gillard became Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) after she and Rudd deposed Kim Beazley in December 2006. In the run-up to the November 24 election, and during the campaign itself, Gillard was a loyal and competent deputy, so much so that Rudd went out of his way in his election victory speech to thank her. While she was not given the traditional number two job of Treasurer in the new government, Gillard was handed two important portfolios: industrial relations and education. Gillard, unlike Treasurer Wayne Swan or any other minister (except Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner), has increased her prominence and power since she became deputy prime minister and is now the clear number two (with a big gap before number three) in the Rudd Government. At this point, Gillard would have to be considered the front-runner to succeed Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, which would make her Australia’s first female Prime Minister. Several contacts caution, however, that Rudd is ambivalent about Gillard, who is not from Labor’s Right Wing like he is, and he will avoid creating a potential rival. By the time Labor is thinking beyond Rudd, Gillard may well face more serious competition. END SUMMARY.


2. (C/NF) Through the first seven months of the Rudd Government, Gillard is the only ALP politician who has approached PM Rudd in national prominence. She is the second most important person in the Government, with the rest of the ministers trailing far behind, and Australia’s highest ranking woman. Gillard, who stumbled a bit when she announced Labor’s industrial relations policy at the ALP national conference in April 2007, has since performed well, supporting Rudd during the election, running her ministry competently, and demonstrating a flair for showmanship and public speaking during Parliament’s Question Time. Traditionally, the Treasurer, the second most important cabinet position, comes from the Right Faction of the Party in an ALP government. This practice partly explains why Wayne Swan received the position. To compensate, Gillard received two portfolios, education and industrial relations. Since the election, however, it is Gillard who has made the most of her position while Swan, uncomfortable on his feet and with economics, has struggled at times. After Rudd, she is now the most prominent minister in the government.


3. (C/NF) Many key ALP insiders have told poloffs that Gillard, who joined the ALP as a member of the Victorian branch’s Socialist Left faction, is at heart a pragmatist. New South Wales Right powerbroker Mark Arbib (protect) described her as one of the most pragmatic politicians in the ALP. Michael Cooney (protect), from the ALP Right and a former senior adviser to ALP leaders Mark Latham and Kim Beazley, said she has been very impressive as a minister: knowledgeable on the issues, listens to advice from subordinates and civil servants and is not afraid to delegate responsibility. When we reminded Paul Howes (protect), head of the right-wing Australian Workers Union, that ALP Qof the right-wing Australian Workers Union, that ALP politicians from the Left, no matter how capable, do not become party leader, he said immediately: “but she votes with the Right.” In 2002, when she was Shadow Immigration Minister, Gillard presented to the ALP National Conference a draft policy supporting the continuation of the Howard Government’s policy of mandatory detention of unauthorized arrivals (of refugees like those on the “Tampa”). This upset the Left, but reflected the views of mainstream Australia.


4. (C/NF) Although long appearing ambivalent about the Australia-US Alliance, Gillard’s actions since she became the Labor Party number two indicate an understanding of its importance. Poloffs had little contact with her when she was in opposition but since the election, Gillard has gone out of her way to assist the Embassy. She attended a breakfast hosted by the Ambassador for U/S Nick Burns who visited Canberra just days after the election. At our request, she agreed to meet a visiting member of the National Labor Relations Board, after prior entreaties by the board member’s Australian hosts had been rebuffed. Gillard is now a regular attendee at the American Australian Leadership Dialogues (AALD), and will be the principal government representative to the AALD meeting in Washington at the end of June. (COMMENT: Although warm and engaging in her dealings with American diplomats, it’s unclear whether this change in attitude reflects a mellowing of her views or an understanding of what she needs to do to become leader of the ALP. It is likely a combination of the two. Labor Party officials have told us that one lesson Gillard took from the 2004 elections was that Australians will not elect a PM who is perceived to be anti-American. END COMMENT)


5. (SBU) In the late 1970s, Gillard joined the Socialist Left faction of the Victorian ALP. In the mid 1980s, she helped form “Socialist Forum” which contained disaffected members of the Socialist Left and former Communists. This group proposed ending the Australia-US Alliance, and introducing radical tax policies. In a Socialist Forum Pamphlet from the mid-1980s, Gillard describes herself as a “socialist and feminist.” By the late 1980s, however, her involvement in Socialist Forum had significantly declined, although she remained a member until it dissolved in 2002. Gillard now downplays her involvement in Socialist Forum and describes the group as a “sort of a debating society.” Indeed she good-humoredly waves away press attempts to raise the subject of her early political leanings.


6. (SBU) In the early 1990s, Gillard and her supporters formed a group within the Socialist Left called the “Pledge Group.” To the consternation of the Socialist Left leadership, it formed an alliance with the Right, and Gillard became Chief of Staff to then Victorian Opposition Leader (now Premier) John Brumby, who is from the Victorian Right of the ALP. In 1998, with the Right’s support, she gained preselection for the federal parliamentary seat of Lalor, in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Subsequently, the Socialist Left split and the Gillard group, part of the “Soft Left” faction, has remained outside the Socialist Left since. In March 2006, Gillard described factions as “a cancer eating away at the very fabric of the Labor Party.” She called on ALP leadership figures to quit factions and for the ALP leader to have the power to directly appoint his/her front bench Indeed, Gillard has not attended faction meetings since she became Deputy ALP leader. After the election, Rudd broke ALP tradition and appointed his Ministry (apparently) without the approval of the factions. Since 2003, Gillard has been on good terms with a large number of Right Faction MPs – such as Simon Crean and Joel Fitzgibbon – whom she worked with to oppose Kim Beazley in leadership ballots.


7. (C/NF) The ALP traditionally does not produce leaders from the Left of the party, but Gillard is a pragmatist who has appeal across factional lines. Conventional wisdom is that Rudd will be Prime Minister for eight or nine years and then hand over the leadership 12-18 months out from an election. Gillard twice seriously considered running for the ALP leadership. In January 2005, following Mark Latham’s resignation, she pulled out when she realized Kim Beazley had the numbers. And in late 2006, she threw her support behind Rudd because she knew Beazley would have won a three-way QRudd because she knew Beazley would have won a three-way contest (notwithstanding the fact that Gillard would have received more votes than Rudd) and he would have defeated Gillard one-on-one. Gillard the pragmatist knew only Rudd was capable of receiving the necessary support to defeat Beazley.

8. (C/NF) Some Coalition MPs believed before the last election that Gillard was a weakness for Rudd. They thought she was too left-wing for mainstream voters, and her childlessness and unmarried status would hurt her with “working families.” The Coalition targeted her during the election campaign but the down to earth Gillard is popular with ordinary Australians. An obstacle to Gillard assuming the leadership may be some key right-wing ALP MPs and union officials. Powerful, socially conservative union leaders such as Joe De Bruyn (head of the shopworkers union, the largest in the Australian Council of Trade Unions), Bill Ludwig (head of the Australian Workers Union), and Don Farrell (powerbroker and shopworkers union leader in South Australia and incoming senator) may attempt to thwart her. So could the head of the Victorian Right, Senator Stephen Conroy (who was a strong supporter of Kim Beazley and cannot stand Gillard), and the ambitious MP and former unionist Bill Shorten (also a strong supporter of Beazley who has Prime Ministerial ambitions). Much internal hostility towards Gillard can be traced back to her support of Mark Latham and her undermining of Kim Beazley’s leadership. Last year, some ALP MPs were critical of the industrial relations policy she drafted for the ALP conference – a policy which alienated business and had to be re-drafted by Rudd.

9. (C/NF) Perhaps the biggest determinant in whether she becomes leader will be her performance as a Minister. Gillard has a huge workload as Minister for Education and Workplace Relations. She is responsible for implementing two of Rudd’s key election promises – the “Education Revolution,” and industrial relations changes, including the creation of a national industrial relations system. This will require her to deal with recalcitrant ALP state governments and unions that would like the ALP to stop their declining memberships by going further than Rudd promised. One contact who used to work for Rudd suggested that he gave Gillard the education reform portfolio to weaken her within the ALP, as any serious reform will antagonize the education unions and the state governments. A less credible education reform package will cement the notion that Gillard is captive of the traditional Labor Left, which would torpedo her viabilitiy as PM. John Howard’s former chief of staff told us that with two portfolios, Gillard would be “too busy” to worry about anything other than her job. But Gillard is tough and highly intelligent. If she comes through this relatively unscathed, it will go a long way to ensuring she succeeds Rudd. In the public’s eyes at present, Gillard, as the number two figure in the ALP, is Rudd’s heir apparent. If this is the case when Rudd goes, it will be extremely hard for ALP MPs to deny her the leadership. It is unlikely the ALP would miss the opportunity to produce Australia’s first female Prime Minister. MCCALLUM

The interesting aspect I found comes from the heading of the comments.


No wonder the Coalition can’t play the socialist card.

The cable that claimed Rudd was a control freak was widely reported. What was not reported was the same cable reports that Rudd keeps his promises and unlike Howard’s government, was not beset by scandals or sackings.


12/16/2008 6:17


Embassy Canberra





Classified By: Ambassador Robert D. McCallum for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY ——- 1. (C/NF) The Rudd government has generally been competent and centrist during its first 12 months, notwithstanding some significant foreign policy blunders, and criticism over Rudd’s media-focused management style. The Government is unified, has avoided scandal, kept its major election promises and has generally placated the unions and the factions with the Australian Labor Party (ALP). While it has held a consistent and comfortable lead over the Opposition in opinion polls, the Government’s greatest first-term challenges are likely in front of it. It has to reconcile a slowing economy and rising unemployment with its commitment to addressing climate change. So far, the public appears well-satisfied with Rudd’s handling of the global economic crisis, as evidenced by his near-record approval ratings. Due to his popularity, Rudd currently has immense authority within the ALP. Rudd is focused on developing good relations with the incoming U.S. Administration, and is eager to be seen as a major global player. END SUMMARY


2. (SBU) Rudd has paid careful attention to delivering on his election promises. He signed the Kyoto protocol, withdrew combat troops from Iraq, delivered tax cuts, apologized to indigenous Australians, wound back the previous government’s labor laws, initiated his “education revolution” and health reform, and has committed to implementing an emissions trading scheme in 2010. One blemish on his record is that while Rudd went to the election empathizing with the cost of living pressures facing “working families,” his “Fuelwatch” and “Grocerywatch” price-monitoring initiatives have been widely ridiculed as ineffective.


3. (C/NF) Unlike former PM John Howard’s first term, in which five ministers and three parliamentary secretaries were sacked (as well as Howard’s Chief of Staff), there have been no changes to Rudd’s cabinet and ministry since it was sworn in almost one year ago. Even Opposition contacts have admitted surprise that a new government with largely inexperienced ministers has avoided scandals. After an unconvincing start, Treasurer Wayne Swan has improved. Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong have been the star performers. ALP contacts often boast about the Government’s depth, with ministers-in-waiting like Parliamentary Secretaries Bill Shorten, Maxine McKew and Greg Combet, and backbenchers like Mark Dreyfus and Mark Butler.


4. (C/NF) Rudd, a former foreign service officer, has made a number of missteps on foreign policy. Repeatedly, Rudd has made snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government. Though these missteps loom large within the Canberra policy community, they have had little impact on Rudd’s popularity with the Australian public. Significant blunders have have included: — Foreign Minister Stephen Smith’s February announcement that Australia would not support possible quadrilateral discussions between Australia, the United States, Japan and India out of deference to China. This was done without advance consultation and at a joint press availability with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. — Rudd’s June speech announcing that he would push for the creation of an “Asia-Pacific Community” loosely based on the EU. This was done without advance consultation with either other countries (including Southeast Asian nations, leading Singaporean officials to label the idea dead on arrival) or within the the Australian Government (including with his proposed special envoy to promote the concept, veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott.) — The PM’s June announcement that Australia would set up an international commission on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament intended to influence the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Rudd rolled out this proposal in Hiroshima during a photo-op heavy trip to Japan. His Japanese hosts were given insufficient advance notice and refused a request for a joint announcement. He did not consult in advance with any of the P5 countries. (An adviser gave Embassy Canberra a few hours advance notice of the announcement but without details.) Russia formally protested the lack of advance consultation. — In September, the PM’s Office asked for a meeting with the President while Rudd was in the United States for the UN General Assembly. After making an aggressive and ultimately successful push for a meeting, the PM’s Office abruptly cancelled the meeting course two days later, saying that Rudd could not come to Washington. — In October, the self-serving and inaccurate leaking of details of a phone call between the President and Rudd cast further doubt on Rudd’s foreign policy judgment. Rudd’s refusal to deny that his office was the source of the leak has confirmed to most Canberra observers that he showed exceptionally poor judgment in trying to aggrandize himself at the expense of Australia’s most important relationship.


5. (C/NF) There has been persistent criticism from senior civil servants, journalists and parliamentarians that Rudd is a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision-making. Rudd has centralized decision making on many key issues in his office, contributing to “policy paralysis.” A recent press report referred to jokes that “ministers rush to get a Gillard signature on proposals when Rudd is overseas so they can avoid delay.” Former ALP Prime Minister Bob Hawke told the press recently that Rudd needed to give his ministers more freedom, and an ALP insider told us that he expected ministers to try to create some “elbow room” in the next year. Some ministerial staff and public servants have complained about the workload and hours expected by Rudd and there has been substantial turnover in Rudd’s office (including his Chief of Staff, David Epstein.) We have heard recurring complaints from contacts through the GOA that Rudd’s office is disorganized and inexperienced — his Chief of Staff and Press Secretary both in their late 20s — with few willing to disagree with their boss. Centralized control and long working hours, however, are not uncommon in even the best run prime ministerial offices, and the fact remains that the Government appears to be functioning effectively, at least in the eyes of the electorate.


6. (C/NF) During the election campaign, Rudd managed to convince voters they could switch leaders despite the incumbent’s strong record of economic growth because Rudd was an “economic conservative.” For the first half of the year, Rudd defined the government’s core economic challenge as fighting inflation. Since the global financial meltdown, it Qfighting inflation. Since the global financial meltdown, it has been the “war on unemployment.” Calling the financial crisis the “economic equivalent of a rolling national security crisis,” Rudd announced an economic stimulus package which will bring forward infrastructure spending, boost grants to first-time homebuyers, and provide one-off payments to families and pensioners. Due to the slowing economy, the Reserve Bank has lowered its cash rate 2 percent since September. Unemployment, virtually unchanged from a year ago, is projected to increase. His claims to being an “economic conservative” have not prevented Rudd from supporting an interventionist “industry policy” to prop up Australian manufacturers, particularly the automotive sector. This tendency was foreshadowed in Rudd’s first press conference after unseating Kim Beazley as Opposition Leader in December 2006, when he said he “didn’t want to be the prime minister of a country that didn’t make things.”


7. (C/NF) One of Rudd’s central campaign strategies was to tap the growing public concern about climate change and perception that the Howard government was not serious about the threat. Rudd gained an important electoral advantage by promising rapid action to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the creation of a national emissions trading scheme with a target of reducing Australia’s 2050 emissions by 60 percent over 2000 levels, and the development of clean coal and greater renewable energy sources. In the first year, Rudd has kept to the form, if not the substance, of his promises. While the overwhelming majority of Australians still view Rudd and the ALP as the best party to deal with climate change, he has quietly broadened the decision-making process in Canberra and backed away from the most aggressive steps some have recommended on climate change. Where the debate was dominated early in the year by calls for tough action by Climate Minister Penny Wong and ANU economist Ross Garnaut, Rudd has listened to concerns from industry and economic modelers and relied increasingly on Industry Minister Carr, Energy Minister Ferguson, and Treasurer Swan to moderate cabinet policy debate. Rudd has lost some shine with the Australian climate lobby by heavily investing in support for the coal industry through clean coal research, and tacked to the middle on including high emissions intensity (and export earning) industries like LNG in support programs to soften the blow of the emissions trading regime. He has resisted, however, the urge to back down on the timeline for emissions trading and will introduce a less-costly emissions trading system next year.


8. (SBU) Despite the absence of an agreement with the unions on restraining wage growth (the last ALP Government under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating had used a national “Accord” to promote stability), there have been no major strikes and wages growth has remained moderate. Unions are pleased the Rudd Government abolished new statutory individual contracts, but they believe other aspects of its workplace reforms do not go far enough. Rudd is retaining secret ballots for strikes, tough penalties for illegal industrial action, keeping the building industry watchdog, not fully restoring unfair dismissal rights for small business employees, and is only re-establishing compulsory arbitration in rare cases. It appears the Australian Council of Trade Unions and most union leaders, despite not getting everything they want, will not disrupt the economy to achieve their aims, but rather work behind the scenes with Gillard to make changes at the margins. ALP and union contacts believe Rudd has unprecedented authority for an ALP leader and only when his popularity declines will the unions and the factions within the ALP be able to assert themselves.


9. (SBU) In the 2007 election, the ALP won 52.7 percent of the vote to the ruling Coalitions’s 47.3 percent. Since then, Newspoll, the most influential and regularly conducted Qthen, Newspoll, the most influential and regularly conducted opinion poll, has consistently shown the Rudd Government with a large lead. Only once has the ALP’s lead fallen below 55-45 (54-46 in October). When Malcolm Turnbull deposed Brendan Nelson as Coalition leader in September, the ALP still led 55-45. Despite Turnbull slightly closing Rudd’s huge lead as preferred Prime Minister, the latest Newspoll has the ALP continuing to hold a 10 point lead. Rudd’s satisfaction rating is an extremely high 65 percent.


10. (C/NF) Overall, the Rudd government has made a solid start, particularly on its domestic agenda, but its first term will largely be defined by its response to the global economic crisis. PM Rudd’s foreign policy miscues should not obscure his strong interest in maintaining excellent relations with the United States and promoting a strong U.S. role in Asia. Before the financial meltdown, the Rudd Government had been criticized for lacking a central message, but the economic crisis has given the government a sense of direction. Rudd reacted swiftly to the start of the financial crisis in Australia with a widely-praised $A10.4 billion stimulus package. The danger for the PM is that the political debate has shifted to what traditionally has been the Coalition’s strong suit – the economy. Although Australia’s economy is largely at the mercy of international forces, the Coalition will ruthlessly exploit every piece of bad economic news while claiming the Howard government steered Australia through similar economic challenges. Rudd’s standing in the polls reflects the Australian public’s view that he is reasonable, diligent and acting in the national interest. While the Rudd government is on track to win a second term, ALP strategists are keenly aware that the ALP’s margin of victory last year was only 2.7 percent and that there has been a voting swing against almost every first term government in Australia. MCCALLUM

Ironically all we got was the control freak bit.

WikiLeaks has been an interesting phenomena in the last year or so mostly after the release of the videos from Iraq. What I find interesting is in their mission to ‘reveal’ the truth, they conceal much. The one video of a gunship opening fire on what later turned out to be innocents is shown out of context in that there are literally thousands of these video recordings from gunship missions and yet this is the only one that WikiLeaks chose to publish. Cables of political interest are splattered on the front pages of newspapers, but other cables are skipped over (in political interest) by the same papers. The Australian for example wrote piece after piece on Rudd the control freak, but neglected to mention the same cable mentions the Rudd government more competent and stable then the Howard government elected in 1996 which was beset with sackings and scandal.

Whereas the cables published by The Australian so far detail regular reports of the ALP in opposition and in government, they have elected to not publish similar reports on how the Coalition is going in opposition OR WikiLeaks have elected not to publish them. I doubt the ambassador would have elected to not send them

So there is a two way thing going on here. WikiLeaks itself chooses to publish what it publishes when it does so. And then local media chooses to talk about aspects of what is published and neglect to talk about others.

In the analogy I pose at the beginning of this post, I will summarise with this. WikiLeaks goes to the toilet; see a whole list of names and numbers of ‘girls willing to show you a good time’ and select some of the names and the numbers on the wall. Traditional media then reads that and elect to publish names with numbers or numbers with no names or half names and half numbers. At the end of the day, most people are fed a diet of urinal cake and expurgated truth.

Hooray for the future world without secrets.

Coincidently, does anyone have ‘Delightful Denise’s” mobile number?

A. Ghebranious 2010 All Rights Reserved

  1. Jennifer Baratta permalink

    Oh Jeez!

  2. Catching up permalink

    You get a different perspective when the cables are read than the stories in the press. I have the feeling that Mr. Rudd is looking better every day. Why are Opposition names kept hidden, while Labor names are given with “protected” beside them.

  3. You’ve just delineated a very real problem with the whole ‘breathless revelation’ atmosphere of #cablegate. Very clearly put, great stuff.

  4. P.J. permalink

    And if my Auntie would have had balls she would have been my uncle.

    That Wiki leaks is very selective of what it releases, as does the media receiving it. So what? Yes I read your piece. It doesn’t change the fact, that when you take out all the dross, the bleading obvious, and the motive. We are still run by a mob of corrupt charlatans.

    Sad really in few months it will be business as usual, and contrary to what most people think, my opinion is, Assange will end up doing porridge in the U.S. they ‘re going to nail this man one way or another.I hope for his sake it is jail and not the alternative I am sure they must be considering.To late? Maybe, but they are going to make an example of him.

    They are not going to let one man change the course of history.

    • What I mean is Mr Assange and WikiLeaks offer no analysis of the documents or any commentary. They just release the document as is. However, as I posed, some documents are actually linked to others and on release offer a more comprehensive understanding of the data. Till then, all this is is graffiti that WikiLeaks use to promote themselves. They (I assume) had no part in securing the documents and all they are offering is their hosting. But by releasing the documents in piecemeal, whether by design or by chance, means people are making assumptions without that full data.

      Further there have been comments of rather sinister nature whereby Mr Assange threatens that documents will be released if something happens to him. I assume therefore his intent is use this as a form of blackmail as the implications are if he is not arrested, then they will not be released. That is dangerous.

      Assange and his team are (a) releasing documents piecemeal and thereby keep their brandname alive and prominent which leads to further access to funds and so forth for their own profits (b) profiting from the work of another and (c) have been making implied threats.

      This is not the acts of people that want to set the world free. This strikes me as a group that seek to monopolise information.


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