National Security

Excerpts From Leaked State Department Cables

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR staff read some excerpts from the State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks.


Now, here are a few excerpts from the leaked cables read by NPR staff. First, among the frank assessments of world leaders was this memo sent by the former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe. Christopher Dell wrote this, as he was leaving his post in July 2007.

Unidentified Man #1: Robert Mugabe has survived for so long because he is more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe. To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalize the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda.

However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: his ego and belief in his own infallibility, his obsessive focus on the past as a justification for everything in the present and future, his deep ignorance on economic issues, coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand. And his essentially short-term tactical style.

SIEGEL: That cable about Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, from the former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell.

GUY RAZ, host:

And here's a more recent cable sent in February of this year. It describes a meeting between a senior U.S. civilian representative in southern Afghanistan, Frank Ruggiero. He's referred to as FCR. And Ahmed Wali Karzai, he's the brother of Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the subject ending with a question mark, Ahmed Wali Karzai seeking to define himself as a U.S. partner?

CHANA JOFFE-WALT: AWK passionately presented his history of working with the United States in 2001 and told the FCR that he could deliver anything needed. Further emphasizing his links to the United States, AWK finally recalled his days in Chicago as a restaurant owner close to Chicago's Wrigley Field. His restaurant was a hub for Americans in the Midwest who had worked or lived in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion, he said.

RAZ: That cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

SIEGEL: A number of cables point to concern in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear program. Here's an account of a meeting between U.S. General David Petraeus and Bahrain's King Hamad in November 2009.

Unidentified Man #2: King Hamad pointed to Iran as the source of much of the trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program by whatever means necessary. That program must be stopped, he said. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.

RAZ: Finally, to a cable titled "A Caucuses Wedding." It's an account of a three-day affair in the Russian Republic of Dagestan. It was thrown by the father of the groom, who's both a member of the Russian parliament and an oil company chief. In language worthy of a sociology dissertation, the cable describes lavish rituals and much debauchery and it details an enormous cast of characters.

Unidentified Man #3: At precisely 2 p.m., the male guests started filing in. They varied from Poles and oligarchs of all sorts, the slick to the Jurassic. Wizened brown peasants from Bortani(ph) and Dagestan sports and cultural celebrities. Redacted presided over a political table in the smaller of the two halls, along with Vaha(ph), the drunken wrestler, the Ingush parliamentarians, a member of the Federation Council who is also a nano physicist and has lectured in Silicon Valley and Gaji's(ph) cousin Ismaul Alibacof(ph), a submariner first rank naval captain now serving at the general staff in Moscow.

The Dagestani milieu appears to be one in which the highly educated and the gun toting can mix easily, often in the same person.

SIEGEL: An account of a wedding in Dagestan. One of hundreds of State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from