"What has Wikileaks ever taught us?" ... Read on ...

How often have we been told in world-weary tones that Wikileaks has revealed nothing new - especially by those who want to appear to be in the know? Here is an aide-mémoire of a few of the highest profile revelations.

Since 2006, whistleblower website WikiLeaks has published a mass of information we would otherwise not have known.  The leaks have exposed dubious procedures at Guantanamo Bay and detailed meticulously the Iraq War's unprecedented civilian death-toll.  They have highlighted the dumping of toxic waste in Africa as well as revealed America's clandestine military actions in Yemen and Pakistan.

The sheer scope and significance of the revelations is shocking. Among them are great abuses of power, corruption, lies and war crimes. Yet there are still some who insist WikiLeaks has "told us nothing new". This collection, sourced from a range of publications across the web, illustrates nothing could be further from the truth. Here, if there is still a grain of doubt in your mind, is just some of what WikiLeaks has told us:

  • American planes bombed a village in Southern Yemen in December 2009, killing 14 women and 21 children (see Amnesty)
  • The Secretary of State's office encouraged US diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their counterparts by collecting biographic & biometric information (see Wired.com)
  • The Obama administration worked with Republicans to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation into torture (see Mother Jones)
  • A US Army helicopter gunned down two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007 (see Reuters)
  • US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers (see the Guardian)
  • In Iraq there were scores of claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal (see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism)
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai freed suspected drug dealers because of their political connections (see CBS News)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of “land swaps” (see Yahoo News)
  • The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen's president to attack the Al-Qaeda group in his country (see the Guardian)
  • Then-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006 (see the Daily Beast)
  • The US was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict (see Salon.com)
  • Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism (see the Guardian
  • A storage facility housing Yemen's radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week (see Bloomberg)
  • Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, fearing it was built to make a bomb (see the Sunday Times)
  • Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA (see the Peninsula)
  • Swiss company Trafigura Beheer BV dumped toxic waste at the Ivorian port of Abidjan, then attempted to silence the press from revealing it by obtaining a gagging order (see WikiLeaks)
  • Pakistan's government has allowed members of its spy network to hold strategy sessions on combating American troops with members of the Taliban (see the New York Times)
  • A stash of highly enriched uranium capable of providing enough material for multiple "dirty bombs" has been waiting in Pakistan for removal by an American team for more than three years (see CBS News)
  • US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, despite repeated denials from US officials (see the Nation)
  • China was behind the online attack on Google (see ZDNet)
  • North Korea is secretly helping the military dictatorship in Myanmar build nuclear and missile sites in its jungles (see CBS News)
  • The Indian government "condones torture" and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir (see CBS News)
  • The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad" (see the Guardian)
  • BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers (see the Guardian)
  • Saudi Arabia's rulers have deep distrust for some fellow Muslim countries, especially Pakistan and Iran (see CBS News)
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran (see the Guardian)
  • Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel (see CBS News)
  • Dozens of US tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (see Jerusalem Post)
  • The Libyan government promised "enormous repercussions" for the UK if the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was not handled properly (see CBS News)
  • Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church (see MSNBC)
  • Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had knowledge of a bank robbery the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out (see CBS News)
  • Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria (see the Guardian)
  • A US official was told by Mexican President Felipe Calderon that Latin America "needs a visible US presence" to counter
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's growing influence in the region (see Yahoo News)
  • Cuba's economic situation could become "fatal" within two to three years (see Business Week)
  • McDonald's tried to delay the US government's implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country (see the Guardian)
  • British officials made a deal with the US to allow the country to keep cluster bombs in the UK despite the ban on the munitions signed by Gordon Brown (see Politics.co.uk)
  • The British government promised to protect America's interests during the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war (see the Guardian)
  • The US government was acting on behalf of GM crop firm Monsanto in 2008, when the US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops (see the Guardian)
  • Pfitzer tested anti-biotics on Nigerian children, contravening national and international standards on medical ethics (see Medical News Today)
  • Prisoners at Camp Delta (Guantanamo Bay) were denied access to the Red Cross for up to four weeks (see the Telegraph)
  • More than 66,000 civilians suffered “violent deaths” in Iraq between 2004 and the end of 2009 (see the Telegraph)
  • Russia is a “virtual mafia state” with rampant corruption and scant separation between the activities of the government and organised crime (see the Guardian)
  • The Obama administration tried to “sweet-talk” other countries in to taking Guantanamo detainees, as part of its (as yet unsuccessful) effort to close the prison (see the New York Times)

    Cross posted with the Frontline Club.

  • About the author

    Ryan Gallagher is a freelance journalist based in London.