WikiLeaks has definitely put a fair sized cat amongst a large loft of pigeons. But is it just more embarrassment than revelation?
When ambassadors and diplomats converse with heir home country one would think that a good 90% plus of the dialogue would be boring mundane stuff with just a few eye brow raising pieces.
You would also expect the cables to carry candid and straightforward assessments by the writers about the subjects of their comments.
So for most people the surprise won't be that they say such derogatory things about the people they deal with, but what will be of interest will be what was actually said, if anything.
Most politicians will be thick skinned enough to take this in their stride. In fact it may gain a bit of a 'Spitting Image' factor, where you were considered a nobody unless you had your own Spitting Image dummy portraying you on national TV, however bad or stupid it made you look. And will Putin be that bothered that he is labelled as an 'alpha dog'?
Wikileaks claims the released cables will "give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities", but some of the leaks have probably caused more embarrassment to other nations such as Saudi Arabia who asked the US to bomb Iran rather than the US. Or to Iran whose diplomatic bag to Turkmenistan was found to contain sniper's rifles and AK-47 assault rifles.
Some of the more personal cables do though give an insight into the writers of them. Any report written by one person on another always says as much about the writer of the report as it does about the subject of the report. And going by the news reports these are very simplistic.
But there are good snippets for foreign intelligence that may hurt US intelligence gathering procedures. One cable has some nineteen paragraphs on how US embassies should deal with 'walk-ins'. These are people that arrive at an embassy and offer their 'services' to the US. Information very valuable to would-be double agents.
But the one revelation that should make us sit up and think is the direction from IS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for such a lot or personal information to be gathered about UN and other leading politicians. Information to include bank details as well as biometric data including fingerprints and DNA. To what end could this sort of information legitimately be put to use?
The WikiLeaks founder is coming under fire and the private who is suspected of providing the material will be in for a very rough ride. But whatever the rights and wrongs of these releases, there will be nearly 200 other countries around the world whose administrations are breathing a deep sigh of relief that the leaks are someone else's problems. They will also be wondering if there is anything in there that is potentially embarrassing to them. That will probably temper any reactions to anything US officials wrote.
But we are finding out that all those spy novels we read may be nearer the truth than we imagined.
Wikileaks Cable Viewer – no longer active