Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Guardian’s Political Censorship of Wikileaks


Although we are treated to daily accounts of how the net tightens around Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the contents of the US embassy cables have been doled out to us in spoonfuls. To add insult to injury, it is now clear that The Guardian edits and distorts the cables in order to protect their readers from unflattering remarks about how their corporations behave overseas. The Guardian has deliberately excised portions of published cables to hide evidence of corruption.

A year ago, on January 25, 2010, the US Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan sent out the secret cable ASTANA 000072, entitled KAZAKHSTAN: MONEY AND POWER. The cable chronicled the US Ambassador’s private dinner with a senior Kazakh government official named Maksat Idenov. At the time, Idenov headed the Kazakh state oil and gas company and represented the state in its dealings with foreign oil companies, including British Gas and ENI. A redacted version of the cable has been published, and so we have been given the rare privilege of viewing The Guardian’s editing process in action. It looks like nothing so much as political self-censorship.

Here is the relevant portion of the Astana cable; the words removed by The Guardian are printed in bold:

“? market economy means capitalism, which means big money, which means large bribes for the best connected.”

Why does The Guardian wish to conceal evidence of corruption in Kazakhstan? Are there Blairites ensconced in The Guardian’s editing room? It does seem like someone at The Guardian wants to save us from becoming disillusioned about free markets. Is the free market incompatible with free speech? The Guardian is not shy about revealing to their readers that capitalism means “big money”, but a discussion of what big money can do to a foreign government is strictly verboten. Idenov is not some discontented outsider; he is a power player in the heart of the machine. He knows of which he speaks. The readers of The Guardian may never get to hear it, but the “big money” of capitalism does in reality result in “large bribes for the best connected”.

Just before dinner, Idenov was overheard “barking into his cell phone” at British Gas (BG) Country Director Mark Rawlings “who is ‘still playing games with Mercator’s James Giffin,’ the notorious AmCit fixer indicted for large-scale bribery on oil deals in the 1990s, whose case drags on in the Southern District Court of New York. Idenov tells him: ‘Mark, stop being an idiot! Stop tempting fate! Stop communicating with an indicted criminal!’ ”

Again, the bold and very relevant information of the Astana cable has been removed from publication so that British taxpayers might not learn that the regional director of a prominent British company insists on dealing with an indicted grafter. The readers of The Guardian may never know that the case of American citizen (“AmCit”) James Giffen (spelled incorrectly in the cable) was dismissed by US District Judge William H. Pauley III because the bribes he gave to the Kazakh officials were authorized by the CIA. The judge publicly lauded the “notorious fixer” as a Cold War warrior who helped the Jewish cause  and stated for the record that “his business dealings were CIA-authorized operations”.

“Mr. Giffen was a significant source of information for the U.S. government and a conduit for secret communications to the Soviet Union and its leadership during the Cold War,” Pauley said. In Kazakhstan, Giffen was advancing US interests, including corporate interests. “He acted as a conduit for communications on issues vital to America’s national interest in the region,” the judge said.

“Oil industry middleman James H. Giffen, once accused of funneling $84 million in bribes to the president of Kazakhstan and other officials” walked away a free and rich man. Perhaps our man Rawlings knew a little more about Giffen’s CIA connections than did the Ambassador and Mr. Idenov.

The Guardian’s final cut takes the cake. Idenov goes on to say that both BG and Italy’s ENI are corrupt, and that bribe-hungry Kazakh officials are itching to work with them. This portion of the cable was completely excised.

The only portion of the cable that The Guardian felt worthy of highlight was that the currently favoured presidential son-in-law was “on the Forbes 500 list of billionaires (as is his wife separately)”. Furthermore, the redacted cable was dropped onto the pages of The Guardian without any background information or further comment. Kazakhstan is not next-door, and Guardian readers deserve better. Here is what they left out of the story: Idenov left the state’s service in May 2010 and in July he re-emerged as ?surprise, surprise – the Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning of ENI. Yes, none other than that selfsame “corrupt” ENI he dealt with from his ministerial desk.

The Astana cable is a microcosm of the robbery of the ex-Soviet space by Western corporations. From it we learn that bribes are authorized by the CIA and that the grafters are exonerated by the US courts. We learn that Harvard-trained lawyers like Mr. Idenov take full advantage of the revolving door between positions of state and the Western corporations that rob it. In short, we learn that “capitalism means large bribes for the best connected.” The readers of The Guardian, of course, missed out on all this.

Idenov concludes his talk with the rationalizations of his fellow sell-outs: “Almost everyone at the top is confused by the corrupt excesses of capitalism. ‘If Goldman Sachs executives can make $50 million a year and then run America’s economy in Washington, what’s so different about what we do?’ they ask.” Indeed, probably nothing. If the American people are helpless before the rapacity of Goldman Sachs executives, how can we expect the Kazakh people to defend themselves from transnational corporations assisted by the CIA? The full, unedited cable makes it too clear that their only choice is which bribe to take.

Although the agreement between Wikileaks and The Guardian permits the newspaper to block out the names of innocent people who might suffer upon disclosure, the Astana cable was clearly redacted for political reasons, in order to protect the image of the kind of predatory capitalism they preach in the East.

Perhaps we might review other Guardian news stories for this kind of heavy-handed doctoring of newly available documents. Consider the secret cable TASHKENT 000902, sent May 5?th, 2005. Here is The Guardian’s presentation of the cable. It is censored almost completely; only two irrelevant sentences survived the self-serving butchery of Guardian editors. With editors like these, the sword hanging over Private Manning and the noose around the neck of Julian Assange become superfluous.

The original Tashkent cable describes the dealings of Uzbekistani “crime boss” and “top mobster” Salim Abduvaliyev (more frequent spelling: Abduvaliev) who, according to the American embassy, controls government jobs and awards government contracts through his connection with Gulnara, the “First Daughter of President Karimov”. The primary message-carrier between the arch-criminal and Gulnara is a British citizen of Iranian origin. Why did The Guardian choose to excise the vast majority of the cable? To protect the British go-between? To protect the connection with Chernoy, a prominent Israeli businessman? Is there an Uzbekistani criminal pulling the strings at The Guardian? There doesn’t seem to be much logic behind the move, or any real interest in publishing the cables.

Another Secret cable, TASHKENT 000465, describes the mobster’s family wedding. It is not all that different from the famous description of the Dagestan wedding in another cable, MOSCOW 009533, yet The Guardian decided not to publish this one at all. Isn’t it considerate of The Guardian to protect the people of Uzbekistan from learning about the ties of corruption between the Karimov family and leading gangsters? Could it be explained by the drift of Karimov’s regime away from Moscow and into close cooperation with the Americans as another cable suggests?

Does The Guardian even understand why they have been given these secret and confidential cables? Wikileaks is trying to shed a little light upon the dark and dirty underworld of international intrigue, and The Guardian is blotting  it out again. The battle for truth is just beginning.

ISRAEL SHAMIR can be reached at



Israel Shamir can be reached on adam@israelshamir

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future