Cancun Climate Summit: WikiLeaks and the Exposure of U.S. Coercion, Blackmail to Weaken Climate Action

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CANCÚN, Mexico -- WikiLeaks is a hot topic here at the U.N. Climate Change Conference after secret diplomatic cables revealed new details about how the United States manipulated last year's climate talks in Copenhagen through spying, threats and promises of aid.

Democracy Now! is the only global TV/radio news hour broadcasting live from Cancún the entire week, so our host Amy Goodman with her team of producers were in a unique position to track down diplomats, experts, journalists and activists to ask them a few pointed questions about the WikiLeaks cables and the fate of the ongoing global climate change policy talks.

Constitutional law attorney and blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has been closely following the arrest of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, was interviewed today on Democracy Now! about what he calls the "lawless war on WikiLeaks."

In the interview, Greenwald said that the attacks on WikiLeaks are part of a larger war being waged over control of the Internet. Greenwald said: "Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet, look what has happened to them. They have been removed from Internet ... their funds have been frozen ... media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labeled a terrorist organization. What is really going on here is a war over control of the Internet, and whether or not the Internet can actually serve its ultimate purpose--which is to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world's most powerful factions."

From inside the climate conference, Amy Goodman was able to directly question U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern about U.S. arm-twisting in Copenhagen revealed by Wikileaks. She asked Stern about U.S. policy, "Is it bribery or democracy?"

After refusing to comment on WikiLeaks, Special Envoy Stern replied, "You can't, on the one hand ... make a legitimately strong case for the need for climate assistance and then, on the other hand, turn around and accuse us of bribery." He avoided the follow-up question that addressed how the United States cut funding to Bolivia and Ecuador, whose governments opposed the Accord.

Bolivia has been targeted specifically by the United States for its position on global climate change policy. Yesterday, Democracy Now! interviewed Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón, and asked him to comment on the WikiLeaks cables. "One thing that I can say for sure is they [the United States] cut aid to Bolivia and to Ecuador," Solón said. "And they said it very clearly: 'We're going to cut it because you don't support the Copenhagen Accord.' And that is blackmail."

Democracy Now! caught up with John Vidal, the environment editor for The Guardian of London, one the five news outlets to receive the massive trove of WikiLeaks cables ahead of time and has been publishing new revelations daily. "We've lifted the lid on what actually happens at conferences like that [Copenhagen], and we begin to see the kind of intense pressure and arm twisting and blackmail and different tactics, which has always been used by the rich countries over the poor countries," Vidal said. "The only new thing now is that it is--we actually have it written down, we can see it for the first time with our own eyes."

Finally, Democracy Now! chatted with longtime author, leading climate change activist and founder of Bill McKibben who said that the WikiLeaks cables show that "the U.S. was both bullying and buying countries into endorsing their do-little position on climate."

Democracy Now! will be reporting from the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancún all week. For the complete interviews, transcripts and audio/video podcasts, visit Democracy Now!. Click here for our complete coverage of WikiLeaks and the climate change talks. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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