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c A cable to U.S. diplomats at the United Nations asked diplomats to continue gathering intelligence, something diplomats frequently do for State’s intelligence branch. It asks them to “include as much of the following information as possible” before reeling off a laundry list that requests “work schedules,” “credit card account numbers” and “frequent flyer account numbers.”

c A cable informing U.S. diplomatic outposts how to handle “walk-in” defectors who offer to spy for the United States.

c A report stated that Yemen’s president covered up U.S. strikes on al Qaeda. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is quoted as saying in a meeting in January of this year with Central Command commander David H. Petraeus, according to a cable sent by the U.S. ambassador, which said the country’s deputy prime minister “joke* that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament” that Yemeni forces were behind the strikes on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

c Arab leaders are quoted in cables calling Iranian leaders “liars” and expressing grave fears of the Iranian nuclear program as well as the country’s penetration throughout the region.

“The metaphor most commonly deployed by Jordanian officials when discussing Iran is of an octopus whose tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional moderates,” stated a cable from Amman, while another report from Cairo said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic” and “did not oppose our talking with the Iranians, as long as ‘you don’t believe a word they say.’ “

The prime minister of the Gulf state of Qatar characterizes his country’s relationship with Iran as one in which “they lie to us, and we lie to them.”

A cable from June of the last year, meanwhile, said that in a meeting with a congressional delegation, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak “estimated a window between 6 and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable. After that, he said, any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”

The document release follows similar large-scale disclosures on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Posted were 243,270 cables from U.S. embassies to the State Department, offering details of secret meetings and often unflattering assessments of host country leaders, as well as 8,017 directives sent by the State Department to its emissaries around the globe. They are as recent as February of this year, and about 90 percent of them are dated 2004 or after.

The State Department cables were provided weeks in advance to the New York Times, Britain’s Guardian, Germany’s Der Spiegel, France’s Le Monde, and Spain’s El Pais. One-hundred-eighty journalists and researchers from the five newspapers, according to Le Monde, collaborated in their reviewing of the material, and all five released highlights Sunday with promises of more to come.

An Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, is facing charges for disclosing classified information related to the Iraq and Afghanistan reports. He is considered a likely source for the current State Department cables after he reportedly was quoted in an online chat as stating that he had downloaded “260,000 State Department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world,” among other classified documents, from a military computer network.

On Sunday afternoon, the WikiLeaks site was operating intermittently.

c Joseph Weber contributed to this report.