WikiLeaks: Clinton Wanted Info on Iranian Graffiti

| Sun Nov. 28, 2010 11:03 PM EST

Amid all the serious intrigues and statecraft revealed in "Cablegate," WikiLeaks' slow but steady data dump of 251,287 internal US State Department communications, there's 09STATE47326...a strange cable dated May 8, 2009, that seems to indicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton couldn't read the writing on the wall—literally—in Iran.

"WASHINGTON ANALYSTS ARE HIGHLY INTERESTED IN CONFIRMING A REPORT REGARDING AN IRANIAN GOVERNMENT DECISION TO REMOVE ANTI-AMERICAN SLOGANS AND ART FROM TEHRAN'S BUILDINGS," the cable's author wrote (on Clinton's behalf) to Iran experts posted around the globe. "THESE CHANGES COULD REPRESENT AN IMPORTANT INDICATOR ON TEHRAN'S VIEWS TOWARDS ENGAGEMENT WITH THE US AND FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE EFFORT AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN THE DECISION, POSTS' TIME AND RESOURCES PERMITTING, WOULD BE VERY VALUABLE."

The cable then goes on to ask a series of critical questions about the alleged Iran graffiti program that Clinton wanted answered: "WHAT, IF ANY, ANTI-AMERICAN SLOGANS AND MURALS ARE CURRENTLY BEING REPLACED IN TEHRAN, INCLUDING THOSE IN AZADI SQUARE AND THE "DOWN WITH AMERICA" MURAL ON KARIM KHAN AVENUE? WHAT, IF ANY, PLANS ARE THERE TO REPLACE SUCH MURALS?...IF THERE ARE PLANS TO REPLACE THE MURALS, WHO AUTHORIZED THEM? WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THE MURAL REPLACEMENT PLAN?"

Tehran's anti-US murals are the stuff of legends, from the former American embassy (now a Revolutionary Guard headquarters) to street scenes like the one pictured above. And if they were about to go away as a result of mass government action, that could be a useful bellwether. Too bad the State Department hadn't realized its alert was based on bad information.

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