Governments Blast Publication of Leaked Diplomatic Cables, WikiLeaks Defends Actions

By Ed Silverstein November 29, 2010

Governments around the world are condemning the publication of leaked diplomatic documents, after WikiLeaks started publishing what have been described as several hundred thousand classified State Department cables.

Their dissemination has not only embarrassed U.S. and foreign officials but may have put some lives and policy initiatives at risk.

The White House would not rule out the possibility of taking legal action against WikiLeaks.

However, in a recent statement, WikiLeaks argues that the cables they are now publishing, “show the extent of the U.S. spying on its allies and the U.N.; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in ‘client states’; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for U.S. corporations; and the measures U.S. diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”

“This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.

The White House press office was among many who condemned the release of the confidential cables.

“By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals,” said the White House statement. “We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

“These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world,” the White House added. “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.”

Over the weekend, WikiLeaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables.

The advocacy website said the release of the cables marks “the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.”

The cables date from 1966 up until the end of February 2010, and include communications between 274 embassies in and the State Department in Washington, D.C.

WikiLeaks said that 15,652 of the cables are classified as “Secret.”

Among the responses around the world, as reported by Voice of America:

  • The British government condemned the leak.
  • A spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accused WikiLeaks of damaging Pakistan's relations with Saudi Arabia.
  • Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland is investigating whether the leak broke any of that country's laws.
  • Among the countries discussed in the cables are Iran and North Korea. But allies of the United States are also mentioned.

For example, WikiLeaks has quoted a secret cable in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described India and its three partners (Brazil, Germany and Japan) as “self-appointed front runners” for membership in the U.N. Security Council, according to a report from a newspaper in India.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Peter King, (R-NY), an influential member of the Homeland Security Committee, has claimed that WikiLeaks “are engaged in terrorist activity.” He adds the actions by WikiLeaks “undermines the very safety of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

TechZone360 also reported that one of the cables showed that Saudi leaders want to see Iran attacked to destroy its nuclear facilities.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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