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US cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis
Category : General 29 Nov 2010 10:42 AM | Industry News
The classified diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and reported on by news organizations in the United States and Europe provided often unflattering assessments of foreign leaders, ranging from U.S. allies such as Germany and Italy to other nations like Libya, Iran and Afghanistan.
Some of the cables, made available to the New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration's exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks posted the first installment of the archive on its website Sunday.
Criticism from U.S.: The White House condemned the release of the WikiLeaks documents, saying "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."
It also noted that "by its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions."
WikiLeaks' comment: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the release of the documents "reveals the contradictions between the U.S.'s public persona and what it says behind closed doors."
The effect of the WikiLeaks vandalism is to destabilize the governments on the other end of these diplomatic cables. The American government may suffer a degree of embarrassment, and a pinch of spice may be added to domestic political debates... but in some of these foreign nations, the information published by WikiLeaks could cause serious, even violent, unrest.
Some 2.5 million US government employees have access to SIPRNet - the US government's secure version of the civilian internet - where the files reportedly originated.
Thus far, no one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.
"WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people," James Jeffrey, US ambassador to Iraq, said. "They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here."
He said that anyone whose "confidential discussions find their way into the press is going to be very unhappy and very upset".