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منگل، 30 نومبر، 2010

WikiLeaks release deals blow to US

By Song Shengxia 

International reaction was mixed Monday after the publication of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, a whistle-blower website in the US.
The US is struggling with damage control in the wake of the release of thousands of 'secret' documents, including the cables, some dating back to 1966 and were mostly sent by American diplomats.
WikiLeaks claims to have 251,288 such cables and has said it will release them over the course of weeks or months. They involve hot-button affairs, including those pertaining to Iraq and Afghanistan, and some contain critical opinions by US diplomats of foreign leaders.
"It weakens diplomacy in general, and (also) US diplomacy," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Swedish radio Monday, adding that the release risks US diplomats getting less information and the US diplomatic service being less effective.

French government spokesman François Baroin said France was made aware of the cables before their release and pledged to support the US, a NATO ally, in defending diplomatic secrecy.
"We are very supportive of the American administration in its efforts to avoid what not only damages countries' authority and the quality of their services, but also what endangers men and women working to defend their country," Baroin, who is also budget minister, told Europe 1 Radio.
The documents, given by WikiLeaks to five media groups, including the New York Times and Britain's The Guardian, contain sensitive information - some regarding terrorism and nuclear proliferation - filed by the US diplomats, and the documents reveal candid and at-times critical views of foreign leaders, according to the New York Times.

WikiLeaks, which said its servers were hit by electronic attacks from hackers Sunday afternoon and became inaccessible Monday, said the released documents, dating from 1966 until the end of February 2010, represent the largest-ever disclosure of confidential documents and give the world "an unprecedented insight into the US government's foreign activities."
"The cables show the US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in 'client states;' backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; and lobbying for US corporations," the site's editor in chief and spokesman, Julian Assange, said in a statement released Sunday evening.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs condemned the release and said the disclosure would jeopardize "our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the United States for as-sistance in promoting democracy and open government."
"By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has risked not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals," Gibbs said, failing to put any blame on the diplomats responsible for the controversial comments.
The Pentagon said Sunday that it was taking steps to bolster security of classified US military networks.
"The Department (of Defense) has undertaken a series of actions to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
The latest release followed two similar publications by WikiLeaks in July and October of US war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq exposing war crimes and torture.

Yu Wanli, an expert on international studies at Peking University, denied that the latest release could damage the core national interests of the US or its relations with allies.
"But the leakage of the documents, most of which are about US intelligence information, could be the "9/11 of US intelligence," and parties concerned could get to know the focus of the intelligence and its underlying strategic intent," he said.
Li Wei, director of the Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary In-ternational Relations, told the Global Times that this shows that the US government is not as transparent and fair as it has always claimed to be, in terms of diplomacy.
The leakage also sounds an alarm to the US and other nations in terms of loopholes in guarding their national security, he added.
Shi Yinhong, a professor with the School of International Studies at Renmin University, told the Global Times Monday that "Websites such as WikiLeaks make the speed at which secrets can be spread faster than ever before, which threatens US diplomacy."
Shi noted that the leaks of information from WikiLeaks also revealed that some government officials are abusing their power of guarding national security by harming the people's right to know.
"This conflict between the US government and WikiLeaks also reminds us of the importance of improving the secret-keeping system. It is vital to clarify the boundary of secrets and make sure that those related to national security are tightly protected, " he added.

Source: Global Times
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