Dispatches > News
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Self-censored

U.S. diplomats post-leaks are likely to ditch the cables

Issue: "Daniel of the Year," Dec. 18, 2010

An "attack on the international community" is what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called WikiLeaks' publication of 250,000 diplomatic cables after Thanksgiving-shaking international relations and altering the State Department's information sharing.

U.S. agencies are tightening access to classified information, and the Obama administration has told agencies to limit the use of external drives for transferring data. One man, Brad Manning, an Army intelligence specialist, is allegedly responsible for downloading all the files. Manning has been in military detention since May.

Mary Manjikian, a former foreign service officer and now a professor at Regent University's Robertson School of Government, outlined the long-term consequences for diplomacy: "Every time an analyst sits down to write a piece of analysis, they have to think to themselves, 'Would I lose my job if this ends up on the front page of The Washington Post?' They'll have to censor themselves."

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

Manjikian imagines foreign service officers turning to phone calls to have candid conversations so there is no written record. "It's going to be a tragedy for historians," she said. "Imagine if we had no records of the Cuban missile crisis."

The State Department receives 5,000 to 6,000 cables a day, according to Manjikian, who used to write three or four cables a day herself. She called the leaked cables "a very, very small sample" and said Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, was "irresponsible" for unveiling private conversations out of context. The U.S. government should "make an example of him," she said. Top House Republican Pete King, in line to chair the Homeland Security Committee, urged Clinton to designate WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the agency didn't consider WikiLeaks' publication of the documents a "terrorist act," though it was a "crime."

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    House divided

    An American couple faces Qatari imprisonment over a tragedy…

    Advertisement