Clinton works to contain diplomatic fallout while U.S. investigates WikiLeaks for espionage
Top news: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied yesterday that the release of 250,000 secret diplomatic cables — on a few hundred of which have been published so far — will adversely affect U.S. diplomatic relations. Nonetheless, she called the leaks “not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests,” but “an attack on the international community-the alliances and partnerships.” Regarding the unflattering descriptions of many foreign leaders and diplomats contained in the leaks, Clinton says one of her foreign counterparts told her, “You should see what we say about you.”
Clinton will get her first taste of statecraft in the post-WikiLeaks era today as she heads to Kazakhstan for an international security conference. The conference participants include Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is described in the cables as “Robin” to Vladimir Putin’s “Batman”, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is portrayed as “risk averse and rarely creative.”
Back in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the U.S. Justice and Defense departments are conducting an “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the leaks, targeting both the source and WikiLeaks itself. Holder would not say specifically that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, in under investigation, though officials say he is part of the investigation into whether WikiLeaks violated the 1917 Espionage Act. The government of Ecuador has offered residency to Assange, who has been denied by several countries in recent months. Officials in Quito say they are troubled by the information contained in the cables and want to give Assange the opportunity to speak openly.
Other leaders were more suspicious of the leaks. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doubted that the cables were leaks at all, saying they were “organized to be released on a regular basis.” The cable depict a number of Arab leaders urging the U.S. to take strong action against Iran.
At least one government feels vindicated by the leaks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the information in the cables confirms Israel’s own assessment of the Iranian threat. “There is not a huge gap between what we say behind closed doors and what we say openly,” Netanyahu said
North Korea: Japan says it will send an envoy to China for talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The WikiLeaks documents reveal U.S. and South Korean diplomats discussing plans for a post-Kim North Korea.