State Department: Wikileaks Did Not Cause Any Lasting Damage

The U.S. State Department says that the massive dump of diplomatic cables via Wikileaks late last year has not done any real damage to U.S. foreign policy:

The damage caused by the WikiLeaks controversy has caused little real and lasting damage to American diplomacy, senior state department officials have concluded.

It emerged in private briefings to Congress by top diplomats that the fallout from the release of thousands of private diplomatic cables from all over the globe has not been especially bad.

This is in direct opposition to the official stance of the White House and the US government which has been vocal in condemning the whistle-blowing organisation and seeking to bring its founder, Julian Assange, to trial in the US.

A congressional official briefed on the reviews told Reuters news agency that the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. “I think they want to present the toughest front they can muster,” the official said.

The official implied that the WikiLeaks fiasco was bad public relations but had little concrete impact on policy.

“We were told [it] was embarrassing, not damaging,” the official added.

This admission by the State Department is reminiscent of the comments that Defense Secretary Robert Gates made in October that the documents which had been released up to that point concerning Iraq and Afghanistan did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods. While this doesn’t excuse the fact that Bradley Manning broke the law, it does suggest that much of the initial outrage over the leaks was over blown and that, perhaps, there are a lot more documents unnecessarily designated as “secret” than we thought.

H/T: Balloon Juice

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Davebo says:

    And we have to read about it in The Guardian.

  2. Retete says:

    I think this is a pretty real statement. Most governments know very well that everyone does dirty work like spying other countries and so on. TheDiplomacy between countries has to bear with that.