The Diplomatic Fallout From Leaked Documents
GUY RAZ, Host:
For more on the diplomatic fallout, we turn now to Christopher Hill, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and previously chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea. Ambassador Hill, welcome.
CHRISTOPHER HILL: Thank you very much.
RAZ: How damaging do you believe these leaks are?
HILL: Well this is very damaging, especially to individual embassies involved. I mean, after all, not unlike in the news business, embassy officers are out there every day talking to different people, getting them to give their views on things and often the people really need anonymity. And to have their names now, or the situations in which they were giving information now spread out over the international airwaves is quite problematic. And I think problematic for future conduct of diplomacy.
RAZ: You served, obviously, as an ambassador to many nations during your career at the State Department. What do you suspect the secretary of State is now saying to people like Hamid Karzai who was described as paranoid, or Vladmir Putin, who was called an alpha dog?
HILL: They hardly reflect how the embassy or the State Department officers speak about their foreign interlocutors and otherwise trying to engage in some damage control. But I don't envy her job these days.
RAZ: You say that Secretary Clinton will have to sort of explain that maybe some of these comments have been taken out of context. But I'm wondering if, in fact, they haven't been taken out of context, that these are actually pretty straightforward assessments by U.S. diplomats overseas.
HILL: Well, I think in certain circumstances, you're absolutely right. They haven't been taken out of context. And then I think it's just - would be an effort to apologize and say this does not reflect our overall view of the leader in question.
RAZ: And just hope for the best.
HILL: But I do worry about the business of diplomacy. I worry about what people are prepared to put in cables in the future. I really worry about some of the lateral transmission of this information to people who clearly had nothing to do with the actual substance - that they were allowed to read these things. So I think there needs to be a lot of tightening up. And I suspect that process has begun.
RAZ: It's thought that these cables were retrieved through the SIPRNET, which is a secure military network. Is the diplomatic community angry with the military for allowing this to happen?
HILL: And so I think it is fair to say that we may have gone too far. I can't speak to the guilt or innocence of this Private Manning, who was an analyst in Iraq, but apparently he was able to be reading, merrily reading cables from places like Seoul, Korea. That strikes me as having erred on the side of giving out too much information to people who didn't need that information to do their jobs.
RAZ: That's Christopher Hill. He's the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and now the dean at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Ambassador, thank you so much.
HILL: Thank you.
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