Countries to be less candid post-WikiLeaks: US

The US says WikiLeaks has damaged Washington`s ties with other countries.

Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 14:38 PM IST

Washington: Slamming WikiLeaks for compromising its ability to have confidential communication with other countries, the US has said several nations have told it that they will perhaps now be less candid in sharing information with it in the wake of the expose by the whistle-blower website.

These countries have conveyed their concerns to the Obama administration that the confidential information and perspective shared by them with the US have now found their way into the public space, which "is a violation of trust”, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told foreign journalists here.

"And certain countries have cautioned us that they perhaps will be less candid in the future than they have in the past. This is of great concern to us because it is this international cooperation that helps us solve real world challenges," he said at a news conference held at the Washington`s Foreign Press Centre.

Refusing to go into details of the ongoing investigation, Crowley said that WikiLeaks has damaged America`s relations with other countries.

"It has compromised our ability to have confidential communications with other countries. But most importantly, it has put at risk people who have engaged the United States and our diplomats around the world, particularly in authoritarian societies where it is important for us to understand what`s happening and where information is difficult to obtain," he said.

Perspective is important as the US tries to find ways to open up these societies to the very kinds of civil society activity that is taken for granted in a country like America, he said.

"As we have indicated publicly, tried to contact as many of these people - they are civil society activists, they are, in some cases, government officials, they are journalists in some cases. And the revelation of their names in the release of these cables has put their careers, and in some cases their lives, at risk.”

"We have, in a very small number of instances, helped these people move to safer locations, sometimes in the same country; in a couple of cases, moved them to different countries. So that is our concern," he noted. Crowley said what WikiLeaks suggests it is promoting is unrealistic. "It wants to have transparency everywhere at all times for all kinds of different information. That`s not the way the world works," he argued.

Diplomacy works most effectively when one can have confidential conversations when needed as also interactions among governments in confidence, Crowley said. "What`s important is that those conversations are consistent with our values, our laws."

"Whether you`re a government or whether you`re a business, you need to protect vital information. I always use the example of Coca-Cola as one example. They have a secret formula. If it wasn`t for their secret formula, then how do they maintain their competitive advantage versus some other cola that has a different formula?" he asked.

"Or if you`re Google, for example, you have an algorithm that you protect because it`s vital to your ability to your search engine, and that`s what gives Google perhaps a competitive advantage over somebody else. If you can`t protect the information that`s vital to your business, then how do you remain competitive?" he said.

"Likewise, we have daily interactions like this one where we convey our perspective."

There are things that need to be protected because in some cases interests are at stake, and in many, many cases, lives are at stake, he observed.

"So WikiLeaks suggests that there should be no secrets in the world, and I think everyone recognises that there is information that needs to be protected. And we are not alone in this. We have secrets within our government, and the governments that we interact with have secrets that they protect within their governments.”

"But it is the nature of this day-to-day interaction between the United States and our diplomats and diplomats of other worlds that enables us to cooperate and solve problems together," Crowley said.

PTI