Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks to the Press on the Release of Confidential Documents

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 29, 2010

Secretary Clinton spoke to the press today about the release of confidential documents. The Secretary said:

"...The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. This Administration is advancing a robust foreign policy that is focused on advancing America's national interests and leading the world in solving the most complex challenges of our time, from fixing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing human rights and universal values. In every country and in every region of the world, we are working with partners to pursue these aims.

"So let's be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community -- the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.

"I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama Administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge. The President and I have made these partnerships a priority -- and we are proud of the progress that they have helped achieve -- and they will remain at the center of our efforts.

"I will not comment on or confirm what are alleged to be stolen State Department cables. But I can say that the United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats' personal assessments and observations. I want to make clear that our official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but here in Washington. Our policy is a matter of public record, as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world.

"I would also add that to the American people and to our friends and partners, I want you to know that we are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information. I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again.

"Relations between governments aren't the only concern created by the publication of this material. U.S. diplomats meet with local human rights workers, journalists, religious leaders, and others outside of governments who offer their own candid insights. These conversations also depend on trust and confidence. For example, if an anti-corruption activist shares information about official misconduct, or a social worker passes along documentation of sexual violence, revealing that person's identity could have serious repercussions: imprisonment, torture, even death.

"So whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others.

"Now, I am aware that some may mistakenly applaud those responsible, so I want to set the record straight: There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends.

"There have been examples in history in which official conduct has been made public in the name of exposing wrongdoings or misdeeds. This is not one of those cases. In contrast, what is being put on display in this cache of documents is the fact that American diplomats are doing the work we expect them to do. They are helping identify and prevent conflicts before they start. They are working hard every day to solve serious practical problems -- to secure dangerous materials, to fight international crime, to assist human rights defenders, to restore our alliances, to ensure global economic stability. This is the role that America plays in the world. This is the role our diplomats play in serving America. And it should make every one of us proud.

"The work of our diplomats doesn't just benefit Americans, but also billions of others around the globe. In addition to endangering particular individuals, disclosures like these tear at the fabric of the proper function of responsible government.

"People of good faith understand the need for sensitive diplomatic communications, both to protect the national interest and the global common interest. Every country, including the United States, must be able to have candid conversations about the people and nations with whom they deal. And every country, including the United States, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries about issues of common concern. I know that diplomats around the world share this view -- but this is not unique to diplomacy. In almost every profession -- whether it's law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business -- people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. And so despite some of the rhetoric we've heard these past few days, confidential communications do not run counter to the public interest. They are fundamental to our ability to serve the public interest.

"In America, we welcome genuine debates about pressing questions of public policy. We have elections about them. That is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy. It is part of who we are and it is a priority for this Administration. But stealing confidential documents and then releasing them without regard for the consequences does not serve the public good, and it is not the way to engage in a healthy debate.

"In the past few days, I have spoken with many of my counterparts around the world, and we have all agreed that we will continue to focus on the issues and tasks at hand. In that spirit, President Obama and I remain committed to productive cooperation with our partners as we seek to build a better, more prosperous world for all."

You can read Secretary Clinton's complete remarks here.



Markus D.
November 29, 2010

Markus D. in Peru writes:

Is time to be frank diplomatically worldwide, it is time to set new ways in international policy making. Is not?

United Kingdom
November 29, 2010

"Me" in the United Kingdom writes:

I have just heard Hillary Clinton spew garbage defending the US but got mixed up when talking about the USA defending human rights and saving lives.
The truth is the USA does not defend human rights... not even in the States and is responsible the deaths of many innocent people (men women and children) in many countries arouind the world through its wars and the illegal activities of the CIA.
The truth is the USA is embarrassed by what has been revealed... and the world knows it.

Bernd M.
November 29, 2010

Bernd M. in Germany writes:

Secretary Clinton is making clear that confidentiality is valuable. May the disclosure of the cables make clear to governments around the world that the privacy and confidentiality of information exchanged between people, be it institutional or personal, are a valuable good to be protected. The common practice of privacy breaches (the TSA nude scanners and body pat downs being a graphic example) must be reconsidered with just as much sensitivity as what Secretary Clinton is demanding for their own diplomatic correspondence.

United States
November 29, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

If WikiLeaks is treason, what about the person who bankrolls WikiLeaks?

John P.
November 29, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

@2 u in the United Kingdom

“the illegal activities of (the)CIA”?
God and CIA takes no THE...
Unfortunately for opportunists like u, the “Company” has no PR.

So, civilians must help!

What you see is not what you see!

Do you have any proofs 4 what you are writing Me & U?

(Great Remarks to the Press Madame Secretary!)

John P.
November 30, 2010

John P. in Greece writes:

@“Me” in the United Kingdom

(Part2) Let’s be big boys and fair.
CIA works the same way other countries’ intelligence services do.

However, these VA guys are better!
And exactly the same way it happens in everyday life (sports, entertainment, business) when you are the best, you have to face plenty of accusations and enemies who feel jealous of your talent and results.

If you agree to proceed with my perspective in an adult way and not like talking in a playground, ‘wishing on a star”, thinking as the Globe is a paradise, having your I-pod earphones singing some Beatles “imagine all the people” etc. you will also admit that CIA is an easy media victim to accuse. Because “it works Good!” and it’s American!

All countries have their own intel Services and they operate strategically for their own scopes, using the same techniques and practices. Even churches do so. But, they are not that successful. So, it’s easy to blame it on CIA for everything bad happening in the world.

However, is it like this, or most people “can’t see”?

The big problem is that the “cable” can’t talk and this is the right way it should/must operate. If the “cable” could talk and civilians like us could stand the truth, most of us would be surprised concerning the facts. Then you wouldn’t talk about CIA illegal actions, but only about legal necessary GLOBAL actions. And then we should also understand that even in cases that somekind of illegal practices appear/ed, there is a domino dancing of facts that enrich these actions as legal due to a hyper-scope. But, unfortunately (I repeat myself) the “cable” can’t talk.

If the “cable” could be heard, you would listen to thousands of CIA “messages” helping countries around the world to counter fight terrorism, drugs, trafficking in persons, dictators etc. However, these info and GREAT RESULTS are both sensitive and insight, most of us (simple civilians) could not even administrate them in our amateur brain. Moreover, we would not be able to evaluate the “domino dancing”.

A last example in order to understand that there is no “me”. It’s always me&you;!
You probably live in UK, right? You know how difficult it is to “prevent” terrorists that arrive from all over the world in a metropolis environment.
CIA has saved millions of lives in the Globe, but this “cable” can’t talk…
Do you think that London, Paris, Athens, Madrid, Tokyo, Vancouver and hundreds of other locations can stay safe without the help of CIA?
These Virginia guys work in a global environment, from Asia to Africa, from Middle East to the Pacific. And their info and collaboration is our only way to stay secure “me” friend.

What’s their only problem?
They don’t have a PR, cause this “cable” is silent in order to be successful.

California, USA
November 30, 2010

Masood in California writes:

Wikileak has done a colossal damage to the U.S. partnerships with rest of the world.

New Mexico, USA
December 1, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Julian Assange has now achieved the rare status pionered to lofty hights by bin laden as the most hated man in the world...or just plainly too stupid to live.

Such status can be most redily descibed by an attitude that has as it's motto, "Why be famous when you can be infamous?"

What was it Churchill once said about ..."upon stumbling across the truth one manages to pick themselves up and carry on"?

...and Forest Gump was right. Just let ethical infants prove it to you.

Interpol has them both on their wanted list, so I guess reality and the slowly grinding wheels of justice will come to meet their fate eventually.

R G.
United States
December 1, 2010

R.G. in the U.S.A. writes:

I cannot pretend to know what Mr. Assange's true aim was for broadcasting classified documents. Nor can I pretend to know what the true aim was for those who leaked the information to him. No one will ever truly know with the lone exception of Mr. Assange himself and those that leaked to him.

What is apparent is that a lot of damage has been done with this action. Though Mr. Assange has expressed a necessity to "expose" these documents I fail to see benefit in doing it the way he did, possibly at all.

To me, at this point, this issue seems to be more of a case journalistism gone awry. I would liken it to instances where too much information is given by journalists without proper context and prudent restraint. An example of this would be coverage of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Journalists gave so much detail that people could practically build their own dirt bomb after following the variious reports. Another example would be the 9/11 attacks. I remember seeing the second plane hit and seeing people jump from the burning towers. That was too much for live syndicated television. A more recent example is when Geraldo was giving live coverage of a U.S. military offensive. He even went so far as to sketch a map of landmarks, give current locations of U.S. military personnel/equipment,and even displayed the paths of progression while the events were happening on globally syndicated television. Again, that was too much.

I agree that people have a right to know what our elected officials are up to but I think there is a right and wrong way to disclose that information. In my opinion Mr. Assange has, unfortunately for all involved (including the various nations' citizens), chosen the wrong way.

I will leave it up to the various judicial systems and legal experts to determine whether this is "treason" or "journalism." However, as a citizen of one of the many impacted countries I think he is flat out wrong.

South Korea
December 2, 2010

Palgye in South Korea writes:

i believe Sec Hillary Clinton`s address..

Chuck C.
Massachusetts, USA
December 4, 2010

Chuck C. in Massachusetts writes:

The State Department is emphasizing its "OpenState" program. So isnt WIkiLeaks a perfect example?

Seriously why is this material is classified anyways? Isn't this important information that citizens should know? Why not think about releasing more of this information for the benefit of citizens instead of classifying it?


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