The State Department's chief spokesman said Monday that officials have been "prepared for this day for some time" waiting for the release of embarrassing and potentially damaging internal reports by Wikileaks.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent the weekend making preemptive phone calls to foreign allies briefing them of the sensitive matter. Several months ago, Wikileaks made it known that it would publish the diplomatic cables the group obtained under disputed if not illegal circumstances. That advance notice gave Clinton and other government officials plenty of time to prepare for the inevitable fallout from Sunday's release.
In her statement condemning the classified information posted online by Wikileaks boss Julian Assange, Clinton called the leak "an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
While treating the leak as a crime, Secretary Clinton announced the State Department is also taking action to prevent future leaks through new security safeguards at State and other government agencies including the Department of Defense. Spokesman P.J. Crowley later expanded on the new protocol to include personnel access to "the networks on which these documents are available". Department officials are adamant the leak will not change how they go about their diplomatic efforts. Secretary Clinton stressed "our official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but here in Washington."
Clinton and Crowley were clear about the hard work American diplomats carry out all over the world and their methods of reporting information should not change. "We value the perspective that diplomats provide," Crowley said. He continued to emphasize the roll diplomats play in foreign policy and the significance of confidentiality.
"We do understand that when we have a conversation with a diplomat and report on that conversation, that conversation is based on trust and confidence that the information will be protected," Crowley said. But that trust has been breached. Asked if any diplomats are canceling trips to the United States, Crowley hadn't heard of any changes yet but wouldn't be surprised. "We are going to have to reassure our contacts, other government officials, members of civil society that in the future we will protect the information, the confidences that they provide us. And we're determined to do that."