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Posted at 2:15 PM ET, 12/21/2010

WikiLeaks “no threat,” top German official says

By Jeff Stein

Germany’s top security official said Monday that WikiLeaks is “irritating and annoying for Germany, but not a threat.”

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also he said he was opposed to financial entities cutting off payments to WikiLeaks under pressure from Washington.

“If this occurs under pressure from the U.S. government, I don't think it is acceptable,” de Maiziere, a confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel. “If a company freely decides to do so, then that is a corporate decision, but it is also politically problematic. I am a big advocate of what is known as net neutrality. This means that providers are compelled to transmit content without political or commercial pre-selection.”

PayPal and Bank of America have announced they will no longer process payments to WikiLeaks.

De Maiziere, Merkel's former chief of staff, also questioned how “intelligent” the U.S. government is for allowing so many people access to classified documents.

“From an international perspective, I see their actions as totally irresponsible,” de Maiziere said of WikiLeaks. “One might also ask, however, if a government is acting intelligently when it organizes its entire diplomatic correspondence on a network that can be accessed by 2.5 million people.”

The Government Accountability Office reported last year that over 2.4 million people have security clearances.

De Maiziere, the chancellor’s former chief of staff, cautioned that he wasn’t making a case for “total transparency” in foreign relations.

“Governments also have to be able to communicate confidentially. Confidentiality and transparency are not mutually exclusive, but rather two sides of the same coin,” he said.

But he said he was “astounded” to learn from WikiLeaks that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had ordered U.S. diplomats to “spy” on their foreign counterparts at the United Nations, by gathering such personal information as their “credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information,” as a cable signed by her said.

Such an order was “unprecedented,” former State Department intelligence chief Carl W. Ford told SpyTalk on Nov. 29, but other U.S. diplomats said such headquarters directives were a longtime and routine practice, one not always fully obeyed.

In any event, de Maiziere said, a better target for WikiLeaks would be truly closed governments like those of China and Russia.

“I would actually prefer it if WikiLeaks focused less on transparent and open Western democracies and more on the world's dictatorships and oppressive regimes,” he said. “Then it could at least have a genuine informative purpose.”

By Jeff Stein  | December 21, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Financial/business, Foreign policy, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Lawandcourts  | Tags:  Angela Merkel, Der Spiegel, Hillary Clinton, Thomas De Maizière  
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Comments

the germans weigh in with some sanity.

won't see that from the amerikan oligarchy.

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | December 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The government and media have controlled what the public knows forever. It amazes me that some people are calling him a terrorist. Are they so afraid of knowing what's really going on? For once someone has the almighty elite by the balls. Good for him. The will be a revolution of change coming, but we must have a plan in place. Check this site:
theefficiencytheory.com I have read his book and he has an amazing vision on how to solve a ton of problems and bring back a pure form of democracy.

Posted by: TheEffTheory | December 21, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Who'd have thought 70 years ago that we'd have to look to the Germans to see what a free country looks like?

Posted by: GideonDarrow | December 21, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Than George Bush, Dick Cheney and Ronald Dumsfeld for the truly briliant idea of allowing all the people in all the different departments access to all classified documents.

Compartmentalisation and encryption who needs those when you have known knowns and known unknowns huh?

Posted by: walker1 | December 21, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Chancellor Merkel comes from a country where 20% of the total population was the spy network itself.

Some high talk from a country with Stasi archives that would easily dwarf anything we've seen online so far.

How many decades will it take to scan in their records of spying on their own countrymen for paltry returns?

Of course Germany does not see WikiLeaks as a threat. Only a tiny proportion of the global population is capable of reading their well-known but often unused language. If we saw their entire archive of contemporary secrets, who would care?

Posted by: agx48 | December 21, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course Wikileaks is no threat to Germany, Wikileaks is not out to leak classified material from anyone BUT the United States. They don't have a mission of "transparency" or "openness" for all organizations, just a mission to destroy the national security for the United States. To that end they are nothing but anarchists and terrorists with one purpose -- to hurt the U.S.

This isn't about journalism -- Wikileaks is not a journalist organization -- and it isn't about the 1st amendment. It's a terrorist organization with one target. They stole classified material and published it. If you steal a car or buy a car from someone who stole it and you know it, you don't get to keep the fruits of the theft.

All the posturing and pandering that Assange is some kind of "hero" is simply hatred of the U.S. government masquerading as some kind of principle. No one is fooled by it except those who are co-conspirators.

Posted by: RBCrook | December 21, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

You can always count on the Germans to be reasonable and use common sense. Thank you for not disappointing me Germany.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 21, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

How refreshing. Germany is governed by mature adults who are capable of reasoned thinking. Chilling to compare with the hysterical and unstable reaction of the U.S. government.

Posted by: CMR2010 | December 21, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

@RBCrook

"They don't have a mission of "transparency" or "openness" for all organizations, just a mission to destroy the national security for the United States. To that end they are nothing but anarchists and terrorists with one purpose -- to hurt the U.S."

Absolutely. In fact, don't you agree that journalists like Assange should wear yellow stars?

Posted by: CMR2010 | December 21, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Being German myself, I might add that de Maizière is a particularly reasonable, intelligent, and unpretentious person and highly regarded even among the opposition. So while I am somehow flattered that "we" are praised for refreshing comments (yes indeed - who would have thought that), de Maizière probably is among the best we can offer.

Posted by: FlorianvSavigny | December 21, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Who'd have thought 70 years ago that we'd have to look to the Germans to see what a free country looks like?

Posted by: GideonDarrow


It's commonly phrased as: "Been there, done that". I fear that it is America's turn to
embrace evil.

Posted by: glenmayne | December 21, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sirs,
How many soldiers died because of the Diem Cable?
Chuck Colson a role model?
Clifford Spencer

Posted by: yankeefan1925 | December 21, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Nothing has moved a centimeter in any direction despite plethora of Wikileaks. It has only made relevant people cautious. I advocate total transparency in foreign affairs. It's vital for the health of our planet.

Posted by: shahjahanbhatti1 | December 21, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sirs,
How many soldiers died because of the Diem Cable?
Chuck Colson a role model?
Clifford Spencer

Posted by: yankeefan1925 | December 21, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

on the money. profs.


Posted by: xxxxxx1 | December 21, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

RBCrook commented: "Wikileaks is not out to leak classified material from anyone BUT the United States."

WikiLeaks doesn't leak anything. WikiLeaks published information leaked by Americans.

The problem isn't with WikiLeaks. It is with a country that doesn't know how to properly secure its own classified communications. It is with a country that is unable to control government employees who end up learning how corrupt, deceitful and violent a nation the USA is. People, including soldiers, grow disillusioned very quickly when it becomes clear the government that sends them into harm's way hides the truth from them. It is wrong for anyone in the US Government to tell any US citizen to not read any given newspaper because such a demand flies in the face of democratic principles, the very thing American soldiers are supposed to protect. Hypocrisy on the part of Government doesn't sit well with armed services personnel.

Go ahead and wave Old Glory around all you want because that's just what she is now, OLD. Seems the cold war dinosaurs are about to move a few steps closer to extniction. Even that fresh faced, articulate, charming President of yours is a liar and a promise breaker. Gitmo is still open, isn't it? I haven't heard anyone use the words HOPE or CHANGE or YES WE CAN for quite awhile. Well, at least not until the summer of 2010 when WikiLeaks took news reporting to the next level.

Maybe that's a good thing, though. When Senator Clinton is eventually charged with espionage for signing an intelligence order to spy on the UN's highest ranking officials, an illegal act, there should be an extra hood, orange jumpsuit and a pair of cheap flip flops in her size waiting for her.

Posted by: theblackbird | December 22, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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