WikiLeaks “no threat,” top German official says
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.”
| 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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