Cables part of diplomats’ work routine, says ex-US envoy

December 7, 2010

Ross Wilson - Hürriyet Daily News

The US diplomats named in secret cables were merely doing their jobs, a former US envoy to Turkey said.

“I think that diplomats do what they are supposed to do,” Ross Wilson said. “The reporting in the cables that I have seen is pretty much consistent with what we do. I personally might not use the same words that some of the cables used. However, I don’t see many extraordinary things so far,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

But Wilson said the focus should not be on holding the diplomats legally accountable for their comments.

“I do not think it is really credible to talk about legal action, and I think talking about it is unwise. Everybody should understand that these cables report what diplomats hear, what they see and what our assessments of the situation are. In doing so, we try to help Washington to make the best policy.”

According to Wilson, the release of the cables had “already greatly compromised American diplomacy.”

“This will make it much harder for American diplomats to work, and it will make it harder for us to work with our allies, partners, those who depend on us and those on whom we depend,” he said. “Some of what is coming out now about various countries has domestic impact, and that is not helpful.”

The US diplomat emphasised the significance of confidentiality, arguing that it is as necessary in diplomacy as it is in medicine and law.

“It is important to remember that diplomacy is not the only profession that requires confidentiality to do its work. Compromising that confidentiality puts all of us in a terrible situation,” he told the paper.

Because that code of confidentiality has been breached, the US might have to revise the way it carries out diplomacy, he said.

“Its conduct of diplomacy might be circumvented, at least for some time,” Wilson said. “And it will probably take a while for memory of this to pass and for the US government to take steps to secure its information.”

WikiLeaks on November 28 began releasing hundreds of cables from a batch that the organization claims contains more than 250,000 files. The US embassy in Ankara is reportedly the point of origin for nearly 8,000 of the cables — the most to come from a foreign embassy.

Wilson said that the hundreds of cables released represented “only a slice” of the whole batch.

“It is safe to say that it will be more difficult for the US government to work with others, including Turkey,” he said, quoted by the daily .



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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