Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quickie: After the Leaks, the Shakeup

Via The Daily Beast | Philip Shenon in After the Leaks, the Shakeup:

The Obama administration is planning a major reshuffling of diplomats, military officers, and intelligence operatives at U.S. embassies around the world out of concern that WikiLeaks has made it impossible—if not dangerous—for many of the Americans to remain in their current posts.

Administration officials tell The Daily Beast that while planning is only in its preliminary stages, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA assume that they will have to shake up staffing at a number of American embassies and consulates within the coming months.

The shakeups are most likely at embassies where U.S. diplomats and other officials wrote classified cables—made public by WikiLeaks over the last week, or soon to be made public, with the Americans identified by name and title—in which they were harshly critical of corrupt or incompetent local government leaders.

"That's another part of the tragedy of this," said a senior U.S. national-security official. "We're going to have to pull out some of our best people—the diplomats who best represented the United States and were the most thoughtful in their analysis—because they dared to report back the truth about the nations in which they serve."
there has been no formal move by those governments so far to force the ouster of U.S. diplomats identified in the cables.

"We think it's only a matter of time, though," predicted a senior official. "You're bound to see some PNG-ing of our diplomats." (He was referring to the diplomatic term "persona non grata," applied when a government demands the removal of an unwelcome foreign diplomat.)
"Then it gets more complicated, since we'll be put in the position of having to retaliate," the official continued. "They'll PNG our people, and we PNG some of their diplomats in return." In cases in which there is no formal protest, he said, the U.S. will still want to move diplomats out of their posts because they will have been effectively frozen out of any ability to interact with local government officials.
A White House official tells The Daily Beast that "there have been no heart attacks" and that the State Department has been working for months to try to identify the U.S. diplomats and their local intelligence sources whose work—and safety—might be compromised in the cables released by WikiLeaks.

Read the whole thing here.

We note that the blind quotes on the staff shuffle is from a "senior U.S. national-security official" not a State Department official.  Should we read anything from that?

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