By Brigitte L. Nacos
Don’t believe that the leaked documents that WikiLeaks and several news organizations started to publicize this week will not have very negative consequences for U.S. national security. Already, the first batch of these cables suggests precisely that.
I do not merely talk about the chilled diplomatic relations and eroded trust.
Rather, I ponder the consequences of specific leaks, mostly the revelation that those leaks may have killed any hopes for the U.S. to remove highly enriched uranium from Pakistan as agreed upon three years or so.
If the U.S. had ever a chance to remove a stockpile of that uranium from Pakistan, as agreed to three years or so ago, the WikiLeaks releases may have blown that chance for good.
And then look at assessment that the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan' made in February 2009.
She wrote, “Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in GOP [government of Pakistan] facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon.”
What is not expressly said here is the likelihood that another Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former chief scientist in Pakistan’s nuclear program who sold Pakistani nuclear know-hown to Iran, might be the next villain to cooperate with a rogue state or a terrorist group.
Did you know that most of the remaining detainees at Guantamo are Yemenis? If not, I am sure you know that Yemen has become a major haven for Al Qaeda types and their propaganda and recruitment schemes.
We may not like Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, but he has cooperated with us in hunting down dangerous terrorists.
The fact that the cables explicitly reveal Saheh’s cheerful affirmation, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours [U.S. bombs]” and that he referred to this as lies, may cost this however flawed ally his office, if not life--and the U.S. Yemen's cooperation in fighting terrorists.
Today’s New York Times editorial underrated the importance and possible impact of the WikiLeaks leaks. It noted that “what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery.”
If you wonder what “skullduggery” means, here is the definition according to the Encarta Dictionary: English (North America):
“…unfair and dishonest practices carried out in a secretive way in order to trick other people.”
I wish this would be the the only problem here.
In reality, there were and are far more important issues than dishonesty, secrecy, and the tricking of others as the material about Pakistan and Yemen attests to.
The particular material about Pakistan and Yemen mentioned above--and probably some that has not yet been published--should not have been published for the sake of national security.