Clinton: WikiLeaks’ Release Attacks International Community

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 — The Wik­iLeaks release of clas­si­fied State Depart­ment doc­u­ments over the week­end con­sti­tutes an attack not only on Amer­i­ca, but also on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, as diplo­mats around the globe try to solve the world’s most com­plex prob­lems, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton said today.
Clin­ton said the pub­li­ca­tion “puts people’s lives in dan­ger, threat­ens our nation­al secu­ri­ty and under­mines our efforts to work with oth­er coun­tries to solve shared prob­lems.”

U.S. diplo­mats focus on advanc­ing Amer­i­can nation­al inter­ests, Clin­ton not­ed, and work with rep­re­sen­ta­tives around the world to han­dle every­thing from eco­nom­ic issues and recov­ery to stop­ping the spread of weapons of mass destruc­tion.

“So let’s be clear. This dis­clo­sure is not just an attack on America’s for­eign-pol­i­cy inter­ests,” she said. “It is an attack on the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, the alliances and part­ner­ships, the con­ver­sa­tions and nego­ti­a­tions that safe­guard glob­al secu­ri­ty and advance eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty.”

The Unit­ed States regrets the dis­clo­sure of any infor­ma­tion that was intend­ed to be con­fi­den­tial, includ­ing pri­vate dis­cus­sions between coun­ter­parts or diplo­mats’ per­son­al assess­ments and obser­va­tions, she added.

Clin­ton stressed that U.S. offi­cial for­eign pol­i­cy is not set through these mes­sages, but in Wash­ing­ton.

“Our pol­i­cy is a mat­ter of pub­lic record, as reflect­ed in our state­ments and our actions around the world,” she said.

This is the third set of doc­u­ments Wik­iLeaks has released. The first set was mil­i­tary reports from Afghanistan, and the sec­ond release was mil­i­tary doc­u­ments from Iraq. Offi­cials of the web­site have said they will release more clas­si­fied doc­u­ments in the future.

Mean­while, the U.S. gov­ern­ment is tak­ing aggres­sive steps to hold respon­si­ble those who stole this infor­ma­tion.

“I have direct­ed that spe­cif­ic actions be tak­en at the State Depart­ment, in addi­tion to new secu­ri­ty safe­guards at the Depart­ment of Defense and else­where, to pro­tect State Depart­ment infor­ma­tion so that this kind of breach can­not and does not ever hap­pen again,” Clin­ton said.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates ordered two reviews of infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence shar­ing in August. The reviews called on DOD sys­tems offi­cials to dis­able all “write” capa­bil­i­ty for remov­able media on clas­si­fied com­put­ers to mit­i­gate the risks of per­son­nel mov­ing clas­si­fied data to unclas­si­fied sys­tems. He also direct­ed DOD orga­ni­za­tions to have a lim­it­ed num­ber of sys­tems autho­rized to move data from clas­si­fied to unclas­si­fied sys­tems, and to imple­ment two-per­son han­dling rules for mov­ing data from clas­si­fied to unclas­si­fied sys­tems.

More than 60 per­cent of DOD’s clas­si­fied net is now using a host-based secu­ri­ty sys­tem -– an auto­mat­ed way of con­trol­ling the com­put­er sys­tem with a capa­bil­i­ty of mon­i­tor­ing unusu­al data access or usage. The depart­ment is speed­ing deploy­ment to the rest of the clas­si­fied sys­tem, offi­cials said.

In addi­tion, the depart­ment is con­duct­ing secu­ri­ty over­sight inspec­tions in for­ward-deployed areas, under­tak­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty assess­ments of DOD net­works, and improv­ing aware­ness and com­pli­ance with infor­ma­tion pro­tec­tion pro­ce­dures.

U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, for exam­ple, has increased insid­er threat train­ing for its intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als and has start­ed mul­ti­dis­ci­pline train­ing for tra­di­tion­al secu­ri­ty, law enforce­ment and infor­ma­tion assur­ance per­son­nel at all ech­e­lons.

Cent­com also has estab­lished insid­er-threat work­ing groups to address the Wik­iLeaks inci­dent and pre­vent reoc­cur­rence.

“Pre­vi­ous­ly, over­sight was done by humans and, clear­ly, there were fail­ures there,” Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman, told reporters today.

While “there are some valid rea­sons” to remove large amounts of infor­ma­tion from clas­si­fied com­put­ers, Lapan said, offi­cials are putting obsta­cles in place to mit­i­gate the leak­ing of such infor­ma­tion. “It will be mon­i­tored much more close­ly,” he said.

In mak­ing the changes, defense offi­cials are work­ing toward Gates’ call for a bal­ance between secu­ri­ty and infor­ma­tion shar­ing, the colonel said. To pre­vent leaks, he added, gov­ern­ment offi­cials are focused on pro­ce­dures and tech­ni­cal sys­tems, not who obtains clear­ances.

Lapan also addressed the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of the DOD sys­tem to future leaks of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. “I wouldn’t say it is vul­ner­a­ble,” he said, “but I can’t say it won’t ever hap­pen again. There are safe­guards in place, but it’s up to indi­vid­u­als to fol­low them.”

The Wik­iLeaks post­ings have caused a chill­ing effect on who may coop­er­ate with gov­ern­ment offi­cials in the future, Lapan said. Defense offi­cials know that Wik­iLeaks still has some 15,000 sen­si­tive doc­u­ments relat­ed to the war in Afghanistan that they have yet to release, he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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