By DAN PERRY, Associated Press Dan Perry, Associated Press 18 mins ago
JERUSALEM Is diplomacy in danger?
The torrent of condemnation heaped on WikiLeaks from around the globe did suggest a widespread sense among government officials, but also among the sometimes more jaded observer and analyst class that in releasing U.S. diplomatic documents the group crossed a dangerous line.
The prime minister of Israel, a man hardly accustomed to representing global consensus, on Monday found himself in lockstep with most of his peers as he warned that statecraft itself was imperiled by a reality in which no secret is safe if it is written.
"It will be more difficult for talented American diplomats to put into cables and reports things they once would have," Benjamin Netanyahu said. Governments would more likely hoard information, he warned, restricting the circle of people in the know to minimize the chances of a leak.
It is a delicate message for elected leaders to make, of course, because it depends on the proposition that there is a limit to what the people should know, or at least when they should know it.
Netanyahu argued that the ability to communicate under a cloak of secrecy was critical to Israel's ability to reach a peace deal with Egypt in 1979. Had the Israeli public known that Prime Minister Menachem Begin was preparing to cede the entire Sinai desert, captured in 1967, the foment might have scuttled the emerging agreement, Netanyahu suggested.
"Transparency is fundamental to our society, and it's usually essential but there are a few areas, including diplomacy, where it isn't essential," he said.
But that time-honored government effort to control transparency took a massive hit this weekend, when WikiLeaks began publishing more than 250,000 leaked United States embassy cables a cache it described as the largest set of confidential documents ever released into the public domain.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted Monday that WikiLeaks acted illegally in posting the material. She said the administration was taking "aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information."