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Diplomatic cables not part of US policy: Clinton

world Updated: Dec 04, 2010 12:56 IST

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Diplomatic cables are not part of the US policy and meant to just provide information which is not always accurate, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, while acknowledging that the Defence Department did not handle properly the classified papers illegally obtained by WikiLeaks.

"Diplomatic cables are not policy. They are meant to inform. They are not always accurate. They are passing on information for whatever it's worth," Clinton told BBC.

"I think everyone knows that if we cannot speak openly and candidly with one another, we cannot understand each other and we cannot make policy that will benefit each other. I have found in my many conversations in the last week that there is certainly an understanding of what diplomacy means," she said.

When pointed out that revelations were embarrassing for some leaders, Clinton said: "Well, of course, it's not their (diplomats') words. It's what somebody said about them. And oftentimes it's not secondhand; it's third and fourth-hand."

"I have personally expressed my regret to individual leaders as well as publicly to anyone who has been offended or affected. But this is a tough business we're in, and it's a challenging world and most leaders get it. They may not appreciate it, because who wants to be – have something that some person somewhere said about you put in the public domain," Clinton said.

"But they know that the United States -- the policy of this Administration is very clearly made in Washington by the President, by myself, by the rest of the high-level Administration officials. And that's who they exchange views with and cooperate with on an ongoing basis," she said.

Clinton said the theft of the confidential information by a young private was done under the authority of the Defence Department, which had a legitimate reason for wanting more access to information.

"But it wasn't handled appropriately. I think that is clear. I've called for a full investigation. As soon as we had any word that there was any leakage going on, we immediately stopped participating," she said.

"The Defence Department has made significant changes so that this can never happen again. But we're rethinking how we share information. It's kind of a constant balancing act. On the one hand, you want information to be in the hands of people who are literally fighting and dying for what we're seeking.

"On other hand, you don't want it to get into the wrong hands. But I think we're going to have to ratchet back on who can have access to confidential information," Clinton said.

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