US Embassy Cables:

US forced to shake up embassies around the world after WikiLeaks revelations

Battered by a scandal which seems to provide a fresh wave of embarrassment with each passing day, the US government is being forced to undertake a major reshuffle of the embassy staff, military personnel and intelligence operatives whose work has been laid bare by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

The Obama administration was yesterday facing a crisis in its diplomatic service, amid growing evidence that the ongoing publication of a tranche of supposedly-confidential communiqués will make normal work difficult, if not dangerous, for important State Department employees across the world.

A mere 1,100 of the roughly 250,000 secret documents obtained by the website have so far been published, leading to fears that the unhelpful revelations will continue for months to come, destabilising US relations with almost all of its key allies and inflaming tensions with already-hostile governments in the Middle East and beyond. "In the short run, we're almost out of business," a senior US diplomat told the Reuters news agency, saying it could take five years to rebuild trust. "It is really, really bad. I cannot exaggerate it. In all honesty, nobody wants to talk to us ... Some people still have to, particularly (in) government but ... they are already asking us things like, 'Are you going to write about this?'"

The Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department are reported to be identifying which members of staff have been named as the authors of the most unhelpful memos to have been published by WikiLeaks. They will need to be removed from what are among America's most strategically-important postings.

Among those whose private thoughts have been embarrassingly revealed is Gene Cretz, the US ambassador to Libya who wrote a now-notorious cable to Washington in 2009 noting that that the country's leader Muammar Gaddafi never travels without his "voluptuous blonde" Ukranian nurse.

America's current envoy to the United Nations has also been criticised following the revelation that Hillary Clinton instructed them to procure credit card and frequent flyer numbers, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and other data from foreign diplomats and top UN officials, including the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The difficulty regarding the future of America's diplomatic service is the fact that the authors of many of the most important emails in the WikiLeaks tranche are among their most-experienced senior staff, and will therefore be tough, if not impossible, to replace. None of the countries that were affected by the WikiLeaks cables had requested the withdrawal of any American diplomatic staff.

"That's another part of the tragedy of this," a senior US national-security official told The Daily Beast website, which yesterday detailed the extent of the crisis on the ground and claimed that the reassignment of affected diplomats had already been planned and would take place in the coming months.

"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."

Among the foreign governments to have already expressed outrage about the contents of some of the files are those of supposed allies like France, Italy and Turkey, whose Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to sue the former US Ambassador Eric Edelman over a memo he wrote suggesting that Erdogan had hidden wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

Old enemies of the US are also upset. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was described in one memo as playing Robin to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Batman. Cuba and Venezuela were branded an "Axis of Mischief" in a document released at the weekend.

When the first cables were made public, the White House condemned the release saying it "put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open government".

Although there have yet to be formal moves to oust the diplomats responsible for the most awkward memos so far revealed, foreign governments are expected to soon begin "PNG-ing" US diplomats, a practice which involves demanding the removal of an official by branding them "persona non grata".

"We think it's only a matter of time, though," one State Department official told The Daily Beast. Diplomatic sources told The Independent that there no immediate plans to move staff because that would suggest they had done something wrong and damage confidence.

Tensions with Arab states

The latest leaked memos reveal that Hillary Clinton criticised the Saudi government, saying the country was the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups but that its politicians were reluctant to stem the flow of money. In the memo, dated December 2009, she told US diplomats that "Riyadh has taken only limited action" to interrupt the flow of money to the Taliban and groups launching attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. She added that Hamas raised millions in Saudi, often from Hajj and Ramadan pilgrims. The note also highlighted Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE as sources of militant money and singled Qatar out as "the worst in the region" for not co-operating with Washington.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own