As the uproar increases over WikiLeaks publishing hundreds of thousands of confidential U.S. State Department cables online, the latest reports show that 852 of the communications involve the Vatican.
U.S. leaders are decrying WikiLeaks founder, Australian Julian Assange, for incrementally publishing over 250,000 cables on his non-profit website. The cables are suspected of being leaked to Assange by 23 year-old U.S. army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, among others. Manning is currently being held at a military base in Virginia.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted the move Nov. 29 as “not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests” but an “attack on the international community.”
Documents involve U.S. correspondence with dozens of countries all over the globe, with the highest number of cables – 16,000 – involving Iraq. Not all cables have been released, given that the sheer number requires incremental publishing. However, cables involving North Korea, China and Argentina have already been shown online.
According to WikiLeaks, 852 of the documents slated to be published involve correspondence between the U.S. and the Vatican.
CNA contacted the U.S. State Department Nov. 30 for more information on the nature of the documents. Spokesperson Megan Mattson said that “as a policy we don't comment on documents that purport to contain classified information.” Mattson added that the State Department condemns “in the strongest terms the deliberate and unauthorized disclosure of classified materials by individuals and organizations” which she said “puts lives and risk and jeopardizes national security.”
Already public, however, is a 2005 document published by Italy's La Stampa which shows U.S. diplomats expressing surprise over the election of Pope Benedict XVI. According to the paper, U.S. officials said they thought a papal candidate from a developing country would be selected instead.
Although the document is not part of the 852 cache of cables, La Stampa ran an article with the document, saying that they obtained the information by filing a Freedom of Information Act.
The Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano stressed that the release of the cables does nothing to change diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Holy See.
Leaked correspondence does “not appear sufficient to substantially modify the relations” the U.S. has with various world governments, the paper said on Nov. 29.
The entire batch of the Vatican-related cables is expected to be published in the upcoming weeks.