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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

WikiLeaks and Other Global Issues

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs

Foreign Press
New York, NY
December 7, 2010

Date: 12/07/2010 Location: New York, NY Description: Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs, briefing at the New York Foreign Press Center on ''WikiLeaks and Other Global Issues.'' - State Dept Image
4:00 P.M., EST

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Happy to be here. Happy to be back in New York. I think this is very unusual, we did a briefing earlier this morning in Washington and now this is the second half of what we call the double-header this morning, but happy to be here. And I thought the topic I would start with involves putting WikiLeaks in perspective, although I’m sure that you have other subjects on your mind which I will be happy to talk about.
Obviously, the fact that Julian Assange has been arrested in Britain is a matter between Britain and Sweden. The United States does not take a position on the merits of that particular warrant from Interpol for his arrest. We have and continue to condemn what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks has done. In our view, he has done substantial damage to the interests of the United States and the interests of other countries around the world. We clearly recognize that for a period of time, the conduct of diplomacy around the world will be more difficult.
What concerns us more significantly is that in the release of 250,000 cables, Mr. Assange has put real lives and real interests at risk. There are people every day in every country around the world with which we have diplomatic relations who engage diplomats of the United States. These are government officials. These are members of civil society. They help provide perspective on activities and events in those countries. In turn, our diplomats report this information back to Washington, which informs our policies and our actions.
I should emphasize that on any given day diplomats provide their best perspective to policymakers in Washington about world events, but policy is made in Washington, D.C., not out in our posts around the world. But in – certainly in many authoritarian societies by engaging diplomats in the United States, individuals can put themselves at risk. They risk their careers. They risk their lives in some cases, and this is what is irresponsible through the actions of Mr. Assange.
In anticipation of the revelations of these cables, we have reached out to sources around the world. We have expressed our concern about their well-being, and in certain cases, we have offered, if they fear – if they feel threatened, to help them, if necessary, move to a safer location. I can’t say that at this point any of that action has been necessary, but that is something that we will continue to watch as we go forward.
That said, we are very proud of our diplomats. Our diplomats, every day, are out in countries serving the national interest of the United States, which is what they’re paid to do. And we believe that they engage in other countries and work with friends, allies, other partners to help solve global issues around the world. And they’re doing what diplomats for other countries are doing in a place like here in New York, as well as in other locations in our country. This is what diplomats do. And we’re not going to change what we do because of what has happened here.
You can see today, for example, in Geneva, we had Under Secretary Bill Burns engage with other members of what we call the P-5+1 for the first conversation, direct conversation, with an Iranian delegation in more than a year, trying to answer questions that just not the United States, but the international community has about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
Today, in Cancun, we have diplomats who are engaged in a difficult, complex effort working with other countries constructively to try to advance the cause of reduction of greenhouse gases. We have, in Morocco, diplomats who are working on a North African partnership, an extension of the entrepreneurial summit last April and the pledge that the President made in his Cairo speech to work to promote entrepreneurs around the world, particularly in Muslim-majority countries. We have a diplomat in Europe today following up on the Secretary of State’s announcement here in New York back in September about cook stoves. You have two diplomats in Ukraine today working cooperatively with Ukraine to combat the challenge of human trafficking around the world.
This is what American diplomats do, day in and day out. There have been those that suggest that there’s a grand conspiracy here. That’s nonsense. The – you see, without talking about any particular cable, what you see in some of the revelations that have come forward is diplomats pursuing in private what we absolutely say every day in public.
There has been suggestions that the United States is responsible for or promoted the release of these documents – again, nonsense. The United States Government condemns what WikiLeaks has done. We had no – well, let me pause – we do recognize that what is a crime started inside the United States Government, where one individual who has pledged to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States violated that pledge and downloaded these documents and released them to someone who is not authorized to have them. The United States Government beyond that played no role in the release of these documents.
There have been suggestions that our diplomats are spies – again, nonsense. Our diplomats do – they are diplomats. They are not spies. What they do every day is seek information, information that helps guide our policies and our actions. We expect that our diplomats, just as the diplomats of other countries, give candid reporting to policymakers about what they see happening in their particular engagements with countries all around the world.
And that is what they’re going to continue to do. We’re very proud of them. And the Secretary of State has been very clear in communicating to our diplomats that we value their work and we hope that their efforts will continue to pursue peace, prosperity, security, which is in our interest, the interest of our people, as well as the interest of the people in other parts of the world.
With that as a brief introduction, I’d be happy to take questions on this or other subjects.
Wait for the microphone, I think.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Mercedes Gallego. I work with the newspaper El Correo from Spain. My question is actually very simple: Are the American diplomats at the UN ordered to collect information from their colleagues on credit cards and any other personal information?
MR. CROWLEY: Again, it’s very difficult to answer that question without getting into the contents of cables. I will say that the intelligence community provides information throughout the government as to what its priorities are and what its needs are, but that is not a direct tasking to diplomats. Here in New York and anywhere else, our diplomats are guided by U.S. law, and our diplomats do not break U.S. law. Or if they do, for one reason or another, they are subject to appropriate punishment.
So it one thing to say that the intelligence community will tell U.S. Government employees what it would like to have; that doesn’t change the role of our diplomats. As I think Ambassador Rice said very clearly here in New York a couple of weeks ago, our diplomats are just that – they’re diplomats.
QUESTION: My name is Olivier O’Mahony with Paris Match magazine. I wanted to ask you, is there any way to – or to pursue Julian Assange on a legal basis for the damage – damages he’s done to the United States?
MR. CROWLEY: We are pursuing an investigation. And as I acknowledged, first and foremost, we’re pursuing an investigation of what happened inside the United States Government that resulted in the leak of these classified documents. But we have pledged that we will investigate this aggressively and we will pursue anyone that we feel has violated U.S. law and will be held to account. So I can’t predict where that investigation will lead at this point.
QUESTION: This morning in your – sorry, Federico Rampini, La Republica, Italy. This morning in your previous conference in Washington, if I understood well, you said that one of the consequences of the WikiLeaks would have been to make it more difficult to prevent terrorist attacks like the one that were prevented through international cooperation with other governments on the cargo planes recently.
If that is correct, could you elaborate on how that kind of cooperation in antiterrorism would be more difficult? And would that be one of the crimes that Mr. Assange would be charged of?
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t remember that coming up in this morning’s briefing, but I’ll address the question. The United States Government – the United States and the American people clearly benefit from cooperation with other countries in a variety of ways. For example, if you look, on the one hand, we will not solve the global financial crisis without effective action by the United States as well as other countries around the world.
Likewise, when you think about the scourge of terrorism, it is a threat to the United States and to the American people. It is a threat to other countries as well, including in Europe and including in other parts of the country – other parts of the world. You see clearly in a recent instance where crucial information provided by foreign governments enabled the United States and other governments to interdict a terrorist plot against the United States involving the movement of cargo on – passenger and cargo aircraft from the Middle East and Europe headed to the United States. That is precisely the kind of effective cooperation and coordination that allows us to protect our respective populations who all share this risk.
One of the potential impacts of what’s happened here is that country by country, perhaps candor will be – diplomats will be less candid, the flow of information will be interrupted. If that happens, then unfortunately, there could be a rise in terrorism risk to the United States, to the American people, and to others. We’d hate to see that happen. We understand that through these revelations, there has been a breach of trust. We regret what’s happened. We condemn what WikiLeaks has done and we’re going to work as hard as we can to rebuild that trust.
QUESTION: Razi Canikligil, Hurriyet newspaper of Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, he said he will take legal action against the U.S. envoys and – because they made false state – false reports against his government. And he also accused them – making gossip diplomacy.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: The gossip diplomacy.
MR. CROWLEY: Gossip diplomacy?
QUESTION: Yeah. What do you – what is your response?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, our – again, without getting into any particular cable, our diplomats provide frank, candid assessments of what’s happening in countries around the world. It is useful and important that our diplomats continue to do that. We take it on faith that the diplomats of other countries do the very same thing here in the United States, reporting back to capitals in countries all around the world.
In fact, when Secretary Clinton, who has done a number of calls and had a number of meetings in her trip last week to Kazakhstan and Bahrain – she was talking to one foreign minister and he said, “Don’t worry about it. You should see what we report about you.” This is what diplomats do. They provide their best perspective.
Now, that perspective may be what they see or what they sense at a particular time, and those judgments evolve as events evolve. So what you see frequently in cables is just a snapshot in time based on – in some cases, it may not be based on what a diplomat himself or herself feels. It might be based on what they were told by somebody else. So – but this is the nature of diplomacy. This is what we ask our diplomats to do, to give their best judgment, their best assessment to inform policymaking back here in Washington.
That said, we have a close, effective relationship between the United States and Turkey. It benefits the United States, it benefits Turkey, it benefits the region as well. We are NATO allies. We are close friends. The next meeting of the P-5+1 will occur in Istanbul and we will be very grateful for Turkey’s willingness to host this second meeting of what is a crucial dialogue to the future of the region with which Turkey sits and with which Turkey has a relationship with Iran.
The Secretary met last week with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. It was a very constructive meeting. And we’re going to continue to cooperate on a broad series of issues with which the United States and Turkey share mutual interests.
MODERATOR: We have a question from Washington.
QUESTION: Hello, my name is Wolfgang Geier from ORF. The assessment that was made (inaudible), to put it mildly. Any reactions from Austria (inaudible)? In your view, (inaudible)?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, again, I’ll leave the second question aside in terms of whether we stand by the assessments. These were classified documents and private assessments by our diplomats to our policymakers. And we will keep them private.
We understand that this has created turmoil. It’s one of the reasons why, in the days before the beginning of the release of documents – and our estimate now is roughly 1,400 documents have been released publicly – we reached out to diplomats around the world to warn them about what was coming, and to the extent that we had had some time since the first revelation of the leak back in the spring, we’ve been able to do a damage assessment. We have a sense of what is in this tranche of 250,000 cables. And we’ve had frank, honest discussions with governments since these cables have been released publicly. We’re going to continue to do that.
Our ambassadors, on a case-by-case basis, have reached out and communicated to local populations to try to put this in context. In brief, our relations with other countries are based on mutual interests and mutual respect, and that has not changed by what has happened here. We believe that there will be difficult moments ahead in the short term, but we think that over the longer term, the larger interest and the compelling interest that we have in Europe and elsewhere will once again rise to the fore.
So we’re prepared to work as hard as we can for as long as it takes to rebuild the trust that we know has been strained by what has happened.
QUESTION: Frank Van Vliet of Die Telegraaf from the Netherlands. There are suggestions that the recent problems of WikiLeaks are sort of organized by the United – of – by the U.S. – the access to the web, Visa card, MasterCard, not dealing with them anymore. Can you – are you trying to shut them down like that or can you say with hand on your heart that you’re not behind all these accusations?
MR. CROWLEY: Just to clarify, I’m not exactly sure what you’re talking about.
QUESTION: I’m talking about, at the moment, WikiLeaks doesn’t have access anymore to their Visa and MasterCard accounts. They have problem getting into own website, et cetera. So the suggestion was that you or the U.S. Government is behind those things and trying to close them down this way.
MR. CROWLEY: Well, you’re talking about private businesses. I can’t explain why they’re having that kind of difficulty. I just don’t know of any involvement by the United States Government on this.
QUESTION: Alexei Osipov of Novosty Nedeli. Russian President Medvedev (inaudible) reacted to WikiLeaks. And he says that WikiLeaks confirm that American policy is very cynic. Will you respond for this?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, absolutely. The President has had a number of meetings with President Medvedev and I would expect there will be more of those in the future. Likewise, Secretary Clinton talks on a regular basis with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And we’re going to continue doing what we do. Russia plays a central role in some of the issues that we’ve outlined here, from the P-5+1 to our efforts to try to convince North Korea to pursue a different path.
So Russia has a keen interest in how Iran advances. Russia has the same concerns as the United States regarding Iran’s nuclear programs. Russia played a constructive role in that context in declining to forward the S-300 missiles to Iran, as one example in the aftermath of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. So we will continue to cooperate with Russia. We’ll continue the so-called reset with Russia. And that – our relationship with Russia will not change by what’s been revealed here.
QUESTION: I’ve actually got the mike right down here. David Common with Canadian television.
MR. CROWLEY: Hello, David.
QUESTION: Just in relation to the investigation on Assange, he’s threatened to release more documents that originated with State, some of them top secret, if in fact he’s charged by the U.S. What role does that play in the broader investigation and the consideration whether to charge?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, the fact is he’s already released the documents to some news organizations, and so that was the basis of an exchange between Mr. Assange’s lawyer and the legal advisor of the State Department a few days ago. We called on him to return stolen property to the United States Government and he declined. I can’t predict where the investigation is going to go. Our Justice Department will investigate this fully. They’re working hand-in-glove with the Department of Defense and others. And we will hold those who have committed crimes against U.S. law fully accountable.
QUESTION: I am – my name is Hassim Al Adaf. I am a reporter of BBC Urdu and I have a very – two quick questions. Secretary – that – by – from WikiLeaks reports, it has been revealed purportedly that United States had been (inaudible) for getting amnesty to the military dictator like General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, and who did a lot of human rights violations, including he dismissed judges and put them in jail, and journalists. So do you think it’s good for the image here in the eyes of people of Pakistan?
And my second question: Don’t you think this is heart (ph) of tsunami to American diplomacy, the WikiLeaks? And if so, how much damage has been done?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think in the immediate term, damage has been done. You can look yesterday at the release of very sensitive information in terms of infrastructure that affects the United States and what supports our economy and our society and the – and those of other countries.
Information is classified for a very good reason. In some cases, it’s sensitive information that is crucial to the conduct of diplomacy or our economy. In other cases, it’s the sensitivity of sources, whether human sources or their technological sources. Every government has secrets. Every company has secrets. In Mr. Assange’s world, this – Google would give up its algorithm. In Mr. Assange’s world, Coca-Cola would give up its secret formula.
The fact is that everyone has proprietary information and you need protected information for any entity to be able to properly function. So we recognize that this is damaging. We’re going to do everything in our power to apply lessons that we’ve learned. We’ve already taken some steps to try to make sure that this cannot happen again. In a way, this is a 21st century challenge that you have information that is attached to global networks and you – in the race of technology, not only the United States, but others will have to work ever harder to try to protect that information, whether it’s from a leaker on the one hand or from a hacker on the other hand. This is a – this would be a profound challenge for companies and countries going forward.
In my view, judge the United States by its actions. And Pakistan is a perfect example – somebody’s got a phone on – perfect example of where the United States has worked to help Pakistan restore civilian government, from what amounted to a military dictatorship. And we are moving forward with a strategic partnership not only to continue to help Pakistan improve its military capability to confront an insurgency which is a threat to Pakistan as well as other countries. And most importantly, to build up the capacity of the Pakistani Government to be able to serve the legitimate needs of the Pakistani people.
We have put a significant amount of money forward. We have made a long-term commitment to Pakistan. We recognize that the Pakistani people are skeptical. We understand that. We’re going to work hard in a sustained effort over time to try to convince Pakistan that this is a relationship that we believe will be enduring and will serve the interests of the Pakistani people, the American people, and other people in the region and around the world.
MODERATOR: We’re going to take one more question from Washington.
QUESTION: Christophe Schmidt from AFP.
MR. CROWLEY: Hey, Christophe.
QUESTION: My question is on the Middle East. So we are just on the – is the United States (inaudible) try any more to get extension of the settlement freeze in the West Bank? So I understand your goals remain the same, that is, (inaudible). But could you elaborate on the change in strategy and the reasons for it?
And also, there is a report saying that Secretary Clinton will make a statement tomorrow. So is that true?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, Christophe, I’ve been on an airplane since I saw you last, so I – the Secretary will have more to say later in this week, but I’m not – I just have not been informed about a particular statement tomorrow at this point.
Let me work – I would say in response to your question, there’s not a change in strategy; there may well be a change in tactics. Let’s work from back to front. The United States remains committed to end the conflict in the Middle East. And we continue to pursue comprehensive peace in the Middle East, and that is in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian challenge, in the context of the Israeli-Syrian challenge, and in the context of the Israeli-Lebanese challenge. Nothing has changed.
We continue to pursue a framework agreement where we can reach a basic understanding on all of the core issues within this effort. They’re all well known, from borders and security to refugees and the status of Jerusalem. We have been pursuing a moratorium as a means to create conditions for a return to meaningful and sustained negotiations. After a considerable effort, we have concluded that this does not create a firm basis to work towards our shared goal of a framework agreement. And so we will be, in the coming days, inviting Palestinian and Israeli representatives to come to Washington to review how to best move the process forward and continue to make progress on the core issues.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Crowley. Sylviane Zehil, L’Orient du Jour. WikiLeaks says that in the cable, that there are proof that the U.S. controls Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Do you have any reaction on that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I’ll be happy to answer that question while sitting here in New York across the street from the United Nations. No nation controls the Special Tribunal on Lebanon. It is an international body that is independent, and it is seeking justice and an end to impunity in Lebanon. It is supported by the United States, it is supported by the international community, but it is independent. And we reject all efforts to try to politicize the work of the tribunal. We will continue to support the tribunal and we look forward to whatever judgments and actions it recommends.
MODERATOR: Right over here.
QUESTION: Janine Harper, Fuji TV.
QUESTION: Can you just describe your feeling upon hearing the news that Julian Assange was arrested today?
MR. CROWLEY: We – I’ve already answered that question. This is an issue between Britain and Sweden.
QUESTION: Hi, Robert Poredos, Slovenian Press Agency. I was wondering, was there any kind of embarrassment about the revelations in the State Department? Would they change in any way how you guys conduct your business or communicate in the cables?
MR. CROWLEY: We don’t plan to change what we’re doing as a result of these revelations.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. My name is Kahraman Haliscelik with Turkish Radio and Television. One of my colleagues asked probably the same question. But with all due respect, some of the revelations were accusatory, like prime minister had bank accounts in Switzerland, or this had this, or those were accusations that normally within the country, people would pursue in courts. I mean, to – if somebody said that in politics, the prime minister sue them.
In the same context, did you speak with anybody about those things in Turkey? Did somebody speak with the prime minister of Turkey, or did any of these accusations – were spoken between the Secretary of State and Mr. Davutoglu?
MR. CROWLEY: The Secretary and the prime – and the foreign minister did have a meeting last week. Included in that meeting was a 30-minute one-on-one meeting where the Secretary and the foreign minister discussed WikiLeaks, and they emerged from their private meeting and recommitted themselves to continue to work to strengthen our relationship and to continue to cooperate on crucial issues of importance to Turkey and the United States. Beyond that, I won’t comment on any other – on the contents of any cable.
MODERATOR: Right here, Mr. Crowley.
MR. CROWLEY: All right.
QUESTION: Okay. Zdenek Fucik, Czech News Agency. In your view, where do you see the distinction between WikiLeaks and the traditional media, which has published cables as well? Do you think they could be affected by the DOJ investigation as well?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, earlier today, we announced that we proudly will host UNESCO’s 2011 World Press Freedom Day. And that is – that’s something that’s enshrined in our Constitution. It’s something that we promote day in and day out all around the world. We understand and appreciate and support the vital role that journalists have in creating a civil society around the world in holding governments to account. It is essential to the advance of good governance and, country by country, the advance of democracy. And we understand that you and your colleagues in various parts of the world are subject to intimidation and legal action and in some cases assassination every single day. So we appreciate and without hesitation continue to support the role of journalists in your daily pursuits. In our view, Mr. Assange is not a journalist.
MODERATOR: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, Neeme Raude, Estonian television.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll let you guys do the selections.
QUESTION: Okay, sorry. The main thing, as you said and other experts said, is to rebuild the trust. How the United States is doing that? What actions do you plan for that?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have done extensive outreach and we’re going to continue to do outreach with governments and with civil society. Our ambassadors and other diplomats have been engaging in daily conversations over the past couple of weeks and will continue to do that. But again, I would just say judge the United States by what we are doing day in and day out to advance our national interests but also to advance interests of other countries and other regions. There was no grand conspiracy through any of these that I have seen. We are continuing to cooperate and collaborate with other countries because it is in our mutual interest to do so. Our diplomats haven’t changed their pursuit of this cooperation, and we are – continue – encourage them to continue to do what they do.
And as I said at the outset, that’s what we’re doing country by country. It’s why the Secretary hosted the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea yesterday, because we still face these compelling challenges. And none of these challenges can be resolved without broad cooperation. None of these challenges can be resolved without a role of the United States. So we can’t let Julian Assange undercut the system of close cooperation among governments which is symbolized by the United Nations here in New York, but also by other partnerships or formal alliances or regional organizations with which the United States and other countries cooperate for the good of the people of the world.
QUESTION: Following up on the question of –
MODERATOR: State your name and organization.
QUESTION: Kristin Saloomey from Al Jazeera English. Excuse my voice. A follow-up to the question on the Middle East peace process: How will the Administration bring the Palestinians back to the table, given the settlement issue was a red line for them? They said they won’t come back to the table. Is supporting a Palestinian declaration of statehood at the United Nations, or at least not opposing a declaration, an option that the U.S. would consider?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, taking that last point, we believe earnestly that final status issues should be negotiated between the parties. And we think at this stage, bringing these issues to the United Nations will just distract us from the important business at hand of charting a way forward and tackling the core issues in discussions between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It will take a complex environment and make it even more complicated. So –
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the negotiations aren’t going anywhere?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re going – recall what I made clear: We haven’t changed our ultimate objective of ending the conflict. We still believe that in order to make progress on these issues, some kind of direct negotiation will be necessary. All that we’ve changed here is the path by which we will pursue progress on the core issues and, once again, try to create conditions that enable the process to move forward.
We thought for a period of time that the moratorium and then a resumption of the moratorium might be the best mechanism to advance a meaningful and sustained dialogue between the parties. We’ve come to the conclusion that that is not the best basis to move forward. We will have further conversations on the substance with the parties and will continue to try to find ways to create the kind of confidence that will eventually, we hope, allow them to engage directly.
QUESTION: Yes, my name is Kyung Min Jung, a correspondent for Korean newspaper. With regard to collecting information of United Nations high-profile people, including Secretary General, can you explain why do you need the personal information such as credit card number and internet password? I think that caused a kind of a suspicion of U.S. diplomats’ role.
And second, I know that Secretary Clinton met Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently, so what she explained about this issue? Can you brief it?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m – they did have a meeting and it was a constructive conversation. I will leave it between the Secretary and the Secretary General. She has reached out to a number of leaders in person and by phone and will continue to do that.
Regarding your first question, all I can tell you is that our diplomats are governed by U.S. law. And nothing in a, what I would call, intelligence community wish list changed the fundamental role of any of our diplomats.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Louise With. I’m with Daily Newspaper Information in Denmark. Coming back to legal action, I’m wondering, first, what steps are you taking to protect this information better, given that we’ve heard that millions had access to it, that it was on lots of computers? And secondly –
MR. CROWLEY: Millions is not right.
QUESTION: Hundreds – how many? I’m wondering about that, too, actually.
MR. CROWLEY: A large number.
QUESTION: And secondly, which laws could be relevant here, which U.S. laws? Or would Congress have to consider new legislation to take legal action against WikiLeaks? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: I’m not a lawyer, so I will leave the second question to our fine lawyers at the Department of Justice.
Your first question is a very good one, and it’s appropriate to address that question here in New York. If you – in the pre-9/11 environment, information was siloed agency by agency and then very selectively offered across walls across the United States Government. In a vernacular, that meant that the proper dots were not connected to allow everyone across the government to fully understand what was transpiring with respect to this terrorism plot.
In the aftermath, rightly, there was a shift from need-to-know to the concept of need-to-share. It is the right concept, and through a variety of new legislation and reforms, we reformed our intelligence community and reformed the way in which agencies shared information. And this is vitally important in today’s operating environment. You look at a place like Afghanistan, for example, where you have soldiers standing side-by-side with diplomats, standing side-by-side with agricultural experts, standing side-by-side with legal experts, who are trying in different ways to help stabilize and strengthen Afghan institutions so that the Afghans can effectively govern themselves. And the Afghan Government at the state and – local and provincial level can serve the needs of the Afghan people. In order to work constructively in a whole-of-government effort, you need to share information so everyone is on the same page. So that is what we do. And it was in that context that we had a shared database where State Department information was available to others, including personnel within the Department of Defense.
In light of what has happened here, we have already taken and made certain adjustments. In the short term, we have narrowed the number of people who have access to the State Department database where these cables reside. And we are reviewing our procedures, and it may well be that we have to re-balance the need to share with the need to protect information. So that is something that is being actively pursued, led by a task force at the White House, of which the State Department is a full participant.
QUESTION: My name is Moviz Saddiqi, and I’m from AAJ TV from Pakistan. I have two quick questions. Number one, some part of the world, including Mister President of Iran, consider this leak is by design, from America, number one. Number two question –
MR. CROWLEY: Can I answer that question first?
MODERATOR: We’re just going to – we’ll take his one question and then we have time for one more.
MR. CROWLEY: No, I’m fine. I’m fine.
QUESTION: Second question is –
MR. CROWLEY: The first answer is no. As I’ve already answered this question a couple of times, no one within the United States Government with a brain wanted to see this happen. I can guarantee you this is not part of any grand conspiracy on behalf of the United States. The last thing that we wanted to see is what has actually happened.
QUESTION: My second question is about this WikiLeaks. Secretary Clinton says (inaudible) about the Saudi rulers. This is – they announced there was no (inaudible) real threat in the Middle East. But he’s – as you know, he’s a dictator. And 80 percent of population – with the news, anyway – says that 80 percent of population of Arab, the threat – they consider Israel is a real threat. Seventy-seven percent of Arabs, the threat America, 77 percent – America is real threat. So why she consider a dictator’s word, not the people words?
MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very difficult question to answer. All I can tell you, once again, is to judge the United States by what we do. What we are doing today is continuing to pursue comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We are continuing to work collaboratively and constructively with the international community in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen. As we mentioned earlier, we continue to support the special tribunal in Lebanon, obviously one of the most challenging and tense situations within an already volatile region. We are supporting these efforts and others, and I would also mention what we’re doing today in – with respect to Cote d’Ivoire and some meetings that happened across the street at the United Nations today to promote democracy and to demonstrate that we are committed to respect the will of the Ivoirian people.
This is what the United States does day in and day out, serving what we believe and trying to help solve challenges which affect our people and reflect – and affect people around the world. We are interested in peace, prosperity, security. We understand that people have some very strong views about the United States. We are committed to engage not just governments around the world, we’re engaging people around the world. The President has led an effort to try to change the context of the conversation. In a place like Geneva today, we understood that the tension that has existed between Iran and the United States would not be resolved in one meeting, but we are gratified that there is now a commitment to a second meeting, and we hope that that will lead to a process through which the international community and Iran can resolve questions that do exist about the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
We hosted a very important meeting yesterday with respect to our treaty allies in the Pacific region, Japan and Korea. We continue to engage China and others to try to reduce tensions along the Korean Peninsula. As the Secretary announced yesterday, there will be a high-level delegation from the United States led by the Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg go out – will be going to the region next week, again, in the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of our agenda of avoiding the proliferation of dangerous materials that poses a risk not just to the United States but to other countries around the world. This is what we do. And we hope that over time people will respect what we do. We’re not out to capture territory. We’re not out to dominate people. We’re out to solve shared challenges. And that’s – we hope is how people around the world will judge us.
MODERATOR: Okay, I think we have time for one more question.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take two.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Natalia Slavina, ITAR-TASS Russia. The year is going past. Could you name the main crucial achievements of State Department foreign policy as well as in this view of the relationships between Russia and USA? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: An achievement this year –
QUESTION: Achievements.
MR. CROWLEY: Between the United States and Russia?
QUESTION: As well as just in foreign policy in general and with Russia.
MR. CROWLEY: Boy, what an opening. Well, we hope, we hope, that before the year is out the United States Senate will provide its advice and consent regarding a New START Treaty which was negotiated beginning late last year and into the first part of this year in good faith between Russia and the United States. That treaty is absolutely in the United States’s interest, in Russia’s interest, and in the world’s interests. The two leading nuclear superpowers should, in fact, cooperate to reduce our reliance – to reduce our stocks and reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons. This is an example of where Russia and the United States can lead by example, and we hope that the respective legislatures of both countries will recognize that and affirm this treaty as soon as possible. We hope that this will happen in the United States before the end of the year.
I think that if you think about Africa, for example, while we continue to work with the international community to convince the current government in Cote d’Ivoire to work towards a – to respect the will of their people and work towards a peaceful transition, we also recognize that we just had a significant achievement in Guinea Conakry, where, for the first time in decades, there is a new democratic government that the United States, together with France and others in the region, were able to help engineer from a very tragic circumstance where a number of people were killed in a stadium. But that led the way to a fundamental change in Guinea Conakry.
But we recognize that that’s one example. There are many, many others. I would say what the Secretary has done this year, among other things, in terms of continuing to bring attention to the challenge confronted by women around the world and the importance that if you were going to solve local, regional, international challenges, women will have to play a more significant role. Women will have to have the same rights as their male colleagues. Where 70 percent of women around the world – or 70 percent of agricultural workers are women, you have to advance the status of women in these societies, give them the ability to own property, to accumulate wealth. And that has – that can have a profound effect in helping to transform different countries, different regions, and the world as a whole. So these are just some examples of what we’re very, very proud of in terms of what we’ve accomplished this year. That’s not an exclusive list. There are many others.
QUESTION: Thanks a lot. Matthew Lee, Inner City Press. I wanted to ask about Yemen. You were asked, I think back on December 15th, if the U.S. was involved in any military operations in Yemen. And you said no. And obviously, the cables have sort of confirmed air strikes at least as early as December 17th. I understand maybe you’re going to say that you – the question was only about the Houthis. Can you just say – I guess is it –
MR. CROWLEY: Well, in fact, the question was about the Houthis.
QUESTION: Does that –
MR. CROWLEY: I went back. I was asked about this earlier, and I went back to the transcript of last year. And the question started with the Houthis claiming that the United States had bombed them, and the answer to that question was no. Remember, in Yemen, there are multiple conflicts, and thankfully, at least for the moment, the conflict between the Yemeni Government and the Houthis has been resolved – or not resolved, but it has been arrested. But there is a conflict between the Yemeni Government and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. If you go back to a number of cases where we have been asked about particular issues, we have given a different answer that the United States supports Yemen’s counterterrorism efforts without being specific. So I understand that there is some confusion over how I answered that question, but I answered that question in the context of whether the United States was involved in the Yemeni action against the Houthis, and the answer to that was and remains no.
QUESTION: And also on Sudan, I wanted to ask you – there’s some who are saying that the government started bombing – has been bombing in Darfur for some weeks and has actually now twice bombed South Sudan. So some people are wondering why the U.S. – obviously, the focus is on the CPA and the referendum, but is the U.S. thinking of naming an envoy, as some of the activists and NGO groups have said? What is the U.S. view of – are things going – what’s this bombing mean? Does it mean that the government is trying to stop the referendum? And what does – during your Security Council presidency?
MR. CROWLEY: I’m delighted that you brought up Sudan, and I think probably working off of the question of accomplishments in 2010, we can look to probably what might well be the most significant story that we face in 2011. We are now 30 days away from a referendum about the future of Sudan. We are encouraged by the voter registration that has been ongoing in preparation for that referendum. And we have made it clear to the parties that their future relationship with the United States depends on working cooperatively towards a successful and credible referendum on January 9th.
And secondly, depending on the outcome of that referendum and the will of the people of South Sudan, who through the CPA have earned the right to have a voice in their future, we have made it clear to leaders in Khartoum and Juba that they must cooperate in the post-referendum phase. And should the people of South Sudan vote for independence, it’ll be incumbent upon them to work effectively and cooperatively leading to the creation of a new nation of South Sudan next July.
This is arguably the most compelling – one of the most – if not the most compelling story that the world will face in the first half of 2011. And we understand the risks quite compellingly that if this goes well, it has the ability to transform and have a very positive effect on many challenges around the region, not the least of which is the situation in Darfur. And if it goes badly, we understand that there is a significant risk of a return to civil war. We are doing everything in our power, working, again, cooperatively with the international community, to try to make sure that the referendum on South Sudan moves ahead constructively.
We continue to press the parties with respect to the situation on Abyei. I think we have a recognition that that referendum will not go forward on January 9th, but we continue to encourage the parties to work on a solution to Abyei. Our Special Envoy Scott Gration has just – is returning to the region today and will be engaged over the next several days in Khartoum, in Juba, in Darfur. He will also be in Doha where the Qataris have led a very effective process to garner international support for this effort. So this is something that we have been committed to since the Obama Administration came into office, following up on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was negotiated during the last American administration, and we are committed to do everything in our power to see this referendum come off peacefully and credibly.
Okay, one more.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am Hyun Sik Lee of SBS Korea. Is there still a possibility of the United States and the allies discussing the matter of Yeonpyeong Island’s shelling at the Security Council of the UN? Thank you.
MR. CROWLEY: I’ll probably defer to my colleagues here at the UN on that. We did discuss the way forward yesterday in – with the Secretary in her discussions with the foreign ministers of Korea and Japan, and we will be consulting, as we said, next week with our partners in the Six-Party process. So I don’t want to rule out that – any particular action, but this is something that is under discussion.
Thank you very, very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you.

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