Europeans Criticize Fierce Response to Leaks U.S.
PARIS — For many Europeans, Washington’s fierce reaction to the flood of secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks displays imperial arrogance and hypocrisy, indicating a post-9/11 obsession with secrecy that contradicts American principles.
While the Obama administration has done nothing in the courts to block the publication of any of the leaked documents, or even, as of yet, tried to indict the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, for any crime, American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news.” Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” and Mike Huckabee, the former
For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in
John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”
A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to
The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking
Mr. Putin then referred to a Russian proverb that roughly translates as “the pot calling the kettle black.”
“You know, out in the countryside, we have a saying, ‘Someone else’s cow may moo, but yours should keep quiet,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “So I would like to shoot that puck right back at our American colleagues.”
German newspapers were similarly harsh. Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the
Mr. Assange is being hounded, the paper said, “even though no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that
The Berliner Zeitung continued
Nicole Bacharan, a scholar of the United States at the Institut d’Études Politiques, said that in France, “There is a fracture between those who consider that American diplomacy is efficient and understands the world and has a positive influence and those who are distrustful of the objectives of that diplomacy.” What struck her most, she said, was that “pro-Americans have been harsher than the anti-Americans here.”
But Renaud Girard, a respected reporter for the center-right Le Figaro, said that he was impressed by the generally high quality of the American diplomatic corps. “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in
Even Laurent Joffrin, the editor of the leftist daily Libération, defended the right to diplomatic secrecy and said one must reflect on a “demand for transparency at any price.” States must have secrets, he said, so long as they have oversight from elected representatives. “It is a paradox to see WikiLeaks concentrate its attacks essentially on democracies,” Mr. Joffrin said. “And it is rather comforting to see that the secret exchanges of the great diplomatic powers are very little different in content from what they say in public.”
The strongest attack on WikiLeaks came from Figaro’s editor, Étienne Mougeotte, who called the publication of cables like the one listing sites considered strategic by
Mr. Assange, he wrote, “is not the kind, righter of wrongs of the Web that some have wished to present to us — he is at best a dangerous, irresponsible man, or at worst a perverse delinquent.”
Russian officials seemed to be having the most fun with the Americans’ embarrassment, with some suggesting that Mr. Assange get the Nobel Peace Prize. Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s cheeky and quotable ambassador to NATO, suggested that Mr. Assange’s arrest demonstrated that there was “no media freedom” in the West. His “fate,” Mr. Rogozin opined, amounted to “political persecution” and a disregard for human rights.
Maïa de la Baume and Scott Sayare contributed reporting from Paris, and Clifford J. Levy from
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described comments by Mike Huckabee in which the former
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs