Internet whistleblower WikiLeaks is scheduled to release as many as 394 secret U.S. documents regarding The Bahamas.
The United States government is rightfully concerned about the safety of Bahamians who might be mentioned in the secret documents.
Erica Thibault, public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, said that the embassy has already spoken with Bahamian government officials about the issue.
She said she was confident that the Bahamas-U.S. relations can withstand the challenge.
“Our common commitment to democracy, the rule of law, shared strategic interests and geographic proximity make The Bahamas one of our closest partners in the western Hemisphere and we expect that our strong and deep ties will continue to grow,” she told Brent Dean from the Nassau Guardian.
WikiLeaks is an international non-profit media organization that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources and leaks.
The organization’s stated goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not jailed for emailing sensitive or classified documents. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity.
Two days ago, WikiLeaks began releasing some of the 251,287 U.S. diplomatic cables to media organizations, including the New York Times and Der Spiegel. Only 291 documents have been released thus far. These documents include candid comments from world leaders and U.S. officials. The cables date from December 1966 up to February 2010.
This would include the time period during the 1980′s, when the United States was especially concerned about national security issues related to narcotics trafficking through The Bahamas.
The release of documents naming Bahamians who secretly worked with the U.S. could be very dangerous to those who are mentioned. There have been discussions for years about whether certain Bahamians committed treason due to their involvement with the U.S. PLP bloggers have even accused Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of acting as a secret informer on the corrupt Pindling government.
“The unauthorized disclosure of any classified information has harmful implications for the lives of identified. individuals, as well as global engagement between nations on transnational issues, such as drug trafficking and other shared security concerns,” said Thibault.
It is not clear when WikiLeaks will release the documents on The Bahamas.
“The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared Problems,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday at` a rews conference in Washington, D.C.
U.S. army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, 23, is in custody at a military base in Virginia, suspected of leaking the documents to WikiLeaks.
The Obama administration is taking aim at the founder of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange.
Republicans in Congress are pushing for a criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act. But specialists in international law say US authorities will face significant hurdles shutting down a foreign national operating beyond American shores.
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Several other Caribbean countries and territories are on the WikiLeaks list.
“The cables show the extent of U.S. spying on its allies and the UN, turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in ‘client states’, back room, deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for U.S. corporations; and the measures U.S. diplomats take to advance those who have access to them,” said WikiLeaks.
These documents reveal the contradictions between the U.S.’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
WikiLeaks has stated their intention of releasing additional documents over the next few months.
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