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WikiLeaks: Is It Treason?




View of the WikiLeaks homepage taken in Washington on Nov. 28, 2010. WikiLeaks unleashed a flood of US cables detailing shocking diplomatic episodes, from a nuclear standoff with Pakistan to Arab leaders urging a strike on Iran. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

View of the WikiLeaks homepage taken in Washington on Nov. 28, 2010. WikiLeaks unleashed a flood of US cables detailing shocking diplomatic episodes, from a nuclear standoff with Pakistan to Arab leaders urging a strike on Iran. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Treason is not a word you hear a lot nowadays. But that's how Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl describes the latest dumping of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

"The unauthorized release of a quarter million US State Department classified and restricted documents is a devastating blow to US diplomacy. If foreign governments feel that confidences shared with American officials cannot remain private, they will be far less likely to share the information and views that America’s leaders need in order to help make informed decisions.

"Foreigners involved with the theft of these documents have committed a hostile act against the United States. American citizens involved have committed treason."

Meanwhile, Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society's Director of Policy Studies, looks specifically at what WikiLeaks has exposed about US dealings with Iran.

"One of the most revealing elements is the extent to which leaders from Arab states in the Gulf region have been urging the United States to use military force against Iran to destroy its presumed nuclear capabilities—while publicly opposing such action—and how firmly the Obama Administration has resisted pressure to do so.

"Instead, the US has been pursuing a dual engagement/press approach to try and get Iran to curb its uranium enrichment actvities—a strategy which has not yielded any concrete results. Although economic pressure on Iran has been ramped up considerably (the leaked documents provide some interesting details of how the US wrangled support for the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions, especially in the case of China), efforts aimed at opening a diplomatic dialogue have faltered."

DiMaggio says next week's P5+1 meeting will bring Iranian and American officials face-to-face to talk about Iran's nuclear program for the first time  since October 2009.

"This new round of negotiations offers an opportunity to gain traction on the engagement front. Failure to do so will inevitably lead to calls for tougher action against Iran from Tehran's neighbors in the Gulf and beyond," she says.

DiMaggio also directs Asia Society's Iran Intiative. Recently, she wrote a chapter on US track II diplomacy in "The Iran Primer: Power, Politics, and US Policy," a new publication from the US Institute of Peace.

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