Leaked tran­scripts a risk to U.S. diplo­macy

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Leaked tran­scripts of pres­i­den­tial calls aren’t just em­bar­rass­ing to Don­ald Trump.

They could un­der­mine faith in Wash­ing­ton’s abil­ity to pro­tect con­fi­den­tial con­ver­sa­tions and in­tel­li­gence, and have a chill­ing ef­fect on U.S. diplo­macy.

In the lat­est egre­gious sign of a U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion that can’t keep a lid on its pri­vate de­lib­er­a­tions, The Wash­ing­ton Post this week pub­lished a writ­ten record of phone con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Trump and the lead­ers of Mex­ico and Aus­tralia. The talks took place soon af­ter Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Such leaks have en­raged Trump. For­mer U.S. of­fi­cials warn the leaks could add to mis­trust among in­ter­na­tional part­ners grap­pling with Trump’s un­con­ven­tional ap­proach to for­eign pol­icy, which in­cludes at least one high-pro­file case of the U.S. pres­i­dent shar­ing the sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence from a for­eign ally. The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect may be to hurt Wash­ing­ton’s lead­er­ship in world af­fairs.

“The risk is that our for­eign coun­ter­parts no longer be­lieve we are ca­pa­ble of keep­ing con­ver­sa­tions, or even their in­tel­li­gence, pri­vate,” said Jon Finer, who was sec­re­tary of state John Kerry’s chief of staff dur­ing pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­ond term.

“If you need to talk about some­thing highly sen­si­tive, have an in­per­son con­ver­sa­tion with min­i­mal amount of folks in the room,” said An­thony Clark Arend, pro­fes­sor of gov­ern­ment and for­eign ser­vice at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity.

“Do not have a phone con­ver­sa­tion with the pres­i­dent,” he said.

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