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WikiLeaks: Harsh Descriptions of World Leaders Raise Concern if U.S. Can Be Trusted Again

The release of hundreds of thousands of classified State Department documents Sunday prompted a Republican intelligence official to question whether the world's governments can trust the United States again.

Michigan Rep. Peter Hoesktra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS' "The Early Show" Monday that the massive release by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks to several news outlets contain "a whole number of time bombs."

"There's just a lot of countries that are going to be out there, they are going to see stuff that they never thought was going to be public," Hoesktra told "Early Show" Co-Anchor Harry Smith. "It's now in the public domain. It's on the front page of the newspapers. It's all over TV. It's all over the Internet. They are just going to wonder: Can the U.S. be trusted? Can the United States keep a secret?"

Here's a collection of reactions from some of those countries:

  • Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called the release the "Sept. 11 of world diplomacy." One released cable from a U.S. diplomat says of his country's leader, Silvio Berlusconi, that "frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest," The Associated Press reported. Berlusconi said in response, "I don't look at what third-rate or fourth-rate officials say." Berlusconi is also described as "feckless" and "vain."
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that the leak could result in diplomats feeling forced to report less information in writing. "Transparency is fundamental to our society, and usually essential, but there are a few areas, including diplomacy, where it isn't essential," he said. He attributed Israel's 1979 peace agreement with Egypt to the result of diplomatic secrecy.
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the release an attempt to stir "mischief." According to the memos, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged the United States more than once to stop Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. "We don't give any value to these documents," Ahmadinejad told a news conference. "It's without legal value. Iran and regional states are friends. Such acts of mischief have no impact on relations between nations." The documents are also reported to show that Iran may have received advanced missiles from North Korea, CBS News Foreign Analyst Pamela Falk reports from U.N. Headquarters in New York.

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  • A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declined to comment on reports that the cables disclose a U.S. directive to gather personal data of U.N. personnel, including their credit card account numbers, Falk reports.
  • Pakistan's foreign ministry told the AP the leak was an "irresponsible disclosure of sensitive official documents." The New York Times reported that the cables describe failed attempts to convince Pakistani officials to remove highly enriched uranium from a reactor to prevent the material from being used to make an atomic device.
  • Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told the Times through a spokeswoman that "fictional Hollywood characters hardly need to be commented on" in reference to one cable's description of the relationship between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as Medvedev "playing Robin" to Putin's "Batman."
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the Reuters news agency through a spokesman that cables calling Karzai "extremely weak" wouldn't damage the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States. "There is not much in the documents to surprise us and we don't see anything substantive that will strain our relationship, but there is more still to come," spokesman Waheed Omer told Reuters.
  • Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the AP the release "unhelpful and untimely."
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron, said through a spokesman "it's important that governments are able to operate on the basis of confidentiality of information," the AP reported.
  • French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told the AP "we strongly deplore the deliberate and irresponsible release of American diplomatic correspondence by the site WikiLeaks."
  • Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland told the AP the government of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's homeland was investigating to see if the website broke any laws.
  • Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon called the publication of the documents "deplorable," The Canadian Press reported. WikiLeaks said as many as 2,648 documents referencing Canada are among the cables planned to be released this week, referencing arms control, Canadian Broadcast Corp. coverage, energy technology and trade.
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