November 26, 2010|By Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Wikileaks' Julian Assange shows a page from the release of Iraq war documents at an October briefing in London.A former U.S. ambassador to Russia tells CNN the impending leaks of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks could contain highly sensitive information that reveals U.S. negotiating positions and sensitive intelligence as well as confidential views, analyses, instructions and strategy.
James F. Collins, ambassador to Moscow from 1997 to 2001, and director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the expected online disclosure has to be taken seriously.
"Leaking information of this kind will be detrimental to building the trust among officials necessary to conduct effective and productive diplomacy. It will impede doing things in a normal, civilized way," Collins said.
He added, "I would think the information they will leak is likely to contain analysis, records of discussions or reporting on confidential conversations between officials or official policy recommendations or suggestions about policy or diplomatic actions."
A threat by Wikileaks to publish new disclosures has sparked a massive review of diplomatic documents by the State Department. A source tells CNN that every diplomatic mission document, from 2006 to 2009, is under review as the website threatens to release millions of pages of classified embassy information soon.
The information blitz from WikiLeaks would offer a glimpse into the worldwide communications of the State Department and its 297 embassies, consulates and missions -- through what commonly are referred to as "cables."
Collins said these are the telegrams used for official instructions, reports and communications from the State Department in Washington to its international posts as well as from those posts back to Washington. Much informal communication today is by e-mail and other kinds of modern communications, he said, "but official instructions to the ambassador tend to come through telegrams which an ambassador can assume have been properly coordinated in Washington."..........