AWKWARD SITUATION FOR THE US
The recent leak of classified documents is “nothing too serious”, as such spying behaviour among nations has been going on for a long time, analysts told CNA’s Asia Now.
US allies such as Israel and South Korea “know very well that the United States remains acutely interested in what happens internally to the politics and the militaries of their countries”, said Dr John Blaxland, professor of international security and intelligence studies at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific.
“The United States is hugely invested in making sure that it understands intimately well what’s going on, because the United States has a stake in what happens there. The players inside Israel and South Korea know that very well.”
While not as big a deal as leaks in the past, such an episode can be humiliating for the US.
“In the espionage business, the secret of success is in keeping one’s successes secret. One doesn’t divulge how good one is, one doesn’t reveal one’s capabilities,” said Dr Blaxland.
“So this is a little bit embarrassing from that point of view from the United States. But there is a sense that this is not that much more than what is available from very sophisticated open source intelligence reporting available that you can download from and you can check on Twitter.”
It will, however, “take a bit of a diplomatic fence-mending” with allies such as Ukraine, Israel and South Korea, he noted. “Trust is critical in this business.”
Mr Newsham added that countries do not want to appear that they cannot keep secrets.
“And that is what the Americans unfortunately have once again shown. But this could have been a lot worse, not to say that whoever leaked it doesn’t have more and better stuff,” he said.
“You don’t want (to have) revealed the internal workings of a friendly government or really any government, because it does give them some idea of how you’re getting it and they can take precautionary measures.”