The Obama administration is planning a major reshuffling of diplomats, military officers, and intelligence operatives at U.S. embassies around the world out of concern that WikiLeaks has made it impossible—if not dangerous—for many of the Americans to remain in their current posts.
Administration officials tell The Daily Beast that while planning is only in its preliminary stages, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA assume that they will have to shake up staffing at a number of American embassies and consulates within the coming months.
The shakeups are most likely at embassies where U.S. diplomats and other officials wrote classified cables—made public by WikiLeaks over the last week, or soon to be made public, with the Americans identified by name and title—in which they were harshly critical of corrupt or incompetent local government leaders.
Officials were reluctant to identify specific diplomats who might have to be removed from their posts. But they did not deny there were obvious candidates, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, a highly respected career diplomat who wrote in a 2009 cable—revealed in the initial WikiLeaks dump—that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi never travels without his “voluptuous blond” Ukrainian nurse.
“That’s another part of the tragedy of this,” said a senior U.S. national-security official. “We’re going to have to pull out some of our best people—the diplomats who best represented the United States and were the most thoughtful in their analysis—because they dared to report back the truth about the nations in which they serve.”
The State Department acknowledges that the WikiLeaks dump has done damage to American foreign policy, a problem that is likely to be compounded by the withdrawal of U.S. diplomats and other embassy officials who cannot be easily replaced because they are—not surprisingly—among the government’s best-trained specialists on the foreign nations and regions where they are now posted.