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Bahamas named in secret U.S. files

The United States government is concerned about the safety of those mentioned by the online whistleblower WikiLeaks in the 394 secret U.S. documents the site is scheduled to release regarding The Bahamas.

Erica Thibault, public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, confirmed yesterday that the embassy spoke to the Bahamian government about the issue.

“And we are confident that the U.S.-Bahamas relationship will withstand this challenge,”she said.

“Our common commitment to democracy, the rule of law, shared strategic interests and geographic proximity make The Bahamas one of our closest partners in the Western Hemisphere and we expect that our strong and deep ties will continue to grow.”

On November 28, WikiLeaks began publishing some of the 251,287 leaked U.S. embassy cables from around the world. The cables date from December 1966 up to February 2010.

Thus far, WikiLeaks has released 291 documents. These documents include candid comments from world leaders and U.S. officials.

Narcotics trafficking is the major U.S. national security issue concerning The Bahamas. The release of documents naming Bahamians who secretly worked with the U.S. could be damning and dangerous to those mentioned.

“The unauthorized disclosure of any classified information has harmful implications for the lives of identified individuals, as well as global engagement between nations on transnational issues, such as drug trafficking and other shared security concerns,”said Thibault.

It is unclear when WikiLeaks will release the documents on The Bahamas. Questions about whether or not Bahamians committed treason via their involvement with the U.S. could arise if the documents are made public.

“The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems,”said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

U.S. army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, 23, is in custody at a military base in Virginia, suspected of leaking the documents to WikiLeaks.

Other Caribbean countries and territories on the WikiLeaks list include: Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad&Tobago, the Dominica Republic, St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, the Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Dominica.

“The cables show the extent of U.S. spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in’client states’; back room deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for U.S. corporations; and the measures U.S. diplomats take to advance those who have access to them,”said WikiLeaks.

“This document release reveals the contradictions between the U.S.’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.”

The site has pledged to release the documents over the next few months.

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