Weighing up the leaks

There should be a public explanation of what the State Department cables reveal about Spain

Members of the Spanish government spoke far differently in public and in private on the secret CIA rendition flights, on the torture of Spanish citizens in Guantánamo, on the death in Baghdad of TV cameraman José Couso and on relations with Morocco. Some of them, meanwhile, unveiled to the US ambassador internal quarrels in the Cabinet, offering, in search of personal political and image benefits, information that might weaken the defense of the country's general interests. All this forms part of the still-provisional conclusions from the revelations on Spain contained in the documents divulged by WikiLeaks.

In view of these revelations, a rule of silence can no longer be observed, either in the government or on the part of the opposition. The US State Department documents, as they are now known, show us a series of grave actions by Spanish officials, and improper influences on the part of the United States, which in the last instance amount to a serious deterioration of Spanish public life.

The pact that seems to have been established between government and opposition, so that no one will be called to account for the actions described in these documents, is a further step in the degradation of our public sphere, depriving the citizens of the explanations they deserve to hear and avoiding the inconvenience of anyone having to pay a political price for what he has done. Some of the deceptions and falsities described in the documents have even been sustained in Congress.

More than a few of the actions described in the leaks have long since ceased to have any practical effects, though explanations and acceptance of responsibility for these actions is still called for. Others among them still cast a shadow on the present, and the government is therefore obliged to clarify what its position is in regard to them.

The recent tensions with Morocco are more easily understood now that we know of Spanish diplomacy's option for an autonomous-region solution for the disputed Western Sahara territory, however much this option was once denied in public. The breaking of neutrality in the Moroccan conflict brought, as a first result, a sharp cooling of relations with Algeria; later, a deepening of tension with Morocco; and, in short, the complete dismantling of a coherent policy on the Maghreb, already gravely damaged by the diplomacy of former Prime Minister José María Aznar.

It is embarrassing to read the compromising confessions made to the US ambassador by certain highly-placed political figures. The diplomatic legation of the world's largest power is not the proper place to air the struggles going on within the Spanish Cabinet. The prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has tended to avoid homogeneity in his cabinets, while often intervening in second-echelon appointments, against the desires of the ministers concerned. Above and beyond the already well-known lack of coordination that the prime minister's attitude has caused on some key occasions, the WikiLeaks documents have revealed further undesirable effects of this style of running a government.