USA U.S. Tense Over WikiLeaks Plan


1947-2014 (Archived)
There is a palpable rise in tensions at the State Department here, as WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website revealed via its Twitter account last week that its next release would be seven times the size of the Iraq War Logs release earlier in the summer.

The hacker-founded site, whose revelations provoked a powerful backlash at the Pentagon and elsewhere in the United States administration, added that it had faced “intense pressure over [the upcoming release] for months.” The anticipated size of the upcoming release is 3 million documents.

Reacting to the announcement State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “If the past is prologue, that would mean that certain news organisations may well already be in possession of specific documents.”

Reiterating the government’s objections to the release he added that the State Department would continue evaluating the material that they thought was previously leaked from government sources to WikiLeaks. “We continue to make clear that this is harmful to our national security,” he said, warning that “it does put lives at risk. It does put national interests at risk.”

Touching on the State Departments efforts to put out messages to the U.S.’ “allies and partners” around the world Mr. Crowley acknowledged that WikiLeaks had State Department cables in its possession.

He said, “We are prepared if this upcoming tranche of documents includes State Department cables. We are in touch with our posts around the world. They have begun the process of notifying governments that release of documents is possible in the near future.” The U.S. Congress had been notified too, he said.

Commenting on the potential fallout of the planned release of documents Mr. Crowley admitted that the kinds of cables involved related to posts sent to and from Washington and they were classified.

The cables “involve discussions that we’ve had with government officials, with private citizens. They contain analysis. They contain a record of the day-to-day diplomatic activity that our personnel undertake,” he said.

In a similar tone to reactions from Defence Secretary Robert Gates, following earlier releases of U.S. war documents by WikiLeaks, Mr. Crowley said that the State Department “decried” the exposé. “These revelations... are going to create tension in our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world. We wish that this would not happen. But we are, obviously, prepared for the possibility that it will,” he said.

Among the countries said to be notified about the possible release by WikiLeaks are India, Russia, Iceland, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The WikiLeaks site subsequently noted on its Twitter site that the U.K. government had issued a notice to U.K. news editors, “asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories.”


1947-2014 (Archived)
India, world brace for new WikiLeaks flood

American diplomats have warned India to prepare itself for potential embarrassment from the expected release by WikiLeaks of three million confidential U.S. diplomatic cables. The message was conveyed to the Indian embassy in Washington after a senior State Department official tried unsuccessfully to reach Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is travelling in Sri Lanka.

India is not the only country the U.S. has alerted. The documents, which will go live on the Internet beginning in the next 24 to 48 hours, consist of cables sent by American embassies around the world — especially in India, Israel, Russia, Turkey, Canada and Britain — to the State Department in Washington. Since such cables are meant to be confidential, it is a standard practice for the diplomats writing them to be candid and blunt in their assessments and sometimes even disrespectful to officials and leaders in their host countries. It is this aspect of the forthcoming leak which is particularly worrying U.S. diplomats. Some cables could also contain information about surreptitious activity by U.S. missions.

It is not clear what time period the cables cover but previous WikiLeaks disclosures tended to range over the past five or six years. This is a period when the U.S. and India were locked in detailed and sometimes testy negotiations over nuclear commerce and defence cooperation.

The documents, said to be over seven times more than the recently leaked U.S. secret war logs from Iraq, have been reportedly taken from the Secret Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) used to transmit classified information to the U.S. Defence and State Departments. WikiLeaks earlier received a video from SIPRNet that showed three deliberate attacks by a U.S. Army helicopter in Iraq killing two newspersons and children, besides several civilians.

According to The Independent, the U.S. ambassador in London had informed the British government of some of the contents of the documents that are likely to be released. Similar meetings were also reported from Turkey, Israel, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia.

AFP adds from Washington:

U.S. diplomats skipped their Thanksgiving holiday weekend and headed to foreign ministries hoping to stave off anger over the cables, which are internal messages that often lack the niceties diplomats voice in public.

“WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents,” said James Jeffrey, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.

India, world brace for new WikiLeaks flood