A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.From the UK Guardian:
The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.From Der Spiegel:
251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.Needless to say, the White House is extremely distressed by this massive leak. Shortly after the publication of the cables began, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released a statement denouncing Wikileaks for providing this unprecedented and "unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information." From Gibbs's statement, as published at Talking Points Memo:
We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments . . . these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world. To be clear -- such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies. President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information. [Emphasis added.]Mr. Gibbs, among others, might consider reflecting on one of the totalitarian cliches beloved by the supporters of the national security police state: if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to be afraid of.