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Since November 2010, Wikileaks has been dumping batches of highly classified cables from US diplomatic missions.
Answering questions about the cables, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland chose to highlight the danger sensitive sources named in the cables may face as a result of the leaks.
“In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals’ security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems”, Nuland said to reporters at the daily State Department press briefing.
Beyond highlighting these concerns, as per offcial US policy, Nuland would not confirm the authenticity of the latest documents, saying, “Well, it won’t surprise you that I’m not going to comment today on the authenticity of the documents released by WikiLeaks”. She added that “the United States strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information”.
Alluding to another policy which involves the possible relocation of sources named in cables, Nuland said, “We continue to carefully monitor what becomes public and to take steps to mitigate the damage to national security and to assist those who may be harmed by these illegal disclosures to the extent that we can”.
Unlike prior cable dumps, the latest release of confidential and secret documents included the names of the sources who had been talking to US diplomats.
Australian officials also lambasted Wikileaks for an “incredibly irresponsible” decision to publish secret US cables that named Australians who were suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda.
Wikileaks attempted to fight back via Twitter, saying it was “totally false that any WikiLeaks sources have been exposed or will be exposed”.
Looking at half a dozen of the latest leaked cables, however, news agency AFP noted that where the author had written “protect source,” the name of the source been removed in only one.
Human Rights activists have also expressed their concerns.
Quoted in the Los Angeles Times, President of Human Rights First, Elisa Massimino said, “We are deeply concerned that WikiLeaks decided to make public the names of diplomatic sources who may face reprisals by oppressive governments”.
Former State Department Spokesperson PJ Crowley was harsher in his recriminations writing in a column for the Daily Beast, “The sky has not fallen on the United States… but it has on some of our best sources of information. This latest release includes the names of contacts with a caution to ‘strictly protect’ their identities because the information is very sensitive, and the source is taking an extreme risk by providing it to the United States”.