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WikiLeaks releases 2.5 lakh classified US documents

Washington, November 28
Some 250,000 classified US documents procured by WikiLeaks detail a wide variety of secret diplomatic episodes and incidences of backroom bargaining like a standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel and the hacking of Google systems by the Chinese government, the New York Times reported today.

The confidential cache of US cables released to the paper by the whistleblower website, were described by the Times as the one that unlocks the secrets of the US diplomacy.

The newspaper made public the details contained in the documents today, sometime after WikiLeaks said its website was under a cyber attack. “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,” The Times said.

More eminent newspapers across the globe are expected to follow suit, even as WikiLeaks on its Twitter account said it was under a mass distributed denial of service attack. It added that even if its website goes down a number of newspapers will go ahead and publish the documents.

These documents, according to the NYT, reveal a dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel. Since 2007, the US has mounted a highly-secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.

In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “If the local media got word of the fuel removal, they certainly will portray it as the US taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons.”

Besides, they also provide an insight into a global computer-hacking effort initiated by the Chinese government. China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, according to one cable.

The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by the government operatives, private security experts and the Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.

They have broken into the US government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, the cables said.

The White House immediately condemned the release strongly, saying it risked the lives of thousands of diplomats and officials and endangered its relationship with friends and allies.

The daily said the cables gave a laundry list of instructions for how the State Department employees could fulfill the demands of a “National Humint Collection Directive” in specific countries. Humint being a spy-world jargon for human intelligence collection.

One cable asks officers overseas to gather information about office and organisational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cellphones, pagers and faxes, as well as the Internet and Intranet handles, the Internet e-mail addresses, website identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

Ahead of the release of the potentially embarrassing documents, which the US fears could harm its relations with several countries, the American administration asked the website to refrain from making the classified documents public.

Top officials of the Obama Administration called up several countries including India and warned them about the imminent release of such classified US documents.

The Pentagon “condemned” what it called a “reckless” act, and said it had initiated measures to prevent such leaks in the future ahead of the imminent release.

The State Department asked it to return the “illegally obtained” papers, insisting that their leak would endanger the lives of countless individuals. The Twitter message by WikiLeaks earlier said El Pais, Le Monde, Speigel, Guardian and New York Times newspapers would publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down. The website has earlier released thousands of documents on the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In October WikiLeaks released four lakh secret US files on Iraq war detailing abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody, rights violations and civilian deaths.

Earlier in July, the website had published tens of thousands of secret documents on the war in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today said the soon-to-be released classified US documents would cover every major issue in the world.

Late yesterday Washington rejected talks with WikiLeaks, saying the website was holding the cables in violation of the US law. Assange has however rejected the claim that the release would put to harm many lives. The 251,287 cables, first acquired by WikiLeaks, were provided to The Times by an intermediary on the condition of anonymity. — PTI

3,038 cables from New Delhi

Of the quarter million top secret US documents released by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, as many as 3,038 classified cables are from the US Embassy in New Delhi. Ahead of the release of these documents, the State Department had reached out to India warning it about the impending release. The details of these cables related to India were not immediately available mainly because of inaccessibility to the WikiLeaks website, which was experiencing heavy traffic. But out of the total, 3,038 classified cables are from the US Embassy in New Delhi. These cables are often candid and some time personal assessment of the day-to-day events, functioning and meetings of the US diplomats. — PTI





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