If you thought that Wikileaks publishing of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would be a tough act to follow, think again. Wikileaks has now Wikileaked over a quarter of a million classifed documents, in the form of confidential cables from U.S. embassies all around the world. (Thought to have been given to them by someone with access to SIPRNet, the government’s confidential, “secure” network.) Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is now facing the possibility of being indicted under the U.S. Espionage Act, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tries to repair the damage done by the subjects of those catty cables learning what we were saying about them.
Somehow, the whole thing has a feeling of our having passed notes about someone behind their back in class, and them finding out what we were saying about them.
Of course, in this case the damage could go far beyond hurt feelings or getting detention.
The SIPRNet, which stands for the “Secret Internet Protocol Router Network” was intended to be the U.S. government’s secure and confidential back channel on which authorized personnel could communicate and send confidential information. It was like the Feds’ own private Internet. We say “was” as not only is it no longer secure, let alone secret, but as of today, following this latest Wikileaks sitution, it was taken down by order of the State Department.
Twenty-two year old PFC Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, has been in custody since July over the previous documents leaks, and is being implicated in the most recent leak of the cables as well. It is thought that Manning, who had access to the SIPRNet while stationed in Iraq, downloaded massive numbers of classified documents from the SIPRNet and then released them to Assange and Wikileaks.
Meanwhile, in a statement on their front page, Wikileaks, clearly proud of its newest assault on U.S. government confidentiality, says that:
On Sunday 28th Novembre 2010, Wikileaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into the US Government’s foreign activities.
The cables, which date from 1966 to the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
Assange, who is wanted on charges of sexual assault in Sweden, released a video statement made on a mobile phone, from a “secret location in London”, in which he says that the Obama administration has become “a regime that doesn’t believe in the freedom of the press and doesn’t act like it believes it.” Here’s the Assange video: