US condemns WikiLeaks release

 

The United States deeply regrets any disclosure of classified information as a result of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks' release of more than 250,000 classified documents, secretary of state Hillary Clinton said tonight.

Ms Clinton said she "strongly condemns" the release of the material as "it puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems".

"We are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information," Ms Clinton told reporters in Washington.

The US has ordered a sweeping review of access to sensitive government information following the massive and potentially embarrassing WikiLeaks release, which included State Department memos, reflecting in some cases unflattering assessments of world leaders.

Their publication increased widespread global alarm about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and unveiled occasional US pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea. The leaks also disclosed bluntly candid impressions from both diplomats and other world leaders about America’s allies and foes.

And it revealed occasional US pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea. The leaks disclosed bluntly candid impressions from both diplomats and other world leaders about America’s allies and foes. 

It was, said Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, the “September 11 of world diplomacy.”

The documents published by the New York Times, France’s Le Monde, Britain’s Guardian, German magazine Der Spiegel and others laid out the behind-the-scenes conduct of Washington’s international relations, shrouded in public by platitudes, smiles and handshakes at photo sessions among senior officials.

The cables were also said include “harsh” criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, including Russia and China, and unflattering pen portraits of world leaders.

The documents describe French president Nicolas Sarkozy as "touchy" and "authoritarian" and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi as "incapable". Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is described as “alpha dog” and the cables are said to detail alleged links between the government in Moscow and organised crime.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai was said to be “driven by paranoia” while German chancellor Angela Merkel “avoids risks and is rarely creative”. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is compared to Hitler.

There is a description of Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy, who is said to be accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde” Ukrainian nurse.

The White House immediately condemned the release of the WikiLeaks documents, saying “such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open government.”

Agencies