U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called the WikiLeaks website's latest release of hundreds of thousands of documents
an "attack on the international community."
Clinton said the United States "deeply regrets" the leak of the documents and emphasized that it makes the tasks of international security and forging alliances with partners abroad more difficult.
"The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information," Clinton told a press conference. "It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems."
The top U.S. diplomat also sought to distinguish between the information contained in the cables and actual U.S. policy.
"Our official foreign policy is not set through these messages but here in Washington," she said. "Our policy is a matter of public record as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world."
WikiLeaks on November 28 started releasing a quarter of a million documents detailing potentially inflammatory diplomatic episodes, from Arab leaders urging a military strike on Iran to end its nuclear program to concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear material and the nature of Russian leadership.
The secret cables by U.S. diplomats also contain unflattering appraisals of a number of international leaders, including Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, among others.
U.S. allies have also condemned the release as irresponsible, with officials saying it will not damage their countries' relations with the United States.
Clinton, however, called the leak a "matter of great concern" because "we don't want anyone in any of the countries that could be affected by these alleged leaks to have any doubts about our intentions and about our commitments."
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the government had set up a “task force” to deal with the disclosure, and is maintaining frequent contact with its post around the world to assess the reaction.
WikiLeaks has said they will gradually release the documents, all of which have already been made available to five publications, including "The New York Times
" and four European newspapers.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a Washington news conference that he "condemn[s]" WikiLeaks' actions.
"It puts at risk our national security, but in a more concrete way, it puts at risk individuals who are serving this country in a variety of capacities, either as diplomats, as intelligence assets, [and] puts at risk the relationships we have with important allies around the world," Holder said.
"We have an active, ongoing, criminal investigation with regard to this matter," he added. "We are not in a position as yet to announce the result of that investigation, but the investigation is ongoing."
Clinton also said she had directed that “specific actions” be taken at the State Department "to ensure that “this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again."
New security safeguards are also being put in place at the Department of Defense.compiled from agency reports