Monday, December 6, 2010

Wikileaks publishes terrorist vulnerabilities list

(CNN) -- WikiLeaks has published a secret U.S. diplomatic cable listing locations abroad that the U.S. considers vital to its national security, prompting criticism that the website is inviting terrorist attacks on American interests.
The list is part of a lengthy cable the State Department sent in February 2009 to its posts around the world. The cable asked American diplomats to identify key resources, facilities and installations outside the United States "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States."

The diplomats identified dozens of places on every continent, including mines, manufacturing complexes, ports and research establishments. CNN is not publishing specific details from the list, which refers to pipelines and undersea telecommunications cables as well as the location of minerals or chemicals critical to U.S. industry.

The list also mentions dams close to the U.S. border and a telecommunications hub whose destruction might seriously disrupt global communications. Diplomats also identified sites of strategic importance for supplying U.S. forces and interests abroad, such as in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and the Panama Canal.
The cable is classified secret and not for review by non-U.S. personnel.

The United States and Great Britain condemned the disclosure.

"There are strong and valid reasons information is classified, including critical infrastructure and key resources that are vital to the national and economic security of any country," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told The Times newspaper in London.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, "may be directing his efforts at the United States but he is placing the interests of many countries and regions at risk," the paper quoted Crowley as saying. "This is irresponsible."
British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement that the publication is "damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere."

The list is "a gift to any terrorist (group) trying to work out what are the ways in which it can damage the United States," said Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee in Britain.

"It is grossly improper and irresponsible" for Assange and his website to publish that information, he said.

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