A comprehensive inventory of what the United States considers “critical infrastructure and key resources,” has been published online by WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, raising the pitch of the debate surrounding its exposé of secret U.S. State Department cables.
According to the cable, dated February 18 2009 and sent from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to all U.S. diplomatic outposts abroad, the State Department requested diplomats to update the “vital” sites list, which included telecommunication infrastructure, gas pipelines, mineral mines, medical research facilities, weapons components manufacturers and transportation hubs.
The sites mentioned in India include chromite mines in Orissa and Karnataka and a company called Generamedix in Gujurat, which the cable suggests is involved in producing chemotherapy agents, including florouracil and methotrexate.
Issuing a request for action to U.S. diplomatic posts world over the Secretary’s cable said the State Department required “compilation and annual update of a of critical infrastructure and key resources that are located outside U.S. borders and whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the U.S.” The cable added that under the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 “critical infrastructure” was defined as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, “so vital to the U.S. [that] the incapacitation or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact” on U.S. national security.
Condemnation of the release of the list followed swiftly, particularly in the United Kingdom, where a Downing Street spokesman was quoted as saying, “We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information. The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere.”
However Mark Stephens, the lawyer representing WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange, who is on the run from authorities, was said to have denied that Wikileaks was putting people and facilities at risk.
According to the BBC he said, “I do not think there is anything new in that... What I think is new is the fact that it has been published by Wikileaks and of course we have the Wikileaks factor because a number of governments have been embarrassed by what has happened.”