There is a palpable rise in tensions at the State Department here, as WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website revealed via its Twitter account last week that its next release would be seven times the size of the Iraq War Logs release earlier in the summer.
The hacker-founded site, whose revelations provoked a powerful backlash at the Pentagon and elsewhere in the United States administration, added that it had faced 'intense pressure over [the upcoming release] for months.' The anticipated size of the upcoming release is 3 million documents.
Reacting to the announcement State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "If the past is prologue, that would mean that certain news organisations may well already be in possession of specific documents."
Reiterating the government's objections to the release he added that the State Department would continue evaluating the material that they thought was previously leaked from government sources to WikiLeaks. "We continue to make clear that this is harmful to our national security," he said, warning that 'it does put lives at risk. It does put national interests at risk.'
Touching on the State Departments efforts to put out messages to the U.S.' allies and partners around the world Mr. Crowley acknowledged that WikiLeaks had State Department cables in its possession.
He said, "We are prepared if this upcoming tranche of documents includes State Department cables. We are in touch with our posts around the world. They have begun the process of notifying governments that release of documents is possible in the near future." The U.S. Congress had been notified too, he said.
Commenting on the potential fallout of the planned release of documents Mr. Crowley admitted that the kinds of cables involved related to posts sent to and from Washington and they were classified.
The cables "involve discussions that we've had with government officials, with private citizens. They contain analysis. They contain a record of the day-to-day diplomatic activity that our personnel undertake," he said.
In a similar tone to reactions from Defence Secretary Robert Gates, following earlier releases of U.S. war documents by WikiLeaks, Mr. Crowley said that the State Department decried the expos. "These revelations... are going to create tension in our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world. We wish that this would not happen. But we are, obviously, prepared for the possibility that it will," he said.
Among the countries said to be notified about the possible release by WikiLeaks are India, Russia, Iceland, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
The WikiLeaks site subsequently noted on its Twitter site that the U.K. government had issued a notice to U.K. news editors, 'asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories.'