White House: WikiLeaks Disclosure Puts U.S. Officials at Risk

U.S. responds to leak of 250,000 classified documents, saying they may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes.

A massive leak of classified diplomatic cables by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks is risking the lives of U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers around the world, the White House said on Sunday.

U.S. President Obama - AP - Nov. 3, 2010

Earler Sunday, WikiLeaks went ahead with its promise to disclose more than 250,000 classified diplomatic communiqués, covering issues such as Iran's nuclear program, Syria's back of Hezbollah, as well as relations between the United States and its European allies.

In response to the massive disclosure, the White Hose Press Secretary issued a statement, saying that "such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government."

"These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies," the statement added.

The White House went on to say that U.S. President Barack Obama supported "responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal."

"By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals," the statement said, adding that the U.S. condemned "in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information."

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry called the documents' release a 'reckless action' and reiterated that it "jeopardizes lives."

"This is not an academic exercise about freedom of information," Kerry said. The cables, he said, "should remain confidential to protect the ability of the government to conduct lawful business with the private candor that's vital to effective diplomacy."

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his belief that Israel would not stand at the center of the WikiLeaks report, a belief which proved to be at least partially unfounded as several cables were released discussing Israel's fears of a nuclear Iran as well as its desire to maintain its qualitative military edge.