Wikileaks: US identifies key sites around world for security
The United States has identified hundreds of sites around the world that it fears could be targeted in terrorist attacks.
The list, released by WikiLeaks, includes a dozen sites in Britain, including two telecommunications centres, several undersea communications cables, a military manufacturing plant and a vaccine production centre.
A February 2009 State Department cable asked embassies around the world to update a 2008 list of vital interests. Unlike most of the documents made available by WikiLeaks so far, it was marked “secret”.
The British government immediately condemned the latest release.
A Downing Street spokesman said this morning: "We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information.
"The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.
Though most of the information was in the public domain, its release is likely to lead to accusations that WikiLeaks did not care if it aided terrorists.
Among the British sites mentioned is a facility manufacturing the vaccine for foot and mouth disease run by BAE Systems in Lancashire, and the landing station for the transatlantic Apollo undersea cable at Bude in Cornwall.
Sites in the Middle East included the shipping lanes of Djibouti, an import terminal in Egypt, the Suez Canal and the oil terminal in Basra, Iraq.
Called the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative, the list divides the world into six regions. It makes clear how the US depends on a range of substances from smallpox vaccines in Denmark to bauxite in Guinea and liquefied natural gas in the Middle East.
Also listed is a facility making the rabies vaccines in France and typhoid vaccines in Switzerland.
It also includes the email and direct telephone numbers of two State Department officials compiling the information.
It makes clear that US military facilities and US government property are not to be included in the survey, and that foreign governments should not be consulted during the review.
“Posts do not need to report government facilities overseas managed by State or war fighting facilities managed by other departments or agencies,” it said.
However, Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for the website, denied that the information would be useful to radical groups.
“While this cable details the strategic importance of assets across the world, it does not give any information as to their exact locations, security measures, vulnerabilities or any similar factors — though it does reveal the US asked its diplomats to report back on these matters,” he said.
The release of the cable, part of a trove of 250,000 that the website says it has on file, is likely to infuriate Washington and intensify apparent US efforts to stop the distribution of the leaked diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks has been offering its archives for download through peer-to-peer sharing — a move that could allow any user around the world to post them or share them with other users.
The files include previous WikiLeaks releases, such as information on US military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the more than 800 US diplomatic cables released so far.
“Due to recent attacks on our infrastructure, we’ve decided to make sure everyone can reach our content.
“As part of this process we’re releasing archived copy of all files we ever released,” WikiLeaks said in a message on its site.
WikiLeaks has already been forced to change its domain name and hop-scotch to servers around the globe after successive companies and countries have responded to American pressure attacking its disclosures over the past week as illegal.
It has also come under repeated cyber-attack, through a tactic known as distributed denial of service in which thousands of computers connect to its servers in a concerted attempt to knock them off-line.
“What we are seeing here are dangerous moves towards a digital McCarthyism,” wrote the group’s founder Julian Assange in a statement on its website.