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H. Clinton: US to take aggressive action vs. leaks

Posted December. 01, 2010 11:33,   


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday aggressive action against the leaking of more than 250,000 confidential State Department documents by online whistleblower WikiLeaks, calling it a cyber attack on Washington.

In a news conference at the State Department in Washington, she pledged aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole the information.

"I will not comment on or confirm what are alleged to be stolen State Department cables," she said. "But I can say that the U.S. deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats` personal assessments and observations."

"It undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. (But) I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge."

Clinton added in an exasperated voice, "This disclosure is not just an attack on America`s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."

She said she has directed that specific action be taken at the State Department so a similar breach never happens again.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department will prosecute anyone found to have violated U.S. law in the leaks of classified government documents by WikiLeaks. The Pentagon will also hold responsible employees who failed to install firewalls or who did not pay enough attention in preventing the leaks.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a briefing that President Barack Obama was "not pleased" by the leaks, saying Obama did not use harsh rhetoric but was known to be very displeased. Gibbs said the Obama administration welcomes the free flow of information, but called the leaks “stolen.”

The White House ordered a government-wide review of how agencies safeguard sensitive information. Jacob Lew, director of the White House`s Office of Management and Budget, called the disclosure unacceptable and intolerable and urged all federal agencies and departments to establish security assessment teams to conduct the review.

Whether a system can protect against leaks 100 percent is unknown, however. Access to U.S. confidential data is authorized for up to three million people, including U.S. administration staff and military officials.