Wikileaks had set this afternoon as the date to release another round of secret U.S. government documents - this time, over 250,000 classified cables from various U.S. embassies.
Hours prior to the documents' publication, Wikileaks tweeted that the website was experiencing a "mass distributed denial of service attack." But whether or not the site goes down - it's functioning, albeit slowly at this time - the documents released today have already been distributed to a number of international news agencies who are publishing their findings from the trove of leaked documents.
Today's publication marks the latest in a string of secret government documents published by the rogue media organization. In July, Wikileaks released the Afghan War Diary, containing over 91,000 reports from the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.
Contents of the Correspondence
As these documents capture some of the day-to-day correspondence between the U.S. State Department and some 270 embassies around the world, they reveal a mixture of political intrigue and political gossip. The New York Times reports, for example, that the documents "describe the volatile Libyan leader as rarely without the companionship of 'his senior Ukrainian nurse,' described as 'a voluptuous blonde.'"
This Wikileaks publication is likely to impact U.S. diplomatic relations, including for example, revelations about State Department personnel being urged to collect data ("spy"?) on foreign dignitaries and on UN officials. The State Department has been briefing countries over the past few days in anticipation for today's release.
Media Coverage, Government Reaction
Coverage of the documents can be found in a number of places, including the New York Times, in the British newspaper the Guardian, and in the German Der Spiegel. The raw data is also available on the Wikileaks website.
The White House has issued a statement, condemning "in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information." Last spring, intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was charged with leaking many of the documents that make up today's release, as well as video footage of a 2007 airstrike in which civilians were killed. Manning faces a court martial and prison time for his role in leaking this information.