Wikileak Releases List of US ‘Vital’ Sites: Impact Debated

December 7th, 2010 - by admin

BBC World News & The Telegraph – 2010-12-07 00:12:19

List of Facilities ‘Vital to US Security’ Leaked
BBC World News

(December 6, 2010) — A long list of key facilities around the world that the US describes as vital to its national security has been released by Wikileaks. In February 2009, the State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security. The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs. Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation. The definition of US national security revealed by the cable is broad and all embracing, he says.

There are obvious pieces of strategic infrastructure like communications hubs, gas pipelines and so on. However, other facilities on the list include:
• Cobalt mine in Congo
• Anti-snake venom factory in Australia
• Insulin plant in Denmark

In Britain, the list ranges from Cornwall to Scotland, including key satellite communications sites and the places where trans-Atlantic cables make landfall.

A number of BAE Systems plants involved in joint weapons programmes with the Americans are listed, along with a marine engineering firm in Edinburgh which is said to be “critical” for nuclear powered submarines.

In other cables released by Wikileaks on Sunday:
• Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, while prime minister, allegedly said at a lunch with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the West should be prepared to use force against China “if everything goes wrong”

• Qatar is allegedly using the <>al-Jazeera news network as a bargaining chip, apparently promising Egypt that it would cease the network’s transmission there for a year if President Hosni Mubarak agreed to deliver “a lasting settlement for the Palestinians.”

• Mrs Clinton criticised efforts by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait to combat militants, and said that Saudi donors were the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

• The alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, continued to run militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, along with the group’s founder, Hafiz Saeed, despite being detained over the attacks.

‘Targets for Terror’
The geographical range of the document on installations is extraordinary, our correspondent says. If the US sees itself as waging a “global war on terror” then this represents a global directory of the key installations and facilities — many of them medical or industrial — that are seen as being of vital importance to Washington.

Some locations are given unique billing. The Nadym gas pipeline junction in western Siberia, for example, is described as “the most critical gas facility in the world”. It is a crucial transit point for Russian gas heading for Western Europe. In some cases, specific pharmaceutical plants or those making blood products are highlighted for their crucial importance to the global supply chain.

The critical question is whether this really is a listing of potential targets that might be of use to a terrorist, our correspondent says. The cable contains a simple listing. In many cases towns are noted as the location but not actual street addresses, although this is unlikely to stop anyone with access to the Internet from locating them. There are also no details of security measures at any of the listed sites.

What the list might do is to prompt potential attackers to look at a broader range of targets, especially given that the US authorities classify them as being so important. It is not perhaps a major security breach, but many governments may see it as an unhelpful development, our correspondent says.

It inevitably prompts the question as to exactly what positive benefit Wikileaks was intending in releasing this document, he adds.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind condemned the move. “This is further evidence that they have been generally irresponsible, bordering on criminal,” Sir Malcolm said. “This is the kind of information terrorists are interested in knowing.”

But Wikileaks lawyer Mark Stevens denied that Wikileaks was putting people and facilities at risk. “I don’t think there’s anything new in that,” he told the BBC. “What I think is new is the fact that it’s been published by Wikileaks and of course we have the Wikileaks factor because a number of governments have been embarrassed by what’s happened…”

Wikileaks: US Identifies Key Sites around World for Security
Alex Spillius / The Telegraph

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2010) — 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 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 manufacturing facility 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.

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