The Obama administration is holding its breath for a potential holiday weekend release of more classified documents by the website WikiLeaks, warning that the latest document dump could contain information that may harm ties with U.S. allies.
On Sunday, WikiLeaks warned that the next release was seven times the size of the Iraq war logs. "The Pentagon is hyperventilating again over fears of being held to account," WikiLeaks tweeted Wednesday.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday that the administration was braced for another imminent release, which is expected to include hundreds of thousands of classified State cables that detail private diplomatic discussions with other governments, potentially compromising discussions with dissidents, and even, reportedly, corruption allegations against foreign governments.
"When this confidence is betrayed and ends up on the front pages of newspapers or lead stories on television and radio it has an impact," Crowley said. "We decry what has happened. These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests. They are going to create tension in our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world. We wish that this would not happen. But we are, obviously, prepared for the possibility that it will."
Crowley warned that the release, expected to be some three million documents, would "put national interests at risk."
The spokesman said that the State Department has talked "with members of the Hill to let them know what we are prepared for."
The Pentagon warned the Senate
and House Armed Services Committees that the document dump could occur as soon as Friday, according to Bloomberg.
“We anticipate that the release could negatively impact
U.S. foreign relations,” Assistant Secretary for
Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King wrote Tuesday in an e-mail
to the defense panels, Bloomberg reported.
"It’s hard for us to give you any kind of assessment of what the potential impact is, because we actually don’t know what is going to be released," he said. "...We are in touch with our posts around the world. They have begun the process of notifying governments that release of documents is possible in the near future."
The latest document dump is expected as a Swedish appeals court on Wednesday confirmed an arrest warrant on suspicion of rape and molestation for Julian Assange, a founder and spokesman for the covert WikiLeaks organization.
London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported Wednesday that one U.S. military report in the documents charges that Turkey allowed its citizens to aid al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that other documents show the U.S. aiding the Kurdish separatist rebels known as the PKK. The PKK is on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The July 25 release of some 75,000 documents releated to the Afghanistan war and the Oct. 22 release of 400,000 Iraq war documents provoked outcry from Washington, with the White House, defense chiefs and lawmakers warning that the leaks could harm national security.
As with past document releases, The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel have been given advance review of the materials.