Washington: With world media having a field day cherry-picking their way through hundreds of classified and secret diplomatic cables dispatched by US embassies around the world as well as the US State Department, anger has begun to mount within the Obama administration and the US Congress at what is perceived to be an extreme act of vandalism.
The cabinet member primarily affected by the leaks, secretary of state Hillary Clinton, let her anger be known in no uncertain terms: "This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests," she said, but "...an attack on the international community - the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
Apart from ordering a government-wide review of procedures to safeguard classified data, the White House also vowed to prosecute anyone who broke US law by leaking these cables to online whistle-blower WikiLeaks.
Attorney general Eric Holder said the government had initiated a criminal investigation and would hold responsible "...anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law."
The impact of these leaked e-mails and other documents, published online by WikiLeaks and also shared with prominent publications in Europe, is damaging enough for it to be dubbed as "...the Sept. 11 of world diplomacy," by Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.
Der Spiegel, one of the privileged publishers given prior access by WikiLeaks to the documents, called the trove of cables, "...nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy."