Skip to main content

WikiLeaks again reports electronic disruption

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The whistle-blower website came under cyber attack on Sunday
  • It recovered to begin posting thousands of confidential cables
  • The reverberations continued Tuesday as Hillary Clinton begins trip
  • She will meet with some of the leaders mentioned in the documents

Washington (CNN) -- After posting thousands of secret government documents, the whiste-blower website WikiLeaks said it came under an electronic attack Tuesday designed to make it unavailable to users.

The site also experienced a distributed denial of service attack on Sunday, just as it was publishing the first of what it says are 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Such attacks normally are done by flooding a website with requests for data.

The effects of Tuesday's electronic disruption of WikiLeaks were unclear.

WikiLeaks recovered from Sunday's disruption and began publishing cables from U.S. embassies around the world, documents that the website said represented the largest-ever disclosure of confidential information. Those documents give the world "an unprecedented insight into the U.S. government's foreign activities," the site said.

WikiLeaks drew widespread condemnation for publishing the confidential cables that in some instances, detailed with unusual frankness Washington's diplomatic interactions with other countries.

On Tuesday, the documents' disclosure continued to reverberate around the globe.

The French president condemned the publication as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to Asia and the Middle East on a four-day trip that will put her face to face with leaders from several countries mentioned in the documents.

"We will be seeing dozens of my counterparts," Clinton said.

"I will continue the conversations that I have started with some in person and over the phone over the last days, and I will seek out others, because I want personally to impress upon them the importance that I place on the kind of open, productive discussions that we have had to date, and my intention to continue working closely with them."

As Clinton sought to soothe ruffled feathers in in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Bahrain, the French government blasted WikiLeaks.

François Baroin, a spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said on French television Tuesday that WikiLeaks showed "the highest degree of irresponsibility."

One of the published cables provided this description of Sarkozy: "An activist on the international scene, with an opportunistic eye for grabbing attention and credit, Sarkozy will remain a challenging partner despite his desire to improve the bilateral relationship."

Some news outlets have reported that U.S. diplomats called Sarkozy an "emperor with no clothes."

Japan's Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara called the WikiLeaks disclosure "a monstrosity and a criminal act."

The Turkish president, however, downplayed the significance of the documents, though they revealed a difficult U.S.-Turkish relationship centered on Washington's anxieties that Turkey is marching on an Islamist path.

"None of this can hurt our aim to make Turkey a stronger country, to develop Turkey, the importance we give for political stability in Turkey and our valuable friendships," said President Abdullah Gul on Tuesday.

"There are certain things being said about the prime minister and me," Gul said. "These are things that they evaluated and wrote based on their perspectives. These may create distrust, but these are normal. They can happen."

Diplomats worldwide were scrambling to assess the severity of the disclosures.

Clinton, however, expressed confidence that U.S. diplomatic efforts will survive the leak of the documents, whose authenticity she would not confirm but which lay out in detail the diplomatic sausage-making that is usually hidden from public view.

"I can tell you, in my conversations, at least one of my counterparts said to me, 'Don't worry about it; you should see what we say about you,' " Clinton said. "I would hope we would be able to move beyond this and back to the business of working together."

But she added, "The United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential."

On Sunday, a computer hacker who calls himself "The Jester" claimed responsibility for the cyber attack that affected WikiLeaks.

The Jester, who describes himself as a "hacktivist for good," said he took the controversial site down "for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations."

WikiLeaks said in September that it had prepared an unspecified "insurance policy" against its site being taken down.

In addition to being published on WikiLeaks website, the classified documents were acquired in advance by five major newspapers in Europe and the United States. (The New York Times, The Guardian in Britain, El Pais in Spain, Le Monde in France, and Der Spiegel in Germany.)

CNN declined a last-minute offer to discuss advance access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by Wikileaks that CNN considered unacceptable.

CNN is committed to carefully and responsibly reporting on the documents already published by Wikileaks and the five newspapers, focusing not only on what the leaked documents say, but also what their publication means for global relations and U.S. diplomacy.