WikiLeaks already faces attacks on its servers, an arrest warrant for its leader, and international anger. But a list sent as part of the 250,000 sensitive State Department cables it released could amp up all of that backlash. It’s a long inventory of facilities that the U.S. views as critical to its national security.
The list was intended to identify critical sites and prioritize them in an effort “to prevent, deter, neutralize, or mitigate the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate or exploit them.” The list, which includes infrastructure such as undersea cables, factories, ports, and pipelines, is labeled as “Secret-NoForn,” meaning it should not be accessible to non-U.S. citizens or foreign nationals or governments.
Yet after the latest document dump that began last week, the cable is now accessible to a global audience — and, as some point out, could supply a more creative “to-do” list for terrorists looking to target U.S. interests abroad.
The list was compiled at the State Department’s request by U.S. embassies in 2008. It is far-ranging in both the geographic location of these strategic hubs and their nature — listing everything from an anti-snake venom factory in Australia to Hitachi large electric power transformers in South Korea. The Nadym gas-pipeline junction in western Siberia, an essential link for Russian gas heading to Western Europe, is described simply in the cable as “the most critical gas facility in the world.” The Ras Laffan Industrial Center in Qatar is assessed as potentially “the largest source of imported LNG [liquefied natural gas] to the U.S.,” the cable said.
The cable identifies several BAE Systems plants involved in joint weapons programs with the U.S., including a number in the United Kingdom. The British government joined the U.S. in condemning WikiLeaks and this cable in particular. A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron told NBC News that the published leaks are damaging to both U.S. and British national security.