On the day it's supposed to release hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, a move deemed by the U.S. State Department to put American lives in danger, the website has announced it is under a "denial of service" attack.
WikiLeaks' website cannot currently be accessed, and the organization tweeted just before noon on Sunday that "We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack." Such an attack typically involves the spamming of servers, in an attempt to overload them with requests and render them inoperable.
WikiLeaks announced soon after that, even if its website cannot be accessed, several prominent world newspapers--The New York Times, Der Spiegel, El Pais, Le Monde, and the Guardian--will publish the documents it had planned to release.
The U.S. State Department has deemed these leaks to put American lives in danger. In response to a request for a list of which people, exactly, would be endangered by the document dump, State Department chief counsel Harold Koh wrote to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday:
"Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals. You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger. We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials," Koh wrote.
The State Department says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has briefed several countries in anticipation of the release, expected to include just over 250,000 diplomatic cables. Clinton has reached out to leaders in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, and Afghanistan, the State Department has said. Israeli newspapers have reported that the U.S. has briefed Israel on the pending document dump.
The U.S. State Department would not comment on whether or not it knows anything about the spam attack WikiLeaks has reported.
"That's an issue that you'll have to take up with WikiLeaks," a State Department public information officer told me today, reached by phone roughly an hour after WikiLeaks announced the attack. "I have no immediate comment on that."