How Dangerous Are the Latest Leaks of 'Vital' U.S. Facilities?

Some worry WikiLeaks may have harmed the United States for real, this time

This article is from the archive of our partner .

In what many are calling the most controversial WikiLeaks divulgence to date, the site has published a list of facilities around the world "vital to US security." The key targets include resource pipelines, transportation hubs and communication networks. The list was complied after the U.S. State Department "asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security," the BBC reports. The leaks have elicited fresh calls for the capture and prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It has also inspired debate about the gravity of these leaks.

  • It's a Dangerous Guide Book for Terrorists, says the BBC's Jonathan Marcus:

If the US sees itself as waging a "global war on terror" then this represents a global directory of the key installations and facilities-- many of them medical or industrial--that are seen as being of vital importance to Washington. Some locations are given unique billing. The Nadym gas pipeline junction in western Siberia, for example, is described as "the most critical gas facility in the world". It is a crucial transit point for Russian gas heading for western Europe. In some cases, specific pharmaceutical plants or those making blood products are highlighted for their crucial importance to the global supply chain.

  • This Is Inexcusable, writes Aaron Worthing at Patterico's Pontifications:
I actually have some concerns with governmental secretiveness at times--especially when the secretiveness appears motivated by a desire to hide embarrassing and/or illegal activity by governmental officials... But I cannot for the life of me imagine how anyone could justify leaking information like this. It is immoral. It is almost certainly illegal. This cannot be justified by a mere desire for openness. It is the kind of action undertaken by our enemies. Pure and simple.
  • The Information Is of Public Interest, writes Marcy Wheeler at Firedoglake. "It says a lot about who we are and how the empire perceives itself," she explains.
We are, it seems, about our trade (Chinese ports and NAFTA border entries figure prominently), our diseases (a number of drug factories are listed), certain raw materials (like the rare earth China recently throttled to prove a point), and certain defense factories in partner nations. The vegetarians in the crowd may be intrigued to learn that our government considers foot and mouth disease a critical threat, as the list includes three foot and mouth disease vaccine plants.
  • There Is No Possible Justification for the Release of This Document, writes William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, "other than to harm the U.S. The document has nothing to do with policy or diplomacy or any of the other excuses used for the release of diplomatic cables."
  • Assange Should Be on the Terrorism Watch List, writes MacRanger at Macsmind: "This is necessary and overdue. It’s beyond debate that Wikileaks is actively involved in espionage. Placement on the list means that all of Wikileaks assets, website, financial holdings, etc, are subject to seizure." He also suggests "all those who work with or for Wikileaks ... be picked up on charges of aiding and/or committing espionage."
  • Let's Not Blow This Out of Proportion, writes Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

"An unhelpful development" is a really good way of describing it, IMO. The release of this list doesn't strike me as quite warranting profound alarm, if only because most of the sites on the list would be evident targets for disruption even if they hadn't been officially sanctioned by this document as important to US interests. And terrorists aren't stupid. "World Trade Center" didn't need to be on a list to be a target.

  • Admittedly, It's Pretty Intriguing notes Dave Schuler at Outside the Beltway:

Only a half dozen sites in Africa made the list, mostly sources of vital raw materials, e.g. chromium, manganese. That should tell you something about the role of Africa in American strategic thinking. A significant number of sites in Asia are listed including some in China. They include sources of raw materials, communication resources, and energy infrastructure. In addition to resources of the sorts listed above, the sites in Europe deemed to be of vital security interest include a number of pharmaceutical production facilities.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.