Wikileaks hacked as document dump approaches -- to no avail (update)

The US government which has been sweating bullets over the pending release of as many as 2.7 million documents by Wikileaks, now has at least a temporary reprieve. The Hill's Bridget Johnson reports:

Just hours ahead of an expected release of three million classified U.S. documents, the website WikiLeaks said it has been the target of a computer attack.
"We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack," WikiLeaks tweeted midday Sunday.

The website vows to press ahead, one way or another:

"El Pais, Le Monde, Speigel, Guardian & NYT will publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down," WikiLeaks tweeted.

There is no indication that this attack was officially sponsored, and it could well be the product of independents, outraged over the theft and pending publication of confidential documents that could imperil the lives of many and damage US foreign relations.

The Telegraph's Toby Harnden points out that Barack Obama has a lot to lose, as his confidential comments on various world leaders contained in diplomatic dispatches could cause him to lose his (residual) nice guy image:

Thousands of these documents are believed to be diplomatic cables from Washington to the US Embassy in London, including brutal assessments of Gordon Brown's personality and cold-eyed judgements of David Cameron's capabilities.

The ramifications for Mr Obama could be enormous. With his popularity flagging at home, one of his remaining political strengths has been his high standing abroad - assiduously cultivated in a series of speeches in which he apologised for past US actions and promised a kinder, gentler America.

Diplomatic cables are necessarily frank, a mirror image of the bland euphemisms offered up to the public after meetings between world leaders. The Obama administration has continued to play this game, uttering little of meaning to the press while swapping private barbs internally.

Wikileaks claims to be merely interested in sunshine as a disinfectant, but mostly focuses on harming US interests.


The New York Times, among others, is facilitating the Wikileaks project by printing material (sent to them via an intermediary whose anonymity the Times is protecting) in advance of the Wikileaks publication. They cover themselves as follows: 
The Times has withheld from articles and removed from documents it is posting online the names of some people who spoke privately to diplomats and might be at risk if they were publicly identified. The Times is also withholding some passages or entire cables whose disclosure could compromise American intelligence efforts.

The entire file has been uploaded. The helpful folks at the left wing UK Guardian have provided a searchable database. Perhaps someday someone will steal all the internal communications at the Guardian and post them with a searchable database. (hat tip: Michael Geer)