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US severs access to diplomatic files
In dramatic move following disclosure of sensitive cables, State Department disconnects access to government's classified computer network. Defense Secretary Gates: Leaks embarrassing but will have little impact on US relations with other countries

Reeling from disclosures of sensitive diplomatic messages, the State Department has disconnected access to its files from the US government's classified computer network.

 

The move dramatically reduces the number of employees inside the government who can see important diplomatic messages.

 

A State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said Tuesday that the decision was temporary, at least until workers correct what he called "weaknesses in the system that have become evident because of this leak."

 

WikiLeaks, a self-styled whistle-blower organization, this week published some of more than a quarter-million diplomatic memos that were never intended to be read outside the US government.

 

 

The State Department also said that secret instructions to American diplomats to gather sensitive personal information about foreign leaders originated from the US intelligence community but did not require diplomats to spy.

 

According to Crowley, requests for DNA and biometric data on foreign officials contained in leaked classified cables published by WikiLeaks came from "outside the Department of State." He said other government agencies passed the requests along as part of a "wish list" for information on foreign officials.

A senior department official said the requests came from "intelligence community managers."

 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that WikiLeaks' mass dump of classified American documents was embarrassing but will have little impact on US relations with other countries.

 

Reuters contributed to this report

 

 

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