Washington, Nov 28 (PTI) Some 250,000 classified US documents procured by WikiLeaks detail a wide variety of secret diplomatic episodes and incidences of backroom bargaining like a standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel and the hacking of Google systems by the Chinese government, the New York Times reported today.
The confidential cache of US cables released to the paper by the whistleblower website, were described by the Times as the one that unlocks the secrets of American diplomacy.
The newspaper made public the details contained in the documents today, some time after WikiLeaks said its website was under a cyber attack.
"A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats," The Times said in its lead story.
More eminent newspapers across the globe are expected to follow suit, even as WikiLeaks on its Twitter account said that it is "currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack".
It added that even if its website goes down a number of newspapers will go ahead and publish the documents.
These documents, according to NYT, reveal a dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel.
Since 2007, the US has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device.
In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, "if the local media got word of the fuel removal, they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan's nuclear weapons, he argued".
Besides, they also provide an insight into a global computer hacking effort initiated by the Chinese government.
China's Politburo directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, according to one cable.
The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government.
They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, the cables said.
The daily said the cables give a laundry list of instructions for how State Department employees can fulfill the demands of a "National Humint Collection Directive" in specific countries. Humint being a spy-world jargon for human intelligence collection.
One cable asks officers overseas to gather information about "office and organisational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cellphones, pagers and faxes," as well as "internet and intranet 'handles', internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information".
Ahead of the release of the potentially embarrassing documents, which the US fears could harm its relations with several countries, the American administration asked the website to refrain from making the classified documents public.
Top officials of the Obama Administration called up several countries including India and warned them about the imminent release of such classified US documents.
The Pentagon "condemned" what it called a "reckless" act, and said it has initiated measures to prevent such leaks in the future ahead of the imminent release.
The State Department asked it to return the "illegally obtained" papers, insisting that their leak would "endanger the lives of countless individuals."
The Twitter message by WikiLeaks earlier said that El Pais, Le Monde, Speigel, Guardian and New York Times newspapers will publish many US embassy cables tonight, even if WikiLeaks goes down.
The website has earlier released thousands of documents on the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In October WikiLeaks released four lakh secret US files on Iraq war detailing abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody, rights violations and civilian deaths.
Earlier in July, the website had published tens of thousands of secret documents on the war in Afghanistan.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today said the soon-to-be released classified US documents will cover "every major issue" in the world.
Late yesterday Washington rejected talks with WikiLeaks, saying the website was holding the cables in violation of US law.