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Massive oil spill. Now, what about a massive leak of U.S. diplomatic cables?

June 8, 2010 |  3:14 pm

Remember that e-mail you sent a co-worker with the honest but mocking description of the boss in a meeting? How'd you like that to go online for the entire office to see?

Well, the Pentagon has launched an intensive investigation of a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning, who claims to have been the source of the video leak earlier this year of the 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed two Reuters employees in Iraq.

Now, Philip Shenon writes over at the Daily Beast, Manning claims to have downloaded 260,000 diplomatic cables from U.S. government computer networks containing classified and embarrassing material such as American diplomats' very candid assessments of foreign leaders, mainly in the Middle East.

Quick, where's the Unsend button?

Gee, another bad leak while everyone watches the gulf oil spill. President Obama has decided to revisit the region next Monday and Tuesday.

Shenon says American embassies worldwide are bracing for a massive, mortifying release of the messages that could reveal the inner workings and assessments of United States diplomacy, compromising secret procedures, identities and evaluations. And the unknown impact diplomatically and politically on the issue of the Democratic president's job competency.

Manning is currently under arrest in Kuwait and claims to have had special access to the communication networks reaching far and wide. "If he really had access to these cables," Shenon quotes one U.S. diplomat, "we've got a terrible situation on our hands."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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