The Obama administration is bracing for yet another unauthorized release of classified government documents, which officials say this time could damage U.S. relations with close allies.
Government officials say WikiLeaks, the website responsible for exposing hundreds of thousands of secret reports related to the Afghan and Iraq wars, could dump its next round of documents as soon as Friday or this weekend. This time the State Department is on alert as WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has said the organization has access to several hundred thousand sensitive diplomatic cables.
"We are prepared for the worst -- and the worst is that this will have an impact on our diplomatic relations with many, many countries," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world."
Crowley told reporters at the State Department Wednesday that U.S. diplomatic outposts across the world have begun the process of notifying other governments of the impending leak. "This is going to be potentially global in its impact," Crowley added. "You're talking hundreds of thousands of cables that touch on relationships with hundreds countries."
Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are on the list of countries the State Department worries about, but, Crowley says, it pays equal attention to countries such as Zimbabwe that get more sporadic media attention.
Diplomatic cables can include anything from research ahead of delegations, to read-outs of high level meetings and analysis of emerging events.
The Pentagon, still reeling over the 700,000 secret Afghan war documents exposed by WikiLeaks in late October, says it won't go unscathed in this new release. "There are some Department of Defense related issues in these cables," Pentagon Spokesman Col. David Lapan said Wednesday. Congressional officials tell Fox News there is a specific concern in the Pentagon that he documents contain potentially damaging information about Guantanamo detainees.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is battling allegations of rape in Sweden. The 39-year-old Australian denies the accusations and his lawyers claim he had consensual sex with the two women who turned on him after becoming aware of each other's relationships.
Amid infighting between prosecutors on how to charge Assange, a Swedish appeals court upheld a court order Wednesday to detain Assange for questioning.
Assange has become increasingly paranoid since releasing the first set of classified U.S. documents in the spring of this year, fearing some form of retaliation. His current whereabouts are unclear.