The US has ordered a sweeping review of access to sensitive government information in the wake of the massive and potentially embarrassing WikiLeaks release of more than 250,000 classified documents.
The State Department memos, reflecting in some cases unflattering assessments of world leaders left the administration feeling vulnerable.
Publication of the secret memos and documents also increased widespread global alarm about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
And it revealed occasional US pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea. The leaks disclosed bluntly candid impressions from both diplomats and other world leaders about America’s allies and foes.
It was, said Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, the “September 11 of world diplomacy”.
In the aftermath of the massive document dump by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and numerous media reports detailing their contents, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to address the diplomatic repercussions.
Mrs Clinton may have to confront the fallout first hand after she leaves Washington on a four-nation tour of Central Asia and the Middle East – a region that figures prominently in the leaked documents.
The encrypted emails and other documents unearthed new revelations about long-simmering nuclear trouble spots, detailing US, Israeli and Arab world fears of Iran’s growing nuclear programme, American concerns about Pakistan’s atomic arsenal and US discussions about a united Korean peninsula as a long-term solution to North Korean aggression.
None of the disclosures appeared particularly explosive, but their publication could become problematic for the officials concerned and for any secret initiatives they had preferred to keep quiet.
The massive release of material intended for diplomatic eyes only is sure to ruffle feathers in foreign capitals, a certainty that already prompted US diplomats to attempt in recent days to shore up relations with key allies in advance of the leaks.