Slamming the release of secret US documents by WikiLeaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described it as an attack not only on America but on the global community as a whole, even as she voiced confidence that her country's international partnerships will withstand the jolt.
Clinton said that there was nothing laudable in the act that had put the lives of people in danger and sabotaged peaceful relations, as she promised "aggressive steps" to go after those responsible.
"The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems," she said in her first statement after the release of a quarter million documents by WikiLeaks.
"Let's be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity," she said on Monday night.
Clinton, however, said that she was confident that the partnerships that the Obama administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge.
"The President and I have made these partnerships a priority, and we are proud of the progress that they have helped achieve, and they will remain at the centre of our efforts," she said.
She refused to make a direct comment on or confirm what are alleged to be stolen State Department cables but said the US "deeply regrets" the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or American diplomats' personal assessments and observations.
Clinton said that the US is taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information.
"I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again," she said.
She said that besides relations between governments, other concerns sparked off by the disclosures are about safety of human rights workers, independent observers and journalists whose references are contained in the documents.
US diplomats meet local human rights workers, journalists, religious leaders and others outside of government who offer their own candid insight. "These conversations also depend on trust and confidence," she noted.
"Whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risk to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others," Clinton said.