By Rebecca Wright
The leak is unprecedented; the range quite extraordinary and the fallout has only just begun from the first batch.
The latest leaks centre on North Korea, alleging that its main ally China is ready to abandon it and accept Korean reunification.
The revelations come at a critical time in Far Eastern diplomacy after last week's exchange of shellfire across the Korean border.
“The United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.
The leaking of secret cables has the world talking and America on the defensive; Ms Clinton today appeared to decide the only credible defence was a spirited attack.
“There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends,” she says.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has not revealed who gave him the documents but officials believe it was army private Bradley Manning.
He is in a military prison in Virginia charged with leaking other classified documents which investigators believe he downloaded while serving as an intelligence officer in Iraq.
The man who orchestrates the Wikileaks now faces the full fury of Washington and some are calling for him to be put behind bars too, on a charge of espionage.
But that won't be easy; Mr Assange is Australian and is currently in hiding. He says the leaks shine an invaluable light on international diplomacy and duplicity.
“There have been more leak prosecutions of media sources under the Obama administration than all previous presidents combined.
It has come down to Ms Clinton to apologise to Saudi Arabia, for revealing it wanted American planes to bomb Iran's nuclear plants; to Britain for claims by a US ambassador that Prince Andrew's behaviour "bordered on the rude" and to many more leaders both publicly and privately in the days and months ahead.