WTF?! It's the CIA's new WikiLeaks Task Force!

The CIA has launched a new taskforce to assess the impact of whistle-blowing site Wikileaks' disclosure of more than 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks Task Force - or 'WTF', for short - is tasked with picking through the leaked documents to see what damage they may have caused to the reputation and security of the US around the globe, according to a report in the Washington Post.

"Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF," joked the paper.

'WTF' or "What the f**k?" is a term more commonly heard from the lips of teenage Facebook users than senior spooks - but the expression of disbelief seems somewhat appropriate, given the US government's confused response to WikILeaks' so-called Cablegate leak.

Senior figures in the Obama administration appear caught between playing down the seriousness of the leak, and building a case for prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for having compromised national security..

Vice president Joe Biden flip-flopped over the issue last week, claiming in an interview with MSNBC's Andrew Mitchell on 16th December: "I don't think there's any substantive damage".

A few days later, and Biden had changed his tune, claiming that Wikileaks had "done damage" to the reputation and security of the US.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is known to be considering charges against Assange, but won't yet reveal what crime the Australian is alleged to have committed.

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, congressman John Conyers, has also waded into the argument - declaring that Assange had not committed any crime, and that the actions of WikiLeaks are protected by America's doctrine of free speech.

Conyers told a hearing of the Judiciary Committee:

"As an initial matter, there is no doubt that WikiLeaks is very unpopular right now. Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive.

"But being unpopular is not a crime, and publishing offensive information is not either. And the repeated calls from politicians, journalists, and other so-called experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures make me very uncomfortable."

Assange currently faces deportation from the UK to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over accusations of sexual offences against two women. He denies all allegations.