The logo of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seen at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, April 13, 2016 / SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The spy agency is saying nothing – apart from the fact that any disclosure would mean huge damage

The CIA is refusing to acknowledge the leak of a huge set of its secrets.

This week, WikiLeaks published the first of what it calls the 'Vault 7' files, including a whole host of hacking and spying secrets. The more than 9,000 files appeared to contain many of the most sensitive and important pieces of information that the CIA has – and Julian Assange has promised that more is coming.

But the CIA has gone almost completely dark and is refusing to react or even acknowledge any disclosure.

It will not tell journalists whether or not the files are legitimate, though few doubt that they actually are. It has also refused to tell journalists whether it will look to find out how the files came to be leaked on the internet, or whether it thinks they came from a hack or someone within the agency leaking them.

Without acknowledging any breach, the CIA warned: "The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the intelligence community's ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries. Such disclosures not only jeopardize U.S. personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm."

The White House also refused to acknowledge the fact of the disclosure at all. "It is our policy as a government not to confirm the authenticity of any kind of disclosure or hack," said press secretary Sean Spicer.

The WikiLeaks disclosures were an extraordinary coup for a group that has already rocked American diplomacy with the release of 250,000 State Department cables and embarrassed the Democratic Party with political back channel chatter and the U.S. military with hundreds of thousands of logs from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The intelligence-related documents describe clandestine methods for bypassing or defeating encryption, antivirus tools and other protective security features for computers, mobile phones and even smart TVs. They include the world's most popular technology platforms, including Apple's iPhones and iPads, Google's Android phones and the Microsoft Windows operating system for desktop computers and laptops. 

WikiLeaks has not released the actual hacking tools themselves, some of which were developed by government hackers while others were purchased from outsiders. 

The group indicated it was still considering its options but said in a statement Wednesday: "Tech companies are saying they need more details of CIA attack techniques to fix them faster. Should WikiLeaks work directly with them?" It wasn't clear whether WikiLeaks — a strident critic of Google and Facebook, among others — was serious about such action. 

If that sharing should take place, the unusual cooperation would give companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others an opportunity to identify and repair any flaws in their software and devices that were being exploited by U.S. spy agencies and some foreign allies, as described in the material.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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