Press Secretary Calls WikiLeaks Release Shameful
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2010 WikiLeaks full public release on its website of 400,000 classified military documents from Iraq war operations is shameful, the Pentagon press secretary said tonight.
“This is an extraordinary disservice to America’s men and women in uniform,” Geoff Morrell said.
More than 150,000 forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are already in considerable danger, he said. “That danger is now exponentially multiplied as a result of this leak because it gives our enemies the wherewithal to look for vulnerabilities in how we operate and to exploit those opportunities and potentially kill our forces. That is just shameful.”
The department does not yet know in detail what Wikileaks has published, but officials say they expect the same sort of documents the organization put on the Internet in July about the conflict in Afghan. WikiLeaks posted 77,000 documents from the Afghan database online in that breach of national security.
“This document leak is four times as large as the Afghan document leak,” Morrell said. “It gives our enemies that much more to mine, and it puts our forces that much more in danger, so we condemn it, we deplore it.”
Based on information contained in the newly released Iraq documents, some news outlets are already reporting on alleged abuse and civilian deaths.
“It has been a driving force for us, a guiding principle for us over the last seven years of this conflict to do everything in our power -- perhaps more than any other military in the history of the world has ever done -- to minimize civilian casualties,” Morrell said.
“We have not always been perfect but we have been far better than anyone else has in the history of warfare,” he added, “and we continue to do everything in our power to prevent innocent civilians from being killed in the war zones.”
A DOD task force has been combing through the Iraq data base to assess the damage that the WikiLeaks publication of the activity reports could pose to the U.S. military, Iraqi allies and on-going operations.
“Potentially what one could mine from a huge data base like this are vulnerabilities in terms of how we operate, our tactics, our techniques, our procedures, the capabilities of our equipment, how we respond in combat situations, response times -- indeed how we cultivate sources,” Morrell said. “All of that, [given the] thinking and adaptive enemy we’ve been facing in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be used against us.”
U.S. intelligence reports and Taliban public statements indicate that enemy forces have been mining the released Afghan data base for operational vulnerabilities, Morrell said.
“We fear that this indeed can further endanger and get our troops killed,” he said.
“We are extraordinarily disappointed that [WikiLeaks is] making the same mistake twice,” Morrell said, “that they are leaking classified information -- in fact that they induce people to break the law to leak classified information and then share that information with the world, including our enemies.”