What a prick this guy is turning out to be.
Gates, Mullen: Leakers are endangering troops
By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 30, 2010 8:49:47 EDT
The Defense Department’s top civilian and military officials blasted the leak and subsequent publication of 91,000 pages of classified documents this week relating to the war in Afghanistan.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, speaking alongside Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said the publisher of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks could already be responsible for the death of a U.S. service member or Afghan civilian.
“Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing,” said Mullen, referring to Australian Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, “but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”
Assange agreed Tuesday that the files offered insight into U.S. tactics. But he said that was none of his concern, and he seemed irritated when a questioner in London pressed him on whether he believed there were ever any legitimate national security concerns that would prevent him from publishing a leaked document.
“It is not our role to play sides for states,” he said. “States have national security concerns, we do not have national security concerns.”
The massive leak, which Gates referred to as a “mountain of raw data and individual impressions,” represented documents he characterized as mostly several years old, “devoid of context or analysis” and unrepresentative of official positions or policy.
But, he said, “the battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world.”
Gates said the documents reveal “intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures” that “will become known to our adversaries.”
The huge cache of documents reportedly contains the names of Afghans who have cooperated with the U.S. Gates did not directly confirm that, but said, “I think we have a moral obligation not only to our troops but to those who have worked with us.”
Building and maintaining the trust necessary to procure such cooperation could have been damaged by the leaks, Mullen said.
“If we’ve learned nothing else in fighting these wars, it’s that relationships matter,” Mullen said. “They are vital. We are not going to kill our way to success and we sure aren’t going to achieve success alone.
“So in addition to making sure we understand the tactical risks from these leaks, I think it’s incumbent upon us not to let the good … relationships we’ve established and the trust we’ve worked so hard to build throughout the region also become a casualty.”
Gates said that in addition to the Pentagon’s ongoing “thorough, aggressive” investigation into how the leak occurred and the leaker’s identity — The Associated Press reports that Pvt. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence specialist already charged with leaking other material to the website, is a prime suspect — he called FBI Director Robert Mueller the previous day to ask for the FBI’s assistance.
Asked what the FBI could add to the investigation, Gates replied, “I don’t know, to tell you the truth … but it seemed to me to ensure that the investigation goes wherever it needs to go.”
Gates said he didn’t know whether Assange should face criminal prosecution, and had not considered whether to recommend that the government issue an injunction preventing WikiLeaks from making disclosures of additional classified data, which Assange has said publicly that he possesses.
“I would have to defer to the Justice Department on that kind of an issue,” Gates said.
Gates said he had only “very recently” been made aware of the magnitude of the leak.
The leak, he said, is forcing the Pentagon to take a hard look at how it shares sensitive information internally.
One of the key lessons learned during the 1991 Gulf War, he said, was how little useful intelligence was being received on the front lines. Over the past 15 years, he said, there has been a concerted effort to reverse that and “push as much information as far forward as possible — which means putting it in a secret channel that almost everybody has access to — in uniform and, obviously, many civilians as well.”
Gates said he wants troops in remote forward operating bases to have the information they need. One thing that leaders will need to discuss, he said, is “should we change the way we approach that, or … do we continue to take the risk?”