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 News Article

WikiLeaks Has Yet to Contact ‘Competent Authorities’

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2010 – The operators of a website that published tens of thousands of classified documents have contacted no “competent authorities” in the Defense Department, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

WikiLeaks already has released 90,000 classified documents, and the site’s publisher said he plans to release about 15,000 more.

“Those documents should be returned,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “There should be no further posting of these classified documents, and those that have been posted should be removed.”

The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI are conducting an investigation into the leak of the documents.

WikiLeaks officials have attempted to use the media as an intermediary, “but the Defense Department has had no direct contact with WikiLeaks,” Whitman said.

In any event, the Defense Department is not interested in negotiating with the organization, Whitman said, noting that it’s simply against the law to release classified documents. If Defense Department officials participated in trying to sanitize or redact these documents, he said, they still would be guilty of releasing classified documents.

“These documents are property of the United States government,” Whitman said. “The unauthorized release of them threatens the lives of coalition forces, as well as Afghan nationals. All should be returned immediately, they should be removed from the Web, there should be no further posting of them to the Web, and all data bases containing them should be destroyed.”

Defense Department officials are analyzing the leaked documents to try to minimize the risk to coalition forces and to Afghans who worked with the coalition, Whitman said, though he would not get into specifics.

Another danger of the leaks is the possibility that commands may safeguard information and intelligence so much that those who need it won’t get it, Whitman noted.

“There is a balance to make sure that all the available intelligence is accessible where it needs to be accessible,” Whitman said. “But there should be safeguards, too, to preclude or mitigate instances where people may be acting in an improper, unauthorized or even illegal way.”

Intelligence is a tool that young servicemembers must have to carry out their missions, he added.

“Anything that we do as we assess the situation here and learn lessons from this will always be balanced with the imperative that our forces on the ground need to have access to the best information that we can provide them,” he said.


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Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

8/21/2010 2:13:55 PM
I wonder if there is a 'secret' list of incompetent officials at the Pentagon that needs to be leaked. Maybe they are rapists too?
- american person, usa

8/20/2010 1:30:51 AM
1 We don't pay enough for our privacy. Pay enough to people who have the character we need for the job. 2 It is too easy to get data out. Spend time breaking our security before someone else does. 3 Sensitive data should be encrypted? We can't safeguard sensitive data from a wiki? 4. Is the data sensitive? Isn't there a crew shutting down the site? Are we just screwed? Unless you are also sharing your private info to whomever wants to see it, on a wiki, I don't care what your opinion of open information is. I mean All your plans & All your thoughts and schemes. - Who you are chasing after at work - what you REALLY think of your boss - when you plan to take your bosses job - how long you plan to string out your debt. And if you aren't a legal U. S. citizen, you've no business judging until you work out your own kinks. Oh. There is no world government. Not yet anyhow. *shivers*
- Jeffrey, U.S.

8/19/2010 5:00:16 PM
I can't believe how careless WikiLeaks is with people's lives. If they want to spill the beans on Lady Gaga's next outfit before the show fine, but publishing CLASSIFIED documents that basically tell the enemy where to attack crosses the line. It's blatant disregard of the US government and its laws. I had enough worries about shipping out, now there's rating crazed people that don't mind jeopardizing my life and others
- Jeremy, GA

8/19/2010 4:53:10 PM
Jason- I'm pretty sure 'these people who have done this' that John Ward referred to are Dept of Defense officials, not those trying to protect free speech.
- Michael McCollough, waterloo, Iowa

8/19/2010 3:21:00 PM
The sense I get from all this is that DOD has no idea what its doing. Yes its all political now. However, what they need to do now (if they want to harvest their reputation) is seriously rethink how they teach OPSEC. Because obviously there is a breakdown.
- SorXthan, alaska

8/19/2010 2:25:36 PM
If you by these people mean the ones who run the Wikileaks organization then they are not yours to prosecute! My guess is that many if not most are not american citisens. I think it is time for full disclosure! If you can't stand the heat, stay out of kitchen! If the US truly believe in the righteousness of this war they should divulge any and all (with names blanked perhaps to protect sources' lives) information that is the right of the american people!
- Spinoza, The world

8/19/2010 1:11:29 PM
If the DoD is as interested in protecting the lives of its Afgan sources as it says, perhaps it should work with Wikileaks on what info it needs redacting. It's obviously going to get released "as is" if no effort is made. No threats or quibbling over who's contacted who is going to stop it. p.s. Contrary to this statement, they have released 75,000 so far. The next 15,000 will make it 90,000.
- Domenick, Florida

8/19/2010 12:40:32 PM I totally agree with the last poster. Yes, freedom of information is great, but not at the expense of our men and women out there.
- Jason, U.S.A.

8/19/2010 12:14:25 PM
It feels like the DoD is being deceitful with its words. First there was 'no contact', then 'no direct contact', now 'no contact with competent authorities'. It reeks of trying to manipulate me, as a reader, which subsequently negates the assumption of truthfulness in other DoD statements.
- Anonymous Coward, Phoenix, AZ

8/19/2010 12:14:23 PM
Guess DoD's General Counsel is apparently an "incompetent authority"? v.
- Me, Oregon

8/19/2010 11:41:17 AM
Couldn't the intelligence services submit a file containing offsets for material they would want redacted privately to WikiLeaks? I am sure WikiLeaks would honor it, and it would be a great tactical move if one wants to reduce the risk of afghan informants getting their cover blown. I understand that this isn't politically correct, but I believe a pragmatic and multi-pronged response is in everybody's interest. And I am 100% sure it would be possible without violating operational security. In the worst case it is better to be safe than sorry.
- foreigner, europe

8/18/2010 2:37:21 PM
These people who have done this should be prosecuted for treason for endangering the lives of military personel.
- John Mark Ward, LAS VEGAS, NV.

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