Department of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced he has asked the FBI to help Pentagon authorities investigate the leak of the classified documents published by WikiLeaks.
During a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, condemned WikiLeaks’ release of 90,000 classified battlefiend reports. Mullen said those who leaked the documents to WikiLeaks and those who decided to publish them may have blood on their hands. He also questioned the motive of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to publish the leaked documents.
“Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family,” Mullen said.
Gates said the documents that have been posted are old, and cover material already well known and debated. However, intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to U.S. adversaries, the secretary said.
“These documents represent a mountain of raw data and individual impressions, most several years old, devoid of context or analysis,” Gates said. “They do not represent official positions or policy. And they do not, in my view, fundamentally call into question the efficacy of our current strategy in Afghanistan and its prospects for success.”
DoD officials will conduct a thorough and aggressive investigation to determine how this leak occurred, to identify who is responsible and to assess the content of the information compromised, Gates said.
Calling on the FBI to aid the investigation ensures the department will have all the resources needed to investigate and assess this breach of national security, the secretary said, noting that use of the bureau ensures the investigation can go wherever it needs to go.
DoD also is tightening procedures for accessing and transporting classified information.
“As a general proposition, we endeavor to push access to sensitive battlefield information down to where it is most useful – on the front lines – where, as a practical matter, there are fewer restrictions and controls than at rear headquarters,” Gates said. “In the wake of this incident, it will be a real challenge to strike the right balance between security and providing our frontline troops the information they need.”