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WikiLeaks’ Chilling Effect on Information Sharing Overrated, Top DoD Officials Say

Gen. James Cartwright, Robert J. Butler, Michael Leiter; Photo: dod.gov, odni.gov

Despite the uproar over the recent WikiLeaks disclosures, which included sensitive and, in some cases, embarrassing information, top Defense Department officials say DoD shouldn’t rethink information sharing anytime soon.

Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, who is also the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said information sharing offered the United States a “competitive advantage.”

“What we’ve found in many of the cases to be our competitive advantage on the battlefield is getting as much knowledge to the edge as you can and not knowing exactly on any given day or on any given transaction what knowledge is going to be important,” the Pentagon’s No. 2 uniformed officer said this week at the National Press Club, according to a report on Federal Times.

Robert J. Butler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, said information sharing in the military and even among other agencies will continue.

“Commanders in the field recognize . . . it’s really about coalition warfighting, and it’s about sharing information with partners,” he said.

But, Butler stressed, there will be more controls placed on the information.

As early as last week, as the WikiLeaks disclosures were made public, some observers predicted a chilling effect for information sharing.

National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter said WikiLeaks had forced agencies in the Intelligence Community “to at least re-examine information sharing and ensure that we are still getting the right information to the right people.”

“But,” he added, “we are not getting excess information to the people who really don’t need it.”

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