News / USA

White House: Leaked Documents Real, Pose Potential Threat; No New Broad Revelations

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 26 Jul 2010
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 26 Jul 2010

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +

The White House says tens of thousands of documents from the war in Afghanistan, released by the WikiLeaks website and published in major newspapers, could place U.S. and coalition forces and others in greater danger.  The subject dominated Monday's White House news briefing.

The documents, secret field reports covering the period from 2004 to 2009, which were published by major newspapers in the United States, Britain and Germany, paint a sometimes grim picture of the challenges facing U.S. and NATO forces.

Major revelations include the use of heat-seeking missiles by Taliban forces, problems with U.S.-operated unmanned aerial drones, indications of ongoing high-level Pakistani cooperation with the Taliban and unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings.

President Barack Obama's chief spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to describe Mr. Obama's reaction when he learned of the disclosure.  He said the disclosure could be potentially harmful and that an investigation is underway.

"Whenever you have the potential for names and for operations and for programs to be out there in the public domain besides being against the law has the potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are cooperating with our military and those that are working to keep us safe," said Robert Gibbs.

In an initial reaction on Sunday, President Obama's National Security Adviser, retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Jones said disclosure of the documents could put the lives of Americans and allied partners in Afghanistan at risk, and threaten U.S. national security.   

Gibbs said the White House was aware of the coming disclosure last week and notified relevant congressional committees.  But he downplayed suggestions that the White House set out to contain any resulting "political damage."

Gibbs said officials passed a message through writers at The New York Times newspaper to the head of WikiLeaks, asking that information that could harm personnel or threaten operations or security be redacted.   

At a separate event later focusing on a legislative issue, President Obama declined to respond to questions shouted by reporters about the Afghanistan documents.

The White House and State Department took similar approaches in responding to questions about the significance of the leaked materials.

State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley had this response to reporters asking about the picture the documents paint of Pakistan's commitment to the war on extremism.

"Pakistan has taken significant steps," said P.J. Crowley. "The offensives in [the] Swat [Valley] and South Waziristan are strong indicators that Pakistan has come to recognize that insurgent groups that are, in fact, within the borders of Pakistan pose a threat not just to Afghanistan, the U.S., but [also] fundamentally to Pakistan itself.  So we do believe that Pakistan has undertaken a fundamental strategic shift."

Pressed about his description that the leaked documents contain no revelations, Gibbs said this when asked by a reporter whether they suggest that the war in Afghanistan is "too far gone" to be corrected by changes in strategy under President Obama.

"Nobody is here to declare mission accomplished," he said. "You have not heard that phrase uttered or emitted by us as a way of saying that everything is going well.  Understand this, that we got involved in this region of the world after September 11 [, 2001]. And then for years and years and years and years, this area was neglected.  It was under-resourced; it was under-funded.  That is what led the president to say that what we needed to do is to focus on what was going on in Afghanistan.  That is why we are here."

The chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, said that while troubling, the leaked reports pre-date President Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan.  They should not be used, Skelton says, as a measure of success or a determining factor in the U.S. mission there.

On the implication that elements in Pakistan continue to aid the Taliban and fuel the Afghan insurgency, Skelton said it is critical not to use outdated reports to paint a picture of Pakistani cooperation.  

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry noted the illegal nature of the documents' disclosure, but he added that "they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Describing President Obama's policy in the region as being at a critical stage, Kerry said the documents might make it more urgent to make changes to get the policy right.

Related video report by Mil Arcega:

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid