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

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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid