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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs