- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Pentagon’s top official says that WikiLeaks is morally guilty for releasing classified U.S. documents on the Afghan war, saying that he was “mortified” by the leak and its potential to harm U.S. troops and their Afghan allies.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that while the Justice Department and other agencies are investigating the legal ramifications of the leaks, WikiLeaks also faces “moral culpability.”

“And that’s where I think the verdict is guilty on WikiLeaks,” Mr. Gates said on ABC’s “This Week” program broadcast Sunday. “They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences.”

Mr. Gates said the information puts “those in Afghanistan who have helped us at risk; it puts our soldiers at risk because our adversaries can learn a lot about our techniques, tactics and procedures from the body of these leaked documents.”

The secretary added that “protecting your sources is sacrosanct” in a war theater.

Mr. Gates said the soldier accused of leaking the documents, who was working as an Army intelligence officer in Iraq, wouldn’t have been able to do so if he wasn’t stationed in the field.

“Had whoever did this tried to do it at a rear headquarters overseas or pretty much anywhere in the U.S., we have controls in place that would’ve allowed us to detect it,” he said.

Changes in intelligence gathering in recent years that has focused on putting “as much information in intelligence as far forward to the soldiers (in the field) as we possibly can” has created potential security-breach problems.

But Mr. Gates said that while the Pentagon will review the policy, placing too many restrictions on access to classified intelligence could deny front-line troops critical information.

“My bias is against that,” he said. “I want those kids out there to have all the information they can have.”

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