USA — Pentagon Assesses ‘Leaked’ Documents

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2010 — The Pen­ta­gon today con­demned the actions of the group, which released thou­sands of clas­si­fied U.S. mil­i­tary doc­u­ments on its web­site last night.

“The leak­ing of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion is some­thing we take very seri­ous­ly,” Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman, told reporters today.

“We are in the process right now of assess­ing the doc­u­ments,” Lapan added.

The doc­u­ments, report­ed­ly giv­en to sev­er­al U.S. and inter­na­tion­al media weeks ago, are said to detail field reports from Afghanistan, as well as Pak­istan rela­tion­ships with the Tal­iban. The more than 90,000 doc­u­ments cov­er the peri­od from Jan­u­ary 2004 through Decem­ber 2009, accord­ing to news reports.

The Pen­ta­gon has yet to con­firm the impact of the reports, as it’s still ear­ly in the assess­ment process, Lapan said.

“As they are made avail­able, we will be look­ing at them to try to deter­mine poten­tial dam­age to lives of our ser­vice­mem­bers and our coali­tion part­ners; whether they reveal sources in meth­ods and any poten­tial dam­age to nation­al secu­ri­ty,” he said. “Since this was just released last night, we’re still in the process going through that assess­ment.”

Of the reports the Pen­ta­gon has seen, they fall into a cat­e­go­ry of basic, unit-lev­el report­ing, Lapan said.

“We’ve only seen a frac­tion of the doc­u­ments that are report­ed to be out there, so until we get a look at all of them, we can’t know exact­ly what the extent of the dam­age may be,” he said.

It could take the Pen­ta­gon weeks to make such deter­mi­na­tions, Lapan said. But much of what the Pen­ta­gon has dis­cov­ered ear­ly in the inves­ti­ga­tion is that the doc­u­ments are clas­si­fied at a “secret” lev­el, and not “top-secret,” which is reserved for more sen­si­tive mate­r­i­al, he said.

The dis­closed doc­u­ments reveal “the type of report­ing that goes on at the tac­ti­cal lev­el on a rou­tine basis,” the colonel said, not­ing exam­ples such as road­side bomb inci­dences, civil­ian and mil­i­tary casu­al­ty reports and intel­li­gence and infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing.

“There’s noth­ing we’ve seen so far that is par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant,” Lapan added.

At this point, he said, the Pen­ta­gon is con­cen­trat­ing on the infor­ma­tion that’s been made pub­lic, and is not inves­ti­gat­ing the source of the leak. Lapan explained that any num­ber of mil­i­tary and civil­ian defense employ­ees have access to such doc­u­ments.

Also, the Pen­ta­gon is not look­ing to lim­it the num­ber of peo­ple with access to “secret” mate­r­i­al, he said.

“We have lots of sys­tems in place,” Lapan said. “And at the very top of that is the respon­si­bil­i­ty that those who are entrust­ed with access to that type of infor­ma­tion pro­tect that from unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sure.”

The Pen­ta­gon, how­ev­er, will even­tu­al­ly attempt to nar­row down the source of the leak, he said. How­ev­er, Lapan could not dis­close whether a for­mal inves­ti­ga­tion on the mat­ter would take place.

“As we’ve said, we put a great deal of trust and con­fi­dence in indi­vid­u­als not to betray their oath to their coun­try,” Lapan said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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