USA — Pentagon Launches Probe into Document Leaks

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2010 — The Pen­ta­gon has launched an inves­ti­ga­tion to find out how thou­sands of clas­si­fied mil­i­tary doc­u­ments were leaked to the group, a Defense Depart­ment spokesman said.

The Army’s Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion Divi­sion, also known as CID, is head­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion, Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told Pen­ta­gon reporters today.

“An inves­ti­ga­tion has been ini­ti­at­ed, [and] Army CID has the lead,” Lapan said.

Hav­ing the Army take charge of the inves­ti­ga­tion does­n’t sug­gest that Army per­son­nel are respon­si­ble for the leaks, Lapan explained. CID was cho­sen for its capa­bil­i­ties in such mat­ters, he said.

“[CID] is an inves­tiga­tive agency that has the abil­i­ty, the capa­bil­i­ty, to do these types of things,” Lapan said. “There are a num­ber of inves­tiga­tive agen­cies [with­in the Pen­ta­gon], but the deci­sion was made that Army CID takes the lead.”

Army CID, he said, also is inves­ti­gat­ing the case of Army Spc. Bradley Man­ning, who has been charged with leak­ing a video of a U.S. heli­copter attack in Iraq to Wik­iLeaks. The doc­u­ment leaks inves­ti­ga­tion is a con­tin­u­a­tion or exten­sion of the exist­ing open inves­ti­ga­tion on Man­ning, Lapan said.

How­ev­er, he added, the doc­u­ment leak inves­ti­ga­tion is “broad­er” than the Man­ning case.

“The cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tion into the leak of the doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks isn’t focused on any one, spe­cif­ic indi­vid­ual,” Lapan said. “It’s much broad­er. They’re going to look every­where to deter­mine what the source may be.”

In an inter­view broad­cast today on a seg­ment of MSNBC’s “The Dai­ly Run­down” tele­vi­sion news show, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said that Man­ning “is a per­son of inter­est with regards to this leak, but we just don’t know at this point.”

Mor­rell said the ques­tion was posed to Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates recent­ly about chang­ing the way the Pen­ta­gon shares infor­ma­tion with uni­formed mem­bers. Gates, he said, does­n’t believe that that sort of adjust­ment is nec­es­sary.

“What makes our mil­i­tary the envy of the world is that we entrust the most-junior offi­cers, the most-junior enlist­ed with incred­i­ble amounts of respon­si­bil­i­ty,” Mor­rell said. “[Gates] does­n’t want to alter that dynam­ic, that trust ele­ment that exists because of one or two ‘bad seeds.’ ”

The answer, Mor­rell said, is “to go after the ‘bad actors,’ hold them respon­si­ble, pros­e­cute them to the fullest extent of the law, but don’t change the fun­da­men­tal trust­ing rela­tion­ship that makes the mil­i­tary so effec­tive.”

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

Mor­rell refut­ed ques­tions about Pak­istan being a ques­tion­able ally, say­ing Pak­istan is a sov­er­eign nation with its own inter­ests. The U.S. mil­i­tary is thank­ful, he said, that Pakistan’s inter­est in elim­i­nat­ing ter­ror­ists coin­cides with that of the Unit­ed States.

“We are aligned in that respect,” Mor­rell said of the U.S.-Pakistan rela­tion­ship. “But we each have our own inter­ests here that we have to bal­ance and work through. We think we’re mak­ing a lot of progress there, but we’re not alone in the driver’s seat.

“As Sec­re­tary Gates says, we’re in the pas­sen­ger seat. They’re at the wheel,” Mor­rell con­tin­ued. “They deter­mine the direc­tion and the pace, but we’re going to be their part­ner in this effort.”

On ques­tions regard­ing the doc­u­ments’ out­lin­ing of mis­cues in Afghanistan, Mor­rell said the Unit­ed States effort there is long term and mov­ing in the right direc­tion. Although civil­ian casu­al­ties there are a con­cern, he said, the num­bers are down by a third this year, while the civil­ian casu­al­ties tak­en at the hands of the Tal­iban has near­ly dou­bled. Mor­rell not­ed “rules of engage­ment” changes U.S. and inter­na­tion­al forces made a year ago when for­mer com­man­der of forces in Afghanistan Army Gen. Stan­ley A. McChrys­tal took the helm.

“Gen­er­al McChrys­tal, when he came in, insti­tut­ed this tac­ti­cal direc­tive which has seen civil­ian casu­al­ties, due to our forces and coali­tion forces [efforts], plum­met by a third this year,” Mor­rell said. Mean­while, he said, Afghan civil­ian casu­al­ties caused by the Tal­iban [casu­al­ties] are up by about 90 per­cent.

Turn­ing back to the Wik­iLeaks sit­u­a­tion, Mor­rell not­ed that the Pentagon’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the leaked doc­u­ments con­tin­ues.

“To the issue of whether it’s dam­aged oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty or endan­gered our forces, we’re still try­ing to get our arms around that,” he said. “We’ve got a team work­ing around the clock going through them bit by bit to try to see is there any infor­ma­tion in there that could imper­il our forces, our coali­tion part­ners, the civil­ians who are on the bat­tle­field with us.

“And are there any things in there that could jeop­ar­dize our oper­a­tions or our nation’s secu­ri­ty?” he con­tin­ued. “We just don’t know at this point.”

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

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