Foreign Policy Blogs

Wikileak Damage: From Secretary Gates to Speaker Pelosi

After Faheem poignantly detailed President Karzai’s disapproval of the Wikileaks document leak, we now have Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ strong reaction from the incident:

“I’m not sure anger is the right word. I just — I think mortified, appalled,” Gates said.

“And if I’m angry, it is because I believe that this 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,” he said. “You know, growing up in the intelligence business, protecting your sources is sacrosanct.”

Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen also spoke on the issue. Gates accusations appear to have merit as a spokesman for the Taliban stated that they will use the leaked documents to find and punish Afghans who helped NATO or the Kabul government. Gates’ Pentagon is doing the opposite, searching the documents for the names of Afghan participants who may need immediate protection.

The leader of Wikileaks has come under increasing fire for these leaks and the United States Department of Justice is looking into ways it can legally go after him. He deserves all the heat coming to him. Also culpable is the three major newspapers that published the reports. Though they were much more careful with the classified information they still published secret information that the US government told them not to. Even worse, they gave Wikileaks the attention it craved and legitimized the organization by basically partnering with it on this story.

The impact of these released documents will only truly be known as time passes, but it definitely does not help the war effort and likely causes more Americans to view the American presence with suspicion. President Obama’s base on the left, including several US Congress members, have used this latest incident to question the President’s current strategy. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been very shaky in her support for the Afghan war effort and this didn’t change when she came onto ABC’s Sunday morning talk show yesterday:

“How does this figure into our protecting the American people? Is it worth it?” Pelosi asked rhetorically.

“Is it worth it?” Amanpour repeated pointedly. “Is it worth it?”

“That is the question,” Pelosi replied.

“But that’s my question to you,” Amanpour pressed.

“Well we will, as I said, we will see the metrics as they unfold in the next few months,” the Speaker said.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement! President Obama had better hope (even better use some political capital on the issue) that he has more steadfast friends from his own Party than Mrs. Speaker.