WikiLeaks disclosures are criminal: White House

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said US President Barack Obama had been was briefed on the issue and did not rule out when asked if the Obama Administration is considering taking legal action against WikiLeaks itself.

"The stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime," Gibbs told reporters at his daily news conference.

"It is obvious, though, that serious controls and oversight have to be in place in order to balance, the need to know and the need to share.

He said the Department of Defense has made it much more difficult for somebody to get access to and to copy and move both this type and this volume of information, disabling the ability to, for instance, plug in a thumb drive or a CD and copy vast amounts of information, limiting the access to certain documents based rank, greater oversight.

"That does not, however, change the fact that we have a series of problems that have to be addressed on the world stage, and that without -- it is hard to imagine progress on those issues without American leadership moving those forward," he said.

"I do not believe that the release of these documents impacts our ability to conduct a foreign policy that moves our interests forward and addresses both regional and global concerns about the issues that threaten this world," he said.

He said there is an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information.

"I know the administration -- or I should say, administration-wide, we are looking at a whole host of things," he said.

"I think obviously it was a very serious crime, first and foremost. I don't think anybody would stand here and tell you this isn't a concern about security. This is a concern that... some of these information could contain names of people that are working with our government to help on issues like human rights, on issues of democracy in places where those aren't so easy to work on," Gibbs said.

But, he said the US cannot afford to let it greatly impact its ability to pursue a foreign policy that is in its interest.

"And I think we have touched on and we have talked about several issues: counterterrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons -- a whole host of things that demand our attention, demand our engagement and will continue to receive it," Gibbs said.

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