Pentagon seeks FBI assistance in WikiLeaks investigation

Pentagon seeks FBI assistance in WikiLeaks investigation

"Yesterday, I called FBI Director Robert Mueller and asked for the FBI's assistance in our investigation as a partner," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing yesterday.

"It is important that we have all the resources we need to investigate and assess this breach of national security," he said, adding the Department of Defense is taking action to prevent a repeat of such a breach, to include tightening procedures for accessing and transporting classified information.

"My basic position, though, is the investigation should go wherever it needs to go. And one of the reasons that I asked the director of the FBI to partner with us in this is to ensure that it can go wherever it needs to go," he said.

The assistance sought from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is in addition to the aggressive investigation being launched by the Department of Defense to determine how this leak occurred, to identify the person or persons responsible, and to assess the content of the information compromised.

"We have a moral responsibility to do everything possible to mitigate the consequences for our troops and our partners downrange, especially those who have worked with and put their trust in us in the past, who now may be targeted for retribution," Gates said.
"These documents represent a mountain of raw data and individual impressions, most several years old, devoid of context or analysis. They do not represent official positions or policy. And they do not, in my view, fundamentally call into question the efficacy of our current strategy in Afghanistan and its prospects for success," he said.

As a general proposition, Gates said the Department of Defense endeavour to push access to sensitive battlefield information down to where it is most useful -- on the front lines -- where as a practical matter there are fewer restrictions and controls than at rear headquarters.

"In the wake of this incident, it will be a real challenge to strike the right balance between security and providing our frontline troops the information they need," he said.

"The US military's success over the years rests on the abilities and integrity of its men and women in uniform and our trust in them.

This trust is represented by the fact that, relative to our countries' armed forces, our military culture is one that on the battlefield places great responsibility on the shoulders of even junior service members, to include entrusting them with sensitive information.
The American way of war depends upon it," he said.

"But to earn and maintain that trust, we must all be responsible in handling, protecting and safeguarding our nation's secrets.

For years there has been what I would call appropriate criticism of excessive classification and over classification of information," he said.

"However, this recent release of documents is a pointed reminder that much secret information is treated as such to protect sources of information, to protect the lives of our men and women in uniform, to deny our enemies the information about our military operations, and to preserve our relationships with friends and allies," he said.

"I am appalled by this behaviour, and, frankly, outraged that anyone in their right mind would think it valuable to make public even one sensitive report, let alone tens of thousands of them, about a war that is being waged," said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same news conference.

"Yes, the documents are old and essentially raw inputs to our intelligence and operations apparatus.

And yes, much of what has been revealed has already been commonly understood by the public or otherwise covered in the media.

"I can assure you, having just come from visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, that none of what I've seen posted online or reported in the press affects our overarching strategy," he said.

"Frankly, that's not why this is so destructive. The sheer size and scope of the collection now demands a careful review to determine the degree to which future tactical operations may be impacted, and the degree to which the lives of our troops and Afghan partners may be at risk.

I think we always need to be mindful of the unknown potential for damage in any particular document that we handle," he said.

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