Washington: The Pentagon has sought the assistance of FBI into its investigation of the illegal leakage of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks on the American war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
"Yesterday, I called FBI Director Robert Mueller and asked for the FBI`s assistance in our investigation as a partner," Defence 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 Defence 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.
"This department (Pentagon) is conducting a thorough, aggressive investigation to determine how this leak occurred, to identify the person or persons responsible, and to assess the content of the information compromised," Gates told reporters.
The assistance sought from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is in addition to the aggressive investigation being launched by the Department of Defence 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.
The 91,000 classified documents leaked to WikiLeaks emerged in press reports on Sunday, prompting outrage from the White House and the Pentagon over worries they could expose sources and methods about operations in Afghanistan and put lives in danger.
The documents are largely old, covering the period from 2004 to 2009, and contain material that has already been in the public domain. But they also reveal details about the nature of military and intelligence operations.
On US’ image
Leaked US documents on the Afghan war has not only endangered lives of the US troops in Afghanistan, but also has the potential to damage America`s relationship with its allies and its global trustworthiness, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.
"The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world.”
“Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to our adversaries," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.
"This recent massive breach should be a reminder to all entrusted with US secrets that there are potentially dramatic and grievously harmful consequences of violations of trust and responsibility.”
Noting that he has spent most of his life in the intelligence business, where the sacrosanct principle is protecting one sources, Gates said that involves one sources trusting one to protect them and to protect their identities.
"That is one of the worst aspects of this, as far as I`m concerned: Will people trust us? Will people whose lives are on the line trust us to keep their identities secret? Will other governments trust us to keep their documents and their intelligence secret?" he said.
"You know, it`s a funny thing, and especially for a so-called realist, but it`s amazing how much trust matters in relationships, whether it`s with governments or with individuals around the world," Gates said.
"It seems to me that, as a result of this massive breach of security, we have considerable repair work to do in terms of reassuring people and rebuilding trust because they -- clearly, people are going to feel at risk," he noted.
The defence secretary said the US has conversation with other governments beyond just Afghanistan and Pakistan in this regard. "But, frankly, I`m not familiar with the details of that," he said.