US worried over damage Wikileaks expose could cause

Robert Gates, US defence secretary, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US` joint chiefs of staff, have expressed concern about the potential damage the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks could do.

Last Updated: Aug 02, 2010, 18:08 PM IST

Washington: Robert Gates, US defence secretary, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US` joint chiefs of staff, have expressed concern about the potential damage the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks could do after it released nearly 92,000 secret military documents pertaining to the Afghanistan war.

Wikileaks is morally "guilty" for its decision, Gates said, adding that he was "mortified" and "appalled" by the release.

An estimated 92,000 secret US military records about the war in Afghanistan were leaked to the media by Wikileaks. They were published by The New York Times, The Guardian and German weekly Der Spiegel.

The documents span parts of two US administrations and "illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the US has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001".

Gates said the need to protect sources is "sacrosanct" and WikiLeaks showed "no sense of responsibility".

"There are two areas of culpability. One is legal culpability. And that`s up to the Justice Department and others. That`s not my arena. But there`s also a moral culpability. And that`s where I think the verdict is guilty on WikiLeaks," Gates was quoted as saying by Fox News.

"They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences."

Mullen, meanwhile, said some of the US` Afghan sources could be killed as a result of the leak, and that the publication of the information could endanger people, operations and "outcomes".

The Taliban have said they are examining the names in the documents, Mullen said.

"The potential for costing us lives I think is significant," Mullen said, adding that the US government is trying to protect its Afghan informants.

IANS