It seems like the story of the WikiLeaks- the Swedish based website responsible for releasing over 75,000 pages of secret U.S. military papers- is just beginning. The U.S. Department of Defense has demanded that WikiLeaks hand over all secret documents, and purge all existing copies, including those already posted.
“We want whatever they have returned to us and we want whatever copies they have expunged,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters, including those from Businessweek.
“We demand that they do the right thing,” he said. “If doing the right thing is not good enough for them, then we will figure out what alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing.”
Since WikiLeaks published the materials that they claim were received anonymously, the reaction to the information has been mixed. Some claim that the papers offer a necessary look at the reality of the fighting in Afghanistan, and that as a democracy we need to know the truth in order to fully support or oppose our involvement. Others have called the publication of the papers irresponsible and damaging to national security. Many have even said that the release of the documents endangers the soldiers, as well as any Afghan supporters, many of which were mentioned by name in the reports and may have subsequently been targeted by the Taliban.
The investigation into the leak that originally gave the papers to the website continues. This week, Adrian Lamo, the hacker-turned-journalist that originally tipped off the Pentagon to the possible involvement of Pfc. Bradley Manning, announced that the Army Intelligence private may have been helped by two MIT student. Manning has been charged with multiple counts of mishandling and leaking classified information, as well as jeopardizing national security. He is currently being held in solitaire in a Virginia prison.
Morrell also told reporters that a group of 80 dedicated intelligence personnel have been scouring through the papers nonstop since their release in order to look for any areas of “particular concern”, although he was not willing to go as far as stating that the papers have specifically cost lives.
“If you are saying to me ‘do we know of any instance when a name has been exposed and that person has been killed’ — no,” he said. “We are still working through it,” he said. “We are not ready to make pronouncements.”
Morrell did however say that the documents gave an opportunity to “look at how we do business and start to do pattern analysis, how we cultivate sources, how we move, how we engage,” he said. “You learn potentially damaging things about how we work.”
Morrell further claimed that the secret papers are “stolen property”. WikiLeaks has yet to respond.
“The only rightful owner of these documents is the U.S. government.”