Obama says WikiLeaks disclosure is reason for concern but doesn't reveal new issues
Tuesday, July 27, 2010; 5:17 PM
President Obama said Tuesday that the Afghanistan war documents leaked this week raise no fundamentally new issues about the conflict but added that their disclosure "could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations."
Obama's remarks, his first on the topic, came as the Pentagon announced it is launching a criminal probe -- led by the Army -- to discover the source of the leak, in which 92,000 documents were posted on WikiLeaks.org.
Col. Dave Lapan said the inquiry will be run by the Army's criminal investigative division and will be conducted as an extension of the investigation into whether Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning provided other material to WikiLeaks.
Manning is "not the only person that they would look at," Lapan said. "They would look at wherever the evidence took them."
Lapan also said that the disclosures are not prompting the Pentagon to change its network security policy. He said the military places "a great deal of trust" in individuals who are granted security clearance. "As a part of that they understand their obligations to protect the information they are given access to," he said. "If they violate that trust, they can be criminally charged. Providing classified information to those not authorized to receive it is a felony."
The White House has responded critically to the release. "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," national security adviser James Jones said in a statement Sunday.
Jones called the leaks "irresponsible" and said the White House only learned from news organizations that the documents would be posted online.
Obama said Tuesday that the leaked material underscores the reasons that he ordered a shift in strategy in December, adding troops and implementing new war leadership.
"For seven years we failed to implement a strategy adequate to the challenge," Obama said, noting that his new strategy offered an increased commitment of troops and insisted on greater accountability from the government.
In his comments, Obama urged Congress to pass legislation to provide the "necessary funding" for the Afghanistan war, saying "now we have to see that strategy through."
The Senate has already passed the emergency war spending bill. Obama urged the House to do the same during a vote expected Tuesday afternoon.