August 1st, 2010
12:12 PM ET
4 years ago

Gates: Posting classified war documents was morally wrong

Defense Secretary Gates, left, and Adm. Mullen, right, both spoke out Sunday about the recent disclosure of classified military documents by Wikileaks.
Defense Secretary Gates, left, and Adm. Mullen, right, both spoke out Sunday about the recent disclosure of classified military documents by Wikileaks.

Washington (CNN) - It is up to the Justice Department to determine if there will be criminal charges in the release of classified military documents by WikiLeaks, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday the website is morally guilty for putting lives at risk.

On the ABC program "This Week," Gates declared himself "mortified" and "appalled" over the public dissemination of 76,000 documents that detailed military operations in Afghanistan.

"If I'm angry it is because I believe this information puts those in Afghanistan who have helped us at risk," Gates said, citing a Taliban statement that it would seek out informants and other collaborators exposed by the documents.

He said the issue involved two areas of culpability – legal and moral.

While the Department of Justice will decide on the legal questions, "there's also a moral culpability, and that's where I think WikiLeaks is guilty," Gates said.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also cited the Taliban's threat to sources named in the leaked documents, saying the United States had a "moral obligation" to protect their safety.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • issues • Mike Mullen • Robert Gates
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. clwyd

    What is wrong is to lie to the american public about the deaths of thousands of Afghanistan civilian deaths and not expect it to have a negative effect on the war. An Illegal War!
    If we let our military loose we will be at war with most of the world, Cuba, Argentina, North Korea and Iran just to name a few. We need to stop our out of control military AND TIE THEIR HANDS!!

    August 1, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  2. steven harnack

    So if it's morally wrong to release the documents because Afghanis may be killed then it must be morally horrendous to actually kill them because they happen to be in the way of our military operations.

    August 1, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. La Piovra

    I note that the founder of Wikileaks stated that it was sad if those whose names were published were tortured and murdered by the Taliban, but he had to make a point and they were collateral damage. Breitbart said it was too bad if Shirley Sherrod was harmed by his malicious fabrication, but he had to make a point, and she was collateral damage. The Republican Caucus regrets if millions of people are left starving and homeless by their stonewalling relief measures, but they have to make a point and the "small people" are collateral damage. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam... Might there be a problem with the very concept of collateral damage?

    August 1, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  4. marxist dogs are out of control

    No one is asking who handed the documents to wikileaks. No doubt it was someone very close Obama. That person, and any accomplices within the Obama Administration, should be hung by their necks on the mall in front of the White House if found guilty. That would be a warning to others in the Obama administration that think treason is just community organizing hijinx.

    August 1, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Lee Bartholomew

    Think it's time for Gates to leave. He is a Republican at heart a carry over from Bush. Because if your calling someone who won an award from amnesty internation morally corrupt, you must have a black heart.

    August 1, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. snow

    Typical response from liberals. All they want to do is have other peoples money spent on themselves and bad mouth the US and its military. Having liberals in charge as they have been for the last 17 months has put this country into financial ruin. You cannot blame this debt and deficit on President Bush because this comic in chief and a liberal congress and senate has spent more money than President Bush did in only 17 months and they want to spend more.

    August 1, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Dan

    This demonstrates the loop sided logic of the left. They oppose US wars, as did Obama before elected (in order to get elected). But, the fact that the enemy is a women killer, child abuser, immoral terror supporter is hidden from the logic. These guys will go after anything western in the name of some "left logic" and will support extreme positions against anyone who is not on the extreme low life side (terror, fanatic islamists, and so on). I guess "left logic" is an oxymoron.

    August 1, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. John Hennessy Black

    What would Gates know about morality?

    The American people need to know the atrocities committed during our illegal (2) wars; and just because 19 individuals attacked us on 9/11 doesn't give us any moral or legal authority to kill millions of innocent brown skinned people in the mid-east.

    August 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. vic

    Obama’s smart moves are secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates
    About these Wiki leaks right and right media would called for defense secretary resignation if Robert Gates not a defense secretary.
    World know what is going in Afghan this leaks add fuel to that no questions about that. We need to avoid war
    In Sri Lanka’s civil war Srilankan government killed its own innocent citizens Knowingly in the name of terrorist that was bad
    I know our military avoid civilian casualties

    August 1, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. goofus

    Back in the old days before America was hijacked by the leftist in our midst, divulging classified material during war time would have been TREASON and a firing squad ! Nowadays in leftist twisted logic it is patriotic to blaspheme and work against America because all except liberals are stupid or evil !

    August 1, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Progressive from Texas

    As a career military person and experienced with classified information I have a strong opinion regarding this issue. The individual who leaked this information performed a subversive act intended to undermine the leadership of the Army he was sworn to defend. This is treason during a time of war. Most of the world's military would reward this treasonous behavior with a firing squad. I would hope we'll put his disloyal butt in Fort Leavenworth Federal Confinement Facility where he can spend about twenty years reading letters of support from others who have foolishly picked-up this cause – as if he were a loyal soldier defending the Country.

    August 1, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. manhandler

    He's got to be kidding. The leakers are morally wrong? What about all the innocents, men women and children dead because of this obscene and preposterous war being run by a military and a Government who are completely and astonishingly without morals whatsoever? All these people who are responsible for this tragedy are guilty of crimes against humanity.

    August 1, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    John Hennessy Black August 1st, 2010 12:51 pm ET
    What would Gates know about morality?

    ... just because 19 individuals attacked us on 9/11 doesn't give us any moral or legal authority to kill millions of innocent brown skinned people in the mid-east.
    ________________________________________________________
    No. The Taliban's deliberate decision to provide support for the terrorist organization that did this and thousands of other horrific senseless murders does give us the right to defend the innocent. Apparently Gates knows more about morality than you do.

    August 1, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Larry

    Morally wrong to expose the lies that are told to the American people ??

    Morally wrong because it MIGHT get someone killed, but it's OK to kill people and lie about it ??

    How morally wrong is it to not know where nearly 9 billion dollars of Iraqi oil money went ??

    How morally wrong is it to lie, so as to start a war in Iraq ??

    How morally wrong is it for the Republicans to hold up our Senate and Congress, for their own political agendas while our country and our people suffer ???

    How morally wrong was it, that the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 murders of over 3000 Americans in the effort to start the war in Iraq ??

    How morally wrong was it to have the Supreme Court GIVE Bush the election in 2000, which led to his administration raping this country and it's people, so that the rich could get richer

    You want to talk about MORALS ?????

    I'll take Wiki Leaks any day, compared to the disgusting Republican party and it's HYPOCRITES .....

    August 1, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. BILL, WI

    PFC Manning should spend the next 70 years in Gitmo. Let him have the privilege of being the last Taliban sympathizer to leave that prison. The information he released could in all probability lead to the deaths of informants. That is the chance he took, he lost. And so did the informants whose names were in the documents.

    August 1, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. MatthewDetroit

    The Soldier involved should be shot for Treason pure and simple.

    This should not be tolerated.

    US soldiers and agents will die in the middle east because of this private.

    August 1, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. ib

    You people call these ILLEGAL Wars; congress approved them just illegal in your minds because you don't agree with them I guess. By the way if they are illegal then both Bush and Obama are to be blamed since Obama has continued them.

    August 1, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. keeth in california

    I don't defend WikiLeaks, but when it comes to moral failings, we as a country have only to look in the mirror. We ignored Afghanistan for years and lost Osama in favor of Bush's Folly in Iraq.

    August 1, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Ben

    clwyd – "If we let our military loose we will be at war with most of the world, Cuba, Argentina, North Korea and Iran just to name a few. We need to stop our out of control military AND TIE THEIR HANDS!!"

    Did it ever occur to you that our military is fighting to protect the freedoms you enjoy, including the freedom to say the stupid stuff you're saying? Only a Liberal would be stupid enough to openly advocate tieing our Military's hands. I'm sure glad you're not in charge.

    August 1, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. bill

    wikileaks are guilto of nothing but trying to get the truth out.if u.s. warlords have anything that wikileaks did or is doing wrong then get it out there.apparently they dont or they would be denieing it. SUPPORT OUR TROOPS BRING THEM HOME NOW.THIS IS A NO WIN.FOR AMERICA. COME ON WIKILEAKS WE NEED MORE.WAKE YP AMERICA.OUT OF AFGANASTAN NOW.

    August 1, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Cybersport

    Those who published this information are in fact heroes. It is up to the media to decide if the information risks American lives... not a military officer or S of D who is trying to avoid being embrassed.

    August 1, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Ben

    John Hennessy Black – "The American people need to know the atrocities committed during our illegal (2) wars; and just because 19 individuals attacked us on 9/11 doesn't give us any moral or legal authority to kill millions of innocent brown skinned people in the mid-east."

    This has to be one of the most profoundly stupid statements I've ever seen posted here. So you're OK with 3,000 of our citizens dying on 9/11? Where's your moral outrage over that? You're OK with 19 Islamic terrorists coming onto our soil and killing our people? If you honestly believe that you, like the rest of you Liberal idiot robots, are morally bankrupt.

    Atrocities? 9/11 wasn't an atrocity? What about all those atrocities committed every day by those who seek to destroy us? You have a warped sense of reality and need to stay as far away from a polling place as possible.

    August 1, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Larry

    Gates and Mullen are two flunkies left over from the Bush administration, and who are getting wealthy from kickbacks from the defense industry.

    That war is moral; leaking the documents was GOOD!

    August 1, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Fed Up

    It is also treason, in my opinion. The person that pritned them, whoever helped the Army member get the info and encode it, and anyone else that has anything to do with this should be tried for treason. If the Army member was looking for a way out, he surely didn't find it. I can not understand someone who would intentionally put our troops into harms way.

    NOTE TO CLWYD – In case you haven't been instructed on the military, they only do what their CIVILIAN leader (the POTUS) directs them to do.

    August 1, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. CNN=corporate not news

    I don't think Gates or Mullen has a pedestal to stand on when it comes to moral culpability.

    August 1, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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