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

Gates: Posting classified war documents was morally wrong

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. NVa Native

    There's not a whole lot about war that is moral – bad things happen in war. It is surprising that after nine years of war there's not more negative stuff out there. Have we gotten so complacent that we think war is like a movie script?

    And of course in every possible post there is the ritual of right wing lies that are spread blaming Obama for all of the many Bush/Cheney failures; negligence, the legacy of corruption through political appointments ("doing a heck of a job Brownie"), no-bid contracts, oil companies creating US energy policy behind closed doors with x-oil exec Cheney, rampant conspiracies, over spending, tax subsidies for the elite 2%, two unfunded wars, deregulation promoting corporate welfare, gutting public funding, and many more – will definately lead to raising the taxes of all Americans.
    But go ahead and blame Obama, liberals, Democratic Party for all of the crap the neo-cons did and continue to do, never look in the mirror. Continue to keep Palin's fantasy tiara bright and sparkley, continue to worship the celebrity propoganda of fox media and ditto-land – if that's all you can handle. For some the truth can be hard to handle.

    August 1, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. GonzoinHouston

    There are certain things that really should be kept secret, such as troop movements, plans, and the names of contacts among the enemy. These things are kept secret from the public in order to keep them secret from our enemy. Wiki is absolutely wrong to publish such things.

    On the other hand, a lot of those documents were classified because we did something wrong or dumb or something like the drones didn't really work as well as we thought. These are things that are being held mainly from the public, and Wiki was right to reveal them.

    August 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. JimR Poulsbo

    If we are a nation at war, why isn't the release of classified documents not considered to be treason?

    August 1, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. TonyJustin

    I am a liberal Democrat, but I think it was morally wrong to release those documents as well. Why? Because it is treason to aid and abet your enemy in wartime. I didn't learn anything from those documents I didn't already suspect, since war is rough going and bad things happen. Also, I didn't need to know the names, dates, and times that will help facilitate the revenge process for the Taliban. By the way, the war in Afghanistan is not an illegal war, since the USA was attacked by terrorists trained and supported by the Taliban, when they controlled all of Afghanistan.

    August 1, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. discusted

    This is a sad day when the military gets bashed for following the orders of the Commander and Chief. Most of you posting these negative comments about the men and women who faithfully serve this great nation probably have never had a job much less served your country. Orders for military operations come down from the President so our military is not out of control as "CLWYD" states. Some of you need to go over to the middle east and live like they do for a while so that you can maybe appreciate the freedoms and opportunities you have today in America largerly in part due to the men and women in our armed forces. So quit complaining and start thanking the people who protect your freedoms.

    August 1, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Don Wuerl

    This leak of several thousand documents is an atrocity to all of our servicemen and servicewomen! What was that kid, PFC Manning thinking? We all have the right to agree and disagree; but, we want our troops to complete thier mission and come home alive and well. There should be absolutely no politics beside that! Remember, if our troops don't fullfill that goal our counstitution will be worthless; do you want that??? I served! It was worth a hell of a lot more!!!

    August 1, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. GuyinVA

    If enough evidence exists, PFC Manning should be tried for treason. Mr. Assange is an enemy of the United States, and should be dealt with as such.

    August 1, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Same old Dems

    Don't count on the DoJ to go after Julian Assange. He's far left and so are they. Whose side are they on? Basically their own.

    August 1, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. disgusted

    Cut the crap about the left. I'm to the left and I think whoever leaked this information should get the maximum penalty. And I am sure I am not the only one.

    August 1, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. mike

    Homeland Security what a joke to say the least look on how much money we spend on this crap and something as simple as a low level personnel can do this much damage look ay what happen with 9-11 the same thing when are they going to wake up and smell the coffee and fill in the cracks wasn't the creation of Homeland Security suppose to correct this problem were is the news media in grilling these guys for allowing to happen instead of some stupid excuse saying that this was a moral issue

    August 1, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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