Obama downplays Wikileaks damage

US President says documents reveal nothing new about Afghanistan war.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 27, 2010 21:40
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

Obama311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

US President Barack Obama voiced concern Tuesday over the 91,000 classified reports leaked by Wikileaks, but said they revealed nothing new about the Afghanistan war effort.

"While I was concerned the exposure of
sensitive information from the battlefield that can endanger people and operations, the fact is that these documents do not reveal any interest not yet been exposed during a public debate about the war in Afghanistan," Obama said.

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As the Obama administration scrambles to repair any political damage to the war effort in Congress and among the American public by the WikiLeaks revelations, there are also growing concerns that some US allies abroad may ask whether they can trust America to keep secrets, officials said.

In his first public comments on the matter, Obama said the disclosure of classified information from the battlefield "could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations."

The president spoke after a meeting with House and Senate leaders of both parties.

The WikiLeaks material, which ranges from files documenting Afghan civilian deaths to evidence of US-Pakistani distrust, could reinforce war opponents in Congress who aim to rein in the war effort. But the leaks are not expected to dim the passage of a looming $60 billion war funding bill.



WikiLeaks said it has behaved responsibly, even withholding some 15,000 records that are believed to include names of specific Afghans or Pakistanis who helped U.S. troops on the ground.

But former CIA director Michael Hayden denounced the leak Monday as a gift to America's enemies.

"If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al-Qaida, I would have called it priceless," he said. "I would love to know what al-Qaida or the Taliban was thinking about a specific subject in 2007, for instance, because I could say they got that right and they got that wrong."

Hayden predicted the Taliban would take anything that described a U.S. strike and the intelligence behind it "and figure out who was in the room when that particular operation, say in 2008, was planned, and in whose home." Then the militants would probably punish the traitor who had worked with the Americans, he said.


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