The Times insisted yesterday that it had vetted the docs to make sure it didn’t disclose any info that would risk lives, and Julian Assange claimed that not only did Wikileaks do its own review but its source — who may or may not be Bradley Manning — did one too.
An ongoing Pentagon review of the massive flood of secret documents made public by the WikiLeaks website has so far found no evidence that the disclosure harmed U.S. national security or endangered American troops in the field, a Pentagon official told NBC News on Monday…
David Lapan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told NBC News on Monday that a preliminary review by a Pentagon “assessment” team has so far not identified any documents whose release could damage national security. Moreover, he said, none of the documents reviewed so far carries a classification level above “secret” — the lowest category of intelligence material in terms of sensitivity…
While the team so far has not found any that would meet any of those criteria, Lapan noted that WikiLeaks has yet to publish all the documents it claims to have. Moreover, the Pentagon review has been stymied by the fact that, for at least part of the day Monday, the military team was unable to access WikiLeaks.org — apparently because of the heavy traffic it was receiving. In effect, the Pentagon analysts were unable to read classified government documents that had already been posted and read by the general public around the world.
I’m woozy at the realization that, unless he takes questions from the press tomorrow, the first time The One will speak about this publicly is when he sits down Wednesday with, er, “The View.” For what it’s worth, I think Jonathan Foreman’s right that the real significance of the docs is that they’ll push ISI’s double-dealing with the Taliban deeper into the public consciousness than it is now, which in turn will increase pressure on Obama to play hardball with Pakistan. That’ll be ironic since it would mean that the biggest fallout from the leaks will have to do with something that anyone who has followed this subject has known for years, and doubly ironic insofar as it would actually ratchet up tensions in the region by deepening the U.S./Pakistani schism instead of reducing them by “ending the war” or whatever the point of this leak was.
As further reading, spend two minutes with this smart, pithy ProPublica analysis of why the Wikileaks docs are really nothing like the Pentagon papers, the CW du jour notwithstanding. In fact, one of the key differences is also one of the reasons the Wikileaks archive has failed to make a huge splash despite the massive media hype: They’re ground-level reports written in the field about specific combat incidents or isolated bits of intelligence, not bird’s-eye overviews where the big secrets and lies are kept.
Update: And so, after a long day’s wait, the high priest of war leaks finally emerges to offer his benediction.
Daniel Ellsberg, a former US military analyst, has described the disclosure of the Afghan war logs as on the scale of his leaking of the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971 revealing how the US public was misled about the Vietnam war.
“An outrageous escalation of the war is taking place,” he said. “Look at these cables and see if they give anybody the occasion to say the answer is ‘resources”. He added: “After $300bn and 10 years, the Taliban is stronger than they have ever been … We are recruiting for them.”
However, the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers on Afghanistan – top secret papers relating to policy – had yet to be leaked, he said.