Excessive Secrecy versus Bloody Hands

The Defense Department is reassessing the way it handles secret field reports in the wake of the release of thousands of internal US military documents by Wikileaks in July, says Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Briefing reporters in the Pentagon, Gates said he believes that DOD engages in “excessive secrecy” and that, in general, information should be “pushed down” to the lowest level possible to facilitate the new “speed of war” that demands timely information. However, “It will be a real challenge to strike the right balance” in allowing access to classified field reports now, he acknowledged during the July 29 briefing. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, appearing with Gates, said those who fed Wikileaks the sensitive documents “may have blood on their hands” by exposing certain individuals abroad who have been supporting the US war effort in Afghanistan. (Gates-Mullen transcript)