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Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen hold a news conference at the Pentagon yesterday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen hold a news conference at the Pentagon yesterday. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
At a Pentagon press briefing yesterday, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, commented on the publication of some 91,000 classified documents by WikiLeaks, which was founded by Julian Assange:
"Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he think he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," he said. "Disagree with the war all you want, take issue with the policy, challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we've been given, but don't put those who willingly go into harms way even further in harm's way just to satisfy your need to make a point."
On Twitter last night, Mullen didn't mince words:
"Meant what I said: Mr. Assange & his source might already have on their hands the blood of our troops or that of our Afghan partners."
A reporter asked Mullen if he had specific evidence the leak resulted in casualties. He didn't answer the question directly:
"They're still — what I am concerned about with this is I think individuals who are not involved in this kind of warfare and expose this kind of information can't — from my perspective, can't appreciate how this kind of information is routinely networked together inside the classified channels we use specifically," he said.
And it's very difficult, if you don't do this and understand this, to understand the impact, and very specifically the potential that is there — that is there to risk lives of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines, coalition warfighters, as well — as well as Afghan citizens. And there's no doubt in my mind about that.