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Pentagon Demands Return of Leaked Afghanistan Documents 523

Multiple news agencies are reporting that the Pentagon has demanded the return of WikiLeaks' collection of secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said, "The only acceptable course is for WikiLeaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the US government and permanently delete them from its website, computers and records." According to the BBC, Morrell also "acknowledged the already-leaked documents' viral spread across the internet made it unlikely they could ever be quashed," but hopes to prevent the dissemination of a further 15,000 documents WikiLeaks is reportedly in the process of redacting. "We're looking to have a conversation about how to get these perilous documents off the website as soon as possible, return them to their rightful owners and expunge them from their records." WikiLeaks, predictably, shows no sign of cooperating.
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Pentagon Demands Return of Leaked Afghanistan Documents

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  • by odies ( 1869886 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @08:57AM (#33160260)

    It doesn't matter if Wikileaks complies, Pentagon has made it very clear they will make them comply []:

    Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that not embarrassing the US military was "doing the right thing" and he hoped Wikileaks would "honour our demands".

    However, asked what the Pentagon would do next, Morrell told the AP that it was up to the FBI and Justice Department to decide how to proceed.

    "If doing the right thing is not good enough for them [Wikileaks], then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing," he added.

    Of course the right thing to the US government is always whatever the US military says is the right thing, and as the Wikileaks documents that have recently been released show in brutal detail, the US military has an unusual interpretation of what is 'right'.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:00AM (#33160290)
      Uh, if you think the US Military drives the decisions of the US Government, you are horribly mistaken. It's visibly the other way around. You have just cited an opinion piece from The Inquirer.
    • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:03AM (#33160336)
      It's all bark and no bite. They're just pissed for getting called out for what most intelligent people already knew. That the wars are not going well and that W wasn't taking the war seriously at all. At this point any damage that's going to be done has been done, and this is mostly just about saving face.
      • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:33AM (#33160746)

        I don't know how they intend to save face by claiming they shouldn't be held accountable, and will make people pay for embarrassing them.

        The fact that they consider embarrassment a bigger issue than accountability or civilian lives, is a clear sign they have their priorities wrong.

    • They had insurance (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Snaller ( 147050 )

      Since everybody knows that the US respects no laws and will invade anyone at a drop of a hat, Wikileaks took precautions by putting up a large *encrypted* file called "Insurance". []
      Presumably everybody has downloaded it even though nobody has the password.

      And if America tries to have the wikileak people assassinated the password is probably set to spread automatically.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @08:58AM (#33160266)

    Couldn't they just download it?

  • It's time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordAzuzu ( 1701760 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:00AM (#33160284)
    to decrypt the insurance file!
    • Re:It's time (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:28AM (#33160680) Homepage
      I don't think that's the way it is going to have been set up. Far more likely it's going to be an automatic disclosure of the decryption process from a source independent of Wikileaks should Julian Assange or any other key members fail to check in some how at regular intervals. That way if they should be detained or "meet with an unfortunate accident" the contents of the assurance file go public.

      Quite frankly, I think the US military and government are pointing their fingers in the wrong direction here. The people that are really at fault here are those who have still not managed to put adequate controls on the access and export of sensitive data; one of the task given to the DHS, IIRC. Quite simply put, I doubt that there is any reason why a single person should have been able to access all those documents in the first place, let alone be in a position to take copies and pass them on too WikiLeaks and the media. It's not like Gary McKinnon hasn't given them enough egg on their faces about poor security procedures already, is it...?
      • Re:It's time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kevinNCSU ( 1531307 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:45AM (#33160904)
        It's a question of access and sharing vs security. Controls on information are more lax towards the front because it's there where the information can make a difference between soldiers connecting the dots and making the right move or not, and the consequences are very real. You try to push that information to the front so the people there can make the most informed decisions possible. You run the risk of something like this happening but on the other hand controlling that information more tightly runs the risk of people messing up and dying in incidents that could have been prevented by better access to information. In the tighter control scenario you would have bureaucrats telling soldiers they can't have access to information that could save their lives and in the other scenario you would have to have a soldier that's willing to put his comrades and mission in harms way in order for there to be a leak. So I think it should be easy to see why it's generally supported to push intel like this to the front, and I doubt they'll let this incident change that much.
      • Law enforcement and intelligence were too compartmentalized according to the 9/11 commission. They didn't share enough data, didn't make it available across the board and all that. Problem is that the more sharing there is, the more likely some asshat in a place like the Pentagon or FBI can leak data from the CIA or military intelligence (NSA, DIA, NGA, NRO, etc.) or vice versa.

        I don't know why this is a surprise to anyone on Slashdot. It's generally taken for granted by most posters here that the more peop

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Minwee ( 522556 )
      What, and have everybody find out that it's a cookbook?
  • Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:01AM (#33160316)

    It is already out in the open. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. Or "Things that have been seen can not be unseen."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgagnon ( 1663075 )

      Considering they've already shared the unedited files with at least three other news agencies.. yeah, this is just the beginning.

      • Re:Too late (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:27AM (#33160662) Journal

        Considering they've already shared the unedited files with at least three other news agencies.. yeah, this is just the beginning.

        Newspapers have sat on much bigger stories just because the government said "please".
        Multiple newspapers sat on or killed stories because, then Director of National Intelligence, Negroponte asked them to.
        Telecom spying anyone?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AhabTheArab ( 798575 )

          Multiple newspapers sat on or killed stories because, then Director of National Intelligence, Negroponte asked them to.

          And the government isn't used to anybody telling them "no". That's the biggest reason they're pissed - because they aren't in control of this situation, Wikileaks is. I watched the full press conference [] yesterday where they issued this ultimatum. He looked like such a fool. "Demanding" that Wikileaks "does the right thing". If you ask me, Wikileaks has already done the right thing by asking for assistance from the U.S. Gov't (albiet indirectly) in redacting the documents. Wikileaks should issuea a public s

  • Red Flag (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:02AM (#33160324)

    Government is the only business which holds the special right to employ coercion (meaning physical force or threat thereof) against you in order to achieve its goals. Secrets have absolutely no place in such a relationship.

    Am I saying I wouldn't put an ounce of trust in such an entity no matter how loud they scream "we need secrets"? You're damn right I am.

    • Re:Red Flag (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jopsen ( 885607 ) <> on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:11AM (#33161384) Homepage

      Government is the only business which holds the special right to employ coercion (meaning physical force or threat thereof) against you in order to achieve its goals.

      The government is not a business.

      At least in my country the government is an entity in place to serve its citizen. Not a business with the goal of generating revenue... :)
      That being said, the government should be transparent... So yes, I agree... Government use of secrets should be very restricted...

    • Re:Red Flag (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:22AM (#33161590)

      The government does need some secrets. Some of the information in these documents is exactly the kinds of things they need secrets for. It just doesn't make sense to make public things like informant's names and our military strategies. There's plenty of other information in these docs that should be destroyed, I don't disagree with that. But saying "No secrets, EVER!"... that just doesn't work in reality, even if its a good ideal to shoot for.

  • by TyFoN ( 12980 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:02AM (#33160334)


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's what I'm afraid of!
      It's been made clear to governments around the world that an untamed Internet is more powerful than all of them put together. Because the Internet is nothing but their populations truly free.
      They should realize they work for us, and stop fecking up because it'll get them into trouble.
      But instead they'll pretend it's a security risk and a danger to children and destroy it piece by piece.
    • by InShadows ( 103008 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:16AM (#33160518)

      From the Pentagon press release an old adage similar to that of mother's across the world:
      "I brought the Internet into this world, I can take it out!"

    • You need to download the internet before you can delete it.
  • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:04AM (#33160352)

    Here we go again with people thinking that the paper paradigm applies to the digital world.

    How on Earth do you return digital documents? Do you scrape the oxide layer off the hard drives, put it in a little vial, mark it with volume mount point(s) and put it into an envelope addressed to Pentagon? Oh, yes, I know, you first print out the directory listing (like we used to do with the floppies), tape it to the vial, then scrape, fill the vial and ship.

    As for the further documents -- they better watch out, because WikiLeaks may just give up and publish all of the unredacted stuff just to preserve it.

    As for WikiLeaks somehow "embarrassing" the U.S. military: waitaminuzel here. Did WikiLeaks compel the military to do all the embarrassing stuff? No? Then well, maybe it was better the taxpayers knew what their money is spent on, huh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Klync ( 152475 )

      The part of the picture which I think you're missing is this: the copies may be missing information that the originals contain. This is certainly the case if WikiLeaks is editing them (redacting text) before releasing them. If the files have been tampered with, they may not be admissible as evidence in a court, or they may not be as compelling to a jury, even if they are. There are legal standards for admitting digital evidence, and then there are the forensic experts, of course. Telling a court, "here's a

      • by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:18AM (#33160534)

        If the pentagon manages to get the originals back, they might just save Cheney, Powell, Rice, Bush, Wolfowitz, etc. from a public hanging.

        That'd be a shame.

      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:31AM (#33160722) Homepage Journal
        I wonder what crackpipe you people are smoking. I see a lot of "Bush/Cheney will be hanged one day!!!!" going on, and I'm laughing at this. Nobody is going to go back, find the former president, put him on trial, say "You did shit during a war while you were president that we should hang you for," and hang them. It won't happen. You're all talking about things you "know," and thus things they'd already be on trial for because it's rather public knowledge; obviously there's been no indictment (if it was even possible, they'd pay lawyers to file charges themselves BEFORE there was any evidence, so they could ride through the trial and get acquitted and avoid further trial on "unearthed evidence" later due to double-jeopardy).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hinhule ( 811436 )

          Isn't that pretty much what was done to Saddam? Granted he was still president.

          Or the old nazis and the Pol Pot gang they are finding.

          Now one would have to convince a nation that has control of thousands of nukes to give up one of their previous leaders. That's the tricky part.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:39AM (#33160830) Journal

      Obligatory []:

      <NES> lol
      <NES> I download something from Napster
      <NES> And the same guy I downloaded it from starts downloading it from me when I'm done
      <NES> I message him and say "What are you doing? I just got that from you"
      <NES> "getting my song back fucker"

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:04AM (#33160358)
    Didn't we hear this before during the Vietnam war? []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:05AM (#33160372)
    ".. we've got to be careful, Amy. Mullen actually was quite crafty in his words. He said "might already have" blood on my hands .. it's really quite fantastic that Gates and Mullen, Gates being the former head of the CIA during Iran-Contra and the overseer of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Mullen being the military commander for Iraq and Afghanistan -- I'm not sure what his further background is -- who have ordered assassinations every day, are trying to bring people on board to look at a speculative understanding of whether we might have blood on our hand"

    link []
  • by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:05AM (#33160384) Homepage

    If these documents are so damaging and endanger so many people, why the fuck has the media talked about it at least a couple of times every single day since the documents were released? Wouldn't ignoring it decrease the chances of people hearing about them and going to read them? Literally millions more people are aware of these documents being leaked thanks to news sources talking about how bad it is that they were leaked.

    Stay classy.

    • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:16AM (#33160516)

      The documents leaked so far illustrate the frustration of U.S. forces in fighting the protracted Afghan conflict and revived debate over the war's uncertain progress.

      These documents are showing that the US' operation aren't doing too well. WikiLeaks is holding back stuff that may endanger people's lives.

      This is all about the Pentagon and the Government trying hide their incompetence and stupidity. It's also to trying to keep information out of our hands to keep the support for the wars from it's continual slide down.

      We're in another Viet Nam type era.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Not just that, []
      "New York Times reporters met with White House before publishing WikiLeaks story" ie "administration "praised" New York Times reporters for their handling of leaked Afghan war material"
      " They also praised us for the way we handled it, for giving them a chance to discuss it, and for handling the information with care. And for being responsible.”
      "but the White House doesn't seem to have told the T
  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:07AM (#33160396)
    They will just mistakenly bomb them...
  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:07AM (#33160402)

    Go download it like the rest of the world has already?

    Honestly, what kind of statement is that. It's already been leaked. What is there to gain from getting it back? I doubt Wikileaks got a stack of paper from PFC Manning anyway.

  • Information (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:13AM (#33160472) Journal
    The best thing about this information is it reveals how governments lie and lie and lie to the populace. Thats the only reason they only want the information back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

      It also shows how utterly stupid the people who we entrust to fight wars for us are. Like these documents haven't been distributed all over the world in hundreds of thousands if not millions of downloads already from the main site, and as if there aren't currently thousands of OTHER sites all over the world offering these files for download.

      Invoking the Streisand effect will only make matters worse and encourage even more downloading.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kevinNCSU ( 1531307 )
      Could you point out what documents show a smoking gun of governments lying in the textual documents? Maybe you've read more of them then me but the best example I saw was where a helicopter got shot down by what was likely a heat seeking missile because it had a smoke trail and in the press conference they said it was downed by enemy fire, and was close enough to be small arms theoretically downplaying the presence of heat seeking weapons among insurgents. Not exactly damning stuff though that in my opini
  • by line-bundle ( 235965 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:16AM (#33160510) Homepage Journal

    I guess if the Pentagon had guns or something perhaps they could have leverage.

    But just having 5 sides and 5 angles? What do they expect to to the wikileaks? Poke it to death?

  • No problem! (Score:4, Funny)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:19AM (#33160546) Journal

    They'll be soon available as a free download.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:22AM (#33160588)

    [Rolls eyes] Can't they just file a DMCA takedown notice like everyone else?

  • Rightful Owners (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:22AM (#33160604)

    return them to their rightful owners

    Rightful owners? They must mean the American people who paid for all of this, right?

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:26AM (#33160652)

    Losing a war? Here's the plan!

    1. Leak documents that show boring day to day operational details, including civilian casualties on the internet
    2. Blame the people who distribute, download and read said documents for the deaths of those people and the deaths of everyone else from now on in the war due to "security risks"
    3. ???
    4. Profit
    5. (STILL lose the war)

  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @09:45AM (#33160920) Journal

    I should hope not. Too bad the authorities have convinced the public to condemn the messenger instead of the message... Very sad state of affairs we have here.

    • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:15AM (#33161454)

      Not hard to convince when you leave names and villages of people who provided information in the documents.

      People who are being hunted and killed.

      Julian Assange's response via the NYT?

      - He claimed that many informers in Afghanistan were "acting in a criminal way" by sharing false information with Nato authorities.

      - He insisted that any risk to informants' lives was outweighed by the overall importance of publishing the information.

      So he is judge and jury, knows they were "acting in a criminal way", and let others execute so he does not have blood on his hands.

      Yep, sounds like "justice" to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Australian tv did a show on this (1st August 2010)

        "REPORTER: Do you lie awake at night wondering if you have found all those?

        JULIAN ASSANGE: They have a particular code within the reports. It wasn't too hard. That said, it is possible, there may be a stray report here or stray report there. The choice, again, we are forced to make hard choices and those hard choices are do we do best effort to minimise harm, which we have don
  • by kilodelta ( 843627 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:28AM (#33161690) Homepage
    What is the Pentagon trying to hide? Honestly Wikileaks should tell them to go get stuffed.
  • Murder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:37AM (#33161856)

    Make no mistake, by the standards of any state in the union, Julian is a murderer.

    Wikileaks is probably moribund now because of how they handled this. But this is the internet, so there will be a replacement sooner or later. I can only hope that the replacement learns the right lessons here.

    The leaked data can fit (broadly) into 4 categories.

    1) Junk. Unavoidable in any large data/document set.

    2) "This is what war looks like." Gun camera footage, etc. Kudos for releasing this. The people back home should be able to see this so they can make informed decisions.

    3) "Our plan isn't working very well." We all knew this already. No harm in releasing it, and drawing attention to it might foster real debate.

    4) Shit that is going to get people killed. There is no journalistic value in publishing a list of villagers that are helping us. The world does not benefit from knowing which people in the Taliban were feeding us information. These people are DEAD, some already and some soon to be. And Julian killed them just as surely as if he had pulled the trigger himself.

    So, after the leak hangs and Julian goes into hiding, if you decide to start Wikileaks 2.0, please try really hard not to help our enemies kill our friends. We want to support your cause and we think that it is important to make the truth available to the people so they can make informed decisions. But we have limits, so you need to have some decency and exercise some discretion.

    • Re:Murder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arcite ( 661011 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @11:56AM (#33163038)
      And you obviously feel qualified to determine what the public is entitled to know and not know. Pure bullshit. Information is power and wikileaks is just doing what democracy is supposed to do, reveal truth and let the citizens decide. You, like so many despotic regimes choose to shoot the messenger, rather than deal with the fallout from the truth. It's pathetic.
    • Re:Murder (Score:5, Informative)

      by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @12:17PM (#33163372)
      The names you cite in number 4 are an obvious straw man. Wikileaks is not leaking those names, it is redacting them as we speak BEFORE listing those names. so what's in those 15,000 documents? And who is paying you to mislead us?
  • Wikileaks agenda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:45AM (#33161984)

    Why no classified Russian or Chinese documents on Wikileaks?

    Oh that's right.

    The Russians and Chinese would hunt them down and kill them.

    Which is not out of the question, btw. It will be a real tragedy when Julian is knifed in a botched robbery attenpt.

  • War? (Score:3, Funny)

    by The AtomicPunk ( 450829 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @10:59AM (#33162206)

    What is this "war" everyone is talking about? We elected the guy that represented the half of the establishment party that was against the war. Clearly it is over.

  • Last I checked: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kenp2002 ( 545495 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @11:03AM (#33162268) Homepage Journal

    Last I checked the citizens of the USA are the rightful owners and based on the information in them, the Pentagon as a whole needs to be fired by their employer AND the rightful owners of those documents: US citizens.

    Consider this my official endorsement of the "Anyone but a Republicans and Democrats" candidate.

    Brewster had it right, time to vote "None of the Above"

    Clinton dropped the ball.
    Bush kicked the ball out of bounds.
    Obama then robbed the spectators and sold the ball to the opposing team.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!