National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones lashed out Sunday evening at the publishing on the site Wikileaks of more than 90,000 files related to the Afghanistan war.
The giant trove of classified documents covering six years of the Afghanistan war was to be published on the Wikileaks site Sunday but was made available first to The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. Under the conditions of the agreement with Wikileaks, the papers withheld their reports on the documents until Sunday.
"The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," Jones said in a statement released by the White House. "Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents — the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted."
The documents cover coalition forces' attacks on civilians and friendly fire incidents, reveal American suspicions that Pakistan's intelligence service is aiding the insurgency and show a strengthened Taliban that is using weapons such as heat-seeking missiles against coalition forces.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a statement late Sunday that the documents' content were as much a concern as how they surfaced.
"However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan," Kerry said. "Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent."
NYT editor Bill Keller said in a note to readers Sunday that the paper had taken care to not publish information that would harm national security. "We have, for example, withheld any names of operatives in the field and informants cited in the reports," Kellar wrote. "We have avoided anything that might compromise American or allied intelligence-gathering methods such as communications intercepts. We have not linked to the archives of raw material. At the request of the White House, The Times also urged WikiLeaks to withhold any harmful material from its Web site."
Jones stressed that the documents cover January 2004 to December 2009, before President Obama launched a new Afghanistan strategy on Dec. 1, 2009. He also praised the partnership with Pakistan, saying the countries had "deepened our important bilateral partnership" since 2009.
"The Pakistani military has gone on the offensive in Swat and South Waziristan, at great cost to the Pakistani military and people," Jones said. "The United States and Pakistan have also commenced a Strategic Dialogue, which has expanded cooperation on issues ranging from security to economic development. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also improved their bilateral ties, most recently through the completion of a Transit-Trade Agreement.
"Yet the Pakistani government — and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services — must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups."
This story was updated at 10 p.m.