Gibbs blasts leaks as ‘breach of federal law’

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called the leak of thousands of sensitive documents on the Afghanistan war a breach of law that “has the potential to be very harmful” to the U.S. military.

Gibbs also stuck to the White House line that the leaks, which paint a troubling picture of U.S. efforts in the region, are old news and predate President Obama’s shift in strategy.

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Still, Gibbs conceded the release of the more than 90,000 documents by Wikileaks was “alarming.”

“I think there’s no doubt that this is a concerning development in operational security,” Gibbs said.

The leaks come amid growing disillusionment with the war in the public and in Congress.

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the leaked documents appear to show the war in Afghanistan was not going well and needed a “real” strategy for success.

But Skelton also offered support for the administration and said the leaked reports pre-date the new strategy implemented by the Obama administration this year.

Skelton also defended Pakistan from criticism in the leaked reports, which suggest intelligence officials with that country are helping the Taliban. He said that since the reports were issued, Pakistan has significantly stepped up its fight against the Taliban.

“While we still have concerns about Pakistan’s efforts against the Afghan Taliban, there is no doubt that there have been significant improvements in its overall effort,” Skelton said.