WikiLeaks revelations _Not Damaging_

According to a Congressional aide who spoke to Reuters, State Department officials concluded late last year that the ...

According to a Congressional aide who spoke to Reuters, State Department officials concluded late last year that the publication of leaked United States diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks _was embarrassing but not damaging._

As the news agency reports, that private assessment, _that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad,_ contrasts sharply with the Obama administration_s public statements on the potential harm of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, reiterated that public stance, telling the news agency, _From our standpoint, there has been substantial damage._ He added: _We believe that hundreds of people have been put at potential risk because their names have been compromised in the release of these cables._

The reported reversal by the State Department is strikingly similar to a Pentagon volte-face on a prior WikiLeaks release.

As my colleague Elisabeth Bumiller reported in October, _Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in a private letter over the summer that while the release of 75,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan by the Web site WikiLeaks endangered the lives of Afghans helping the United States, the disclosures did not reveal any significant national intelligence secrets._

In his letter, dated Aug. 16, Mr. Gates assured the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, _the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure._ At a Pentagon news conference barely two weeks earlier, Mr. Gates had insisted that the leaks were damaging because _intelligence sources and methods_ detailed in the Afghan war documents published by WikiLeaks _will become known to our adversaries._

At the same briefing, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, went even further, saying, _Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier._

Oddly, the private comments reportedly made by State Department officials on the leaked cables match almost exactly a public statement on them made by none other than Mr. Gates in November.

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