Leaked US documents on the Afghan war has not only endangered lives of the US troops in Afghanistan, but also has the potential to damage America's relationship with its allies and its global trustworthiness, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said.
"The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world.
Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to our adversaries," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.
"This recent massive breach should be a reminder to all entrusted with US secrets that there are potentially dramatic and grievously harmful consequences of violations of trust and responsibility.
We will aggressively investigate and, wherever possible, prosecute such violations," Gates said referring to the leakage of 92,000 classified documents by WikiLeaks on the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Noting that he has spent most of his life in the intelligence business, where the sacrosanct principle is protecting one sources, Gates said that involves one sources trusting one to protect them and to protect their identities.
"That is one of the worst aspects of this, as far as I'm concerned: Will people trust us? Will people whose lives are on the line trust us to keep their identities secret? Will other governments trust us to keep their documents and their intelligence secret?" he said.
"You know, it's a funny thing, and especially for a so-called realist, but it's amazing how much trust matters in relationships, whether it's with governments or with individuals around the world," Gates said.
"It seems to me that, as a result of this massive breach of security, we have considerable repair work to do in terms of reassuring people and rebuilding trust because they --clearly, people are going to feel at risk," he noted.
"So I think one of the consequences of this kind of a breach, both for those who leak the information and those who post it online, that they don't perhaps think about. But it is
The Defense Secretary said the US has conversation with other governments beyond just Afghanistan and Pakistan in this regard. "But, frankly, I'm not familiar with the details of that," he said.