In the Pentagon's daily press briefing yesterday, spokesman Geoff Morrell led off with "The Defense Department demands that WikiLeaks return immediately to the U.S. government all versions of documents obtained directly or indirectly from the Department of Defense databases or records."
Morrell is, of course, referring to the latest bomb (of several recent bombs) set off by WikiLeaks last month in which some 75,000 mostly-classified documents were published in an orchestrated expose from not only WikiLeaks but three major international news organizations (the New York Times, The Guardian UK, and Germany's Der Spiegel). The Pentagon has been very consistent in its anger and incredulity towards WikiLeaks, a tone continued by the morning's briefing.
The Pentagon also continued its characterization of the leaks as a threat to security both at home and abroad, but the call for the documents to be "returned" is a decidedly odd thing to request. The total statement also demanded that WikiLeaks remove the documents from its site, and cease solicitation of more classified defense documents.
It's not clear what the Pentagon's real goal is here. The damage has surely been done; the leaked war logs dominate the news landscape for weeks, and that information will remain on the Internet in some form (summarized, reported, analyzed) even if the original documents are removed.
And, of course, there's no way WikiLeaks is actually going to relent. WikiLeaks sneeringly referred to Morrell as "obnoxious" and used the opportunity to, as Wired notes, ask for even more money. This sort of publicity will only help WikiLeaks's cause--there are legitimate concerns to be had with the methods used by the site, but an attack from the Department of Defense is only going to strengthen its resolve.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com