WASHINGTON — Eleven days after the renegade Web site WikiLeaks publicly disclosed more than 70,000 classified U.S. field reports from the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Thursday that it wants them back.
Press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters that the Pentagon is formally demanding — through the news media — that WikiLeaks return the reports, as well as 15,000 additional records that the website says it might release soon.
"We are asking them to do the right thing and not further exacerbate the damage done to date," he said. "If doing the right thing is not good enough for them, we'll figure out what other alternatives we have." He declined to elaborate on whether the Defense Department is contemplating legal action but noted that the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating how the documents were leaked.
Morrell acknowledged that the "genie is out of the bottle" in regard to the more than 70,000 reports that are not only posted on the WikiLeaks site, but have since been copied and downloaded by people all over the world. He said the Pentagon is primarily interested in blocking the release of the 15,000 other documents.