Perhaps ABC News is upset that this leak didn’t go to them.
After all, the past few years have been good for ABC News when it comes to leaks: the network has profited from former Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s explicit email logs and countless terror-related stories.
But Monday morning, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos appears to be doing his best to contain “one of the most massive intelligence breaches in U.S. history.”
Adrian Lamo told Stephanopoulos by phone on Monday’s Good Morning America that the man who leaked Afghanistan war documents must have had help, and ABC News’ headline suggests a wider conspiracy: “EXCLUSIVE: Massive War Leak Wasn’t Done Alone, Whistleblower Says.”
“The Army specialist allegedly behind one of the most massive intelligence breaches in US history likely did not act alone, according to the man the soldier approached to publicize the more than 90,000 reports of classified information,” Martha Raddatz and Lee Ferran report for ABC News.
Lamo told Stephanopoulos Monday morning: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I do not believe that Private Manning had the technical expertise necessary to communicate this amount of information to the outside world without being detected on his own. And I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe he operated without guidance, rather I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more likely that he was a personal shopper for classified data for the Wikileaks apparatus.Ã¢â‚¬Â
However, other than Lamo’s theory, both the GMA segment and the ABC News article contain no additional reporting on the matter.
“Did the Times ever consider not publishing?” Stephanopoulos then asked New York Times journalist Eric Schmitt straight off the bat, after quoting the White House and Lamo statements on how “lives can be put at risk” by the leak and Kerry’s calling it “illegal.”
Schmitt responded, “George, no, we took great care when we first had access to these documents,” adding that the paper removed names and other “sensitive” material and claiming the White House applauded the Times’ “due diligence in going through this.”
The Good Morning America anchor didn’t note that Senator Kerry’s full quote wasn’t a condemnation of the leak: “However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”
The Washington Note’s Steve Clemons blogs that Kerry’s statement “stands in stark contrast to the condemnatory comments from the White House about the WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs — Kerry shows he has a respect for Pentagon Papers moments.”
Before the interview, Stephanopoulos had blogged, “Around 92,000 leaked documents paint a grim picture of the war in Afghanistan. Is the media putting national security at risk by publishing them? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll ask New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt on ‘GMA.’”
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald writes,
The White House has swiftly vowed to continue the war and predictably condemned WikiLeaks rather harshly. It will be most interesting to see how many Democrats — who claim to find Daniel Ellsberg heroic and the Pentagon Papers leak to be unambiguously justified — follow the White House’s lead in that regard. Ellsberg’s leak — though primarily exposing the amoral duplicity of a Democratic administration — occurred when there was a Republican in the White House. This latest leak, by contrast, indicts a war which a Democratic President has embraced as his own, and documents similar manipulation of public opinion and suppression of the truth well into 2009. It’s not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted, that media “coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published,” rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it. What position Democratic officials and administration supporters take in the inevitable debate over WikiLeaks remains to be seen (by shrewdly leaking these materials to 3 major newspapers, which themselves then published many of the most incriminating documents, WikiLeaks provided itself with some cover).
At Wired’s Danger Room, Spencer Ackerman writes, “WikiLeaks has freaked out the White House, though, by clearly raising questions about whether Pakistani aid to the Afghan insurgency is far deeper than typically acknowledged Ã¢â‚¬â€ something that would raise additional questions about whether the Obama administrationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strategy of hugging Pakistan into severing those ties is viable.”
Both the GMA interview and the ABC article also quote contradicting officials from both countries who suggest that the documents say “nothing new” but are “dangerous.”
This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast July 26, 2010.