Pentagon says 'hard to quantify' WikiLeaks danger

WASHINGTON, Dec 7, 2010 (AFP) - The Pentagon said Tuesday it would be "hard to quantify" the danger posed by the WikiLeaks release of secret documents but insisted the information would be used by US adversaries.

WASHINGTON, Dec 7, 2010 (AFP) - The Pentagon said Tuesday it would be "hard to quantify" the danger posed by the WikiLeaks release of secret documents but insisted the information would be used by US adversaries.

"If someone has been killed as a result, it's very tangible and very quantifiable," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.

"But how do you quantify information that our adversaries have got about how we operate? How do you quantify some other damaging elements like learning how we gather information and intelligence, altering their behavior because of things that they've learned?" he said.

"We do know from various means that our adversaries are out there actively mining this for information."

He added that the Defense Department did not know what was behind a host of problems experienced by WikiLeaks, which has come under attack by hackers and switched servers as different countries have tried to shut it down.

A Bulgarian demonstrator attends a protest against the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the British embassy in Sofia on December 7, 2010. AFP
A Bulgarian demonstrator attends a protest against the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, outside the British embassy in Sofia on December 7, 2010. AFP

The United States has condemned the whistle-blower website's release of hundreds of secret documents, part of a trove of 250,000 US diplomatic cables -- most from the last three years -- the site plans to release in stages.

In one of the more recent leaks, WikiLeaks released a February 2009 cable listing infrastructure and key resources that, if attacked, "could critically impact" US public health, economic life and national security.

Earlier leaks detailed previously unknown diplomatic incidents, quoted top officials in closed-door meetings and included candid assessments of world leaders and hot-button international issues.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested in Britain on Tuesday on Swedish sex crimes allegations, has denied anyone had been harmed by the cables or earlier leaks of US war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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