The publication of hundreds of thousands of secret documents leaked by the Army soldier Chelsea Manning in 2010 had no strategic impact on the American war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a newly released Pentagon analysis concluded.
The main finding of the DOD report, written a year after the breach, was that Manning’s uploading of more than 700,000 secret files to the open information organization WikiLeaks had no significant strategic effect on the U.S. war efforts.
The belated publication of the analysis gives the lie to the official story maintained over several years that the leak had caused serious harm to U.S. national security.
It also calls attention to the disproportionately severe punishment that was meted out to Manning – 35 years in military prison, the harshest sentence in history for an official leak. And it raises questions about the continuing investigation by DOJ into the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
The conclusions are contained in the final report of the information review task force that the DoD set up in the wake of the Manning leaks to look into their impact in the hope of mitigating any damage.
The report, obtained by BuzzFeed’s investigative reporter Jason Leopold under the Freedom of Information Act, is so heavily redacted that its original 107 pages have been reduced to 35. Nonetheless, some key findings can still be gleaned from it. On Afghanistan, the review finds that there was no “significant ‘strategic impact’ to the release of this information”. Similarly, the study of the impact on the Iraq war concludes “with high confidence that disclosure of the Iraq data set will have no direct personal impact on current and former senior US leadership in Iraq”.