‘NYT’ Editor Answers Queries on ‘The War Logs’

By: E&P Staff

New York Times Editor Bill Keller took to the paper’s Website Monday to answer readers’ questions about the Gray Lady publishing “The War Logs,” a series of stories about the war in Afghanistan that are based on six years’ worth of classified military information leaked by independent organization WikiLeaks.org.

WikiLeaks on Sunday published tens of thousands of classified military field reports about the war, detailing thousands of events thus far in the ongoing conflict. The Times reported that the site claims its goal in disclosing the secret documents is to reveal “unethical behavior” by governments and corporations, and has been doing so since 2006.

The Times, along with The Guardian newspaper of London and German magazine Der Spiegel, was given access to the material several weeks ago, and spent a month poring through the data for disclosures and verifying the information for what would become “The War Logs.” In a note to readers, the Times said the resulting stories provide “a real-time history of the war reported from one important vantage point — that of the soldiers and officers actually doing the fighting and reconstruction.”

Check out the entire series here.

In the first reader questions sent to askthetimes@nytimes.com for an online Q&A on “The War Logs,” Keller answered two queries about what sensitive information the White House asked Times editors not to publish.

“The administration, while strongly condemning WikiLeaks for making these documents public, did not suggest that The Times should not write about them,” Keller wrote. “On the contrary, in our discussions prior to the publication of our articles, White House officials, while challenging some of the conclusions we drew from the material, thanked us for handling the documents with care, and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message.”

Late Sunday, National Security Advisor Marine Gen. James L. Jones in a statement said the Obama administration “strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.” He went on to specifically criticize WikiLeaks for posting the documents, but did not mention the Times by name.

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