Yes, they released top-secret government information
I disagree, and for rather a lot of reasons.
In order to explain my answer (and to rebut the above answer), I
need to clarify a few points on how national security works.
After WW-II, the international security community had developed
a staggering number of security classifications in what was a
hierarchical attempt to sequester certain information.
Unfortunately, information doesn't often fit into a rigid,
pyramidal, hierarchical structure. There is no "man at the top" who
can know everything, as even then, everything was beyond the scope
of one person.
In an effort to address this, most of the classifications were
removed, with only three remaining in the classified world:
Classified, Secret and Top Secret. And of course not everything fit
into these three. Some information was so important that it needed
to be shared only with those that needed to know. And so
Compartmentalized information was created. In this case,
information that was sensitive was classified within a project or
compartment name. So, for instance, your Top Secret clearance
wouldn't get you anywhere near the "Ultra" information that had to
do with Japanese encryption during WW-II. This sort of
compartmentalization exists to this day.
Even with this simplification, however, problems existed. Think
of the poor security officer tasked with developing classification.
If he declassified something, there was a chance he'd get in a lot
of trouble, if the datum turned out to be really sensitive. And if
he declassified correctly, well… nothing. No awards for that. So
quite naturally, a lot of information became or remained classified
at higher levels than it needed (if indeed it needed to be
classified at all). The result of this was that, entering into the
21st century, the US had a dazzling amount of stuff retained under
security classification, that really didn't need to be classified
at all. This caused a huge problem in terms of intelligence
analysis and collaboration, highlighted by some of the
investigations after 9/11, where data wasn't always passed for fear
of compromising security.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have made it a priority
to declassify a huge amount of information held under legal
classification. It's a great idea, has bipartisan support and no
real opponents. The problem, of course, remains that, even with a
presidential directive or edict in place, the job of
declassification is both extremely difficult, politically dangerous
and utterly unrewarding. The result is predictable: not nearly as
much has been done as was mandated.
Enter WikiLeaks. In America and most democratic/republican
governments, there is a requirement for openness in all matters of
government. Naturally, this is offset by the requirements of
national security, and everyone agrees with both these principles.
The government needs accountability to the people, the people want
it, and most good government does too. This doesn't mean every door
is open, but most should be.
Over its existence, WikiLeaks has been presented with a wide
array of information, often acquired from whistleblowers,
declassification, news sources, etc. WL has shown a lot of care in
what actually gets released, and how. The more controversial items
in the last large release had been offered beforehand to the US
Department of State (DOS), for them to vet what was potentially
really critical and what wasn't. WL has, at government request,
redacted documents. And they do maintain the 1st Amendment shield
of the free press.
To date (2012 Feb), I cannot find a case where WL released data
with a classification higher than Secret; no Top Secret data
appeared in my search. Nothing in the areas of WMD's, encryption,
satellite intel, COOP/COG, or C4I where released that I could see,
and this is a good representative slice of what modern governments
consider to be the holiest of holies. We do seem some opinions
expressed by the DOS about foreign leaders that are somewhat
derogatory and not what I'd like said about me, but then Americans
are famous for being open about their political opinions. We see
obsolete SpecOps "manuals", and budgetary talk about the Iraq war
and Afghan action. We don't see the wing design of the B2 bomber
(although Testor's Model Company, makers of plastic models of
planes and ships, apparently has a pretty good handle on that).
In summary, while I haven't reviewed every jot and tittle
released by WL, I haven't seen anything that would endanger the US
national security at all. I have on the other hand seen the
upholding of a great free tradition: government accountability to
For these reasons, I would suggest that the WL leaks have helped
the US far more than hurting us.
Yes and no.
The release of 'classified' information damages the security of
the United States. The problem with people is that they don't
realize this while they are cheering on Wikileaks. The damage can
be as simple as a growing distrust between countries, which is a
threat to US security as well as every western nation.
The release of 'non-classified' information could beneficial to
the political processes of democracy.