Pentagon Asks Media to Refrain From Publishing Anticipated WikiLeaks Data
The Pentagon on Monday asked media organizations to refrain from publishing any classified war files released by WikiLeaks, anticipating another large-scale disclosure of as many as 500,000 documents on Iraq war operations.
In July, WikiLeaks released nearly 77,000 classified military reports from Afghanistan. The investigation into the Afghan leak has been focused on PFC Bradley Manning, a U.S. army intelligence analyst was charged with leaking a classified video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007 in which a dozen people were killed.
Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan indicated that a 120-person military team had been assembled to review the files on the Iraq war to determine what information was compromised and what the impact of the Wikileaks release could be. Col. Lapan said the files were from an Iraq-based database that contained “significant acts, unit-level reporting, tactical reports, things of that nature.”
The July release of the Afghan documents prompted the government to warn that website might cause the deaths of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians because some of the documents contained the names of Afghan civilians who had assisted coalition forces. At the time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a letter to the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the leak had not revealed any “sensitive intelligence sources or methods,” but added that disclosing the names of cooperating Afghans, who could become targets of the Taliban, could cause “significant harm or damage to national security interests of the United States.” The leak also prompted fears that that such leaks could damage U.S. intelligence sharing with other nations as well as intelligence sharing between U.S. agencies.
Also of note, the Army earlier this month updated a 17-year-old rulebook on espionage, which now requires troops to alert authorities if they suspect that classified information has been provided to anyone an unauthorized person or has been remove from the workplace. It also directs the Army to create a central system to collect threat reports. The prior version of the guidelines required troops to report cases of treason or attempted intrusions into automated systems. The Army said the update is not related to the July WikiLeaks release, but is simply part of a comprehensive review.