October 16, 2010

WikiLeaks Preparing To Release 400,000 More Secret Iraq Reports

As whistleblower website WikiLeaks gets ready to release some 400,000 secret military documents, the Pentagon said Friday it was scouring through an Iraqi War database preparing for potential fallout from such a release of information.

The substantial release would dwarf the website's publication of 77,000 classified military documents in July on the Afghanistan War. The documents released then contained names of Afghan informants and other details from intelligence reports. WikiLeaks also plans to release another 15,000 soon.

US officials set up a 120-member taskforce several weeks ago to prepare for this coming Monday's release of the sensitive intelligence on the Iraq War. The group will sift through the database to "determine what the possible impacts might be," said Col. David Lapan, a spokesman for the Pentagon.

The Department of Defense is concerned that the leak compiles "significant activities" from the war, which include incidents such as known attacks against coalition troops, Iraqi security forces, civilians or infrastructure in the country.

The data was gathered from an Iraq-based "tactical reports database" that contained "significant acts, unit-level reporting, tactical reports, things of that nature," Lapan said, noting the Pentagon still does not know how many and which documents would be released.

Lapan urged WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange to return the war-sensitive material to the United States. "Our position is redactions don't help, it's returning the documents to their rightful owner," Lapan told AFP.

"We don't believe WikiLeaks or others have the expertise needed. It's not as simple as just taking out names. There are other things and documents that aren't names that are also potentially damaging," he added.
WikiLeaks is facing internal troubles stemming from criticism that its releases cause harm to US national security and an ongoing investigation on Julian Assange over an alleged sex crime in Sweden.

WikiLeaks is also facing money troubles as British firm Moneybookers, which WikiLeaks uses to collect donations, closed his website's account in August after the US and Australian officials blacklisted the whistleblower site in the days following the initial release of Afghan war documents.

WikiLeaks has been under "scheduled maintenance" since September 29, but promises to be back up and running as soon as possible.


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