News / USA

Pentagon Prepares for WikiLeaks Iraq Release

An Afghan War Diary on the Wikileaks website, 26 July 2010
An Afghan War Diary on the Wikileaks website, 26 July 2010
Al Pessin

A special team at the Pentagon is preparing to take action to protect American units and Iraqi citizens who officials say might be put in danger by the expected release of secret documents by the activist website WikiLeaks.  

The 120-member task force has been working in secret for months, reviewing a database of 400,000 Iraq War documents - believed to be the same documents WikiLeaks has.  A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan, says the team has found information that would put people and military operations in danger.

"They found names of individuals," said Colonel Lapan. "The found, again, things that could give our enemies information about our capabilities and our operations that would be damaging.  So they are prepared, once documents start to appear, to take action based on those documents."

Colonel Lapan indicated that individual Iraqis will be notified if their names appear in the documents, and some military tactics might need to be changed.  

These documents are field reports of what are called "significant activities."  They are believed to cover the period from late 2003 to the middle of this year.  Colonel Lapan says that is a timeframe that has been "very well chronicled," so he does not expect major revelations about the conduct of the war.

"These are raw observations from the tactical level of combat operations," he said. "They could be casualty incidents.  They could be IED [Improvised Explosive Device] incidents.  They could be information on working with, in this case, Iraqis, any number of things that units use this database to report."

The colonel says some of the reports are just a few lines long.

The Pentagon has called on WikiLeaks to return all the secret material it has obtained, but the organization has refused.  Its officials say there is value in releasing the raw information.  But the Pentagon calls the wholesale release of the secret documents "irresponsible."

In a statement emailed to reporters Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell called the documents "snapshots of events" that "do not tell the whole story."  He said U.S. "enemies will mine this information looking for insights into how we operate, cultivate sources and react in combat situations…"  Morrell says the publication of the material "could very well get our troops and those they are fighting with killed."

WikiLeaks published more than 70,000 similar documents from the Afghanistan War in March, and Pentagon officials issued similar dire warnings.  They acknowledge they can not point to any incident in which people died or operations were compromised by that release, but they say such consequences could still happen.

And Colonel Lapan also acknowledges that some other concerns about the initial release were not borne out, including fear the documents could contain the names of intelligence sources.

"The database in the case of Afghanistan, and also now in the case of the Iraq database, wouldn't contain intelligence sources and methods in it," he said. "The sources, again, that we talked about, are more people cooperating with our forces.  But in terms of intelligence sources, that's a different level."

Pentagon officials think they know what documents WikiLeaks has, and are ready to deal with their release.  But members of the special task force will be checking the website closely to see if there is any secret material made public that they were not expecting.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs