News / USA

Pentagon Tells WikiLeaks Lawyer It Won't Help 'Sanitize' Documents

Defense Department Spokesman Bryan Whitman
Defense Department Spokesman Bryan Whitman

The Pentagon has told a lawyer who said he represents the founder of the website WikiLeaks it will not negotiate to arrange the release of secret documents with key information removed.  Officials of the group told reporters Wednesday the Pentagon had agreed to open a dialogue on the issue.

A letter from Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson says the defense department will not discuss what he calls "some 'minimized' or 'sanitized' version of a release by WikiLeaks of additional U.S. Government classified documents."  The letter also repeat's the department's demand that all the documents be returned, and that those which already have been published be removed from Wikileaks' databases and destroyed.

The group released 76,000 intelligence field reports from Afghanistan last month, and says it has 15,000 more.  It has indicated it would be willing to remove some information, such as names, from the second batch, but does not have the resources to do so.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman released the letter Wednesday, accusing WikiLeaks of misrepresenting the department's position when its founder, Julian Assange, said the Pentagon was willing to discuss the issue.  Whitman said there was an attempt to contact a WikiLeaks attorney, but not to discuss cooperation in releasing the documents.  

"Late last week, in the course of the investigation, we came across an individual purporting to be an attorney representing WikiLeaks," said Whitman.  "We arranged for a conversation to take place with the general counsel of the department.  This individual agreed, but then was a no-show for the call."

Reached by phone, the lawyer, Timothy Matusheski, said that claim is "a lie," and said the first he heard about a call was after he had already missed it.  He said he received a phone message from an official of the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command Sunday morning.  Matusheski said he returned the call and expressed his willingness to speak to a Pentagon official, but never heard back.  He said he represents Julian Assange and has done work for WikiLeaks, but he would not provide further details and would not allow his voice to be recorded for broadcast.

At the Pentagon, officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the impact of the documents already released and the prospect that more will be made public.  Their main concern involves people, including Afghan citizens, who are identified in the documents.  

"As the secretary has indicated, we have an ethical and moral obligation to take measures to protect the people that might be endangered by the release of this information," said Whitman.  "But we are not going to negotiate minimizing or sanitizing classified documents.  They are property of the United States government and they should be returned and removed from the website."

The Pentagon has more than 100 people reviewing and analyzing the WikiLeaks documents, which it says are raw intelligence reports that contain unconfirmed information.  But officials decline to say how many people are named in the documents or what steps they are taking to protect those people.  And they will not provide details about the extent of the damage they say is being caused to the U.S. and international effort in Afghanistan.  

Human Rights groups have also expressed concern about the documents' release and the danger that could pose to people named in them.  WikiLeaks founder Assange says he wants help removing such information from the documents, but no organization has agreed to do so.  Assange says he plans to publish the second set of documents within the next month.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs