Pentagon Prepares for Possible Wikileaks Publication

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2010 — The Defense Depart­ment is prepar­ing for an addi­tion­al pub­li­ca­tion by Wik­ileaks of clas­si­fied mil­i­tary doc­u­ments from Iraq oper­a­tions, DOD offi­cials said here today.

A DOD task force has been comb­ing through the Iraq data base to assess the dam­age that a pro­posed Wik­ileaks pub­li­ca­tion of 400,000 sig­nif­i­cant activ­i­ty reports could pose to the U.S. mil­i­tary, Iraqi allies, and on-going oper­a­tions.

“We strong­ly con­demn the unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sure of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and will not com­ment on these leaked doc­u­ments oth­er than to note that ‘sig­nif­i­cant activ­i­ties’ reports are ini­tial, raw obser­va­tions by tac­ti­cal units,” Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell told reporters. “They are essen­tial­ly snap­shots of events, both trag­ic and mun­dane, and do not tell the whole sto­ry.

“That said, the peri­od cov­ered by these reports has been well-chron­i­cled in news sto­ries, books and films and the release of these field reports does not bring new under­stand­ing to Iraq’s past,” Mor­rell added.

In a note to news orga­ni­za­tions, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said the depart­ment does not know for sure what Wik­ileaks will pub­lish, but offi­cials expect the same type of doc­u­ments the orga­ni­za­tion put on the Inter­net in July about the Afghan con­flict. Wik­ileaks put 77,000 doc­u­ments from the Afghan data base on line in that breach of nation­al secu­ri­ty.

“If the release of doc­u­ments is four times what it was for the Afghan logs, this is larg­er in that sense,” Lapan said. “But in view of the types of infor­ma­tion, the two are very sim­i­lar.”

Task force offi­cials, he said, con­clud­ed that Wik­ileaks might release the names of Iraqis who coop­er­at­ed with the coali­tion and infor­ma­tion that could aid ene­mies in oper­a­tions.

The poten­tial breach is dan­ger­ous, but not fatal, Lapan said, not­ing nei­ther the Iraq, nor Afghanistan data bases con­tain intel­li­gence sources and meth­ods.

“That’s a dif­fer­ent lev­el, and that’s not what is in these doc­u­ments,” he said.

The data bases con­tain reports of every com­pa­ny lev­el sig­nif­i­cant activ­i­ty, Lapan said.

“These are raw obser­va­tions from the tac­ti­cal lev­el of com­bat oper­a­tions,” he said. “They could be casu­al­ty inci­dents; they could be IED inci­dents, infor­ma­tion on work­ing with Iraqis –- any num­ber of things that units use this data­base to report.”

Wik­ileaks should not pub­lish any­thing, the colonel said.

“The prob­lem with Wik­ileaks is it goes beyond just tak­ing out names of peo­ple,” Lapan said. “There is lots of oth­er infor­ma­tion that could be dam­ag­ing, and they don’t have the exper­tise to know what they are.”

Lapan said if Wik­ileaks does pub­lish the doc­u­ments on the Web, ser­vice­mem­bers and DOD civil­ians should steer clear of the site.

“The infor­ma­tion remains clas­si­fied even if it is released pub­licly,” Lapan said. DOD per­son­nel should not access that web­site from their gov­ern­ment com­put­ers, he said, lest they cre­ate a secu­ri­ty breach.

“We deplore Wik­ileaks for induc­ing indi­vid­u­als to break the law, leak clas­si­fied doc­u­ments and then cav­a­lier­ly share that secret infor­ma­tion with the world, includ­ing our ene­mies,” Lapan con­tin­ued. “We know ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions have been min­ing the leaked Afghan doc­u­ments for infor­ma­tion to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large.”

Wik­ileaks’ actions are putting the lives of troops and civil­ians at risk, Lapan said.

“The only respon­si­ble course of action for Wik­ileaks at this point is to return the stolen mate­r­i­al and expunge it from their web­sites as soon as pos­si­ble,” he said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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