THE WikiLeaks website is today expected to release what the Pentagon fears is the largest cache of secret US documents in history – hundreds of thousands of intelligence reports compiled after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In a message posted on its Twitter page, the organisation said there was a “major WikiLeakspress conference in Europe coming up”.
Their disclosure would be the most massive leak of secret documents in US history, and defence officials are racing to contain the damage.
A team of more than 100 analysts from across the US military, lead by the Defence Intelligence Agency, has been combing through the Iraq documents they think will be released. Called the Information Review Task Force, its analysts have pored over the documents and used word searches to try to pull out names and other issues that would be particularly sensitive, officials said.
The task force has informed the US Central Command of some of the names of Iraqis and allies, and of other information they believe might be released that could present a danger, officials said, noting that – unlike the WikiLeaks previous disclosure of 77,000 documents from Afghanistan – in this case they had advance notice that names may be exposed.
That previous leak in July outraged the US military, which accused WikiLeaks of irresponsibility. However, a Pentagon letter has reported that no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the posting of secret Afghan war logs.
Although US officials still think the leaks could cause significant damage to US security interests, the assessment suggests some of the administration’s worst fears about the July disclosure have so far failed to materialise.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates reported the conclusions in a letter on August 16 to Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who requested a Pentagon assessment.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters he feared lives could be put at risk by the mammoth disclosure.
Any release would create “a very unfortunate situation,” he said. “I can’t comment on the details of the exact impact on security but, in general, I can tell you that such leaks . . . may have a very negative security impact for people involved.”
He was speaking in Berlin following a meeting with Angela Merkel.
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