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More Afghan military secrets set to go online
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 05:03:00 PM, Alice Johnson
A British officer speaks with an Afghan youth during a patrol near Nahr e Saraj village, in Helmand
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Dubai: The next 15,000 military documents to be published on whistleblower website wikileaks.org are "predominantly intelligence reports", its founder Julian Assange told Gulf News by telephone from London on Monday.
On Sunday, more than 91,000 secret — and previously unreported — US military reports of conflicts in Afghanistan were published on the site, as well as by the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel.
It is the biggest military security leak since the Vietnam war.
Assange said at a news conference in London on Monday that the documents may include evidence of war crimes.
War crimes evidence
However, when asked why the documents were not presented to international war crime investigators, Assange said: "Publishing them on the site and drawing attention to them through the media tends to be more effective than drawing in the efforts of investigators to follow-up the abuses that have been exposed."
According to the site, most of the entries in the "Afghan War Diary" have been written by soldiers and intelligence officers listening to reports radioed in from frontline deployments. Reports also contain related information from Marine intelligence, US embassies, apart from corruption cases and development activity across Afghanistan.
In 310 "significant" reports highlighted in a downloadable spreadsheet by The Guardian, "Enemy KIA" (killed in action) numbered 138, while "Civilian KIA" numbered 197.
The Pentagon on Monday said its review of the documents could take weeks.
Colonel Dave Lapan, Pentagon spokesman, said: "We will be looking at them to try to determine the potential damage to lives of our service members and our coalition partners, whether they reveal sources and methods and any potential damage to national security.
"It will take a matter of days if not weeks, again depending on how these documents are actually made available so that they can be reviewed."
The Afghanistan government said it is "shocked" about the leak, particularly regarding civilian casualties and the role of Pakistan's intelligence service in destabilising activities inside Afghanistan. Pakistan has said that the US intelligence leaks are "skewed".
On the sidelines of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I hope any such leaks will not poison the atmosphere and I don't think they will."
Assange said WikiLeaks is a "public service" and it is not for it to determine if sources are "well-motivated".
"We're not concerned if a source has a vendetta or not; our concern is whether the material is significant and whether it's likely to have a public impact and whether it's true," he said.
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