Pentagon reviewing leaked classified documents to minimise risks to Afghans

July 29th, 2010 - 1:56 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 29 (ANI): The Pentagon is reported to be reviewing tens of thousands of classified battlefield reports made public this week about the war in Afghanistan to determine whether Afghan informants were identified and could be at risk of reprisals.

Pentagon spokesman, Col. David Lapan, said that a Pentagon assessment team had not yet drawn any conclusions, but that “in general, the naming of individuals could cause potential problems, both to their physical safety or willingness to continue support to coalition forces or the Afghan government.”

A search by The New York Times through a sampling of the documents released by the organization WikiLeaks found reports that gave the names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing credible information to American and NATO troops.

The Times and two other publications given access to the documents - the British newspaper The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel - posted online only selected examples from documents that had been redacted to eliminate names and other information that could be used to identify people at risk.

The news organizations did this to avoid jeopardizing the lives of informants.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has said that the organization withheld 15,000 of the approximately 92,000 documents in the archive that was released on Sunday to remove the names of informants in what he called a “harm minimization” process.

But the 75,000 documents WikiLeaks put online provide information about possible informants, like their villages and in some cases their fathers’ names.

Meanwhile, national security officials are worried that the attention WikiLeaks has received in the past week has elevated its profile and could be used to entice disgruntled officials to send classified information to its Web site.

One official said government lawyers were exploring whether WikiLeaks and its editor Julian Assange could be charged with a crime. (ANI)

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