Washington: Apprehensive that whistleblower website WikiLeaks may be on the brink of fresh leaks, the Pentagon has asked the portal to refrain from publishing more classified papers on the Afghan war, saying public disclosure of new information can only make the damage worse.
The demand by the Pentagon, which the agency has no powers to enforce, is aimed to scuttle moves by the whistleblower website to publish 15,000 secret documents that it claims it is holding.
WikiLeaks said it had written to Pentagon asking it to redact names of Commanders and informants from the papers still not made public. The US Defence Department has however denied receiving any such request.
“The Defence Department demands that WikiLeaks return immediately to the US government all versions of documents obtained directly or indirectly from the Department of Defence databases or records,” Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell told reporters at a briefing here.
“Public disclosure of additional Defence Department classified information can only make the damage worse. The only acceptable course is for WikiLeaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the US government and permanently delete them from its website, computers and records,” he said.
The Pentagon’s fury also comes as reports said that the whistleblower website may have in it’s possession contents of a mammoth encrypted files.
“WikiLeaks’s public disclosure last week of a large number of our documents has already threatened the safety of our troops, our allies and Afghan citizens who are working with us to help bring about peace and stability in that part of the world,” Morrell said.
The Department of Defence also demands that WikiLeaks discontinue any solicitation of this type, he asserted.
Referring to reports of WikiLeaks approaching Pentagon for redacting names from the leaked files, Morrell denied reports that the portal has asked the Department of Defence for help in reviewing approximately 15,000 classified documents that it has obtained in an unauthorised and inappropriate manner, before it releases those classified documents to the public.
WikiLeaks has made no such request directly to the Department of Defence. These documents are the property of the US government and contain classified and sensitive information,“ he said.
The Pentagon spokesperson clarified that at this point of time it is only a demand to WikiLeaks and is not compelling them.
“If it requires them compelling to do anything -- if doing the right thing is not good enough for them, then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing,” he said in response to a question.
Besides the Pentagon, the State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are looking into the various aspects of the leaked classified documents on Afghan War, which official say, has endangered the lives of a large number of US soldiers and Afghan informants.
Morrell said at this point of time, the Pentagon has no idea of what these 15,000 documents contain.
“The fact that information like this gets out into the public domain is a serious breach. We are taking measures internally to reinforce existing rules and guidelines,” he said.
WikiLeaks has posted a huge encrypted file named “Insurance” to its website, raising fears that the portal maybe on the brink of releasing another wave of secret material.
The Pentagon has assigned a force of 80 intelligence experts to comb 75,000 classified military files already leaked by the whistleblower website to see whether and how these could be used by Taliban and other forces to hone their tactics against US forces.