Pen­tagon stud­ies risks to Afghans from doc­u­ments

Austin American-Statesman - - THURSDAYBRIEFING -

WASHINGTON — The Pen­tagon is 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, U.S. of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

A 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 U.S. and NATO troops.

The Times, 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 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 Sun­day to re­move the names of in­for­mants. But the 75,000 doc­u­ments Wik­iLeaks put on­line pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about pos­si­ble in­for­mants, such as their vil­lages and in some cases their fa­thers’ names.

Asked on NBC’s “To­day” show Wed­nes­day whether the killing of an Afghan as a re­sult of the Wik­iLeaks dis­clo­sure would be con­sid­ered “col­lat­eral dam­age” in his ef­forts to make de­tails of the war pub­lic, As­sange said, “If we had, in fact, made that mis­take, then, of course, that would be some­thing that we would take very se­ri­ously.”

One U.S. of­fi­cial, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said govern­ment lawyers were ex­plor­ing whether Wik­iLeaks and As­sange could be charged with a crime.

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