Wikileaks cries war crimes

Documents illuminate Pakistani's destabilizing role in Afghanistan.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 26, 2010 17:22
2 minute read.
Screencap from video leaked by US Army soldier Bra

wikileaks video 311. (photo credit: AP)

The founder of Wikileaks claimed Monday there was evidence of war crimes among the 91,000 classified US documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, which were posted on the Wikileaks website Monday.

Afghan government spokesman Waheed Omar said Monday that government officials were studying the papers, especially those about civilian casualties and what role the Pakistani intelligence service has played in destabilizing activities inside Afghanistan.

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The reactions came after WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing group, posted US military records over the past six years about the war online, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against Taliban figures.
The White House, Britain and Pakistan have all condemned the release of the documents, one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history.

Assange told reporters in London that "it is up to a court to decide really if something in the end is a crime. That said ... there does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material."

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange compared the impact of the released material to the opening of the East German secret police archives. "This is the equivalent of opening the Stasi archives," he said.

The documents cover much of what the public already knows about the troubled nine-year conflict: US special operations forces have targeted militants without trial, Afghans have been killed by accident, and US officials have been infuriated by alleged Pakistani intelligence cooperation with the very insurgent groups bent on killing Americans.

WikiLeaks posted the documents Sunday. The New York Times, London's Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the records.

White House national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones said the release "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk." In a statement, he then took pains to point out that the documents describe a period from January 2004 to December 2009, mostly during the administration of President George W. Bush. And, Jones added, before President Obama announced a new strategy.

Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani agreed, saying the documents "do not reflect the current on-ground realities," in which his country and Washington are "jointly endeavoring to defeat al-Qaida and its Taliban allies."

The US and Pakistan assigned teams of analysts to read the records online to assess whether sources or locations were at risk.

Pakistan's powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, said Monday that the accusations it had close connections to Taliban militants were malicious and unsubstantiated.

A senior ISI official said they were from unverified raw intelligence reports and were meant to impugn the reputation of the spy agency. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the agency's policy.


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