In order to prepare for the anticipated release of sensitive intelligence on the US-led Iraq war, officials set up a 120-person taskforce several weeks ago to comb through the database and “determine what the possible impacts might be,” said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.
The Department of Defense is concerned the leak compiles “significant activities” from the war, which include incidents such as known attacks against coalition troops, Iraqi security forces, civilians or infrastructure in the country.
The documents are expected to be released early this week and WikiLeaks is thought to again be working with former media partners – The New York Times, the Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel – for a simultaneous release, the report adds.
A coalition of human rights groups including Amnesty International have reportedly put pressure on WikiLeaks to “do a better job” of redacting the names of sources from military documents it has published, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Amnesty International, Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, Open Society Institute, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Kabul office of International Crisis Group are all alleged to have emailed the whistleblowing website with their concerns over the safety of Afghan informers.
According to the report, Wikileaks director Julian Assange asked Amnesty if it would assist redacting the names of Afghan civilians, and threatened to issue a press release highlighting a refusal to do so.
The exchange follows reports last week that the Pentagon demanded WikiLeaks remove all the documents from public access online and desist from publishing any more material.
According to a piece in Editor & Publisher, defence secretary Robert Gates has has demanded that military officials must now get clearance from the Pentagon for press interviews.
Gates allegedly sent a memo ordering military and civilian personnel across the globe to first gain permission before sharing stories with the media, which would prevent a repeat of the General Stanley McChrystal affair.
The order, issued by Gates on Friday in a brief memo to military and civilian personnel worldwide and effective immediately, tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back.
The order has been in the works since long before Gen. Stanley McChrystal stunned his bosses with criticism and complaints in a Rolling Stone article that his superiors did not know was coming.
“Gibbs not only reminded the press corps that the Pentagon denied the report but used the opportunity to take shots at the British press.
“‘I want to speak generally about some reports I’ve witnessed over the past few years in the British media,’ Gibbs said. ‘In some ways, I’m surprised it filtered down.’
“‘Let’s just say if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper,” he continued. ‘If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I’m not entirely sure it’d be the first pack of clips I’d pick up.'”