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US identifies man who gave leaked documents


Nic Robertson,CNN
Jul 27, 2010 at 05:34pm IST

London: US officials claim to have identified a 22-year-old arrested Army intelligence analyst as a possible suspect in leaking classified US documents on the war in Afghanistan. Bradley Manning, arrested in May 2009, is believed to be the main suspect who leaked the information to Wikileaks.

He has already claimed he leaked many classified documents, databases and videos to Wikileaks, and described having direct contact with the site's founder, Julian Assange.

The website known for publishing government leaks has exposed Pakistani intelligence agency ISI's links with Afghan insurgents and Taliban. With over 90,000 US military documents leaked on the website, it is a huge embarrassment for the US.

But Pakistan has called the report by Wikileaks 'baseless'.

The reports claim that the barely accessible US mountain base called Camp Keating, which had over 1OO troops, attacked by a group of Taliban insurgents in 2007 which nearby killed the base commander.

It was clear then the base was vulnerable. According to The New York Times one of the 92,000 documents details a taliban attack at the base.

Two years later the base was closed because it was undermanned and ineffective.

CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents but according to the news paper, desperate computer messages were being sent indicating insurgents had made it to the last line of defence. The support did eventually arrive but eight soldiers were killed and almost two dozen wounded.

It is what Wikileaks boss Julian Assange calls the squalor of war and why he says he got the documents.

"Our goal is just reform. Our method is transparency. But we do not put the method before the goal," says Assange.

Even though Assange says thousands of documents were being held back so names can be removed, yet some military experts are upset.

"None of these documents are being filtered for potential harm that can be done to our troops. Revealing vulnerabilities in our troops locations, in our tactics in our procedures. The only word that comes to my mind is outrage," says a military commander.

There is outrage in Pakistan too. Leaks apparently show Pakistan's intelligence services have been supporting Taliban attacks on US troops riling a former intelligence chief in particular.

"There is no truth in what they have said, I have a moral position that I take and that moral position is that this is wrong," says former Pakistan ISI chief Hamid Gul.

The allegations, like much that is emerging from the documents so far, are not new but threaten to destabilise Pakistan's rocky relationship with the US.

Pakistani officials recently said they want a friendly government in Kabul and not one that supports their arch rival India. The implication is the Taliban are their insurance against that happening.

"It is a country in which both India and Pakistan have interests and unless the interests of Pakistan and India can be brought into symmetry, and that symmetry aligned with Afghan interests then this war could go on indefinitely," says Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

British newspaper The Guardian, which like The New York Times has had access to the documents for the past few weeks says it compared the military's accounts of events with other sources concluding in the cases they highlight civilian casualties have been under reported.

"Over the weekend as we have been contacted by media representatives and anticipated this story coming out, at high levels we gave an alert to President Karzai (Afghan President Hamid Karzai), to President Zardari (Paksitani Predisent Asif Ali Zardari), and to the other ministries on both sides so they would understand that, you know, that this -- and anticipate release of -- of these documents. Obviously, from our standpoint we continue to investigate the source of this release and also to assess the impact that it has had on our security," says US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley.

"I think our reaction to this type of material, a breach of federal law, is always the same, and that is, whenever you have the potential for names and for operations and for programmes to be out there in the public domain that it... besides being against the law, has a potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are cooperating with our military and those that are working to keep us safe," says White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs.

But the leaks are not going to make any difference immediately because much of what has been leaked has been leaked before, or at the very least been the subject of intense speculation. Very few of the documents have been fully examined and it's in their details like the revealing account of the attack on Camp Keating that the most damage may occur.

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