A small, cash-strapped website that publishes documents governments want kept secret has caught the attention of the Pentagon, which says the site poses a possible threat to US troops.
A report by the US Army Counterintelligence Center says the whistleblower website WikiLeaks poses a potential danger to safeguarding troops, protecting sensitive information, and “operational security.”
“WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Following/photographing/filming/detaining,” Wikileaks posted on the microblogging site Twitter.
“If anything happens to us, you know why: it is our Apr 5 film. And you know who is responsible,” it added, about an hour later.
The Twitter feed also said that Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, an Australian, had been tailed on his way from Iceland, and another site employee was detained for 22 hours. Computers were also seized, it said.
“We have airline records of the State Dep/CIA tails. Don’t think you can get away with it. You cannot. This is WikiLeaks.”
“We have been shown secret photos of our production meetings and been asked specific questions during detention related to the airstrike. “
WikiLeaks also urged its Twitter followers to contact them if they knew anything about the ‘operations against us’.
The last Twitter message from the site was published 16 hours after the first ones and said:
“To those worrying about us–we’re fine, and will issue a suitable riposte shortly.”
Military analysis published
A military analysis appeared this week on the WikiLeaks website, the latest document posted on the site that seeks to uncover information governments and companies try to keep from public view.
US Army spokesman Gary Tallman confirmed the report on the website was “genuine.”
The report expresses concern that the website posted 2,000 pages of documents with precise details of military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan from April 2007, describing them as “nearly the entire order of battle.”
Tallman said that information has a “shelf life” and has become outdated.
“The information in the review is now dated to the point where it no longer presents the same national security concerns as it did when the report was generated,” he told AFP.
Aim to expose contributors
The 2008 army report suggests trying to expose those who leak documents WikiLeaks as a way of undermining the website.
Sites such as WikiLeaks “use trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers,” it said.
“The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.”
Tallman said the military seeks to safeguard sensitive information and is focused on preventing leaks that could endanger US forces or national security.
He said that “anyone who knowingly provides information marked as classified to anyone or an organization without a proper clearance or need to know is a serious matter, and subject to potential penalties under the law.”
WikiLeaks, run by Sunshine Press, describes itself as a “non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public.”
The site, which has to rely in part on public contributions to stay afloat, had to temporarily shut down earlier this year because of financial difficulties.
WikiLeaks says it has published more than one million documents from dissident communities and anonymous sources around the world about government and corporate corruption, human rights violations and other subjects.
The Swiss bank Julius Baer & Company LTD earlier this month dropped a legal attempt to force Wikileaks to shut down.
A US federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the website’s postings of leaked documents is protected as free speech by the US Constitution.
Julius Baer went after Wikileaks in court after the website posted copies of internal documents indicating the company helped customers launder money illegally through the Cayman Islands.
Baer denied the accusations.