Pentagon Accuses Analyst Over WikiLeaks Data
July 27, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
By: Julian E. Barnes
Military investigators are checking computers used by Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst charged this month with leaking classified information, to see if he is the source of thousands of military documents published Sunday by WikiLeaks.
The material released by WikiLeaks relates entirely to the war in Afghanistan, while Pfc. Manning was stationed in Iraq. But investigators are trying to determine what material he was able to get access to and what material he transferred.
Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said investigators are looking broadly to determine where the material was taken from, but acknowledged that Pfc. Manning was a person of interest in the investigation. “He is someone we are looking at closely,” Col. Lapan said.
WikiLeaks Sunday published thousands of secret U.S. military documents spanning more than five years. The information is in part humdrum and also dramatic, showing in raw detail the intelligence reports sent from personnel in the field. Among other things, the documents discuss civilian casualties, Pakistan’s role in aiding the Taliban and the weapons capabilities of the Afghan insurgency.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, at a news conference in London Monday, declined to comment on the identity of the source who leaked the documents, or on how the source managed to copy and leak them. Asked about Mr. Manning, Mr. Assange said: “There is no allegation as far as we can determine” that the documents posted on WikiLeaks Sunday are “connected to Bradley Manning.”
He said WikiLeaks has nonetheless “committed funds” to Pfc. Manning’s legal defense, offering his military-appointed legal team money in case it wants to hire civilian counsel.
Mr. Manning’s military defense team didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.
In early July, the U.S. military announced it would press criminal charges against 22-year-old Pfc. Manning for allegedly transferring classified military information to his computer and “delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source.”
These charges appear to be connected to the leak of a classified video that WikiLeaks released to the public. The video, which depicts the July 2007 killing of two Reuters journalists and other individuals in Iraq by Apache helicopter gunships, provoked an international media sensation. In early April, Wikileaks released “Collateral Murder,” a package of documents and videos related to the attack.
The organization said an anonymous leaker, credited only as “our courageous source,” had furnished the materials, which included dramatic gunsight video.
According to a U.S. military charge sheet, Pfc. Manning improperly obtained secret information, including classified State Department cables and video footage of a July 2007 military operation, while stationed at a base east of Baghdad.