The Times leads today on a story alleging that hundreds of Afghan lives have been put at risk by the passing to WikiLeaks of 90,000 intelligence documents because the files identify informants working with Nato forces.
It claims: "In just two hours of searching the WikiLeaks archive, The Times found the names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing detailed intelligence to US forces. Their villages are given for identification and also, in many cases, their fathers’ names. US officers recorded detailed logs of the information fed to them by named local informants, particularly tribal elders."
The Times report says: "Among the documents is a report from 2008 that includes a detailed interview with a Taleban fighter considering defection. He is named, with both his father’s name and village included.
"There is also detailed intelligence on other Taleban fighters and commanders in his area. The Times has withheld all details that would identify the man. The man names local Taleban commanders and talks about other potential defectors."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking at the Frontline Club on Monday about the intelligence documents, said: "We have tried to make sure that this material does not put innocents at harm. All the material is over seven months old so it is of no current operational consequence, even though it may be of very significant investigative consequence."
He said WikiLeaks had held back 15,000 of the intelligence reports on Afghanistan which would not be released until it was safe to do so.
- New York Times' executive editor Bill Keller has told readers (see post below): "In their raw form, we believe the documents could put lives at risk — especially Afghans who are identified as having cooperated with the NATO force, but also Americans and NATO allies, by providing information about tactics and intelligence-gathering. That is why we took great pains to eliminate such references from our coverage."
- The Times is now behind a paywall.