Wikileaks to seek Pentagon help on war logs
Founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks Julian Assange. Photo: AFP
Wikileaks, the website that released thousands of classified documents on the Afghan war, has said it is seeking help from the Pentagon in reviewing 15,000 sensitive documents before releasing them.
The news came as a US congressman called for the alleged whistleblower, Private Bradley Manning, to be executed if found guilty of releasing the documents.
A Wikileaks spokesman in Germany, Daniel Schmitt, told the Daily Beast news site that Wikileaks wanted help in removing the names of Afghan civilians and others who might be endangered when more reports were made public.
The Pentagon said it had not been contacted by Wikileaks. A spokesman refused to speculate on what its response would be should assistance be requested.
Last week Wikileaks released 75,000 classified documents on the Afghan war.
The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said that the release of the documents was potentially life-threatening.
Admiral Mullen said the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and his colleagues ''might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family''.
Mr Assange, while rejecting the claim, said he would ''deeply regret'' any harm caused by the disclosures. The Taliban said they would go through the documents to identify traitors.
A Republican congressman, Mike Rogers, said the alleged source of the war logs should be charged with treason and tried by a military tribunal.
Asked if treason during wartime was an offence punishable by death, he said: ''Yes, and I would support it 100 per cent.
''The death penalty clearly should be considered here … [Private Manning] clearly aided the enemy to what may result in the death of US soldiers or those co-operating. If that is not a capital offence, I don't know what is.''
Military officials said Private Manning, 22, was a ''person of interest'' in the Wikileaks investigation. He was already being detained by the US military in Kuwait on suspicion of having leaked other sensitive information, including a video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed Iraqi civilians.
Democratic senators who have been working on legislation to provide greater protection to reporters who refuse to identify confidential sources are backpedalling from including organisations such as Wikileaks in their legislation.
Two senators, Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, are drafting an amendment to make it clear that the bill's protections extend only to traditional news-gathering activities and not to websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents. The so-called ''media shield'' bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
US public support for the Afghan war and Barack Obama's handing of the conflict has hit an all-time low since the Wikileaks revelations, a new poll shows. The President's overall ratings also declined to a new low, with only 41 per cent of Americans saying they approved of his performance, the USA Today/Gallup poll found.
The proportion of people who say the US made a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan rose to 43 per cent, compared with 38 per cent before the release of the documents.
Confidence in Mr Obama's war policy is now at 36 per cent.