WikiLeaks Iraq Cache More Than Three Times As Big

wikileaks-press-declass-tease
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

The cache of classified U.S. military reports on the Iraq War as yet unreleased by WikiLeaks may be more than three times as large as the set of roughly 76,000 similar reports on the war in Afghanistan made public by the whistle-blower Web site earlier this week, Declassified has learned.

Three sources familiar with the Iraq material in WikiLeaks hands, requesting anonymity to discuss what they described as highly sensitive information, say it’s similar to this week’s Afghanistan material, consisting largely of field reports from U.S. military personnel and classified no higher than the "secret" level. According to one of the sources, the Iraq material portrays U.S. forces being involved in a "bloodbath," but some of the most disturbing material relates to the abusive treatment of detainees not by Americans but by Iraqi security forces, the source says.

Although WikiLeaks founder and principal operative, Julian Assange, provided three news organizations—The New York Times, London newspaper The Guardian, and the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel—with weeks of advance access to the Afghan War material before making it public himself, he’s apparently being more coy in his handling of the Iraq War material, the source indicates. Assange is keeping tighter personal control over the Iraq material than he maintained over the Afghan material, the source says, adding that it’s not clear whether any media organizations have had advance access to it or when it might be made public.

A second source says there are indications that WikiLeaks has been receiving leaked material from sources besides Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private who recently was charged by military authorities with illegally handling classified information. Among other offenses, Manning has been charged with improperly downloading more than 150,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.

The Obama administration and many members of Congress have strongly condemned the leaking of U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks, although many experts have said the newly published Afghan material reveals little that was not already known about U.S. conduct of the war or about the perfidy of such parties as Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. WikiLeaks is said to have an additional 15,000 unreleased reports in its Afghan trove, for a total of about 92,000 documents. It remains to be seen whether the unpublished material will bring any greater understanding to the war.

Assange did not immediately reply to e-mails from Declassified seeking comment on what further revelations might be forthcoming.