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Jul 30, 2010

WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands, U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands, the Pentagon said on Thursday, warning its unprecedented leak of secret U.S. military files could cost lives and damage trust of allies.

An Army intelligence officer, already under arrest, is at the center of an investigation into the leak of more than 90,000 secret records to WikiLeaks, one of the biggest security breaches in U.S. military history, U.S. officials have said.

Jul 29, 2010

U.S. says WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The unprecedented leak of secret U.S. military reports on the Afghan war may cost lives and damage trust with allies, the Pentagon said on Thursday, warning publisher WikiLeaks could have blood on its hands.

An Army intelligence officer, already under arrest, is at the center of an investigation into the leak of more than 90,000 secret military records to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, U.S. officials have said.

Jul 26, 2010

U.S. hunts for leaker of Afghan war documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Monday it was launching a manhunt to find whoever leaked tens of thousands of classified documents on the war in Afghanistan, one of the largest security breaches in U.S. military history.

U.S. defense officials said the person behind the release of some 91,000 classified documents appeared to have “secret” clearance and access to sensitive documents on the Afghan war.

Jul 26, 2010

Pakistan slow to break with Taliban, U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military and intelligence agencies believe some elements within Pakistan’s intelligence service maintain contact with and may even in some cases support the Taliban and its allies, but assistance for insurgents has been slowly curtailed.

U.S. concerns about Pakistan’s alleged double-dealing are nothing new, and officials who have been working with Islamabad for years to try to sideline Taliban backers within the security services said on Monday they were not shocked by the contents of leaked secret U.S. military reports.

Jul 26, 2010

Documents allege Pakistan secretly backed Taliban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials in Afghanistan strongly suspected Pakistan was secretly supporting the Taliban while taking massive amounts of American aid, military reports leaked on Sunday show, raising new questions about President Barack Obama’s war strategy.

The White House responded immediately with a strong condemnation of the disclosures by the organization WikiLeaks, saying it could threaten national security and endanger the lives of Americans and those of its allies.

Jul 26, 2010

Pakistan secretly backed Taliban: Wikileaks

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) – U.S. officials in Afghanistan strongly suspected Pakistan was secretly supporting the Taliban while taking massive amounts of American aid, military reports leaked on Sunday show, raising new questions about President Barack Obama’s war strategy.

The White House responded immediately with a strong condemnation of the disclosures by the organization WikiLeaks, saying it could threaten national security and endanger the lives of Americans and those of its allies.

But Obama’s national security adviser, Jim Jones, said the leak would not affect "our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan."

The revelations contained in more than 90,000 classified documents could fuel growing doubts in Congress about Obama’s war strategy when the U.S. death toll is soaring and public support for the 9-year-old war is eroding.

Despite efforts by the White House to contain the political fallout, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, one of Obama’s closest Democratic allies, said the leaked documents raised "serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

"Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent," Kerry said.

The documents about Pakistan’s alleged double-dealing could provide fodder for lawmakers who want to hold Obama to a timeline for withdrawing troops starting next July as well as increase pressure on the administration to outline a clear exit strategy.

Under the heading "Afghan War Diary, the 91,000 documents collected from across the U.S. military in Afghanistan, cover the war from 2004 to 2010, WikiLeaks said in a summary.

One of them discusses a meeting of insurgents attended by a former senior Pakistani intelligence official who appears to be working against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The documents were made available first to The New York Times, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper and German weekly Der Spiegel.

The Times reported the documents showed Pakistan actively collaborating with the Afghan insurgency.

"The documents … suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders," the Times said.

The Guardian pointed to an April 2007 allegation that Pakistani intelligence sent 1,000 motorbikes to the Haqqani network, which is aligned with the Taliban, for suicide attacks in Khost and Logar provinces.

SERIOUS CHALLENGES AHEAD

A summary of the documents is available at www.wikileaks.org, along with a link to the webpage where WikiLeaks said the documents would be posted later on Sunday.

U.S. officials said the documents focused on the period leading to the launch of Obama’s Afghan strategy in December 2009, when he authorized the deployment of 30,000 additional troops.

"President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years," Jones said.

"We know that serious challenges lie ahead, but if Afghanistan is permitted to slide backwards, we will again face a threat from violent extremist groups like al Qaeda who will have more space to plot and train," he said.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said leaking unprocessed reports from the battlefield was irresponsible.

"These reports reflect nothing more than single source comments and rumors, which abound on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and are often proved wrong," he said in a statement.

U.S. officials have long complained some in Pakistan were playing both sides.

The London School of Economics recently published a report that alleged enduring ties between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, known as ISI, and the Afghan Taliban.

The report said the agency not only funds and trains Taliban fighters in Afghanistan but is officially represented on the movement’s leadership council, giving it significant influence over operations.

Asked about the report last month, General David Petraeus, who recently took over command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Pakistan has maintained "a variety of relationships," in some cases dating back decades, to groups which, with U.S. support, battled the Soviets when they occupied Afghanistan.

"Some of those ties continue in various forms, some of them, by the way, gathering intelligence," Petraeus told U.S. lawmakers. "You have to have contact with bad guys to get intelligence on bad guys."

WikiLeaks promotes the leaking of information to fight government and corporate corruption. Earlier this year, it leaked a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists. (Reporting by Adam Entous and Alister Bull; Editing by Patricia Wilson and Doina Chiacu)




Jul 21, 2010

U.S. general sees Iraq pullout without Arab-Kurd deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top commander in Iraq said on Wednesday that U.S. forces in the volatile north would probably be the last to leave the country at the end of 2011, acknowledging Arab-Kurdish disputes were unlikely to be settled before that time despite signs of progress last year.

General Ray Odierno has singled out ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq as the biggest single threat to the country’s stability.

Jul 20, 2010

Spy chief-nominee warns of more North Korean attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship earlier this year may herald a “dangerous new period” of direct attacks by Pyongyang on the South, the retired general nominated to be U.S. President Barack Obama’s intelligence chief said on Tuesday.

The warning by James Clapper at his Senate confirmation hearing for director of national intelligence put a spotlight on growing concern within the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon about what they see as the North’s increasingly unpredictable behavior.

Jul 20, 2010

U.S. seeks ways to boost African forces in Somalia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is prepared to step up assistance to African Union forces in Somalia and take more aggressive action against al Shabaab Islamist rebels who carried out deadly bombings in Uganda earlier this month, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of growing links between al Shabaab in Somalia and al Qaeda’s network in East Africa, and the Obama administration has made it a priority to track and target top militants in both groups, officials said.

Jul 19, 2010

U.S. sends Guantanamo detainees to Algeria, Cape Verde

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Monday it had transferred two men held at its military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for nearly 8 years to Algeria and Cape Verde, and rights groups said the one sent home to Algeria was transferred against his will and could be abused there.

The transfers announced by the Pentagon of Abdul Aziz Naji to Algeria and Abd-al-Nisr Mohammed Khantumani to the island of Cape Verde in West Africa bring the number of remaining detainees at Guantanamo to 178, down from 245 when U.S. President Barack Obama took office last year.