Why Has WikiLeaks Not Released Alleged Iraq Documents?

The Pentagon says it expects 400,000 files soon

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The Pentagon and the media are bracing for a WikiLeaks release of 400,000 documents pertaining to Iraq. It hasn't happened yet and, despite expectation it would come this month, it might actually not. Here's what we know about the long-anticipated WikiLeaks Iraq dump, what's being done about it, what WikiLeaks says, and what it all means.

  • Unclear When Docs Will Be Released  Reuters' Phil Stewart reports, "Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told Reuters the timing of the leak remained unclear but the Defense Department was ready for a document dump as early as Monday or Tuesday, a possibility raised in previous WikiLeaks statements. Still, people familiar with the upcoming leak told Reuters they do not expect WikiLeaks to release the classified files for at least another week." ReadWriteWeb's Mike Melanson points out that there have been a flurry of stories claiming that today was the planned release date, but that could be a mistake that began with a now-corrected post at Wired.
  • Pentagon Preparing for Massive Leak  The BBC reports, "The US military has assembled a 120-member team to prepare for the expected publication of some 400,000 Iraq war documents on the Wikileaks website. The documents are thought to concern battle activity, Iraqi security forces and civilian casualties. The Pentagon said it wants the documents back to avoid potentially damaging information being released. ... Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan said the team was reviewing the files on the Iraq war to discover what the possible impact of the Wikileaks release could be."
  • Could Dredge Up Iraq War's Ugliest Aspects  Reuters' Phil Stewart writes, "Although the Iraq conflict has faded from public debate in the United States in recent years, the document dump threatens to revive memories of some of the most trying times in the war, including the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. It could also renew debate about foreign and domestic actors influencing Iraq, which has been wrestling with a political vacuum since an inconclusive election in March. One source familiar with the Iraq documents said they are likely to contain revelations about civilian casualties, but expected them to cause less of a stir than the Afghan leak."
  • Why Is Wikileaks Delaying Release?  Wired's Spencer Ackerman muses, "We’re still waiting for WikiLeaks to reveal hundreds of thousands of U.S. military documents on the Iraq war. Much as we’re hitting refresh in anticipation of the Iraq release, WikiLeaks’ website is still down. ('Undergoing scheduled maintenance,' it explains.) Threat Level reported last month that at least six WikiLeaks staffers have recently resigned, upset by the rapidity with which founder Julian Assange wants the Iraq documents released or the pre-release screenings provided to select media outlets. Some of those staffers considered an October 18 release deadline — today — inadequate for withholding the names of Iraqis who aided U.S. troops, a priority for the group after it saw widespread criticism for releasing the names of Afghans who did the same thing."
  • Julian Assange: Stories About Iraq Docs Are 'Fabrication'  WikiLeaks chief Assange posted an open letter to Twitlonger, a web tool that allows Twitter users to post messages longer than the usual 140 characters. "Where do all these claims about WikiLeaks doing something on Iraq today (Monday) come from? A single tabloid blog at Wired Magazine! That's right. Over 700 articles, newspapers all over the world, and newswires fooled by a tabloid blog--and each other." Assange says that Wired is irresponsible and has an agenda to damage WikiLeaks. The stories saying WikiLeaks planned a release for today are "another fabrication. WikiLeaks does not speak about upcoming releases dates, indeed, with very rare exceptions we do not communicate any specific information about upcoming releases, since that simply provides fodder for abusive organizations to get their spin machines ready."
  • Assange Shows He Doesn't Understand the Media  Mother Jones's Adam Weinstein writes, "Now, I'll try not to quibble too much with Assange's fundamental misunderstanding of media terms (a tabloid is a style of printed newspaper, man, not a blog). And I'll just ignore for now the irony of a guy who advocates information democracy totally trashing a viral story, and denouncing Wired's Threat Level and Danger Room blogs as 'mainstream media.' (OK, they are owned by Conde Nast. But Seymour Hersh, that guy who uncovered that My Lai thingy and the Abu Ghraib dealy, writes for the Conde-owned The New Yorker, and I wouldn't quite call him mainstream.)"
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