The White House has denounced a massive leak of secret military files that allegedly describe how Pakistan's spy service aids the Afghan insurgency, but said the information was no surprise. In all, 92,000 documents were released by the web whistleblower Wikileaks, containing previously untold details of the Afghan war through Pentagon files and field reports spanning from 2004 to 2010.
Britain's Guardian newspaper said the files, many of which detail growing numbers of civilians dying at the hands of international forces as well as the Taliban, painted "a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan". According to the New York Times, one of the first three media outlets to review and report on the leaks, they "suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban".
The White House issued its condemnation shortly before the leaks were posted online, saying the information could endanger US lives but also pointing to the administration's long-held doubts about links between Pakistan intelligence agents and Afghan insurgents. "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," said the White House national security advisor James Jones.
"These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people." The White House also released a series of remarks made in the past by top officials expressing their concern about links between Pakistan spy services and militants in Afghanistan.
Among them was one from the Defence Secretary Robert Gates dated March 31, 2009: "The ISI's contacts with [extremist groups] are a real concern to us, and we have made these concerns known directly to the Pakistanis," referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency. The New York Times said it, along with the Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel, had received the leaked material several weeks ago from Wikileaks, a secretive web organisation that often publishes classified material.
The source of leak was unknown. The last person suspected of providing classified material to the outlet is an American soldier who has been charged with two counts of misconduct for allegedly providing video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Iraq in which about a dozen people were gunned down in broad daylight. Describing "secret strategy sessions", the Times said Pakistan spy services "organise networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders".
The Times added that "much of the information - raw intelligence and threat assessments gathered from the field in Afghanistan - cannot be verified and likely comes from sources aligned with Afghan intelligence, which considers Pakistan an enemy, and paid informants". The leaked documents can be viewed here * AFP