U.S. Had to Help Afghans Manning Left Vulnerable, Witness Testifies
The publication of the Afghanistan battlefield reports by WikiLeaks resulted in a nine-month operation to notify people and villagers at risk, a Navy admiral said Friday, saving key details for closed-court session.
As prosecutors are wrapping up their case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the military is trying to pin down instances in which his massive intelligence disclosures led to “actual harm” to soldiers and sources on the ground.
When WikiLeaks published its “Afghan War Diary” in July 2010, even the nonprofit group Reporters Without Borders raised alarm people could be put at risk if their names appeared in the exposed documents.
Three years after its publication, however, the military has not discovered an instance in which a U.S. soldier or contact has died as a direct result of the leaks. Neither has any journalist found such a case.
Prosecutors attribute this to the government’s “mitigation efforts,” a catch-all phrase referring any efforts to inform or protect people whose names appeared on the documents.
Navy Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, the director of warfare integration at U.S. Central Command, issued the fragmentary orders, known as fragos, detailing how the mitigation efforts should be conducted. He said that the inspection of the documents uncovered a “significant number” of names.
“This was not a small operation,” he said. “We issued the initial order to Afghanistan in 2010. We didn’t get the final report until May of ‘11.”
Donegan told the court that the specific number was classified.
In some cases, the operations went beyond informing individuals, he said.
“The villages, each area of Afghanistan has a shadow Taliban governor associated with it,” he said. “In some cases, we had to notify villages.”
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