It is claimed that leaked documents show the US Army felt sufficiently threatened by security breaches on Wikileaks that it considered ways it might wreck the site.
A 2008 report by the Army Counterintelligence Center, classified Secret, calls for a mole hunt and prosecutions to undermine potential sources' trust in Wikileaks.
"Wikileaks.org uses trust as a center of gravity by assuring insiders, leakers, and whistleblowers who pass information to Wikileaks.org personnel or who post information to the Web site that they will remain anonymous," the report said.
"The identification, exposure, or termination of employment of or legal actions against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others from using Wikileaks.org to make such information public."
None of the site's sources have yet been publicly exposed, however. The site aims to guarantee their anonymity, and the counterintelligence assessment notes a "high level of sophistication in [staff's] efforts to provide a secure operating environment for whistleblowers".
The report is available in full, here (pdf), at Wikileaks.
The investigation appears to have been prompted by US Army leaks in 2007. Documents posted to Wikileaks included embarrassing internal reports on operations in Iraq, and equipment lists for Afganistan and Iraq. One report obtained by Wikileaks, on the 2004 US offensive on Fallujah, received particular attention from counterintelligence analysts.
"The leaked report could also provide foreign governments, terrorists, and insurgents with insight into successful asymmetric warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures that could be used when engaging US or Coalition forces," they wrote.
Military and intelligence authorities' interest in Wikileaks - and their apparent belief that exposing moles will undermine it - is unsurprising. There have been several failed official attempts to take documents down through the courts.
The timing of the release of the report coincides with Wikileaks' fundraising drive. The full site has been offline for several months as it aims to raise $600,000 in donations.
In a section on unanswered questions about Wikileaks, the Army Counterintelligence Center asks: "Will foreign organizations such as FISS, foreign military services, foreign insurgents, or terrorist groups provide funding or material support to Wikileaks.org?" ®
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