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24 December 2010

WTF? – CIA enters WikiLeaks war

The CIA has set up a unique task force dedicated to assessing the impact of the recent deluge of leaked diplomatic cables and military files from the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Reports in the US media describe how the WikiLeaks Task Force - which has quickly earned the acronym “WTF” - has been established to provide an “extensive inventory” of all the information that has come out through a number of high profile leaks of classified information.


Julian Assange – espenmoe/flickr

The task force is thought to be involved in calculating the immediate effects of the releases, such as the US ability to recruit informants.

This new role was widely unexpected given that the CIA is one of the government agencies least effected by the leaks, whose source remains unknown despite the continuing imprisonment of former intelligence officer Bradley Manning.

A reluctance on the part of senior CIA staff to share their intelligence on the same platform from which the leaks were taken has meant that only a few files out of hundreds of thousands refer to CIA activities.

The CIA’s system has always been separate from “SIPRNET” – the Pentagon’s classified worldwide three million-strong network from which the leaks were taken – despite most of the reports having a similar secret-level status.

To some within the agency, the leaks have justified the policy of separation – one that came under severe scrutiny after failed inter-agency communications led in part to the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11 2001.

“[The CIA] has not capitulated to this business of making everything available to outsiders. They don’t even make everything available to insiders. And by and large the system has worked,” an unnamed CIA veteran WAS quoted in the Washington Post.

“The consensus was that there were simply too many people potentially who had access [to SIPRNET],” another source is quoted as saying.

Julian Assange, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Wikileaks, remains on bail in the UK pending an extradition hearing in relation to an alleged case of sexual assault in Sweden.