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Afghanistan says it's 'shocked' by leaked U.S. documents

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Afghan war documents on WikiLeaks
  • Afghan government said it's "shocked" by reports
  • Former head of Pakistani intelligence says reports are lies
  • Some documents allege Pakistan is aiding the insurgency, New York Times reports
  • Senator says the documents "raise serious questions" about foreign policy

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(CNN) -- The Afghan government said Monday it was "shocked" as it sifted through tens of thousands of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic reports on the war in Afghanistan that a whistleblower website posted a day earlier.

"The Afghan government is shocked with the report that has opened the reality of the Afghan war," said Siamak Herawi, a government spokesman. -- a whistleblower website -- published on Sunday what it says are more than 90,000 United States military and diplomatic reports about Afghanistan filed between 2004 and January of this year.

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The first-hand accounts are the military's own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties, threat reports and the like, according to Julian Assange, the founder of the website.

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"It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions -- U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity, and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups," Assange said.

CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents. The Department of Defense will not comment on them until the Pentagon has had a chance to look at them, a Defense official told CNN.

"What you have here is you have a variety of reports of different types," said New York Times reporter Chris Chivers. "Many of them are simple incident reports. The military describing ... on the ground what happened. Incident by incident."

The New York Times reported Sunday that military field documents included in the release suggest that Pakistan, an ally of the United States in the war against terror, has been running something of a "double game," allowing "representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders."

Herawi charged that Washington needed to deal with Pakistani intelligence, known as the ISI.

"There should be serious action taken against the ISI, who has a direct connection with the terrorists," he said. "These reports show that the U.S. was already aware of the ISI connection with the al Qaeda terrorist network. The United States is overdue on the ISI issue and now the United States should answer."

But Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan's intelligence service and who is mentioned numerous times in the Wikileaks reports, called the accusations lies.

"These reports are absolutely and utterly false," Gul said Monday. "I think they [United States] are failing and they're looking for scapegoats."

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, issued a statement Sunday saying the reports "do not reflect the current onground realities."

Rather, they "reflect nothing more than single source comments and rumors, which abound on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and are often proved wrong after deeper examination," Haqqani's statement said.

"Pakistan's government under the democratically elected leadership of President [Asif Ali] Zardari and Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza] Gilani is following a clearly laid out strategy of fighting and marginalizing terrorists and our military and intelligence services are effectively executing that policy," the statement said.

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones issued a statement Sunday calling the documents' release "irresponsible."

"The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," the statement said.

"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 statement said.

Assange declined to tell CNN where he got the documents. Jones' statement said the website made "no effort" to contact the Obama administration about the documents.

"The United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted," Jones' statement said.

Assange claims the documents reveal the "squalor" of war, uncovering how many relatively small incidents have added up to huge numbers of dead civilians.

The significance lies in "all of these people being killed in the small events that we haven't heard about that numerically eclipse the big casualty events. It's the boy killed by a shell that missed a target," he told CNN.

"What we haven't seen previously is all those individual deaths," he said. "We've seen just the number and, like Stalin said, 'One man's death is a tragedy, a million dead is a statistic.' So, we've seen the statistic."

WikiLeaks publishes anonymously submitted documents, video and other sensitive materials after vetting them, it says. It claims never to have fallen for a forgery.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that the documents -- regardless of how they came to light -- "raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Wikileaks has previously made headlines for posting controversial videos of combat in Iraq.

The site gained international attention in April when it posted a 2007 video said to show a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq killing a dozen civilians, including two unarmed Reuters journalists.

At the time, Maj. Shawn Turner, a U.S. military spokesman, said that "all evidence available supported the conclusion by those forces that they were engaging armed insurgents and not civilians."

Pfc. Bradley Manning, 22, suspected of leaking a classified 2007 video, has been charged by the U.S. military with eight violations of the U.S. Criminal Code for transferring classified data, according to a charge sheet released by the military earlier this month.

Attempts to reach Manning's military defense attorney, Capt. Paul Bouchard, were unsuccessful Sunday. However, U.S. Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins has said Bouchard would not speak to the media about the charges.

Assange says WikiLeaks has attempted to put together a legal team to defend Manning, something it will do for any "alleged" whistleblower that runs into legal trouble because of WikiLeaks.

Assange -- a former teen hacker who launched the site in 2007 -- denies that WikiLeaks has put troops in danger.

"There certainly have been people who have lost elections as a result of material being on WikiLeaks," he said.

"There have been prosecutions because of material being on WikiLeaks. There have been legislative reforms because of material being on WikiLeaks," he said. "What has not happened is anyone being physically harmed as a result."

The website held back about 15,000 documents from Afghanistan to protect individuals who informed on the Taliban, he said.

But he said he hoped his website would be "very dangerous" to "people who want to conduct wars in an abusive way."

"This material doesn't just reveal occasional abuse by the U.S. military," he said. "Of course it has U.S. military reporting on all sort of abuses by the Taliban. ... So it does describe the abuses by both sides in this war and that's how people can understand what's really going on and if they choose to support it or not."

Assange said the organization gets material from whistle-blowers in a variety of ways -- including via postal mail -- vets it, releases it to the public and then defends itself against "the regular political or legal attack."

He said the organization rarely knows the identity of the source of the leak. "If we find out at some stage, we destroy that information as soon as possible," he said.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.


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