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Wikileaks double dares Pentagon hawks

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said his whistle-blower site won't be silenced by the Pentagon or any other group seeking to prevent it from airing more than 15,000 secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.

"This organization will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group," Assange told reporters this weekend while in Stockholm. "We proceed cautiously and safely with this material."

The 15,000 records are part of a massive cache of some 92,000 records related to Afghan war that came into Wikileaks' possession, most likely as a result of US Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning, who has been charged with leaking secret US documents including video showing an Apache helicopter firing on unarmed people on a Baghdad street. Wikileaks came under intense criticism when it published the first 77,000 records, but military officials have said remaining documents could be even "more explosive".

Some of the more hawkish pundits have suggested the US military should exercise its cyber muscle to take Wikileaks out, but as Wired.com rightly points out, such operations probably wouldn't go well. The wide availability of a 1.4GB encrypted file could include a cache of more than 760,000 secret documents pertaining to the war in Iraq and diplomatic communications around the globe.

“All we have to do is release the password to that material and it’s instantly available,” he said last week over a webcam to London's Frontline Club.

Assange said Wikileaks volunteers are about halfway through a “line-by-line” review of the 15,000 documents not yet released and that they could be published in the next month. Assange has made public appeals for help in purging the documents of sensitive information that might threaten the lives of Afghan citizens cooperating with US forces. The documents will be released in coordination with one or more media partners, which Assange didn't name.

Separately, news organizations on Monday reported that Assange will write bimonthly columns for Aftonbladet, a left-leaning Swedish newspaper. Chief Editor Jan Helin said his tabloid will help WikiLeaks get a publishing certificate in Sweden, in a move designed to avail it of the country's whistle-blower protection laws. ®

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