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How the Pentagon aims to prevent more Wikileaks releases

After the Wikileaks release of 400,000 documents on Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn explained some of the new monitoring tools being considered.

By Jane ArrafCorrespondent / October 27, 2010

The Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington, in this March 27, 2008 file photo. The Pentagon is looking at ways to increase security of its classified files among its own personnel after Wikileaks' release of 400,000 classified documents on Iraq.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File

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Baghdad

The Pentagon is looking at ways to increase security of its classified files among its own personnel after Wikileaks' release of 400,000 classified documents on Iraq and the expected leak of tens of thousands more.

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Visiting Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn told a group of reporters late Tuesday that one of the measures being considered were checks that would flag suspicious access to data, similar to the alerts by credit cards companies designed to prevent fraudulent charges.

“If somebody is doing something that doesn’t seem appropriate for where they are – downloading 100,000 documents and they’re out in some obscure corner of the country – why are they doing that? And you go ask,” Mr. Lynn said.

IN PICTURES: Wikileaks and the war in Iraq

The deputy secretary, on a brief tour of Iraq and Afghanistan, said the Pentagon was trying to reach a balance between giving field officers broad access to useful information and maintaining security of the database. Front-line military units have long complained that although they provide intelligence, they don't get enough back to allow them to form a broad picture.

“We’ve tried to change the way we’ve operated so that the intelligence is available to the war fighter when he or she needs it and we don’t want to change that. That’s an important element in the successes we’ve had that said we probably have to think about how do we better protect the data so we don’t have this kind of massive loss,” he said.

Pentagon official: We're not monitoring access enough

Lynn said he did not believe the Pentagon was currently adequately monitoring access to classified documents.

“It is common sense and we’re not doing enough of it frankly,” he said. “Rather than having people not have access to the data, could we look for things like the credit card companies do – which is look for anomalous behavior?”

The Pentagon has condemned the release of the documents – logs by US military units of incidents across the country over six years of war. The Pentagon had warned their release could put lives in jeopardy but has acknowledged that that has not been the case with 70,000 similar documents leaked in July from the war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has charged a low-ranking US soldier, Private First Class Bradley Manning, who was serving as an intelligence analyst, with providing WikiLeaks a video that shows an Apache helicopter firing on Iraqi civilians. Officials have said they believe Manning may have passed other material to Wikileaks as well.

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