Pentagon: Iraqi Collaborators Now in Danger?

WIKILEAKS logo - An Iraqi detainee holds onto a fence enclosing him at the Camp Cropper detention centre, located in Baghdad, on May 21, 2008.
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CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin reports on the initial findings of the latest Pentagon documents released by WikiLeaks. The hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. military documents from the Iraq war include U.S. Army field reports that describe a war even more brutal than we knew, including allegations of widespread abuse of detainees at the hands of Iraqi soldiers and police. The documents also provide details of more than 66,000 civilian deaths -- including 15,000 that were previously unreported. CBS News is taking great care not to reveal information that would compromise the safety of any individuals.

(Scroll down to watch David Martin's report)

Organizations began posting a trove of classified documents from the Iraq war given to them late Friday afternoon by whistleblower Julain Assange and his WikiLeaks website.

Here's how the Arab network al Jazeera played the information: "Found with the files: the real civilian casualties, the prison torture cover-up, the extent of deadly checkpoint encounters."

WikiLeaks is believed to have some 400,000 documents, which would make this the largest publication of secret material in history.

Pentagon officials say their biggest concerns are that the documents contain the names of Iraqis who might be subject to repraisal.

"There are 300-plus Iraqi names we thought were considerably exposed here because they were ones who were cooperating with us," said Pentagon press secretary Geoffrey S. Morrell.

WikiLeaks Documents Detail Rape, Abuse, Murder

Pentagon officials say their biggest concern is that the documents contain the names of over 300 Iraqis who cooperated with American forces as interpreters or informants - and who might now be subject to reprisal.

The documents are reports sent in by American units in the field from 2004 through 2009.

-- Civilian casualties: 100,000, according to one tabulation. Greater than numbers previously made public. Many killed by American troops, but most of them by other Iraqis.

-- Secret prisons. Iraqis tortured and abused by other Iraqis. Some cases the U.S. investigated, others were ignored or simply referred to the Iraqis

Assange claims it's evidence of war crimes.

"We can also see from the Iraqi military and security services the torturing of over 1,000 people and the lack of intervention for that tortrre by the United States," he told al Jazeera.

The documents are all part of what is called "the Iraq database," which dwarfs the 76,000 Afghan war documents WikiLeaks released earlier this year.

In both cases, the documents are believed to have been given to WikiLeaks by Army Spc. Bradley Manning, at right, who is accused of copying them while working in an operations center in Iraq. Manning is now in custody.

As with the Afghan documents, WikiLeaks gave the Iraq database to a number of news organizations in advance. WikiLeaks sent out a Twitter message listing the news organizations and saying, "we maximize impact."

What the documents tell us, Martin observes, is that the Iraq war was even uglier than we thought.

The documents also detail Iranian activities in Iraq, Martin reports.

There are reports that were well-known during the Bush administration, of Iran training and arming insurgents in Iraq and even plotting to kidnap and kill American soldiers. What these documents show is that Iranian meddling in Iraq has continued well into the Obama administration.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.