Leak on Cross-Border Chases From Iraq
WASHINGTON — American military forces in Iraq were authorized to pursue former members of Saddam Hussein’s government and terrorists across Iraq’s borders into Iran and Syria, according to a classified 2005 document that has been made public by an independent Web site. The document, which was disclosed by the organization Wikileaks and which American officials said appeared authentic, outlined the rules of engagement for the American division that was based in Baghdad and central Iraq that year.
It also provided instructions for how to deal with the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr: his status as a hostile foe was “suspended,” and he and his key associates were not to be attacked except in self-defense.
Wikileaks, a Web site that encourages posting of leaked materials, says its goal in disclosing secret documents is to reveal “unethical behavior” by governments and corporations. It has previously posted the United States military’s manual for operating its prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; a military assessment of a 2004 attack in Falluja; and lists of American military equipment in Iraq.
The American military command in Baghdad on Sunday sharply criticized the group’s decision to post the document.
“While we will not comment on whether this is, in fact, an official document, we do consider the deliberate release of what Wikileaks believes to be a classified document is irresponsible and, if valid, could put U.S. military personnel at risk,” said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, a spokesman for the command.
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