WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has launched a wide-ranging investigation into how a private suspected of downloading thousands of secret reports and diplomatic cables and handing them over to WikiLeaks was able to do so and whether other soldiers should face criminal charges in the case, McClatchy Newspapers has learned.
The Army confirmed the investigation but wouldn't release details. An Army official familiar with the investigation told McClatchy Newspapers that a six-member task force has been given until Feb. 1 to complete a report that will look at everything from how Pfc. Bradley Manning was selected for his job and trained to whether his superiors missed warning signs that he was downloading documents he had no need to read.
The report could change how the Army — the largest distributor of government security clearances — grants access to government documents as well as lead to recommendations of charges against soldiers who worked with Manning and may have been aware of his activities.
It's the second time in two years that Army procedures have been the subject of an intense internal investigation. A similar inquiry was undertaken after an Army psychiatrist was accused of opening fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009, killing 13. That investigation focused, in part, on how superiors failed to notice signs that Maj. Nidal Hassan, who had exchanged e-mails with a radical Yemeni-American cleric, might turn violent. The inquiry resulted in dozens of changes in Army procedures.
Manning worked as an intelligence specialist in Baghdad in 2009 and the early months of 2010. He is accused of downloading hundreds of thousands of classified documents during that time.