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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
US probes 'Iraq war plan' leak
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld called the leak "inexcusable and outrageous"
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered a criminal investigation to find the person who leaked an alleged US plan to invade Iraq to the New York Times.


I think it is so terrible that I decided to have a leak investigation notwithstanding the cost.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
"It's inexcusable and they ought to be in jail," a visibly angry Mr Rumsfeld told reporters at a news briefing.

"I am old-fashioned. I think that anyone who has a position where they touch a war plan has an obligation not to leak it to the press or anybody else, because it kills people."

The New York Times published a copy of the alleged US contingency proposal - giving details of a massive assault by land, sea and air - in its 5 July issue, after receiving a copy of the plan.

However, Mr Rumsfeld said he could not confirm the existence of the plan, saying that neither he nor his top advisers had ever seen it.

Media blanket

Mr Rumsfeld said that even the possibility that classified information may have been leaked to the media fully justified the investigation by Air Force officials.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
The US accuses Saddam of developing weapons of mass destruction

"I think it is so egregious, so terrible that I decided to have a leak investigation notwithstanding the cost. And I am pleased I did.

"If people start treating war plans like they're paper airplanes and they can fly them around this building and throw them at anybody who wants them, I think it's outrageous."

Last week, Mr Rumsfeld warned the Pentagon's top officials that media leaks were helping al-Qaeda militants and damaging US-led war on terror.

"The disclosure of classified information is damaging our country's ability to stop terrorist acts and is putting American lives at risk," he said.

US military officials have been trying to keep the media coverage of the ongoing operation in Afghanistan restricted.

Journalists have complained about limited access to US troops on the ground and tight restrictions on reporting specific locations and war plans of US-led coalition forces.


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05 Jul 02 | Americas
15 Jul 02 | Middle East
18 Jul 02 | Hardtalk
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