Arms secrets `leaked to Web'

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The Independent Online
THOUSANDS OF sensitive documents relating to US national security have been leaked, according to reports on the Internet yesterday.

But America's mainstream media, preoccupied with the Thanksgiving holiday, seemed not to want to know.

The documents, as many as 20,000 pages of them, are said to detail efforts by the Clinton administration to conceal the extent of Iraq's weapons development plans, White House approval for exports of sensitive satellite technology to China, and information about the incentives offered by Washington to North Korea in return for curbing its nuclear programme - terms that North Korea has in the event ignored.

The reports on Iraq's weapons programme could prove especially embarrassing as they reportedly confirm much of the information provided by the former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter when he argued that Iraq was successfully concealing the scale of its plans to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The leak was reported by the anti-establishment Internet journalist Matt Drudge. He is shunned by mainstream journalists as a gossip-monger, but many of his reports on the Monica Lewinsky affair, deemed too risque or politically problematical by Washington reporters, turned out to be true.

Verbatim details from the papers were not available yesterday, and Murray Waas, the reporter said to have the papers, could not be reached. Drudge suggested that Waas, who writes for the pro-Clinton Internet magazine Salon, was reluctant to divulge the contents while Bill Clinton facesimpeachment proceedings.