Advancing a Free Society

Wikileaks Strikes Again

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The notorious website Wikileaks has struck again, this time releasing an enormous hoard of classified U.S. documents pertaining to the Iraq war.  This is not a blow for freedom, holding governments accountable.  It is a crime that puts Americans fighting for us at risk and the Iraqis who have helped us at even greater risk. 

Wikileaks did, at least, not repeat their most egregious harm, having redacted the names of local Iraqis who have been working with American forces.  When Wikileaks released the huge trove of Afghanistan documents last summer, thousands of people were endangered.  But given that most of the documents are tactical level intelligence reports, it won't be too difficult for al Qaeda and Taliban readers to puzzle out the identity of informants from the details.

And our enemies will be more able to kill the service men and women of American, coalition and Afghan forces as a result of these documents being released.  They're an enormous data base from which al Qaeda and the Taliban can draw patterns of operations -- when we use what tactics, how we react to their choices, where we consider ourselves operating with the support of the population. 

What is most striking is how little news there has been, either in the Afghan tranche or these about Iraq.  American journalists have served us well, breaking these stories in real time.  Credit, too, goes to Donald Rumsfeld for the policy of embedding journalists with American military forces.  Wikileaks did not shine light on these issues, journalists and our own military did.  It merits remembering that revulsion of soldiers at the behavior of others was a major force in bringing abuses at Abu Ghraib to light.

Julian Assange tries to cast himself as a paragon of truth, "bringing an end to two wars."  I wonder if he ever lets up on his self-congratulation long enough to think about how his crimes would be punished by Saddam Hussein or the Islamic extremists we are at war against.  Or whether his conscience troubles him about the Afghan and Iraqi civilians he has put at risk by his reckless behavior.