The 92,000 pieces of military intelligence on Afghanistan released by the website WikiLeaks have shaken up public perceptions of the Afghan war
, the media
, and the U.S. relationship with Pakistan
But now many are questioning Wikileaks' tactics, asking if the shadowy
website went a step too far. This same pattern emerged in April, when
Wikileaks released of a video
showing Iraqi civilians killed by a U.S. helicopter, raising international fury
against the military's attack and cover-up, but later spurring hard questions
for Wikileaks itself. Here's what observers today are saying about the
latest Wikileaks release and Wikileaks chief Julian Assange.
clicking at random in the Wikileaks War Diary reveals the names of
Afghan sources you hope will not be targeted as a result of this leak: Simon Hermes, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; Mohammed Moubin, who met with the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction team in 2006; Gul Said,
who was assisting the PRT near the American Base at Bagram. On and on
it goes, name after name of "collaborators" with the U.S. military, name
after name of people whose lives are now in direct danger. ... Many of
the operations he details through these leaks are still ongoing, and
many of the people involved in them are still there, hoping these leaks
don’t make them into targets for assassination. Indeed, Adam Serwer, a
staff writer for The American Prospect, tweeted this morning, "Former Military Intelligence Officer sez of wikileaks, 'Its an AQ/Taliban execution team’s treasure trove.'"
WikiLeaks’s world, though, that’s not their problem. They’re exposing
secrets, consequences be damned. But there will be serious, and deadly,
consequences from WikiLeaks’s War Diary archive.
- 'Reckless and Destructive' Afghanistan veteran Andrew Exum writes
in the New York Times, "Mr. Assange says he is a journalist, but he is
not. He is an activist, and to what end it is not clear. ... If his
desire is to promote peace, Mr. Assange and his brand of activism are
not as helpful as he imagines. By muddying the waters between journalism
and activism, and by throwing his organization into the debate on
Afghanistan with little apparent regard for the hard moral choices and
dearth of good policy options facing decision-makers, he is being as
reckless and destructive as the contemptible soldier or soldiers who
leaked the documents in the first place."
- Pentagon Papers? Not Even Close Mother Jones' Adam Weinstein writes,
"Here's a cliche for you: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And
here's a fact: A little knowledge is precisely what Julian Assange and
his WikiLeaks cohorts have given us in the 'Afghan War Diary.' The
intimation by Assange (and the media outlets he cherry-picked to preview
the data) is that these are the Pentagon Papers of the Afghan war.
Certainly there are a few eyebrow-raising details in the bunch, as Mark
Mazzetti, Chris Chivers & Co. at the New York Times point
out. But in truth, there's not much there. I know, because I've seen
many of these reports before—at least, thousands of similar ones from
Iraq, when I was a contractor there last year. ... Most of this
information is tactical nuts and bolts, devoid of context, and largely
- Wikileaks Working to Improve Image The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Vascellaro writes,
"People familiar with the matter say Mr. Assange is frustrated that
some of the site's other disclosures, such as a database of military
procurements in Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't garner more attention. Some
senior members of the group also want to combat the perception that the
site is veering into the realm of opinion, one of the people said. The
site took flak from some commentators for editing the 2007 Iraq video
and for dubbing the video 'Collateral Murder.'"
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