While the Wikileaks dump of 92,000 documents, despite some breathless claims to the contrary, provided no new information about the conduct of the Afghanistan War, it did mention the names of hundreds of Afghans working with Coalition forces.
CBS News is reporting that Afghan informants have been specifically named in the leaked documents, including the names of their close relatives and the villages in which they live. American forces will now have to scramble to protect these informants, since they will now be subject to Taliban revenge attacks. Some, no doubt, will be killed. Other Afghans will, thus, not have a very great incentive to cooperate with American and Coalition forces
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has claimed that such sensitive information had been removed before the documents were posted. It is clear, though, that Assange is being less than accurate.
Assange’s source in the US military has already been caught and will be prosecuted. The Swedish government allows Assange to publish with no legal sanction. Julian Assange himself travels constantly in order to avoid arrest.
Assange has garnered quite a bit of publicity for his Afghan War document dump. The revelation of things such as the fact that sometimes people die in war and that Pakistan is a decidedly unreliable ally has not prevented Congress from passing a new funding bill to pay for the war. Nor has it persuaded President Obama to change his strategy and start a Vietnam-style withdrawal from Afghanistan. If Assange hoped to somehow change the course of the Afghan War, he has decidedly failed in that attempt.
What Julian Assange’s document dump has done is place lives in jeopardy, and will likely cause some deaths in the coming days. For that alone, Assange needs to be arrested and brought to justice. Sanctimonious blathering about “the right for people to know” will be of cold comfort for Afghan civilians about to be murdered by the Taliban for the crime of helping the United States. Assange’s act will also complicate efforts to win the Afghan War and crush the Taliban insurgency.
There is a balance, of course, to be struck between allowing a free press and maintaining security in a time of war. But it seems that Julian Assange has upset that balance, not caring about the lives he has put at risk and even destroyed.
Wikileaks Afghanistan Document Dump a Restatement of the Obvious, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, July 26th, 2010
WikiLeaks Reportedly Outs 100s of Afghan Informants, Tucker Reals, CBS News, July 28th, 2010