WikiLeaks: Endangering Afghan lives

Wikileaks published the U.S. military documents from the war in Afghanistan without redacting the names and addresses of Afghan civilians and tribal leaders who are helping NATO forces.

“The horror we feared would happen is here,” said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. When the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks last week published some 76,000 secret U.S. military documents from the war in Afghanistan, it was a “disaster for the U.S. war effort.” In his eagerness to undermine U.S. troops, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his cohorts didn’t bother to redact the names and addresses of dozens of Afghan civilians and tribal leaders who are helping NATO forces. A Taliban spokesman has since claimed the group is “studying the report,” said Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal, and that it “knows how to punish” informants. All of which rather undermines Assange’s claim that WikiLeaks has no higher goal than “to protect civilians in wartime.”

Actually, it’s worse than that, said Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post. Assange and his crew have not only guaranteed that Afghan informants and their families will be butchered by the sadistic Taliban, they’ve made it infinitely less likely that future potential informants will step forward to help the U.S. cause. WikiLeaks has deliberately caused “immeasurable and irreparable harm” to our national security. Assange now says the site will publish an additional 15,000 classified documents from Afghanistan. WikiLeaks must be stopped, said The Washington Times. This isn’t a matter of free speech or free press. Lives are at stake, and “the U.S. government should explore all its options” to find Assange, shut down WikiLeaks, and retrieve whatever additional secrets the site is still sitting on.

I can’t defend the leaking of Afghan informants’ names, said Glenn Greenwald in Salon.com. But after poring through these secret documents, with so many reports of hundreds of Afghan civilians killed as collateral damage, I find it absurd that the hawkish supporters of the “Endless War” suddenly are expressing “righteous concern for Afghan lives.” WikiLeaks enraged the hawks by revealing, a bit too honestly, “what their war entails,” from bribes to warlords, to Afghan government corruption, to bombs and bullets that now and then take out women, children, and other innocents. Rather than hunting down Julian Assange, the U.S. might instead discontinue “our failing, sagging, pointless, civilian-massacring, soon-to-be-decade-old war” in Afghanistan. Because you know what really “endangers innocent Afghan lives?” It’s that.

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