On Friday, the founder of the website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, made good on his threat to publish approximately 400,000 pages of classified military documents relating to operations in Iraq. The documents reportedly include reports of civilian casualties, "friendly fire" deaths, reported abuses of detainees by Iraqi forces, as well as reports that detail Iranian involvement in actions against Coalition Forces.
In a press release shortly after the documents were published, Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell called the publication "shameful," and admonished Assange for increasing the risk to U.S. and allied troops in Iraq. Speaking of the sheer volume of classified data, Morrell stated that what WikiLeaks has actually done is provide enemy forces with a treasure trove of data-mining opportunities that could allow them to assess Coalition tactics, techniques and procedures. The following day, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, criticized the action as "irresponsible."
In response, Assange insisted that the release was necessary to "correct" attacks on the "truth." He, as well as a throng of media outlets, have seized upon the fact that the military was apparently tracking civilian deaths for years, despite insisting that such numbers were not kept.
As with their previous release of thousands of pages of classified documents dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan, which included names of informants used by the US for intelligence, Assange and the people behind WikiLeaks clearly feel that they are in a morally defensible position to expose Coalition secrets in an effort to sabotage a military effort that they do not agree with. The cold, hard fact is that the United States and her allies are engaged in war. And in war, terrible things happen, despite the best efforts of the military. Morrell stated this plainly when he said in his statement "... we continue to do everything in our power to prevent innocent civilians from being killed in the war zones."
But the supporters of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will not accept this. To them, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal, and they appear willing to use any resource to complicate the proper execution of these wars. Forget the fact that they are taking raw reports that often have little context outside of the report itself (as Morrell stated, the reports are "snapshots" that fail to convey the whole story of what was going on). Forget too that these people are now threatening to release an additional 15,000 pages of documents dealing with the Afghan war, pages that were at one time considered to pose too much of a threat to troops, but now the people behind WikiLeaks have decided that this risk is fine for them to take.
Assange and the people behind WikiLeaks are, frankly, arrogant. Safely tucked behind the protective shields that the militaries of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and our other Allies have provided since 2001, they are among the left wing fringe that twists the fundamental right to freedom of speech into a destructive notion that anything goes to further their belief that what was at one time called the War on Terror is wrong. I agree with Admiral Mullen, however. These people are irresponsible, and perhaps one day the proper legal action can be taken against them. I only hope that they don't cost us the lives of more of our troops that are sacrificing so much to defend the way of life that they are abusing.
- Julian Assange
- Admiral Mike Mullen
- the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- the War on Terror