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July 28, 2010

WikiLeaks Afghanistan Dump Not So Harmless After All

My first reaction to the reports on the Afghan war logs was pretty much the same as most people...not much new here. My second thought was, if we all are having the same reaction, there's a good chance we are wrong.

Turns out the documents could be quite harmful if you are an Afghan who provided information to US forces.

In just two hours of searching the WikiLeaks archive, The Times of London found the names of dozens of Afghans credited with providing detailed intelligence to U.S. forces. Their villages are given for identification and also, in many cases, their fathers' names.

U.S. officers recorded detailed logs of the information fed to them by named local informants, particularly tribal elders.

...

A senior official at the Afghan Foreign Ministry, who declined to be named, said: "The leaks certainly have put in real risk and danger the lives and integrity of many Afghans. The U.S. is both morally and legally responsible for any harm that the leaks might cause to the individuals, particularly those who have been named. It will further limit the U.S./international access to the uncensored views of Afghans."

If, really when, one or more of these people turns up dead should* Afghanistan charge WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange with complicity in their murder? I say yes. The same goes for Army Private Bradley Manning if it turns out he's the leaker.

There's always a tension in a free society between the need to keep secrets and the need to have an informed citizenry. There is never a need for the release of the names of people who risk their lives not only to help us but their own country fight terrorists.

Anyone celebrating and reveling in the release of all these documents is simply cheering the death of people fighting to live free from the tyranny of the Taliban. We shouldn't let the likes of the Greenwald collective and St. Andrew of the Heartache weasel out of what they have supported here.

The war in Afghanistan is a fight for the people. The first battle in that war is for their trust, trust we won't abandon them and trust that they can support us by providing information. Assange and possibly Manning are simply fighting on the terrorist's side. We should act accordingly.


* I changed "will" to "should" because I was thinking about the propriety of it not the likelihood of it. I doubt they will.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:46 AM

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