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Wikileaks: Public interest or military menace?

Wikileaks: Public interest or military menace?

The sheer scale of the Afghanistan leaks are stunning. But is this a victory for the public’s right to know, or a betrayal of the soldiers on the front line?

July 27, 2010 5:39 by

The scale of the leaks is, perhaps the most shocking thing. The now infamous website Wikileaks, which specializes in bringing to light leaked information from government, military and business, has just published more than 90,000 documents detailing the US government’s war effort in Afghanistan.

The content of the documents, which has been sifted prior to publication by the Guardian, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel, is varied. Among revelations is the existence of Taskforce 373, a specialist unit out hunting Taliban leaders, and the US military’s conviction that Pakistan is helping the insurgents.

But aside from the scale of the leaks, the real surprise for many was the lack of genuine shocks. As a National editorial says, most of this we knew, or suspected already.

Given the lack of shocking or unexpected content, Kipp finds itself asking: Is there a genuine justification for publishing this in the public domain? It’s not as if most people need to be told that the Afghanistan war is a mess, or that the US is trying to kill Taliban leaders, nor even that civilians are being killed – the media has done an admirable job of documenting the horrific mistakes and misjudgments that have plagued the war.

In publishing this information down to the tiniest detail, aren’t we making things more difficult for soldiers on the ground, young men and women who are, whatever else, ultimately trying to secure peace and freedom for the people of Afghanistan? Do they deserve to have their safety further compromised for the sake of our right to know, for instance, that the most effective Taliban strategy at the moment seems to be roadside bombing?

There’s a difference between exposing corporate misdeeds and political corruption, and undermining an active military operation. What do you think? Has WikiLeaks acted in the public interest? Or has it made a hard situation even more difficult?

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