Anyone who thinks the publication of the ‘War Logs’ by Wikileaks, NYT, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, is an unalloyed good needs to think again. By and large what was leaked and subsequently posted was a public good. It’s a public good in that we now have a fuller picture of what’s really happening in AfPak and it’s aggregated in one place.
However, there are some very real issues of OpSec. Wikileaks did not redact the names of many people in the reports it published. Why is that problematic? Well, just read this series of tweets by Joshua Foust (someone whom I trust when it comes to all things AfPak):
I hope Engineer Kareem has a safe place to hide in Ghazni, because Wikileaks has put his life in danger. http://ow.ly/2gFnJ
Bakwa Mafia, a local contractor working in Farah, is no longer safe because of Wikileaks. http://ow.ly/2gF61
Single data point: John Reynolds cannot travel to Pakistan again, ever, because of Wikileaks. http://ow.ly/2gEiq
That’s just a sample of what he found in a short time. It is simply unconscionable that these names were not redacted. There is no excuse for it. I’m appalled, actually. These people are very, very much at risk of death now. (And before someone chimes in with their “who cares, they are the military, after all,” well, what about the Afghan contractor who’s now been exposed working for the US? Or the local Afghan engineer? Dude’s just trying to feed his family. Do you want his blood on his hands so you can feel righteous?) What Wikileaks has done here is not only irresponsible, but immoral.
Look, on balance, I like what Assange is doing, but let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that everything Wikileaks, or Assange does is an unadulterated public good. It’s not. And it’s a shame that we have to rely on a brazen self-promoter like Assange to fill the vacuum the Versailles media has created.