While WikiLeaks’ leak of the secret documents about Afghanistan created a news frenzy, the media has moved on to other things. However, the situation still raise some important issues.
Not surprisingly, the folks in government have invoked the well worn phrase “national security” and other folks have said that those behind the leak are guilty of murder.
The gist of the argument for this is that the secrets leaked will put people in danger and lead to deaths (if it has not done so already). For example, it has been claimed that the documents reveal how American forces operate and this will give America’s enemies there an advantage.
This sort of argumentation has considerable appeal. After all, there is obviously information that would give enemies an advantage and this could result in more Americans dying. Even more obvious, if the documents could be used to determine the identity of those who have cooperated with the United States, then those who leaked the information would bear some responsibility if anything was done to those people.
However, there is the obvious question of whether the leaked information actually contains information that 1) would put people in danger and 2) cannot be readily found elsewhere. The folks at Wikileaks claim that the material was carefully reviewed so as to avoid leaking anything that would result in deaths. Also, it seems likely that much of the secret information is already well known. For example, the people who have been fighting Americans for years probably have a very good idea about how American forces operate. I often suspect that most government secrets are intended to be kept from the citizens rather than the enemy.
Also, if one wants to play the murder blame game, than one should be prepared to play it to the end. If those who leak the truth about what is happening in a war are guilty of murder, it would seem that those who used untruths to start and justify a war would be at least as guilty of murder.