If the information on the progress of the war from the much-ballyhooed Wikileaks publication of 92,000 documents didn’t come as a big surprise to Americans who have paid attention to the Af-Pak theater, it apparently will come as a big surprise to those in Afghanistan who have worked with US forces. Julian Assange’s leak included the names of hundreds of informants and people working with US forces in Afghanistan. Those people will now have to be protected, and it’s not likely they’ll be replaced:
Hundreds of Afghan civilians who worked as informants for the U.S. military have been put at risk by WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 90,000 classified intelligence reports which name and in many cases locate the individuals, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.
The article says, in spite of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s claim that sensitive information had been removed from the leaked documents, that reporters scanning the reports for just a couple hours found hundreds of Afghan names mentioned as aiding the U.S.-led war effort.
One specific example cited by the paper is a report on an interview conducted by military officers of a potential Taliban defector. The militant is named, along with his father and the village in which they live.
“The leaks certainly have put in real risk and danger the lives and integrity of many Afghans,” a senior official at the Afghan foreign ministry told The Times on condition of anonymity. “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.”
Well, let’s make that the Americans and the Swedes. Bradley Manning, Assange’s source within the US military, will face trial for his crimes in passing along classified material. If any of these people get killed after their exposure, he should be charged with at least being an accessory to their murders. But the man who actually published their names is hiding behind the skirts of the Swedish government, which allows Assange to publish classified material with no consequences.
Assange himself travels constantly to avoid arrest. Let’s hope that strategy fails soon. He will have blood on his hands, thanks to this despicable act. It’s a publicity stunt for Assange, and a death sentence to people who helped us, and most likely their families as well. And for what? Just to learn what anyone reading Long War Journal already knew.
What will this mean for the war effort? The US will probably have to move all of the people named in the documents and their families, which means they won’t be able to continue in their current efforts. After this exposure, we’ll have a lot of trouble finding anyone else who wants to work with us on the ground in Afghanistan, which makes our efforts there a hell of a lot more complicated, and will probably result in more dead Americans as well as Afghans.