It’s not clear yet whether they’ve used any actual information in the Wikileaks docs to identify and kill U.S. spies, but they’re trying their darnedest. In fact, based on this Newsweek report, whether they do or don’t find anyone named in the docs might be irrelevant. Sounds like they’ve decided to retaliate against the public at large by threatening — and in some cases already, murdering — any Afghan remotely suspected of spying. Which, ironically, turns these people into the same sort of collateral damage vis-a-vis Julian Assange that Assange’s ilk typically lay at the feet of the United States: Innocents cut down in the course of pursuing some alleged greater good.

Hey, he did say that he enjoyed crushing bastards.

After WikiLeaks published a trove of U.S. intelligence documents—some of which listed the names and villages of Afghans who had been secretly cooperating with the American military—it didn’t take long for the Taliban to react. A spokesman for the group quickly threatened to “punish” any Afghan listed as having “collaborated” with the U.S. and the Kabul authorities against the growing Taliban insurgency. In recent days, the Taliban has demonstrated how seriously those threats should be considered. Late last week, just four days after the documents were published, death threats began arriving at the homes of key tribal elders in southern Afghanistan. And over the weekend one tribal elder, Khalifa Abdullah, who the Taliban believed had been in close contact with the Americans, was taken from his home in Monar village, in Kandahar province’s embattled Arghandab district, and executed by insurgent gunmen.

The violence may just be beginning. According to Agha Lali, the deputy head of Kandahar’s provincial council, threatening letters have been delivered to 70 elders in Panjwaii district. While it is unknown whether any of the men were indeed named in the WikiLeaks documents, it’s clear the Taliban believes they have been cooperating with Western forces and the Afghan government. One short handwritten note, shown to NEWSWEEK, said: “We have made a decision for your death. You have five days to leave Afghan soil. If you don’t, you don’t have the right to complain.” The screed, written on the letterhead of Mullah Mohammed Omar’s defunct Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, bore the signature of Abdul Rauf Khadim, a senior Taliban official and former inmate at the American lockup in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who had been released into—and subsequently escaped from—Kabul’s custody last year.

Word on the street via Newsweek’s Taliban source is that panicky Afghans who’ve provided intel to NATO before are now rushing to U.S. bases asking for protection. Believable or no? On the one hand, it’s a plausible reaction to receiving a “get out or die” letter; on the other, would hardened jihadis really send a suspected spy a warning before killing him? Either way, Assange has his defense ready: It’s the military’s fault for being sloppy and putting the names of informants in secret reports, not his fault for broadcasting them to the planet, and so the blood — as it always is — is on American hands. In fact, follow that last link and scroll down a bit and you’ll see that Assange was plenty sloppy himself. He initially claimed to have had vetted the documents to make sure no sensitive info that could put anyone in jeopardy was revealed, but an NBC producer who reviewed the docs independently found several cases where names of informants or villages were left unredacted. Exit quotation: “WikiLeaks is a brothel of self-promotion, Assange its puffed-up pimp.”