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WiliLeaks releases the Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010

thoughts & comment — 27 Jul 2010

LAST SUNDAY, WikiLeaks released over 75,000 secret US military reports on the war in Afghanistan that cover the years 2004 to 2010. The reports, which actually are not that secret (in the UK they would be classified as "restricted" not "secret"), show that most civilian deaths are not reported and those that are are often reported as insurgent kills.

None of this is particularly shocking: we all know the military have been downplaying their murder of the civilian populations in both Afghanistan and Iraq since their illegal invasions, just as our politicians downplayed their murder of a million Iraqi people (mostly children) through the illegal sanctions that were imposed before the invasion.

But what was most interesting (and amusing) about the WikiLeaks release was the reaction of Steven Aftergood, head of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. In his blog posted on June 28, he accused WikiLeaks of "information vandalism" with no regard for privacy or social usefulness, and he wrote "WikiLeaks must be counted among the enemies of open society because it does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals."

He is describing a site that gives transparency to illegal mass murder as "an enemy of open society"?! This is Orwellian doublespeak. Transparency is not the enemy of society; secrecy is (history proves that again and again). And the release of information is not "information vandalism"; rather, the hiding information is. No regard to privacy or the rights of individuals? You mean the privacy for the US and the UK to continue their illegal occupation of another country and murder of their citizens out of the public spotlight, and the rights of their soldiers to murder indiscriminately? This has to be the privacy and individual rights he is referring to. As for "social usefulness", the only usefulness secrecy has to society in this matter is that it stops them feeling to guilty that they elected governments who, just a couple of generations ago, would be in The Hague facing war crime charges.

Finally, the statement that anything that does not respect the rule of law is an enemy of open society only shows Aftergood's ignorance of history. Hitler greatly respected the rule of law — changing it to support his atrocities so that the rule of law was upheld even for the horrors of the holocaust.

So WikiLeaks has done us all a huge favour in exposing the horror, murder and corruption of war — war instigated by our own side for political and economic ends. Whilst our governments and the establishment, represented by individuals like Steven Aftergood, seem completely out of place in a 21st Century society becoming increasingly conscious and aware (largely thanks to the Internet).

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