posted by Laura Wittren
WikiLeaks lives up to its name. It’s a site designed entirely for people to anonymously leak information to journalists. According to their website, they provide high security preventing the leaker’s identity to be compromised. Their goal is to provide news and information to the public, sometimes despite the government’s attempt at keeping it secret.
They may have gone too far this time. WikiLeaks has released the biggest military leak in history. 390,000 classified documents about the Iraq War are now available to the public through the WikiLeaks website and many news sources such as the New York Times. The war document include reports of a kidnapping plot, an assassination plot, casualties, prisoners abuse, and diaries from soldiers.
Much like the Pentagon Papers of Vietnam War, the documents from WikiLeaks have shown that the Iraq War is not quite going the way the government said it was.
According to Mashable, it was concluded from the documents that:
- The death toll of civilians in Iraq is greater than the numbers publicly reported by the government. The leaked reports concluded a total of 109,032 deaths in Iraq, 66,081 being Iraqi civilians.
- Iran was involved in the training, supplying and support of Iraq. They may have even engaged with U.S. troops directly.
- Prisoners were treated with an alarming amount of abuse
Department of Defense Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in regards to the leak that WikiLeaks puts troops at risk by releasing “sensitive information.” He encouraged the one who released the information to return the information and take it off the website. But it’s too late now; the word’s already out.
How does WikiLeaks get away with releasing secret military documents?
WikiLeaks has been met by legal and political attacks but has triumphed over these attacks. Their work is protected by the first amendment and the Freedom of Information Act. They also rely on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect their organization, particularly Article 19 which they quote on their site.
While they may be protected by these laws, is it ethical for them or any journalist to leak secret government information, particularly those that may bring harm to our troops? Is it worth the risk of our soldiers, or do American citizens have a right to know despite this risk?
As a journalist, is it our duty to report the news despite the harm it may cause our country?