Although no date has been set, nearly half a million pages of classified documents will be released by Wikileaks’ Australian founder, Julian Assange. Wikileaks most famously released nearly 70,000 classified documents in July. Luckily, upon review, it was determined that no sensitive information was released and the security of the troops is intact. However, although 120 military employees are sifting through the potential data that could be released, no determination has been made on what could be released or how damaging that information may be. The only information that has been released is that these documents are related to the Iraq war.
Wikileaks’ founder believes that it is best to let the public in on these documents because information is essential to democracy. Assange claims to review all documents to screen out information that may involve people’s lives or safety. He also excluded certain documents based on type of information contained inside and security level. Basically, his view is that there is way too much information being withheld from the public, and the vast majority of that information should be disseminated so that people can make informed decisions about where they stand on issues.
There is disagreement on how thoroughly the documents are reviewed. Six staffers of Wikileaks, including the German spokesperson, resigned recently due at least in part to internal disagreements over how the documents have been handled. Some staffers felt that the founder was rushing the release of the documents and not redacting enough information.
Those who disagree with releasing the documents have another view on the subject. A group of human rights organizations came together to denounce the first large release of documents in July. The organizations believe that it places Afghan civilians who may have helped the United States with information or supplies in danger. If the Afghan people who helped are named, then their lives may be at stake.
Since the next release of documents is on an even larger scope, and will likely have more publicity because of the hype leading up to the release, there will be an even greater danger. This is particularly true if the allegations of the former Wikileaks staff members are true. If the documents are rushed out, and there are close to half a million pages of documents, the chances of a name or some important detail being over looked are enormous.
Assange appears to be acting recklessly in his rush to put out these classified documents. Lives are at stake and care needs to be taken in publishing names and locations. The sheer volume of data being released would make it difficult to ensure that every single item that needs to be redacted from disclosure is in fact redacted. No one wants to see any more lives lost unnecessarily.
Toby Harden “Pentagon Braced for the Release of 400,000 Iraq Files on Wikileaks”. Telegraph.co.uk
Eben Harrell “TIME Interview: Wikileaks’ Assange Defends Site’s Mission”, TIME
Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter “Unpublished Iraq War Logs Trigger Internal Wikileaks Revolt”, Wired
“Amnesty International, Haman Rights Groups Ask Wikileaks to Censor Civilians’ Names”, Huffington Post.