Wikileaks “Risks” Lives

When The Truth “Kills”

In a letter sent Saturday to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the State Department’s top lawyer says publication of the documents could do massive harm to the standing of the U.S. by exposing secret military operations and revealing dissidents’ charges against foreign governments(this could only be harmful if there is some truth to the charges). The cables are expected to be released on Sunday.

Publication of classified documents would “place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals” from journalists to soldiers; threaten ongoing military operations; and undermine “cooperation between countries,” the U.S. State Department said according to its e-mail.

Past releases by WikiLeaks, founded by Assange, an Australian-born computer hacker, contained sensitive information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the United States had said compromised national security and put some people at risk.

The US State Department was so concerned about the people at risk:

The State Department will “not engage in negotiation” regarding a request by Assange to provide information on individuals who may be “at significant risk of harm” because of the publications’ release.

“Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals,” Koh wrote.

The fallout of the latest publication has already been anticipated. U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy wrote a letter to the German Sunday weekly “Bild am Sonntag” that the WikiLeaks revelations would be an embarrassment.

“Regrettably we will soon have something new to see: alleged confidential diplomatic messages from U.S. embassies around the world, including mine. It’s hard to say what effect it will have, but it will at the very least be uncomfortable — for my government, for those mentioned in the reports, and for me personally as American Ambassador to Germany.”

The U.S. says it has known for some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.

I saw the headline this morning and about the WikiLeaks release endangering US lives. The language was overblown, and sensationalized. The plea of the State Department pushes the emotional buttons, of trying to “save” lives because of an irresponsible act. In fact, I think the US is more concerned about how their country and their diplomats will be perceived. It is the image they are trying to protect, rather than trying to truly “save lives”. I suspect if “saving lives” were truly important, indiscriminate bombing would be a place to start.

The US State Department’s top lawyer stated “the documents could do massive damage to the standing of the US”. The American Embassador to Germany stated that the documents will be “at the very least be uncomfortable––for my government”. The US State Department was so concerned about the lies being affected they refused to negotiate with WikiLeaks and provide information about which individuals would be “at significant risk of harm”.

I think the fact that these documents were leaked says volumes. The people that are leaking these documents are doing so because they are deeply concerned about the actions the United States government is undertaking. The only recourse, is to expose the government by revealing the truth. It is the truth that they are exposing, not manufacturing lies( unlike reasons for invading Iraq). If the government wanted to reduce risk and embarrassment, all they would have to do is operate in complete transparency.

Wanting the government to operate in transparency may seem childish wish. But, we need to hold our governments accountable. This is what complete transparency boils down to. A government that operates “for the good of the people” in spite of the law, is a government that will take advantage of secrecy and essentially lie to its citizens. It is a government that Orwell warned us about.

The only people that will likely be put at risk are the diplomats and politicians whose careers are jeopardized. The people that have been truly harmed have a chance at justice by having the lies and the secrecy exposed.


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