Sunday, July 4, 2010

Leaky Plumbing at Wikileaks

Wired reports this news about Wikileaks, a website that gained prominence after releasing the "Collateral Damage" video of American soldiers killing civilians in Iraq:
Would-be whistle-blowers hoping to leak documents to Wikileaks face a potentially frustrating surprise. Wikileaks’ submission process, which had been degraded for months, completely collapsed more than two weeks ago and remains offline, in a little-noted breakdown at the world’s most prominent secret-spilling website.
The article goes on to note that the page for submitting documents and information does not load and the website failed to buy its $30 SSL certificate.

So is the leaky plumbing at Wikileaks good or bad?

Consider the Collateral Damage video released this spring, which depicts American soldiers mistaking a group of Iraqi civilians for insurgents.  The reflexive response on the anti-war left was positive because it shows how corrupt our policy in Iraq is, and how damaging war can be.

Although I lean left on many issues, I disagree that the release of the Collateral Damage video was positive.  The only value to the video, in my opinion, is that it shows the brutal nature of war in general.  Yes, there is collateral damage, people die, and mistakes are made.  However, it does not reveal anything particularly corrupt about our soldiers, chain-of-command, or policy in Iraq.

Contrast the limited positive value of the video with the negative impact it had.  The video predictably angered people in the Middle East and harmed our ongoing efforts to improve our image there.  It also harmed our efforts to quell the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I can't say I blame anyone in the Middle East for getting upset by the video -- I wouldn't be comforted by the argument that my neighbors died accidentally as collateral damage.

If we balance the positive value of the video to show the generally brutal nature of war with the negative value of harming America's efforts to improve our image in Iraq (and the Middle East generally), the release of the video was a net negative.  Everyone knows war is bad.  But as long as my friends' lives and tax dollars are being sunk into Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm going to care more about winning the war than supporting an argument that war in general is a bad thing.

Add to this analysis the rumors that Wikileaks has even more explosive footage ready to leak and I must confess that I hope the technical problems at Wikileaks continue.

No comments:

Post a Comment