Wikileaks Leaks

I am of several minds about the Wikileaks spillage of 400K combat incident reports from Iraq. Four or five minds, to be inexact:

1. On the one hand, there’s nothing much here that we didn’t know already, other than some minor scandals. Yes, lots of civilians were killed by IEDs. Yes, we ignored reports of torture, or turned them over to the Shiite government units responsible for the acts. Is anyone surprised?
2. On the other hand, it’s useful to finally have documentation that vindicates the claims. Claims, reportage, supposed eye-witness accounts, can all be waved off as so much anti US propaganda. US unit reporting cannot.
3. On the other other hand, it might endanger US troops, by allowing analysis of our operations. I can see someone mining this data for information on response times, chain of command, rules of engagement, and so forth.
4. On the other…I’m running out of hands here…to accomplish (3.), you’d have to have nearly complete reporting from all levels on a number of specific incidents, and be able to extract the relevent subsets of reports on each of them, in order to draw useful conclusions. Once you have done that, and drawn your conclusions, can you get enough information in real-time, from our encrypted comms, to make operational use of those conclusions? I don’t know.
5. Add to all this the spurious conclusions of the media — for example, the claim that we were, indeed, tracking civilian and insurgent deaths, when what I see is ancillary reporting and not a VN-level body count ethic — and it’s hard to sort the various issues.

I think I’d come down on the side of disclosure. My main complaint is that all the stuff that was released is low-level ops chatter, stuff that may get a few low-level grunts in trouble. What’s really needed is some high-level revelations. Ones that would let us determine whether or not we need to convene some war crimes trials.

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