Today, in what Mashable correctly called an unprecedented leak, crusading crowd-sourcer WikiLeaks released what is called the “Afghan War Diary,” a compendium of confidential reports about the Afghan War.
According to WikiLeaks, “The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details...This archive shows the vast range of small tragedies that are almost never reported by the press but which account for the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries resulting from the war.“
Now, before we go any further, let it be known that I am an adamant supporter of our troops and an equally adamant questioner of our military. So, while I trust that most of our men and women in uniform are doing what they do with the best intentions and for the right reasons, I certainly don’t extend that trust to the people issuing their orders. Which isn’t to say I think everyone who pulls our military’s strings is necessarily evil or conspiring to commit evil.
It’s just that, having lost someone I loved deeply to a war we didn’t necessarily need to be fighting in Iraq, I’ve also lost the ability to give the folks in charge of our armed services the benefit of the doubt. And, I think that hiding, obscuring or minimizing unsettling facts about an unpopular war strategy is, unfortunately, par for the course in today’s political game. Just count the number of body bags you see coming home from Iraq on the news nowadays. Or the number of reports we read about civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The government may be slow to change, but it’s amazing how quickly it adapted its wartime media relations policies after Vietnam.
Which is why I am a huge supporter of what WikiLeaks is doing in bringing censored stories to the screens of web surfers around the world. And, in trying to expose some of the systematic policies and procedures that make it all too easy for the realities of war to take a buried backseat to the realities of the rose ceremony on tonight’s Bachelorette.
Content like The Afghan War Diary is a huge reason why I’m such a major proponent of an open web and a world where everyone has access to the internet. Like Davis said on Treme, and Justice Lewis Brandeis said before him, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
Sure, you might not agree with everything about how WikiLeaks does business. But, you certainly can’t argue with their ability to bring some much-needed sunshine down to bear on a war that has been sitting in the shadows of our collective consciousness for far too long.