Casey Goodwin" />
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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Wikileaks does the right thing

Last Sunday, an enormous set of over 76,000 military reports from the war in Afghanistan, a collection called the Afghan War Diary, became available to the public online via The reports detail U.S. military events, both small and large, from the start of the war in 2004 to December 2009. Fifteen thousand more reports will join the online collection when their publication becomes less likely to cause harm.

The fact that a whistle-blowing website and not the U.S. government released the documents is disappointing. Freedom of information is vital to democratic society.

Wikileaks approached the release carefully, being sure to verify the documents’ accuracy first. Several weeks ago, Wikileaks provided the 92,000 mostly classified reports (both the ones made available on Sunday and the ones temporarily held back) to the New York Times, the Guardian, a British newspaper, and Spiegel, a German magazine.

Alongside the facts already known to the public, they detail civilian casualties, botched missions and secret task forces. While there are sections of this data that the government may have been right to try to keep secret, every citizen of every country involved in the war should be familiar with the vast majority of it. Now they can be.

Too much of what the government does is lost in a sea of bureaucracy and paranoia. Yes, we are a country at war, but that does not give the government the right to lie to American citizens or to conceal information in all but the most extreme cases. Most of the revelations the Afghan War Diary provides, however, should not have been kept secret. Taliban leaders knew their men were using portable heat-seeking missiles to take down our aircraft; there was no reason to keep that information from Americans.

There is a chance that somewhere in the volumes of information Wikileaks released on Sunday there is something that should not have been included — some fragment of data that the insurgents in Afghanistan will be able to use against American troops.  Such an event is even more reason why the government should have made each piece of this information available as soon as it lost its potential to cause Americans or civilians harm and to try and maintain the public’s trust.

The U.S. government and military should have kept the American people properly informed, releasing as much information as it safely could. We are paying for this war; our friends and family are fighting in it. We have a right to know what is going on.

Casey Goodwin is a mechanical engineering sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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