CNN’s Anderson Cooper publishes on his website this almost hilarious spray against Wikileaks by Clint Van Winkle, the author of Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder:
We sent troops to Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks and few people objected. Now, the Nation is having second thoughts. People want timetables and quick victories, not a prolonged war. Well, it doesn’t always work that way. War isn’t always quick and it is never neat. When you send U.S. troops to fight, they are going to fight. There will be blood. Americans are going to die. Civilians are going to die. Why did anybody need 91,000 pages of documents to figure that out? Because very few have been paying attention to Afghanistan.
Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I don’t agree with the WikiLeaks Intel dump and I’m not here to debate the war in Afghanistan. Furthermore, to call the person who leaked the papers to the site a whistle-blower, as some media outlets have been doing, is absurd. The act was traitorous, especially since early indications suggest a former U.S. soldier is responsible. Still, there are some circles of thought that believe WikiLeaks is helping bring transparency to the war. Apparently, these people live in a world that doesn’t include people who could be affected by sensitive leaks. Thankfully, the information seems rather run-of-the-mill.
I’m not the only person who isn’t impressed by the current leak. There seems to be a general consensus that this is much ado about nothing. A plethora of intelligence analysts and people-in-the-know concur. For instance, Tom Ricks only dedicated a handful of words to the matter in his “Underwhelmed by WikiLeaks Leaks” blog post; he also cited/linked to Mother Jones’s and Andrew Exum’s lack of enthusiasm.
Perhaps the real issue the WikiLeaks fiasco has brought to light is this: the leaks are revelations to far too many people. It seems too many Americans know, and care, more about the cast of The Jersey Shore than they do about the war in Afghanistan and hold those characters in higher esteem than the men and women who have, and continue to, fight in that war.
While it is still too early to gauge the fallout from the leaks or know how it will impact our troops, at least Afghanistan is being talked about again and that is a good thing. We can only hope this conversation continues.
This isn’t the last we’ve heard from WikiLeaks and it is only a matter of time before they get their hands on something that will have a greater impact on our national security. You can count on that. In the meantime, it might be a good idea if the U.S. reviewed who has access to certain documents and started improving current practices.
For some, the role of journalism is to support imperial wars because “access” is all that matters.