Grahame Bowland and Luke Miller have kept a close eye on the documents released on Wikileaks. Their observations are disturbing and confirm what many have feared: that Wikileaks has endangered the lives of countless people identified in documents theyâ€™ve published.
The two gents â€“ writing in a left-wing email newsletter that seemed not to want to recognise and give appropriate priority to the shocking nature of their tale â€“ allege that Wikileaks has endangered countless lives by publishing information that revealed their identities to tyrants and terrorists willing and able to kill them.
PUBLISH FIRST, WORRY LATER
They explain that they have identified a pattern of Wikileaks publishing cables containing â€œnames, places and conversationsâ€ only to later redact the information at a later date.
Bowland and Miller say that Wikileaks has done this secretly and retrospectively altering the information on the site, sometimes removing entire documents, presumably after complaints from potential victims or those government agencies concerned with minimising a loss of life.
They say that of 1203 diplomatic cables released at the time of publication, at least 365 of them have been altered since initial publication, with more than 45 substantially edited and at least 15 documents completely removed.
Examples of cables that were initially published with names but have been secretly censored at a later date include discussions with representatives of the US by nationals of their own countriesâ€™ elections, military activities and rulers.
In addition to names, whole sections of the cables have also been excised. One cable was taken down for three days and, when it returned, nearly half the content, including a frank discussion with the president of an African nation on a wide variety of topics, including the Israel-Palestine peace process and the war in Afghanistan, was missing. In a different cable, a secret escape route from a major country in the Middle East was initially described in detail but vanishe(d) in an update several days later.
This is a clear acknowledgement by Wikileaks that they have published information that has risked the lives of those willing to tell the truth about the nefarious activities of the worldâ€™s worst dictators and tyrants to US diplomats who then passed on the information to higher-ups in DC.
The unrivalled boss of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has repeatedly denied allegations he was guilty of recklessly mass-publishing leaked documents with callous disregard for the well-being of those identified within.
While Assange is to be commended for correcting these mistakes, they are now clearly occurring so regularly that allegations of systemic failure can be justified.
It is clear he doesnâ€™t like the United States although his agenda beyond that isnâ€™t clear beyond being desperate to be seen as a hero. Heroes donâ€™t have potentially vast numbers of innocent victims, the collateral damage caused by Assange may be incalculable.
We love a good leak. Butâ€¦
Wikileaks has become a strange cause cÃ©lÃ¨bre of the anti-American Left. Those so championed can do no wrong in the eyes of those intent on wounding the US.
Itâ€™s horrifying to think how many people whoâ€™d sought assistance in battling the worldâ€™s many powerful tyrants and terrorists have had their security compromised by Wikileaks.
While we respect the arguments of those who say diplomacy is about pursuing peace and that our governments maintain secrets for good reason, we donâ€™t say Wikileaks is inherently bad.
Indeed, weâ€™ve been amused to see how many of the stories around Wikileaks US diplomatic cables have affirmed the great extent to which the US is a force for good in the world, in fact constantly approached by other nations to sort out their own problems with menacing neighbours. The Saudi encouragement to the Americans to invade Iran for example. Iranian and some particularly exotic conspiracy theorists have convinced themselves it was a deliberate leak by the US or that Israel is somehow behind it all.
We love a good leak. Butâ€¦
Even the leak of what politicians tell diplomats at cocktail parties is fine by us too as long as itâ€™s not falsely presented as â€œUS secret informantsâ€ or â€œmolesâ€ or â€œspiesâ€ or whatever other filth recently came out of the Fairfax press in their vicious defamation of the thrill-killed Mark Arbib. Some ask why we wish The Age/SMH ill, there can be no better illustration of why than their indecent treatment of Senator Arbib, a man weâ€™ve regularly criticised but whose patriotism is beyond genuine dispute.
But if the leak is illegal, most importantly, if the leak endangers lives, then it cannot be said to be a good thing.
Authorities are often quick to attack the media as “irresponsible” for publishing what they don’t want them to but putting lives at risk in this way is much worse than irresponsible, it is probably criminal and if it isn’t it should be.
Many of the victims of Wikileaks will never have their story told by a salivating left-wing broadsheet press whoâ€™ve treated Assange like a messiah in return for access to the leaked cables.
While Wikileaks papers over the cracks of their injudicious publication of information identifying those who have co-operated with the US in undermining terrorists and tyrants, we donâ€™t doubt that the worldâ€™s bad guys are keeping a very close eye on everything put up on the site, saving copies long before the siteâ€™s administrators get around to redacting the documents.
Yes, we can be sure thereâ€™ll be victims. Itâ€™s a jungle out there. A jungle made even less safe by Wikileaks irresponsibly naming good people whoâ€™ve taken risks for freedom.
Thereâ€™ll be victims. And weâ€™ll never hear their screams.