News / Asia

WikiLeaks Founder Defends Releasing US Documents on Afghanistan

US Army soldiers duck their heads to avoid the exhaust of a helicopter departing Combat Outpost Terra Nova in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 19 Jul 2010.
US Army soldiers duck their heads to avoid the exhaust of a helicopter departing Combat Outpost Terra Nova in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 19 Jul 2010.

The founder of the website WikiLeaks is defending his organization's decision to publish more than 75,000 internal documents on Afghanistan on its website, saying the goal was to create a complete picture of the war effort.

Speaking in London Monday, Julian Assange said no one document has great impact, but put together, the secret U.S. military reports are compelling.

"It is a history, it is an enormous compendium of material that will affect many different people in many different ways," Assange said.

The White House, Britain and Pakistan have condemned the online whistleblowing group's release Sunday of the classified documents.  White House national security adviser Jim Jones said the release "put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk." 

The Afghan government in Kabul expressed shock over the release, while at the same time insisting most of the information is not new.

Assange said the documents are more than seven months old, and he does not believe their release reveals troop movements or other sensitive tactical information.  

"We have no reason to doubt the reliability of these documents.  We should say what they do not include, they do not include top secret reports, they do not include most reports from U.S. special forces, they do not include reports by the CIA, they do not include reports by other coalition partners," Assange said.  "However, they do include the majority of regular U.S. Army activity."

Assange added the reports give a wide picture of the war in Afghanistan and how it is progressing, and give a more accurate picture of civilian deaths.

"Most of the deaths in this war are as a result of the everyday squalor of war, not the big incidences.  That said of course, there are reports with high kill counts in this material," he said.

Assange also alleged military units misrepresent the killings of civilians, citing an implausibly large number of deaths from ricochets, and said the military is improperly classifying civilians as insurgents.

"The cover-ups of those sorts of crimes begins at the bottom and moves its way to the top, so it is quite hard to enact a new policy and have it filter down to a change in practice," Assange said. "A new policy by Obama does not mean a change of practice by the U.S. military any more than a new policy by McChrystal meant a change in practice by U.S. forces."

A court must decide whether crimes have been committed, said Assange.

"There does appear to be evidence of war crimes in this material.  An example is the Task Force 373 high-miles missile strike on a house, which killed seven children."  And he said the documents offer a strong case for an investigation.

"This material does not just reveal abuses, this material describes the past six years of war, every major attack that resulted in someone being detained or someone being killed," said Assange.

He added the comprehensiveness and searchable database that Wikileaks has put the documents into are intended to encourage others to investigate further.

"We would like to see this material, the revelations that this material gives, be taken seriously, investigated by governments, and new policies out in place as a result, if not prosecutions of those people who have committed abuses," he said.

But he cautioned that not every source in every document should be given equal weight.

"Just like dealing with any source, you should exercise some common sense," said Assange. "That does not mean you should close your eyes."

Assange said Wikileaks has 15,000 more reports relating it is still reviewing and may release at a later date.

Related video report by Mil Arcega:

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid