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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More