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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid