Saturday, October 23, 2010

The increasingly petulant John Burns

Documents from the latest Wikileaks release covering the Iraq War is available at the Guardian and the New York Times. A lot of the information that the New York Times did not see as fit to print in real-time is available in these documents. However, the pride of place in the Time's coverage goes to a hit piece on Julian Assange, the founder and face of Wikileaks.
New York Times:

The piece repeats the canard that Wikileaks previous document dump put lives in danger, despite the Pentagon's admission that no harm to anyone in Afghanistan could be tied to the Wikileaks release. As documented by the invaluable Glenn Greenwald:

It's been clear from the start that -- despite the valid concern that WikiLeaks should have been more vigilant in redacting the names of innocent Afghan civilians -- the Pentagon (and its media and pundit servants) were drastically exaggerating the harms, as The Associated Press noted on August 17:

The WikiLeaks leak is unrivaled in its scope, but so far there is no evidence that any Afghans named in the leaked documents as defectors or informants from the Taliban insurgency have been harmed in retaliation.

Some private analysts, in fact, think the danger has been overstated. "I am underwhelmed by this argument. The Pentagon is hyping," says John Prados, a military and intelligence historian who works for the anti-secrecy National Security Archive. He said in an interview that relatively few names have surfaced and it's not clear whether their present circumstances leave them in jeopardy.

And on August 11, even the DOD was forced to admit to The Washington Post the complete absence of any evidence to support its wild accusations: "'We have yet to see any harm come to anyone in Afghanistan that we can directly tie to exposure in the WikiLeaks documents,' [Pentagon spokesman Geoff] Morrell said.
What is interesting in the hit piece is the petulant tone of John Burns. One would have thought the pride of place would have been a mea culpa from Mr Burns explaining why the picture painted by the Wikileaks document was so different than what was conveyed by his reporting. But then, Mr. Burns is a "serious" journalist.

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