Yet Assange can be forgiven for thinking that viewpoint and style were the sum total of qualification needed to engage in the life and death business of publishing secrets in time of war. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, explaining that the White House didn’t try to stop the publication, said he met with reporters from the New York Times and sent a message through its reporters to Assange asking that he redact information in the documents that could harm US military personnel. As for the Afghans? Well what about them? Wikileaks made its pathetic effort to sanitize the data, didn’t they? And if it was good for the Times and Gibbs, why shouldn’t Assange have concluded it was good enough period?
One or more of those connected with this story may in the next few weeks, under questioning from critics, express their sincerest and most heartfelt regret at the death or danger which their leak has exposed men, women and children to. But poise your finger on the pause button; watch for it carefully before it flashes past to the standard peroration on the noble purposes of showing the “true nature” of war. Because the regret may last all of five seconds, though for those who will lose a loved one to Taliban reprisal the pain will last much longer. But the wretched of the earth will endure, as only those who have accustomed themselves to being the moral guinea pigs and butt of jokes of the great and good can endure.
As for Assange, will he have any genuine second thoughts? Scott Fitzgerald may have described him when he wrote: “I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people … they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
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