Monday, October 25, 2010

Tom Ricks is Wrong About Wikileaks

Tom Ricks has provided some of the most valuable reportage there is about the Iraq War, but this attitude confuses me: "Maybe I'm going soft, but the Wikileaks dump kind of makes me ill. The whole situation strikes me as a bit sordid. I worry that great newspapers are getting played. If the leaks brought great revelations, I might think differently, but so far I don't think I have been surprised by a single thing I've read."

I'm always confused when a reporter seems to be arguing against making more of the record available -- particularly when the argument is, essentially, "so what?" Even if the openness doesn't redraw the broad outlines of a story, the details represented in the Wikileaks dump still offer nuance and texture to what's known. And though I consider myself relatively well-informed about the state of the war, I was still surprised -- and disgusted -- by the level of human-rights abuses committed by the new Iraqi government. I already knew that it wasn't really all that "free" in our usual understandings of the term, but did I know that Iraqi soldiers were cutting off the fingers of adversaries? No, I didn't know that. I'm glad Wikileaks let me know.

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