History repeats as tragedy, then as farce. WikiLeaks may be trying to combine these steps.
Ever since its release of tens of thousands of classified military documents about the Afghan war, WikiLeaks and its admirers have been trying to forge comparisons to the famous “Pentagon Papers” expose by the New York Times of classified documents that revealed the Johnson Administration’s deceptions and disingenuousness in the descent into the Vietnam morass. There seems to be some hope for yet another revival of the good ol’ 60s spirit, where being anti-war and “against the man” was cool, sexy, and most importantly, free from risk or doubt.
But this time not everyone in the cross-hairs is a powerful Washington D.C. public figure. Among the information revealed in the WikiLeaks documents are the names and locations of Afghans who worked with U.S. forces. NATO officials now fear that the Taliban may murder them.
If WikiLeaks had published the names and addresses of informants in witness protection who had testified against The Mob, would they be admired and applauded like they are now? Yet, that is exactly what WikiLeaks seems to have done. And few in their anti-war cheering section seem to mind.
Hopefully, WikiLeaks will take another pass through the documents to remove information that might put lives at risk. And hopefully more people will see that exposing secret information may be more morally complex than the breezy 1960s fantasies cast it to be.