By Gerd Appenzeller
Indiscretions like those currently from WikiLeaks and the newspapers that reprinted portions of the text therefore have but one goal in mind: to make the truth known.
Translated By Ron Argentati
From Vietnam to Afghanistan: You can’t wage war against the truth. And you shouldn’t, because it’s not truth that’s endangering national security.
Some downplay the matter, others want to study it and the Americans have yet to react. After the release of secret U.S. documents concerning the war in Afghanistan on the Internet WikiLeaks platform, the British foreign minister appears disinterested. The German minister of defense wants to determine whether German security concerns were affected. In a similar case, the U.S. government has already previously determined that it endangers national security.
In fact, not much in the 90,000 leaked pages is really sensational. Almost everything fits together like new pieces in a puzzle, but there’s not enough there yet to form the complete picture. The military situation in Afghanistan is more dramatic than the allied political leaders care to admit; in the background, Pakistan is playing an unsavory role, and Turkey, somewhat surprisingly, is pursuing its own special interests in this strange war.
During times of war, even democratic governments have a tendency to disclose only those facts that don’t interfere with military planning. Truth is the first casualty in every armed conflict. But on the other hand, there’s hope in the fact that war can’t be waged against the truth once it has become public.
Forty years ago, the United States also suffered a defeat because media reports showing the brutal truth about the Southeast Asian battlefield and the ruthless way the war was being fought were seen by young Americans about to be drafted to fight there. The fight against the war led for years by Democratic Senator William Fulbright that culminated in the publishing of his book “The Arrogance of Power,” would have remained largely unknown had it not been for the support of the media. The Pentagon Papers, published in the New York Times and the Washington Post in 1971, exposed the thicket of lies with which then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had tried to justify the Vietnam war. Since that time, the United States has tried to prevent or impede independent news coverage of every conflict in which it has engaged. The “embedded journalists” in the Iraq war are the latest examples of that.
Indiscretions like those currently from WikiLeaks and the newspapers that reprinted portions of the text therefore have but one goal in mind: to make the truth known. The peoples’ right to know, the public’s right to unfiltered access to the news was established by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, in 1791.
It’s not truth that endangers national security, it’s the poison of untruths that does. In the United States, as well as everywhere else.
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