WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange says Friday’s disclosure of 400,000 secret Iraq War documents is “about the truth.” Assange, described in a just-published New York Times profile as being “on the run” and “chased by turmoil,” came out of the shadows Saturday in London to discuss how WikiLeaks’ latest cache of classified documents sheds new light on military abuses and civilian casualties during the Iraq War.”In our release of these 400,000 documents about the Iraq war,” Assange said, “the intimate detail of that war from the U.S. perspective, we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war and which has continued on since the war officially concluded.”
WikiLeaks provided the classified documents in advance to more than a half dozen news organizations, including the New York Times, Guardian, BBC, Le Monde, and Al Jazeera. The media organizations were bound to a Friday embargo before publishing articles and videos offering context and analysis of their findings in the huge cache.
The documents, still being pored through, have revealed instances of brutality carried out by Iraqi security forces and the previously unacknowledged extent of civilian casualties. They also reveal how the military kept searching for WMD’s — the original pretext for invasion — for several years after it became clear Saddam Hussein didn’t have the weapons program that U.S. intelligence agencies and Bush administration officials claimed.
WikiLeaks became widely known three months ago after publishing over 75,000 secret military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. Assange, in recent weeks, has expressed a desire to work with the Pentagon before releasing another 15,000 documents from the same Afghanistan cache in order to redact names of citizens who may be put in harm’s way if they are released.
But Pentagon officials have long maintained that they will not assist WikiLeaks in publishing classified documents and that the secretive organization should return its “stolen property” to the U.S. government. (Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old army private, is believed to be involved in the massive leak and is currently imprisoned.)
Assange indicated today that WikiLeaks will eventually publish those 15,000 documents, with or without the involvement of the U.S. government.