WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reacted indignantly when members of the press, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen questioned the wisdom of releasing more than 77,000 classified memos without making an effort to remove information that could bring harm to Afghan civilians and Coalition troops. One wonders how Assange will respond now that a group of human rights organizations are calling him to the carpet for exposing Afghans who cooperated with Coalition forces and the Afghan government:
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and three other groups have sent a series of emails to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calling for the names of Afghan civilians to be removed from the 77,000 classified military documents published by the online whistle-blower last month.
Nader Nadery, of the commission, said the groups want the names removed from files already released, and from any documents disclosed in the future.
"There was no consideration about civilian lives," Nadery said, noting a rise in assassinations of Afghan civilians seen as government collaborators.
"We said that in the future the names should be redacted and the ones that are already there need to be taken down. Even though it's late, it still worth doing," Nadery said. He said the group had not yet received any response to its requests.
The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute and the International Crisis Group have also been involved in exchanges about the released documents.
Will Assange lash out at the human rights groups as he has at the Pentagon and the White House? That is doubtful. Assange has put a lot of effort in defending his decision to publish the classified documents and has insisted that WikiLeaks could not possibly be responsible for the deaths of Afghan civilians. Human rights groups have confronted him and said just the opposite. The removal or censoring of the memos posted on WikiLeaks would be a major admission of wrongdoing by Assange.