Wikileaks Unveils Pantload of U.S. Military Data on Afghanistan

WL_Hour_Glass_small07262010.pngWikileaks, the online purveyor of secret documents, has made public 92,201 internal U.S. military records concerning conduct of the war in Afghanistan. It gave the information to The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel.

Each news outlet has put together a landing page for its reporting on what they’re calling “The War Logs.” Here they are:

The New York Times: “The War Logs: An archive of classified military documents offers an unvarnished view of the war in Afghanistan
• Guardian: “Afghanistan: The War Logs
Der Spiegel: “The Afghanistan Protocol: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

And then of course there is the actual Wikileaks presentation of the data, but the main site is moving slowly — or not at all — thanks to all the traffic the documents have generated. In the meantime, The Awl has assembled a preliminary guide for diving into the Afghan leaks, including a link to a functioning Wikileaks mirror site.

Readers should also take a look at Jay Rosen’s PressThink post on the way Wikileaks handled dissemination of the information. Rosen asks why Wikileaks went to three leading news outlets rather than publish the information itself for everyone to see.

Because as Julien Assange, founder of Wikileaks, explained last October, if a big story is available to everyone equally, journalists will pass on it.

“It’s counterintuitive,” he said then. “You’d think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that’s absolutely not true. It’s about supply and demand. Zero supply equals high demand, it has value. As soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero.”

Finally, here’s Politico’s reporting on the White House reaction to the leaks. The Obama administration has said that the leak was “irresponsible” and pointed out that Wikileaks opposes the war in Afghanistan. We invite readers to draw their own conclusions about that last assertion.

Throughout the day, we’ll be offering more on this giant leak, including the way the Times has decided to handle this information and a deeper look at the way Wikileaks distributed it.