It was the latest leak of a government document to send shock waves through the international community.
A secret NATO report alleging that the Afghan Taliban is being directly assisted by Pakistani security forces was obtained by the BBC, who published a shocking report on it Tuesday. It is unclear when or how the report was obtained, but BBC Kabul correspondent Quentin Sommerville tweeted: “Been working on this one for awhile.”
Since the 2006 arrival of WikiLeaks, the self-described nonprofit that has published thousands of private, secret and classified documents, leaking government material has become somewhat of a fad. And the Internet has only made the publishing and spread of leaked reports easier.
In 2010, U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox attacked his department for developing a “culture of leaks” in which secret documents often made it to the media.
Over the past few months, “World Cup- Leaked report reveals shambolic England,”“Leaked UN report reveals torture, lynchings and abuse in post-Gaddafi Libya,” and “Leaked video U.S. marines mocking and urinating on Afghan bodies” were just a few of the headlines used to describe previously secret official documents.
Imitator WikiLeaks sites have also sprung up around the world, including Open Leaks, Brussels Leaks, and Pirate Leaks. Although some of the leakers participating in these sites share only a single document, the Global Post reports that others become lifelong activists.
But is our growing culture of leaking documents a good thing?
Swedish Member of Parliament Christian Engstrom last year told the European Parliament Web site that, like many government officials, he believes leaks often endanger governments and people’s lives, but were not without benefit.
“The larger goal of WikiLeaks is to make it obvious to all governments: Don’t believe that you’ll get away with hiding or lying about things,” Engstrom said. “The indirect effect of WikiLeaks is that governments will start to become more transparent and more honest.”
Although Pakistan at first deigned to respond to the leaked NATO report, Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday told the BBC that the allegations are “old wine in an even older bottle.”
U.S. military officials caution that the document, believed to be based on 27,000 separate interrogations of 4,000 captured insurgents, is a summary of what detainees said, and has not necessarily been corroborated.
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