The “Iraq War Logs:” a safe leak?

WikiLeaks has posted potentially dangerous Iraq War documents.

Editorial board

The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released 391,832 secret Iraqi war documents Friday. The documents detail civilian deaths, U.S. military tactics and intelligence-gathering strategies in the region. News organizations like The New York Times coordinated with the website, getting early access to the documents and writing news articles based on their content. ThereâÄôs no doubt increased transparency into U.S. war efforts is a good thing. But how much is too much?

After the release of 77,000 Afghanistan war documents this summer, WikiLeaks was heavily criticized for publicizing documents that named intelligence gatherers in the country. The Times reported Sunday that the Taliban used the documents to root out spies.

With the release of the “Iraq War Logs,” thereâÄôs renewed worry from officials that lives could be put at risk. A U.S. Department of Defense spokesman told The Times, “By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us.”

The four news organizations given access to these logs all agreed to not disclose information that would put peopleâÄôs lives in danger. The Times said theyâÄôve withheld names of “operatives and informants” found in the documents. Yet theyâÄôve still published meaningful, informative content based on the documents. CouldnâÄôt WikiLeaks have taken steps to ensure their document dump was safe for all?

A responsible leak is one that exposes relevant information and focuses the spotlight on the actions of people in power. Taking steps to protect those in harmâÄôs way should be a priority for WikiLeaks, just as it is for the news organizations.