Though the group says that a formal response may still be forthcoming, a series of informal Twitter messages from WikiLeaks mocked yesterday’s threats, coming from what they labeled an “obnoxious Pentagon spokesman.”
Defense Department Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, the obnoxious spokesman in question, had demanded that WikiLeaks “do the right thing” and unrelease the tens of thousands of leaked classified Afghan War documents, removing them from their website and return them to the Pentagon. He also suggested that if WikiLeaks did not do so voluntarily the Pentagon would “compel” them to do so.
The leaked documents did considerable damage to the public perception of the Afghan war effort, in no small part because it transitioned that perception from a vague series of official narratives to the unvarnished realities on the ground. And while it seems having WikiLeaks remove the data from their website wouldn’t exactly change this, the whistleblower group will almost certainly turn them down.
It seems to be a moot point anyhow, as while US officials seem eager to harrangue WikiLeaks volunteers when they get the chance the organization is located abroad, its servers are in Sweden, and Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, was in London as of last weekend. A US military attempt to impose censorship inside the US would almost certainly lead to a massive court battle, but trying to do so in Western Europe could set up an outright revolt.
Yet Morrell has continued with his “concern” about the WikiLeaks organization, reiterating his position on Fox News and demanded that they “hand back over to us all that was stolen from us.” Though the “stolen” argument in the copying of data is a familiar (and contentious) one in intellectual property circles, this too does not appear to apply here, as being “classified” is not the same as being “copyrighted,” and the US military does not in general have the ability to copyright their documents.
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