Reaction to the leaks have been wide-ranging and are still continuing. The Afghanistan government claims vindication, “These reports show that the U.S. was already aware of the ISI connection with the al Qaeda terrorist network”. So does the Indian government, “We have seen media reports about classified information, supposedly from US government sources, put out in public domain, on support to terrorism by ISI – Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.” Germany and Canada have claimed they will endanger their troops in Afghanistan.
The reaction of the UK has been complex. One the one hand, the government said it will launch an enquiry. On the other hand, Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit to India, claimed, “It is unacceptable for anything to happen within Pakistan that is supporting terrorism elsewhere…It is well-documented that that has been the case in the past, and we have to make sure that the Pakistan authorities are not looking two ways. They must only look one way, and that is to a democratic and stable Pakistan.”
In Pakistan, the reaction has been furious. The Pakistan government said the leaks were “misplaced, skewed and contrary to the factual position on the ground”. Pakistan’s ISI denounced the leaks, calling them “malicious and unsubstantiated”, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US called them “irresponsible”. And the British PM’s remarks have been seen to add insult to injury; Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK called them an “Immature Reaction from an Immature Politician”; the Pakistan government has said it damaged efforts for regional peace.
In the US, the Obama Administration condemned the leaks, but several anti-war Senators have used them as justification for their stance. Curiously, the Pentagon is investigating Bradley Manning again, to check whether he was responsible in some way; Manning was stationed in Iraq while these leaks are on Afghanistan.
Tunku Varadarajan of the Wall Street Journal made a particularly corrosive attack on Julian Assange in an article, which got quite personal. For US conservatives (for whom the WSJ is a flag-bearer), anything that might compromise the US action in Afghanistan is tantamount to treason.
This is a detailed documentation (quite a lot for a blog), but it has a point. What does all this go to show? It shows the transformative power of the internet, especially when used together with Old Media. One website and three newspapers have the entire world in a flurry. The power has spared no one, everyone is commenting (including, self-evidently, your truly).
So why am I calling Julian Assange the most dangerous man in the world? After all, he has not taken a single life or committed any heinous crime. He is an internet-addicted geek, like many others. But he voices a viewpoint that even journalists do not necessarily share. And that is the right of the source.
But for more, you’ll have to wait for episode 3.