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Should the Wikileaks website be shut down by the U.S. government?

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October 25, 2010

The Wikileaks website is at it again and some national security experts wonder if the U.S. government should shut down the site once and for all, and impose sanctions to its owner/founder.

For many months now, the site has been nothing but frustration and headaches to the Pentagon and U.S. national security. According to various reports, Wikileaks has now released almost 400,000 classified U.S. military documents involving the Iraq War, defying warnings from the U.S. government that disclosing the documents would put many lives at risk, not just in Iraq but even on U.S. soil as well.

Called "The Iraq War Logs", the documents were posted to the website at around 21:00 GMT on Oct. 22, after they were released to various news organizations across the globe.

According to the The Guardian, the documents show that U.S. commanders ignored evidence of torture by Iraqi police and soldiers and that more than 15,000 civilians died in incidents that weren't previously reported. Wikileaks claims that these incidents happened between 2004 and 2009.

Although U.S. officials have said that they kept no official record of civilian deaths, the leaked documents also show that over 66,080 civilians died among a total of 109,000 war fatalities, according to The Guardian. The U.K. paper also reports that a U.S. Apache helicopter crew killed two insurgents on the ground even if the men tried to surrender and that the crew was cleared to do so by a U.S. military legal advisor.

It is now believed that the document came from the same source that leaked over 91,970 classified documents involving the Afghan war to Wikileaks earlier in July. About 77,000 of those were posted to the site, drawing strong criticism from the Pentagon, which said that the leak would endanger Afghan civilians who cooperated with the U.S. military.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment on today's leak specifically. But she said the U.S. government "should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any information by individuals and or organizations which puts the lives of the United States and its partners' service members and civilians at risk."

U.S. Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell was even more direct than Clinton. "We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our very own enemies," he said in a statement.

"We already know that terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. 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 only responsible course of action for WikiLeaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their Web sites as soon as possible."

The 391,832 US Army Sigacts (Significant Actions) reports published by the Wikileaks site clearly document the war from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009 – though reports for two months are not included in the leak.

But what is not understood at this point, and this is what is so frustrating to the Pentagon is this: President Obama and the U.S. Congress has full authority in shutting down any website that could endanger U.S. national security whether it's at home or abroad, and the Wikileaks site has been distributing those documents since July now and so far absolutely nothing has been done to shut it down and the Whitehouse has been very quiet about it so far.

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Source: Wikileaks.

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