04 February 2008

Website Leaking Iraq ROE

Over the past seven years, there appears to be a willingness – indeed, an eagerness – to leak and publish classified material. Today’s case in point, from a story in the International Herald Tribune, has to do with old rules of engagement being published on a website known as Wikileaks. The site apparently published rules of engagement (ROE) for Iraq from 2005. The headline resulting from the post is that US troops were allowed to engage the enemy even if that fight took US troops into Iran or Syria.

For the casual observer, what are known as pursuit rules may seem like a big deal. For those who have read military ROE before, it is recognized as detailing a required subject. All ROE should be able to, to the maximum extent possible, answer for endless iterations of the question “What do I do if…?” While engaging the enemy, troops need to act, not wonder. Good ROE provides ready answers to “what do I do” questions.

One of those touchy questions is what to do if the enemy tries to find safe haven in a “third” country (in this case, the US and Iraq being the first two). This question must be addressed in ROE, so the fact that it is addressed in the 2005 Iraq ROE is not a big deal. If it weren’t, then it would be a problem.

What the headline from the IHT seems to want readers to focus on, that “Cross-border chases from Iraq [are] O.K.”, is to miss the point. They are only “o.k.” in “hot pursuit,” meaning that breaking off contact with the enemy would put US or Coalition troops in danger. This is not willy-nilly running at the enemy where ever he is. This ROE addresses what to do if an extended fight takes US troops elsewhere. In short, there’s nothing strange about it.

What is strange is the inability for the anonymous folks at Wikileaks to understand that some things are secret for a reason. If the enemy knows US ROE, then it can change tactics to take advantage of that ROE. In other words, no ROE is perfect, a perfect net of all situations, times and places. Given enough thought, the enemy can “break” ROE. This would put US troops in danger, and needlessly so.

The front page at Wikileaks says, “We protect your identity while maximizing political impact.” I’m disheartened by the fact that Wikileaks believes the identity of leakers is more important than the lives of US troops, let alone Iraqis. The IHT article says that the site’s “goal in disclosing secret documents is to reveal "unethical behavior" by governments and corporations.” I counter that what Wikileaks does in unethical. Not only that, it is illegal.

The leaking of classified documents has become almost commonplace in our country. From Sandy Berger to Wikileaks to the New York Times, classified information has been leaked, and with little or no repercussions. It’s time for that to end.


chan said...

Not only is it illegal, but it is treason. I know what would have happened to people as little as 40 years ago but now it is accepted to compromise American security with absolutely no consequences. It makes me sick that no one seems to be doing anything about this.

I know there are plenty of suitable trees on the East Coast and I'm sure someone can find a rope, so that's no excuse.

Bob M. said...

I'm thinking that the same folks who do the leaking would also argue that we are not at war...so there's no real harm done. Silly people they are.

But it is amazing just how many crimes are no longer crimes in our country; just how many criminals are really "victims" or "truth-tellers". 2+2=5.

chan said...

"But it is amazing just how many crimes are no longer crimes in our country;" (I know I didn't quote this write, so don't give me any grammer lesons)

That's a great point. And kind of sad. And "crimes" have been added that aren't crimes by the PC crowd.