Wikileaks War Diary ‘may contain evidence of war crimes’

I’ve just got back from the Frontline Club, where Julian Assange of WikiLeaks launched the whistleblowing site’s new “war diary” database.

The database is a remarkable piece of work, allowing people to track six years of the Afghan conflict in astounding detail.

But it should be approached with caution. As Assange acknowledged, the incident reports in the database come from US military sources. They are the day-to-day reports that soldiers send back. As such, they may have a distorted view.

Nonetheless, Assange did say today that he felt the database contained evidence of possible war crimes by US forces, though he was keen to point out that the Taliban did not come up “smelling of roses” from the evidence compiled.

I don’t think, as some (such as Index contributor Leah Borromeo) have claimed, this site “smashes open the doors of what journalism is all about.

But it is a different kind of information. Rather than the “big events” what we have here is the everyday drudge and cruelty of war. And presentation of information in this way, Assange suggested, might force armies to behave better in the field.