The past couple days the ages-old issue between security and freedom of information was reignited due to the release by Wikileaks of a classified US military video in which an Apache helicopter mistakenly fires on civilians and a couple of news reporters whom, according to the helicopter pilots and the communication going back and forth between them, appeared to be militants carrying automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

As far as we can tell, no argument has been made to claim that the US Army pilots knew, or could determine, that the people fired upon were civilians and not militants. There had been militant activity in the same area (less than 200 meters away according to the military) and there were coalition forces in the area engaging militants. From this perspective, and from what the pilots could determine from their video technology, the killing of the reporters and the civilians was truly a tragic mistake.

But this isn’t the issue that is creating chatter and conversation this week in America and world. More controversial has become the actual decryption and release of the video to the world through the internet–an act that has infuriated the US military and other government agencies– and whether the release of media such as this is or can become a threat to national security–that of the United States and that of other countries. Even though there are multiple points of view to take on the issue, and a lot of details to go over, these are my thoughts on it all:

1) I encourage all U.S. citizens to become informed and to pursue knowledge of what our country is doing and how we are doing it around the world. As citizens of the most powerful country in the world we have a responsibility to be the most informed citizens in the world. Therefore, if you are mentally and emotionally able to, I would encourage you to watch the video.

2) Second. I strongly believe that Wikileaks, a website that considers itself a people’s intelligence agency, has an obvious agenda behind the release of this video–this agenda being aimed more against the United States and the US military. I gather this from the title they have given the video–“Collateral Murder”– and the way in which they emotionally bind the viewer to the victims at the beginning of the video through pictures and personal statements. As an agency that claims to serve the people’s good, this huge bias is not acceptable if their objective is to inform.

3) A. Does this video help our effort to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? It probably doesn’t. The video depicts mistakes made by members of the U.S. Army while serving as support for infantry units in the area. It depicts servicemen killing innocent people whom they suspected were militant insurgents. However, many around the world will take this video as part of America’s crusade against Muslims and part of America’ disregard for human rights–this I fear and believe may be a result.

Unfortunately, not everyone will understand the pressure that a soldier goes through in combat and the regret and level of guilt that can remain in a soldier’s mind and soul when a mistake causes the death of the innocent. Mistakes happen, especially in war. I pray people understand this.

B. However, I believe that even though video’s depicting mistakes made by U.S. forces on the field may damage the international opinion regarding the efficiency of our military, we gain more credibility and respect as a country when we are willing to admit our mistakes and focus on how to avoid them in the future. Yes, we may lose points in one scale, but we gain more points on another.

The world that we live in today is a world in which the more transparent and open a country is in its dealings and actions, the better image it holds on the world stage. If our government had released this footage on its own accord, instead of Wikileaks releasing it with a bias spin, this wouldn’t have become such a controversial topic.

Final Thoughts.

As citizens of the United States of America, a country that has aligned itself with defending freedom, human rights, and the dignity of every human being, we must understand a crucial principle at work–especially as we fight the present wars.

When weighing the extent to which we prioritize National Security over Liberty and vice versa, we must remember that as a nation we have made a commitment with the fight of freedom, dignity, and universal rights around the world. We must remember the principles and fundamentals written on our history, our founding documents, and the very reasons we are engaged in these two wars. This being said, if releasing controversial war footage admitting our tactical mistakes makes us more vulnerable to our enemies, yet reaffirms our commitment to our principles, then this is a sacrifice we must make. If the preservation of essential principles and fundamentals makes us a little less secure and safe, then this is the sacrifice that as American citizens we make; however, if our country prefers to keep the actions of our government secret, if we allow inhuman interrogation methods to take place, and if we are ok with sacrificing what we believe in for the sake of our security–then we have already lost this war.

Every American that decides to live within the borders of this country must be willing to make and live by that sacrifice. It may, at times, become harder to define and to determine what the right thing to do is. However, as the land of the free and the home of the brave, when we must decide between our national security and our principles based on human dignity and liberty, let us remember that in the fight for the freedom and human dignity of others, if we sacrifice those very things for which we stand for, then we may as well just give up the fight.

I know this post of more political than the usual. I don’t like bringing politics into my blog. However, I felt this was important and crucial enough to bring up. God bless you and thank you for reading.

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