It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Pentagon doesn’t heartily embrace the leakage of some 400,000 classified records covering unfavourable Iraq incidents. The line is familiar among students of security institutions: Openness would be detrimental to security by creating new vulnerabilities. In the words of Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morell:
“Potentially what one could mine from a huge data base like this are vulnerabilities in terms of how we operate, our tactics, our techniques, our procedures, the capabilities of our equipment, how we respond in combat situations, response times — indeed how we cultivate sources,” Morrell said. “All of that, [given the] thinking and adaptive enemy we’ve been facing in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be used against us.”
Openness, i.e. sharing operational and tactical information with adversaries, can create opportunities for adversaries to mitigate attack or defence capabilities. Can. Potentially. But what are the real costs of openness? And how do they compare to societal, political, and humanitarian costs of closure?