I've already linked to a couple of good things written about the Wikileaks Afghanistan story, but I don't want to let it pass without linking to Matt Yglesias's sensible comments about government secrets.
The most famous example of this was Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia, which as someone famously said when it was exposed, wasn't a secret to the Cambodians. You can see an obvious echo of that in the Wikileaks material. One of the big revelations, according to the NYT story, was that the Taliban has been using heat-seaking missiles (and forgive me if I have that not quite right -- military details are not my strength. Also, I seem to remember reading elsewhere today that this "secret" was already reported. Anyway, back to the discussion). You see where I'm going here: this wasn't a secret to the Taliban!
Now, in both cases, I can imagine reasons for governments to keep bad news quiet other than just making things look good (or at least less bleak) to voting citizens. Governments sometimes have to lie, or at least not state the truth, in order for diplomacy to work...I don't think it's a crime for the United States to conveniently not officially notice that Israeli has nuclear weapons. But we all know that governments are inclined to adopt a default position of classifying everything possible. Indeed, that's probably even more true after eight years of Dick Cheney's influence, if numerous reports about his views on secrecy are correct.
The obvious problem is that declassifying things, or even changing the standards for classifying future items, is a whole lot of work for a bunch of bureaucrats who almost certainly don't want to do it. And it's unlikely that presidents who make that a priority are apt to be rewarded by anyone for it. Still, Yglesias is correct about this, and it would be nice to see the one group that really does have an interest in more easily available information -- the press -- put more pressure on.
(OK, political scientists and historians have an interest in easily available information, too -- but pols have no reason to care what we want. The press as an interest group is actually somewhat formidable).