Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks Defends Release of Afghanistan War Logs Documents

Julian Assange defends the release of secret military files on the war in Afghanistan. Plus, an update from the Russian news channel:

I'm still working through the information, but see my earlier entry, "WikiLeaks and the Afghanistan War Logs." Also, at Politico, "W.H. condemns 'irresponsible' leaks, dismisses stories." And especially, Blake Hounshell, "The logs of war: Do the Wikileaks documents really tell us anything new?":

Three news organizations -- the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel -- today published explosive reports on a treasure trove of more than 91,000 documents that were obtained by Wikileaks, the self-proclaimed whistleblower site.

I've now gone through the reporting and most of the selected documents (though not the larger data dump), and I think there's less here than meets the eye. The story that seems to be getting the most attention, repeating the longstanding allegation that Pakistani intelligence might be aiding the Afghan insurgents, offers a few new details but not much greater clarity. Both the Times and the Guardian are careful to point out that the raw reports in the Wikileaks archive often seem poorly sourced and present implausible information.

"[F]or all their eye-popping details," writes the Guardian's Declan Walsh, "the intelligence files, which are mostly collated by junior officers relying on informants and Afghan officials, fail to provide a convincing smoking gun for ISI complicity."

The Times' reporters seem somewhat more persuaded, noting that "many of the reports rely on sources that the military rated as reliable" and that their sources told them that "the portrait of the spy agency’s collaboration with the Afghan insurgency was broadly consistent with other classified intelligence."

Der Spiegel's reporting adds little, though the magazine's stories will probably have great political impact in Germany, as the Wikileaks folks no doubt intended. One story hones in on how an elite U.S. task force charged with hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda targets operates from within a German base; another alleges that "The German army was clueless and naïve when it stumbled into the conflict," and that northern Afghanistan, where the bulk of German troops are based, is more violent than has been previously portrayed.

Otherwise, I'd say that so far the documents confirm what we already know about the war: It's going badly; Pakistan is not the world's greatest ally and is probably playing a double game; coalition forces have been responsible for far too many civilian casualties; and the United States doesn't have very reliable intelligence in Afghanistan.


Old Rebel said...

Good. Let the truth about this no-win war get out. The White House and the lapdog press want us to buy their sanitized version, but the sooner people see what's really going on, the sooner this obscene waste of lives and resources can end.

Rich Casebolt said...

The problem isn't going to war ... it is going to war with one eye always looking for an exit.

Without freedom ... and the respect for it on the part of a nation's government ... peace is just an illusion.

The oceans don't protect us from the consequences of that illusion any longer, Reb ... we have to stand up and end it, with the RESOLVE to not look for the exit but instead show those living under oppression a way out ... before they, their possessions, and their labor are hijacked to support terrorism and the expansion of tyranny.

Pull your head out of the sand, and shake the sand from your eyes and ears ... for if we follow your advice, we will either have war on the enemy's terms, on our own soil, without end ... or worse, with an end desirable to the enemy.

Old Rebel said...


You want peace with the people of the Middle East? Easy - all we have to do is quit interfering in their countries. As Thadeus Russel observed, "There was not a single act of Arab terrorism against Americans before 1968, when the U.S. became the chief supplier of military equipment and economic aid to Israel."

Rich Casebolt said...

Reb, as I said on that other thread, blaming American "interference" for the tyranny and murder at their own hands reeks of hypocrisy ...

... and does not justify their criticism, let alone their armed opposition, to our endeavors to secure life and liberty for the innocents they would otherwise oppress and exploit.

If they were truly interested in peace, they would not engage in "interference" with the life and liberty of the innocent ... Arab and Israeli.

They are not. True freedom fighters don't target their own innocents.

Old Rebel said...


Sooner or later you and millions of others will have to face the facts:

1 - The US is losing in Afghanistan.

2 - The American people have turned against the war, and are tired of paying for it.

3 - We're broke -- largely due to the Neocon Wars.

Why waste more lives and dollars on a lost cause?