The documents, which WikiLeaks calls the “Afghan War Diary,” show the micro-details of the war from the perspective of U.S. soldiers and intelligence officials, with a focus upon individual incidents of both Afghan civilian casualties and the placement and impact of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) used by rebel forces.
The London Guardian, which, with the New York Times and the German newspaper Der Spiegel, obtained an advance look at the documents, has termed the disclosure the “biggest leak in intelligence history.” Not surprisingly, the Obama administration condemned the naked look at the reality of the Afghan war. “The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security,” the White House said in a statement by National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones e-mailed to reporters. Interestingly, although many news sources have yet to verify the authenticity of the documents, no government source has denied their validity.
One source of the leaks may be former U.S. intelligence analyst soldier Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, who was charged earlier this month with using his privileged access to intelligence files and releasing them to WikiLeaks. Manning is regarded by many as the source that released the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video in March, showing U.S. helicopter pilots committing the war crime of knowingly shooting a wounded man. The video showed the perspective of one of the gunners in two Apache attack helicopters involved in the engagement that ended in the death of a Reuters News Service photographer and his driver. No U.S. servicemen were ever criminally charged in the war crime. In an Internet chat with former hacker Adrian Lamo, Manning allegedly boasted that he had given WikiLeaks some 125,000 U.S. secret documents.
“It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions — U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity, and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told CNN. Assange also told the New York Times that the documents show “not only the severe incidents but the general squalor of war, from the death of individual children to major operations that kill hundreds.”
The biggest fallout of the latest WikiLeaks exposure may be the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, however. The New York Times reported that “Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service guides the Afghan insurgency that fights American troops, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion in U.S. aid.” But the White House painted the revelation that the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, has essentially allied itself with the Taliban as old news. In a separate e-mail to reporters entitled “Thoughts on Wikileaks,” White House officials explained, “I don’t think anyone who follows this issue will find it surprising that there are concerns about ISI and safe havens in Pakistan. In fact, we’ve said as much repeatedly and on the record. Attached please find a document with some relevant quotes from senior USG officials.” The New York Times posted the relevant quotations released by the White House here.
The New York Times explained that the leaks “illustrate why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.”
Now this explanation of why the United States is losing its war in Afghanistan is available to all Americans. The question is, what will Americans do with this new-found information about the Afghan war?
Photo: AP Images