Wikileaks Posts Thousands of Classified Afghan War Field Reports, Has White House in Uproar

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The whistle-blowing, secret-revealing, classified document-exposing website, WikiLeaks.org, has posted tens of thousands of classified documents – many of them field reports, all of them related to the war in Afghanistan – which taken together paint a picture of exactly how the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is going, and has been going. The WikiLeak documents, spanning the period from 2004 up through last year, and estimated at between 75,000 and 90,000 in number, and labeled by WikiLeaks “The Afghan War Diary”, represent one of the single biggest leaks in United States history. These Afghan War Diaries have the White House and the rest of the U.S. administration in a tizzy, revealing, as they do, unreported civilian casualties, an allegation that Pakistan is backing the Taliban in Afghanistan, and information about the elusive “Task Force 373” (being misreported in some places as “Task Force 273”), which is purported to be the unit used to target and take out high ranking enemy persons of interest.

“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,” said U.S. National Security Adviser, General James Jones, in a statement issued earlier today.


For their part, Pakistan denies any collusion with the Taliban, and Afghan president Hamid Karzai, through a spokesperson, has stated that while he is shocked at the scale of this leak, “most of this is not new” information.

And more than a few have suggested it is either intentionally planted misinformation, or just plain bad intelligence.

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, says he has no reason to doubt the veracity of the documents (which does not, in our book, equate to his being sure that they are authentic and legitimate – when in the business of publishing something as genuine, you should doubt their reliability unless they are proven authentic).

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Says Assange, “When we publish material, what we say is: the document as we describe it is true,” adding that “We publish CIA reports all the time. They are legitimate reports, but they don’t mean the CIA is telling the truth.”

It really is hard to know what is truth and what is hyperbole, or even pure fiction, and therein lies the rub.

Lt. General Hamid Gul, former commander of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the Pakistan agency fingered as supporting the Taliban, calls the documents “pure fiction which is being sold as intelligence.” But Gul himself is the subject of investigation in the documents, which reveal that the U.S. has suspected Gul of being a Taliban liaison, and has lobbied the U.N. to put Gul on the list of known international terrorists.

 

David Loyn, the BBC’s foreign correspondant in Kabul, a war analyst, and author of In Afghanistan: Two Hundred Years of British, Russian and American Occupation and Frontline: The True Story of the British Mavericks who Changed the Face of War Reporting has analysed the documents, and in his view “The picture they paint is of American naivety at the beginning, a distracting obsession with Osama bin Laden, aid programmes that did not work, failure to understand the nature of the Taliban, and the continuing poor quality of Afghan police and soldiers.”

He also notes that the leaked documents show that “targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders, stepped up under the Obama administration, have often killed civilians.”

Opines Loyn, “It is easy to see why the leak of all of this information would infuriate a White House desperate to make 2010 the year they change the way they do business in Afghanistan…. The extent of American penetration and control of Afghan intelligence revealed in the documents will also raise questions about Afghan independence.”

“The real story of this material is that it’s war – it’s one damn thing after another,” asserts Assange. “It is the continuous small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, allied forces, the maimed people. Search for the word ‘amputation’ in this material, or ‘amputee’, and there are dozens and dozens of references.”

You can read the documents here at Wikileaks.org.

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