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US documents leaked online give inside look at war

By Associated Press
Monday, July 26, 2010 8:10 EDT
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Update: Daniel Ellsberg says first leak in forty years “of the scale of the Pentagon Papers”

The US government’s most notorious — but also decorated — whistleblower believes that the Wikileaks war logs drop is the biggest leak to emerge in over forty years.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, said on Democracy Now! Monday morning, “I’m very impressed by the release.”

It is the first release in thirty-nine years or forty years, since I first gave the Pentagon Papers to the Senate, of the scale of the Pentagon Papers, and not the first as it should have been. I would—how many times in those years should there have been the release of thousands of pages showing our being lied into war in Iraq, as in Vietnam, and the nature of the war in Afghanistan? I hope there will be—I hope this will inspire, despite the charges brought against Manning under the UC, under the Universal Code of Military Justice, which is not civilian law, it’s not First Amendment law. It’s the military law, so he’s in deep water here, as I think he expected. But nevertheless, I hope people will not be deterred from realizing that they have the responsibility that, according to the reports we’ve had of what Manning said in chat logs to the informant, Adrian Lamo, that realize that there is great deception going on, that there is, in Manning’s reported words, horrific material, almost criminal, as he put it, which deserve to be in the public domain, that they will consider doing what’s been done here, and that is risking their own career and their clearance and even their liberty, maybe for life, in order to save many lives. So, whoever did this—and Manning is charged with it—it remains to be seen whether the government can prove a case against him in the particular charges, but in terms of what he’s reported to have said to Lamo, I admire very much the spirit in which he did this. He said that he felt the public needed to know this and that he was prepared to go to prison, even for life—he said that—or even to be executed. That’s the first person I’ve heard in forty years who is in the same state of mind that I was forty years ago.

Video at Democracy Now

At Salon, Dan Gillmor writes, “It’s hard to escape the sense that we’ve hit one of those historical pivot points in the wake of the WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghanistan war document trove. The conduct of politics, war and media — so intertwined these days — has changed irrevocably.”

The Atlantic’s Jim Fallows has valuable perspective on the larger meaning of both leaks, as well as their similarities in key ways, as they applied to American policy and war aims,” Gillmor adds.

Fallows notes,

A word of historical comparison. Unlike Marc Ambinder or Alexis Madrigal, neither of whom was alive at the time, I remember when the Pentagon Papers came out. By that point American involvement in Vietnam was “ending” — even though it would be another four years before U.S. troops left the country after the fall of Saigon, and even though many, many American, Vietnamese, and other people were still to die in the “wind-down” phase. The major effect of the Papers was to reveal that for many years officials closest to the action had understood that the war could not really be “won,” at least under the real-world political circumstances the U.S. faced. Of course the U.S. could have waged all-out unlimited war, and prevailed — but it wasn’t going to do that.

….

Which brings us back to Wikileaks and AfPak. The Obama Administration policy I most disagree with was his decision late last year to double-down in Afghanistan. Although I am not an expert of Afghanistan, I opposed this choice because everything I have learned about the world makes me doubt its central logic. That logic is: if we bear down for a limited time, in a limited way, that will make enough difference that we can then begin to leave — rather than simply preparing to leave now. At first glance, these documents cast severe doubt on the idea that staying for another 18 months — who knows, perhaps another 18 years — would truly “make the difference” in transforming Afghanistan.

“That’s what I’ll be looking for in the Wikileaks documents: evidence that the project we’re now committed to in Afghanistan could ever have worked, or might still work now,” Fallows adds.

(reporting by RAW STORY)

Original AP article follows:

Massive leak of classified US documents promises an inside look at troubled Afghanistan war

Shocking in scope if not in content, the leak of 91,000 classified U.S. records on the Afghanistan war by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org is one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history.

The documents cover much of what the public already knows about the troubled nine-year conflict: U.S. spec-ops forces have targeted militants without trial, Afghans have been killed by accident, and U.S. officials have been infuriated by alleged Pakistani intelligence cooperation with the very insurgent groups bent on killing Americans.

WikiLeaks posted the documents Sunday. The New York Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and the German weekly Der Spiegel were given early access to the records.

The release was instantly condemned by U.S. and Pakistani officials as both potentially harmful and irrelevant.

White House national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones said the release “put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk.” In a statement, he then took pains to point out that the documents describe a period from January 2004 to December 2009, mostly during the administration of President George W. Bush. And, Jones added, before President Obama announced a new strategy.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Husain Haqqani agreed, saying the documents “do not reflect the current on-ground realities,” in which his country and Washington are “jointly endeavoring to defeat al-Qaida and its Taliban allies.”

The U.S. and Pakistan assigned teams of analysts to read the records online to assess whether sources or locations were at risk.

The New York Times said the documents reveal that only a short time ago, there was far less harmony in U.S. and Pakistani exchanges.

The Times says the “raw intelligence assessments” by lower level military officers suggest that Pakistan “allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”

The Guardian, however, interpreted the documents differently, saying they “fail to provide a convincing smoking gun” for complicity between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban.

The leaked records include detailed descriptions of raids carried out by a secretive U.S. special operations unit called Task Force 373 against what U.S. officials considered high-value insurgent and terrorist targets. Some of the raids resulted in unintended killings of Afghan civilians, according to the documentation.

During the targeting and killing of Libyan fighter Abu Laith al-Libi, described in the documents as a senior al-Qaida military commander, the death tally was reported as six enemy fighters and seven noncombatants — all children.

Task Force 373 selected its targets from 2,000 senior Taliban and al-Qaida figures posted on a “kill or capture” list, known as JPEL, the Joint Prioritized Effects List, the Guardian said.

WikiLeaks said the release Sunday “did not generally include top-secret organizations,” and that it had “delayed the release of some 15,000 reports” as part of what it called “a harm minimization process demanded by our source,” but said it would release the documents later, possibly with material redacted.

U.S. government agencies have been bracing for a deluge of thousands more classified documents since the leak of helicopter cockpit video of a 2007 firefight in Baghdad. That was blamed on a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Spc. Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Md. He was charged with releasing classified information earlier this month. Manning had bragged on line that he downloaded 260,000 classified U.S. cables and transmitted them to Wikileaks.org.

The following YouTube video is from the Associated Press today, Mon., July 26, 2010.


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Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

Source: AP News

 
 
 
 
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