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Story of the Week: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Releases Afghanistan War Logs

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The biggest story in the news today is the massive leak of government documents to three major newspapers: The UK Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel in Germany by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

He has been called “The Robin Hood of Hacking.” As the founder and public face of WikiLeaks, which posts secretive documents and information in the public domain, Julian Assange believes total transparency is in the good of the people. But Assange — who reportedly lives an itinerant existence, traveling the world with a back-pack and a computer — is himself a shadowy figure. Little is known about his life: he has refused to confirm his age in interviews or give a fixed address. But on July 26, mathematically-trained Australian changed the media landscape — and possibly the course of history — by releasing around 90,000 classified U.S. military records from the war in Afghanistan.

In 2006, Assange decided to found WikiLeaks in the belief that the free exchange of information would put an end to illegitimate governance. The website publishes material from sources, and houses its main server in Sweden, which has strong laws protecting whistleblowers. Assange and others at WikiLeaks also occasionally hack into secure systems to find documents to expose. In December, the website published its first document — a decision by the Somali Islamic Courts Union that called for the execution of government officials. WikiLeaks published a disclaimer that the document may not be authentic and “may be a clever smear by U.S. intelligence.”

The website went on to get several prominent scoops, including the release in April of a secret video taken in 2007 of a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a dozen civilians, including two unarmed Reuters journalists. Assange helped post the video from a safe-house in Iceland that he and the other WikiLeaks administrators called “the bunker.”

From The NYT yesterday: View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan

The secret documents, released on the Internet by an organization called WikiLeaks, are a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year….

The documents — some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009 — illustrate in mosaic detail 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.

As the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, tries to reverse the lagging war effort, the documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

Here is the NYT “War Logs” page that collects the related stories.

From today’s Der Spiegel article: The Afghanistan Protocol: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

The documents’ release comes at a time when calls for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are growing — even in America. Last week, representatives from more than 70 nations and organizations met in Kabul for the Afghanistan conference. They assured President Hamid Karzai that his country would be in a position by 2014 to guarantee security using its own soldiers and police.

But such shows of optimism seem cynical in light of the descriptions of the situation in Afghanistan provided in the classified documents. Nearly nine years after the start of the war, they paint a gloomy picture. They portray Afghan security forces as the hapless victims of Taliban attacks. They also offer a conflicting impression of the deployment of drones, noting that America’s miracle weapons are also entirely vulnerable.

And they show that the war in northern Afghanistan, where German troops are stationed, is becoming increasingly perilous. The number of warnings about possible Taliban attacks in the region — fuelled [sic] by support from Pakistan — has increased dramatically in the past year.

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future.

Here is the UK Guardian page on the war logs with many stories based on the leaked information.

The Guardian has a video of Julian Assange: Julian Assange on the Afghanistan war logs: ‘They show the true nature of this war’

The Guardian has also prepared an interactive map with their selections of the most significant incidents covered in the war logs.

A good summary of the information in the logs at the Wired blog, Threat Level The story quotes the official Obama administration response to the leaks from the NYT:

“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 White House national security advisory General James Jones, in a statement Sunday. “Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents — the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted.”

At the New Yorker, Amy Davidson highlights one shocking incident:

…an incident report dated November 22, 2009, submitted by a unit called Task Force Pegasus. It describes how a convoy was stopped on a road in southern Afghanistan at an illegal checkpoint manned by what appeared to be a hundred insurgents, “middle-age males with approx 75 x AK-47’s and 15 x PKM’s.” What could be scarier than that?

Maybe what the soldiers found out next: these weren’t “insurgents” at all, at least not in the die-hard jihadi sense that the American public might understand the term. The gunmen were quite willing to let the convoy through, if the soldiers just forked over a two- or three-thousand-dollar bribe; and they were in the pay of a local warlord, Matiullah Khan, who was himself in the pay, ultimately, of the American public. According to a Times report this June (six months after the incident with Task Force Pegasus), Matiullah earns millions of dollars from NATO, supposedly to keep that road clear for convoys and help with American special-forces missions. Matiullah is also suspected of (and has denied) earning money “facilitating the movement of drugs along the highway.”

…..The Obama Administration has already expressed dismay that WikiLeaks publicized the documents, but a leak informing us that our tax dollars may be being used as seed money for a protection racket associated with a narcotics-trafficking enterprise is a good leak to have. And the checkpoint incident is, again, only one report, from one day.

Glenn Greenwald also has a post on the leaks.

Greenwald tweeted a little while ago that if Julian Assange got the Nobel Peace Prize he would be much more deserving than the last guy who won it.

This story is huge! This is the modern-day “Pentagon papers” that could bring down the wars pushed by Obama’s “best and brightest.” It’s terrific that the story came out on a Sunday; this should be fodder for cable news all week. Let’s hope they have the guts to cover it.

Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who released the original Pentagon papers and was targeted by a “White House hit squad” in 1972, fears for the life of Julian Assange. He told The Daily Beast last month

Do you think Assange is in danger?

I happen to have been the target of a White House hit squad myself. On May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to “incapacitate me totally.” I said to the prosecutor, “What does that mean? Kill me.” He said, “It means to incapacitate you totally. But you have to understand these guys never use the word ‘kill.’”

Is the Obama White House anymore enlightened than Nixon’s?

We’ve now been told by Dennis Blair, the late head of intelligence here, that President Obama has authorized the killing of American citizens overseas, who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Assange is not American, so he doesn’t even have that constraint. I would think that he is in some danger. Granted, I would think that his notoriety now would provide him some degree of protection. You would think that would protect him, but you could have said the same thing about me. I was the number one defendant. I was on trail but they brought up people to beat me up.

You believe he is in danger of bodily harm, then?

Absolutely. On the same basis, I was….Obama is now proclaiming rights of life and death, being judge, jury, and executioner of Americans without due process. No president has ever claimed that and possibly no one since John the First.

What advice would you give Assange?

Stay out of the U.S. Otherwise, keep doing what he is doing. It’s pretty valuable…He is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.

Thank you Julian Assange! And thank you to Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is the probable source for the leaks to Assange and is now under arrest. Free Bradley Manning!!

Conflucians, as you work your way through this material, please post anything you think is important for us to know. This story must be pushed hard!

UPDATE: Here is the data that is posted at the WikiLeaks site. Each of the newspapers made their own choices about what information to reveal and what to hold back. The NYT negotiated with the WH in making their decisions. It will be interesting to see if they left out some material that the foreign papers include. The also claim they asked Assange not to post material that would be harmful to troops in the field, although that probably wasn’t necessary.

121 Responses

  1. Oh, thank you, BB! for covering this!! I was reading something earlier today and was hoping TC would cover it. Color me grateful!

    • No problem. I still haven’t read much of it. Be sure to post anything you discover. I wonder if Obama will try to keep us in the U.S. from searching the database?

  2. Thanks for posting this. This is a really big story. Both in terms of the war related intelligence letting us in on what’s really going on, and in terms of how the press and whistle blowers are handled or mishandled.

    We’re talking Pentagon papers stuff I think. Unfortunately the power brokers learned well from both Vietnam and Watergate. They didn’t learn to not do things like that again, but they learned how to not get caught or to crush anyone who wants to expose them. So this will be something to watch.

    • Thanks, DT. I just hope nothing happens to either Bradley Manning or Julian Assange. Remember Obama claims the right to assassinate anyone anywhere in the world.

    • The documents’ release comes at a time when calls for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are growing — even in America.

      I can remember doing a peace vigil to END THE WARS and have been dismayed that since President Obama took office all the PEACE GROUPS/orgs FELL ASLEEP! 😥

  3. Thanks for this, BB, great overview!

    There’s related info along these lines in Rep. Tierney’s report released last month (hope this is not redundant, but it didn’t get much attention at the time). The title is “Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan” — (http://tinyurl.com/29psyxh).

    Tierney summed it up nicely with this: ” U.S. taxpayer dollars are feeding a protection racket in Afghanistan that would make Tony Soprano proud.”

    One of the key findings (and one that didn’t make it into most of the MSM coverage of the report) is that US taxpayers may be a more lucrative source of funding for the Taliban than the opium crop, providing as much as $400 million a year in protection fees. (Opium brings in a reported $300 million.)

    So just more bad news. There didn’t seem to be anything good to go along with it.

    • Thanks for that link. I’ll check it out. I’m going to try to work my way through the stories at the Guardian too. This story needs to be pushed hard.

    • Don’t miss the part where our tax dollars are paying for U.S. soldiers to be extorted out of more U.S. money.

      • This whole WAR in Afghanistan has been an extortion and women would rather set them selves ON FIRE than live in worsening oppression. Too much money is going the to very crooks that oppress the Afghanistan people and the rights of women and children are getting worse not better.

        There should be hearings on the condition of the WARS upon BUSH II leaving and the conditions (IF ANY CHANGE HAS HAPPENED) since President Obama took office. Also, where did that TWO BILLION DOLLARS GO that was to purchase food for the soldiers under BUSH II? Pelosi has given them free pass and not looked into ‘WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?’.

  4. read about that awhile back..paying for safe passage of goods to the troops

  5. Great, great post, bb. It will be interesting to see what happens now. Where will all the 60’s guys who inexplicably supported O come down? Will anyone care at all?

    • Thanks. The ’60s people who supported Bush aren’t the same ones who fought against the Vietnam War though.

      • No, but many of the guys who supported O like Tom Hayden and Ayres–it will be interesting to compare and contrast how they felt about Ellsberg then and if they’ve shifted 180 degrees with O taking a hard line against whistleblowers and continuing to push the war. (Of course, they’ll probably just weasel, blame the whole thing on Bush and carefully avoid mentioning O, like DK does with everything).

        • Oh yes. Sorry. I misunderstood your comment.

          Hayden did turn on Obama early, but I never saw any mea culpas from him.

  6. The WH is busy e-mailing reporters and trying to convince them there is nothing to this story. Ha!

    Besides, it’s all Bush’s fault, they say.

    • The war was bad before Obama’s “surge” Now it’s all great!

    • Of course there is no story here, they don’t want to discuss this:

      WikiLeaks Founder, Julian Assange speaks about the Afghanistan War Logs

    • Oh, right — it’s always someone else’s fault. A couple days ago, he blamed the climate bill failure on the environmentalists, who “didn’t push him hard enough.” Must be nice to be able to lay the blame at everyone else’s feet and just focus on your golf game.

  7. Afghan Wikileaks a design against the hawks – is it BP etal?

    My take on the Wikileaks is this is intentional undermining of the hawks by other elites. Very possibly a backlash from BP being sabotaged. If the hawks crippled BP because it was doing business with Iran and Libya etc. One effect would be to consolidate all those opposed to hawkish concerns – like the war in Afghanistan.
    Wikileaks is also not the independent voice we are led to believe it is.

    • I hope you’re wearing your tinfoil hat.

      • A google search for tinfoil hat enlightened me.

        • Unless google is part of that, then what you find about tinfoil hats from them won’t really protect you from the CIA’s brain rays.

        • How was BP sabataged?

          • The latest I heard, the staff turned off the ALARMS that would alert them to problems because they wanted a good nights sleep. The ALARMS were decommissioned for over a year is what one report said. 😯


          • All the motivations are there. BPs extensive business dealings with Iran. One 50 / 50 partnership in the UK (North Sea OIl), also a partnership in Azerbaijan.

            BP’s extensive dealings with Libya, and Russia.

            And then you look at Halliburton – maybe a company with the worst profile of all – and so aligned with the war on Iraq, Afghan, and so willing to war with Iran.

            There is a sizable percentage of people willing to believe it was sabotage.

            It would also explain the Obama administrations apparent collusion in a cover up, and suppression of information.

          • That’s interesting. Do you have any links for BP’s dealings with Iran, etc? I’d be interested in reading about that.

            I still don’t understand the sabatage theory though. Are you saying the Obama administration deliberately caused the rig explosion and the death of the Gulf of Mexico? That would be a pretty extreme thing to do, especially when it may mean Obama doesn’t get re-elected.

          • In case you missed the link below;

            Hatred Of Iran And ‘WMD’ Scam In BP Oil Disaster?

    • I question your motives, some of us were aware of Julian Assange and his early work years ago. His interest in Freedom of Information is well known in the ‘cultie’ arenas, the work cults go to to suppress information and all the while leaving human victims in their path.

      He also does a lot of work on bringing attention to SLAP suits and suits in general to silence people and their right to know information that affects their lives and the world.

      I do believe that Julian Assange came about this work via many many years of working earnestly on matters that affected those that couldn’t defend themselves for a variety of reasons.

      • You know more about Mr Assange than me. He has nevertheless been the subject of a lot of hype – not least, hiding from the CIA, an absurdity.

        I have also read, and I cannot verify its truth, that he stands by the official version of the 9/11 events.

        So many a person starts with good intentions, and gets sidetracked on the way….

        • Links please? Osama bin Laden has done pretty well “hiding out” from the CIA, hasn’t he? So now the theory is that Assange is working with the CIA? I’m confused.

          • Here is a link to the media frenzy to attack BP for its Iran dealings:
            Hatred Of Iran And ‘WMD’ Scam In BP Oil Disaster?

            Bin Laden is one big red herring souped up for justifying this attack on Islam. His family were business associates of the Bush’s, this is a well established fact. His whole family was flown out of the uS afetr 9/11. He was useful in funding the Taliban in attacking the Russians for the USA.

            I never said Assange is working for the CIA, but seen as you mention it, there is no media outlet that is not working for what we call the CIA.

          • True. Don’t get me wrong. I wear a tinfoil hat too. I just wanted to know specifically what you meant.

            I’m well aware of the bin Laden family being flown out of the country, since a lot of them lived in Boston and the Globe reported it at the time. I’m also well aware of the Bush ties to the bin Laden family.

            But why would the Obama administration want to blow up the Deepwater Horizon oil rig? How does that help Obama? And how did they do it?

          • I never pointed fingers at Obama doing any sabotage.

            But I would look at Halliburton as a likely candidate. And then from Halliburton, presumably, we are at the door of the Pentagon, from whom it recieves big contracts. Really the intertwining of interests in these billion dollar sweepstakes of no-bid contracts I am not familiar with. But clearly some anti-Iran hawks would be embellished throughout the Pentagon, the WhiteHouse and Halliburton. So much so, that the Administration would be obliged to assist in any cover-up.

            As to how they did the sabotage – clearly anyone with such knowledge, who were to reveal it, would have a very short life. There has btw been a suspicious suicide already.

            Also the rig workers when rescued, were kept in solitary for up to 48 hours, until they signed legal documents, they were not even allowed to call their families.

            I will go find the Guardian link in a moment.

            It is possible that these WikiLeaks are some form of Coup against the Hawks. Even though Wikileaks has had them for a long time, the timing of their release, and possibly the scope of them, might be very deliberate.

          • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100521/sc_ynews/ynews_sc2191

            This is the link to the oil rig workers being held incommunicado and in seclusion for two days.

            Whatever interpretation is put on this – it is gangster mentality.

          • OK, this is all very interesting. It’s certainly all new to me. Thanks for the links.

          • One final and very important link:

            Put this in Google:

            schlumberger left early madsen

            The news is also there without Madsen

          • It is possible that these WikiLeaks are some form of Coup against the Hawks. Even though Wikileaks has had them for a long time, the timing of their release, and possibly the scope of them, might be very deliberate

            Also the media play these leaks are getting, a summer block buster paying millions in ads would love this press coverage. These are media outlets that will sit on a story if needs be, no problem so…all point to an internal upper crust smack down…so basically there are those in the UC who want a hot war with Iran and those that do not? Am I understanding correctly ? and this is part of that struggle

          • @Paper Doll

            In these less than straight times, we can only second guess what the intention is.

            To my mind the leaks are a staged and orchestrated event.

            I do see them as a coup against the hawks.

            But I have seen others say, they are designed to trumpet support for warring with Pakistan..

            And others who say they are designed to introduce internet censorship.

            The “brain programmers” of the media know their jobs well. They have successfully taken us down all sorts of wrong roads.

          • To my mind the leaks are a staged and orchestrated event.

            Really that’s all main stream media is generally .
            A manager of staged and orchestrated events.

          • @ Paper Doll

            Yes – how well you say it,

            Then the internet comes along – and all their “old” games start to get questioned.

            And if we weren’t feeling like we’ve been sold down the garden path – we ‘d probably continue to play along.

            But they’ve really being playing their cards wrong. And the craving for absolute control has become ghastly.

            In other words our masters could have had it all, but for some reason, we all feel “sold out”.

          • But they’ve really being playing their cards wrong. And the craving for absolute control has become ghastly

            the very thing they thought would secure their position forever ,the absolute control , is the very thing that will eventually destroy them . They allow nothing in without that control …and so nothing new can come in to invigorate the system and themselves . Consequently as we see, they are in a state of collapse and now the fighting among themselves is in the open.

        • Right now there are many folks trying to discredit Julian Assange, but his outing of CULTS is no lie and his track record is pretty straight on and valid. I would wait to pass judgment on him, until you hear that story straight from his lips. 😉

        • Morris,

          Say you aren’t shaking the BUSHES to out anyone are ya? 😯 This Ole Granny nah!

  8. Staying out of the US probably won’t be good enough.

    If he finds himself in the clutches of any of our “allies”, he’s toast. They will rendition *sorry* “apprehend” him and hand him over to the US with pleasure.

  9. Let all the worms that lurk in the mud hatch out.

    Great work, BB.

    • Thanks RD. All I did was an overview of the coverage so far. There is so much material that it will take a long time to go through it. Fortunately, we’ll have the Guardian and Der Spiegal as checks on the NYT. It’s hard to trust them after all their hard work to get us into Iraq.

      • Yea, it’s pretty hard to trust any US media right now. MSNBC just did a story on this and it was all about how evil wikileaks is and how many troops might be harmed by this evil, illegal, commie (ok, that was my word) plot.

        If we had this media today, Nixon would have served out the rest of his second term.

        • Definitely.

        • Well, when MSNB & Fox news use the same talking points on a story you KNOW there is a cover up. The media is working hard to focus people on the leaks as being a security threat rather than looking at content.

          • The story is a threat tothe war machine(DoD) that must be fed at all costs. Might make people start scrutinizing whether their tax dollars are being spent wisely for their defense or squandered.

  10. Amy Goodman, at Democracy Now, has a great panel of guests on today to discuss the Wikileaks documents. The most telling comment, to me, was this piece of information from Rick Rowley, independent journalist, who just returned from 6 weeks in Afghanistan where he was embedded with Marines at Marjah:

    Now, the White House has responded. They haven’t denied anything here. They haven’t even denied the conclusions that people are drawing about how terrible the war has been there. Their response has been that this is old news, we knew about this a long time ago, and that, in fact, Obama’s war, Obama’s surge, the new war that began in December 2009, has changed everything. Well, I came back from Afghanistan ten days ago. And while I was embedded with the Marines in Marjah and elsewhere in the country, I can tell you that this picture matches perfectly with what’s going on on the ground there right now. In Marjah, which was supposed to be the poster child of this new campaign, Marjah—you know, it’s a small farming community where two Marine divisions were sent in to try to prove that this war was still winnable. Those two Marine divisions have been pinned down for months. We were there at the beginning of an operation called Operation Cobra that was sending in reinforcements, a couple extra Marine companies, to try to, you know, push out their security perimeter. But it’s the—Obama’s surge has completely derailed. They haven’t brought security to Marjah. They have one to three kilometers of security around their forward operating bases.

    And the biggest disaster is that the government that they were—that they’ve brought in and tried to stand up, the famous government in a box that was going to roll out right after the Marines cleared the ground, has disappeared. The officials refused to deploy from Kabul and disappeared. Only the mayor comes in, Mayor Haji Zahir, who’s brought in by helicopter by the Marines and, like, set down in the middle of shuras and meetings that they set up and then bundled back into a helicopter and flown out. And this guy, Haji Zahir, he’s an expat who lived in Germany for years and spent five years in jail for attempted murder in Germany. I mean, that’s the caliber of people who we’ve brought in to make the leaders of this new—of the Afghanistan that we’re building. I mean, it is an abject failure, as far as a nation-building operation on the ground. And, you know, whether you’re talking about the last ten years of the war or 2010, I mean, the picture doesn’t change.

    So the Obama administration is spinning faster than a top trying to convince the press–who clearly is then supposed to try to convince the public–that Obama’s “surge” is different. If you read the comments by other experts interviewed by Amy, they all completely dismiss the idea of any “surge” working. All of them agree, we need to get out now.

    • greyslady, that’s what I’m taking about. The people on the so called left, only care about protecting Obama. They will never do what us dirty hippies did in the 60’s.

  11. BP boss will get 600,000 pounds per year pension.


  12. I don’t think this story will go anywhere, yes, I’m now cynical. We do not live in the times of “the dirty hippies” that caused our problems, according to Obama. The media has already caught the “we knew this already” story line. I’m just waiting for the usual suspects, (Huffington, Kos, Jourolist types to tell us Obama is dfiferent.

    • I just saw the front page of the washington post. ” nothing to see here”. If this dosen’t show you there is no media what will. There is already a column WikLeaks vs. the pentagon papers. This country is fu’ked.

      • They didn’t get a leak, so they’re angry and resentful. I doubt if the Guardian will let the story drop. They are even live-blogging the reaction.

  13. So many Democrats wanted peace post-Bush era. I was one who hoped for that, no matter who got in. I wonder what Martin Luther King is thinking as he looks down from on high.

    I really do.

  14. Part of that update seems to be a tad misleading…(and where did it come from?)

    Assange didn’t need to be “asked” anything.

    He withheld the most “sensitive” info without any prompting from our government on his own accord.

    • What I wrote was in a few of the stories. I didn’t know I had to source it again. I wanted to make it clear that the NYT acceeded to administration requests, so people would look to see what the foreign newspapers included that the NYT censored. The NYT claimed they made the request of Assange.

      It was just a little added information, sorry if it offended you somehow. I changed the wording a little bit to make it clearer. The post is full of links.

      • Oh no nothing like that.

        Just wondering how the formulation was made that he needed to be told such, and where it came from is all.

        • I don’t think he needed to be told. I think that is just the NYT trying to sound in charge. Let’s face it, they probably would have supressed the whole story if they didn’t know two other papers would publish it overseas.

    • The review, WikiLeaks did was to protect those that would be harmed, they are not nuts…just releasing without reading things thoroughly. The objective is to inform and protect, not to harm by being reckless. I think the point has been made, that they have sensitive information and have provided enough to begin conversations about these WARS that are close on a decade long now.

      Our press hasn’t been covering what is going on, in detail and asking the hard questions. I for one, want to know why women are choosing to set themselves on fire rather than continue to live in such an abusive society in Afghanistan. Where is the CHANGE?

      Daniel Ellsberg fears a US hit on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

    • From Politico: Times trio visited West Wing before Wiki bombshell

      Washington Bureau Chief Dean Baquet, reporter Mark Mazzetti and a third Timesman presented senior administration officials with synopses of the reports they planned to use, if not the actual documents, at a meeting in the White House late week, the person said. (By chance, I witnessed the Times contingent walking into the West Wing.)

      They were not apparently asked to spike the whole story, but were reminded that the Wiki logs were, in the opinion of officials, a) old news and b) harmful to the US-Pak partnership….

      In a “Note to Readers” on Sunday, The Times editors reported that “Government officials did not dispute that the information was authentic,” adding that the paper redacted anything that would hurt individual soldiers and anything that “would harm national security interests.”

      • I love the fact that our systems being vulnerable to hacking is deemed as “old news”.


      • I don’t know what to say about the Fourth Estate…nor what that means exactly, with them visiting the White House…

  15. Updated: July 20, 2010

    Almost immediately after ousting the Taliban from power in Afghanistan following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — some argue, even before — President George W. Bush began to press the case for an American-led invasion of Iraq. He cited the possibility that Saddam Hussein still sought nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in defiance of United Nations restrictions and sanctions. Mr. Bush and other senior American officials also sought to link Iraq to Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization led by Osama bin Laden that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks. Both claims have since been largely discredited, though some officials and analysts continue to argue otherwise, saying that Mr. Hussein’s Iraq posed a real and imminent threat to the region and to the United States.

    In his State of the Union address in 2002 , Mr. Bush linked Iraq with Iran and North Korea as an ” axis of evil. ” In his 2003 address , Mr. Bush made it clear the United States would use force to disarm Mr. Hussein, despite the continuing work of United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq, and despite growing international protests, even from some allies. A week later Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made the administration’s case before the United Nations Security Council with photographs, intercepted messages and other props, including a vial that, he said, could hold enough anthrax to shut down the United States Senate.

    Have we forgotten Colin Powell and the truck with the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’?

    Bush admits that Iraq Had Nothing To Do With 9/11
    Bush admits there were no weapons of mass destructions in Iraq and that Iraq had no ties with Al Qaida.

  16. I haven’t been able to access WikiLeaks all day. Is the site down because of the huge amount of traffic or has the US government censored the site?

    • I’m on it right now. I think it’s just very busy with all the people trying to get on. I recommend the Guardian links and their live blog.

      • You can actually download all the stuff to your hard disk, but I’m not sure if I have that much room.

  17. Chris Floyd takes a glance askance at the excitement over this latest WikiLeaks expose’ — he says there’s nothing in them that hasn’t been known since Day One of the war, and that much of the material seems designed to confirm the half-baked neocon rationales for the war. I can only post one or two of his always brilliant and incisive analysis, but I urge you to read the whole thing to get a distinctly different, very well thought out, take on the whole affair:

    I don’t question the bravery or sincerity of Manning or of Julian Assanage in bringing the latest material to light. And I suppose on balance it is better to have it than not to have it. But I still question the usefulness of rolling out mountains of raw “human intelligence” — precisely the same kind of unfiltered junk that was “stovepiped” to build the false case for the mass-murdering invasion of Iraq — about Iran, al Qaeda, Pakistan; even North Korea gets into the mix. None of this can be checked — but all of it will be extremely useful to those who want to build cases for more and more military action, death squads and covert actions around the world.

    And it seems very odd that intelligence reports and bureaucratic memos by forces carrying out a prolonged, brutal military occupation of another country are now being treated by “liberal” media outlets as holy writ which paints a “true” picture of the war — a picture that omits any reference to American war-related corruption, for instance, not only in Afghanistan but more especially in Washington, or to America’s wider “Great Game” machinations in Central Asia, involving pipelines, strategic bases and “containing China,” etc.

    Read the whole thing:


    • There’s no question all this was known and from the start …but it certainly wasn’t in the NYT. Why it is now is the interesting part. I agree with much he says. I think basically it’s about normalizing war…which has become our leading export and a business

  18. Some of the better stuff:

    Where then are the “revelations”? Anyone who has regularly read, well, the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel could not remotely be surprised by any of the facts (as opposed to the oceans of spin and supposition) buried in this mountain of leakage. These are not the Pentagon Papers or the Downing Street Memos; they do almost nothing to alter the public image of the war, and tell almost nothing that we don’t already know.

    In fact, the overall effect of the multi-part coverage of the documents is to paint a portrait of plucky, put-upon Americans trying their darnedest to get the job done despite the dastardly dealings and gooberish bumblings of the ungrateful little brown wretches we are trying to save from themselves. The NYT is quite explicit in this spin:

    [T]he documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat.

    So you see, if our noble enterprise is failing, it’s because the Afghans are idiots, the Pakistanis are backstabbers … and the Iranians are behind it all, training Taliban fighters, making their bombs and bankrolling the political opposition to America’s appointed satrap, Hamid Karzai.

    Ah, here we get down to it. Here’s metal more attractive for our militarists. The treachery of Iran is a constant theme in the leakage — both in the raw, unsifted, uncorroborated “humint” and in the diplomatic cables of puzzled occupiers who cannot fathom why there should be any opposition to their enlightened rule. It must the fault of those perfidious Persians!

    Just food for thought.

    • Maybe. A commenter over at IOZ says the same thing. (leaked on purpose to reinforce pro-US goals)

      But what it does do is highlight the notion that civilian deaths are actively “underreported”.

      Yes, civilian deaths have been reported, but an official military acknowledgement that they’re fudging the numbers is something a little different. Particularly in regards to potential charges of war crimes.

      But Barack said to look forward so…

      • Not only that, the info is coming directly from the troops. It confirms a lot of what we already knew and give specific locations, dates, etc.

        • Gibbs stated that the logs give the names of personnel (troops) and that, that could be potentially harmful and “A breach of Federal Law”. The latter to me says they are working on drafting some thing on Julian Assange, be it an arrest warrant or some thing for receiving stolen property.

          Anyone have a read/comment on this?

  19. “Afghanistan war logs reveal hand of Osama bin Laden”


    Now, I’m interested in the “war crimes” charge Assange has made.

    • One of the interesting things is the lack of governance and how WAR LORDS (hate this title) are running amok and charging people to travel on public roads and charging even the military, in other words, there is no LAW. It’s no wonder that women are setting themselves on fire rather than living in that society but no one has bothered to ask why nor hold the Afghanistan government accountable.

      When is the Afghanistan going to train enough of their own troops to take over and when is the Afghanistan government going to address the corruption and rampant violence/abuses that are going on? At some point there has to be some accountability and a government willing to address Human Rights/Women Rights and the on going abuses under the guise of ‘cultural traditions’.

      • WV, the short answer is they’re not interested in doing anything. Too many of them are asserting their power and control to care about law and accountability, and are raking in the dollar$. Maybe it’s impossible with their mind-set and the corruption. But then the US has its own corruption and accountability to seriously assess, and we continue to ignore it. I agree that their government needs to address human and women’s rights.

  20. “Afghanistan war logs: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange — ‘There appears to be evidence of war crimes”
    (video of Assange speaking about Task Force 373 missile hitting house and killing 7 children, which is only example given of a war crime, but he claims there are possible war crimes cited in this material):


    • Killing civilians deliberately *is* a war crime. We already saw the video of civilians being shot from Blackhawk helicopters, remember. That came from WikiLeaks too.

    • Take a look at that interactive map at the Guardian too.

    • Wikileaks claims they have video footage of a massacre of civilians mostly children, including women, from a US strike that they will release soon. It’s possible that this footage will be of the Granai massacre (or Granai strike), which took place May 4, 2009:


      • Don’t know, I have been concentrating on the media reaction, the White House reaction (which is saying it is against ‘Federal Law’) and looking at the Pakistan connection to the Taliban. As you recall the Pakistan Government had some concerns with a region in their country going Taliban and their troops had a serious conflict with them and many people were displaced.

        Also, India and Pakistan had the incident with the terrorists attacking in Dubai and killing several people, but the main point was that they got through to a country that was safe for foreigners and for their tourists. There are many angles to this story and all the regional conflicts going on, all the while Osama Bin Laden is stirring the pot in several countries, two which have nuclear weapons and one (Iran) in hot pursuit of gaining them.

        • And I appreciate all your hard work and diligence on this subject. It feels like old times when you and I had pleasant exchanges during the ’08 primary at another blog. I’ll have to finish reading all the comments tomorrow.

      • Julian Assange says that what has been released is just the tip of the iceberg.

        • I ordered pizza and am about to read some of the comments on Bush II and how he essentially left Afghanistan drifting aimlessly in the wind due to his pre-occupation with Iraq and how he did nothing to help this become the ‘Democracy’ that he claimed he was helping to build until the summer of 2008.

        • Then I am going to go through and see what the ground troop thought of BUSH II leaving them as a second status WAR once he went into Iraq looking for WMDs.

  21. The founder of WikiLeaksdefends releasing tens of thousands of secret files about the war in Afghanistan.

    • Founder Julian Assange says WikiLeaks only scratched a sliver of the thousands of leaked military documents.

      • White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reacts to the leaking of Afghanistan documents on WikiLeaks.“A breach of Federal Law”

        • WikiLeaks Documents: Cenk Hosts MSNBC (Sam Seder & Matt Lewis Debate)

          Now we see nation building…

          Cenk Uygur (Host of The Young Turks) filling in for Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC talks to Sam Seder and Matt Lewis about the Afghanistan/Pakistan documents leaked by WikiLeaks.
          ‘Gibbs down playing the leaks’…
          (ITN NEWS): The leaking of thousands of secret US war files causes concern but Afghanistan’s president believes there is nothing new in them.

          US Afghan war documents leaked

        • US criticises Wikileaks release of Afghan war documents

          The White House has condemned the leaks of more than 90,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan posted by the whistleblower website, Wikileaks.

          The Pentagon earlier called the release “criminal”, and said it could take weeks to assess any damage that the leaks may have caused.

          Rosiland Jordan reports on Washington’s reaction to what is now being called the Afghan war logs. (July 27, 2010)

  22. The Russian media here is saying that the media failed in its coverage of the WARS and that this information was available had the media made an effort to find out.

    One of the biggest leaks in U.S. military history has exposed several cover-ups over the war in Afghanistan, including the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks, handed over 90-thousand classified documents to British, American and German newspapers. They also include information on increased Taliban attacks, as well as NATO fears that Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency. The White House says the leaked Pentagon files and field reports were no surprise, but that they threaten national security.

    Afghan Bombshell: WikiLeaks ‘War Diary’ exposes US cover-up

  23. WikiLeaks the new ‘Pentagon Papers’

    CNN’s Larry King talks to the founder of WikiLeaks and the man who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” during the Vietnam war.

    • WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange defends the website’s decision to release more than 90,000 military documents.
      “What is WikiLeaks?”

  24. Series: Afghanistan: The war logs

    Afghanistan war logs: tensions increase after revelation of more leaked files

    • Coalition commanders hid civilian deaths, war logs reveal
    • US, Afghanistan and Pakistan trade angry accusations
    • Leak poses ‘very real threat’ to US forces – White House

    David Leigh and Matthew Taylor
    The Guardian, Tuesday 27 July 2010

    Tensions between the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan were further strained today after the leak of thousands of military documents about the Afghan war.

    As members of the US Congress raised questions about Pakistan’s alleged support for the Taliban, officials in Islamabad and Kabul also traded angry accusations on the same issue

    The Guardian was allowed to investigate the logs for several weeks ahead of publication, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel. The three have published excerpts from the documents which do not pose a risk to informants or military operations.

    • Pakistan Spy Service Aids Insurgents, Reports Assert

      Published: July 25, 2010

      Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants, according to a trove of secret military field reports made public Sunday.

      A trove of military documents made public on Sunday by an organization called WikiLeaks reflects deep suspicions among American officials that Pakistan’s military spy service has for years guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants.

      Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul.

      • 07/25/2010

        The Afghanistan Protocol
        Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

        By Matthias Gebauer, John Goetz, Hans Hoyng, Susanne Koelbl, Marcel Rosenbach and Gregor Peter Schmitz

        In an unprecedented development, close to 92,000 classified documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan have been leaked. SPIEGEL, the New York Times and the Guardian have analyzed the raft of mostly classified documents. The war logs expose the true scale of the Western military deployment — and the problems beleaguering Germany’s Bundeswehr in the Hindu Kush.

        A total of 91,731 reports from United States military databanks relating to the war in Afghanistan are to be made publicly available on the Internet. Never before has it been possible to compare the reality on the battlefield in such a detailed manner with what the US Army propaganda machinery is propagating. WikiLeaks plans to post the documents, most of which are classified, on its website.

        Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the New York Times and SPIEGEL have all vetted the material and compared the data with independent reports. All three media sources have concluded that the documents are authentic and provide an unvarnished image of the war in Afghanistan — from the perspective of the soldiers who are fighting it.

    • Afghanistan war logs: whose side is Pakistan on?

      Wikileaks reports have galvanised opinions of some Americans who view the Pakistani military with suspicion

      The storm of controversy raised by the accounts of alleged collusion between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban in the war logs has resurrected one of the most vexed questions of the nine-year Afghan war: whose side is Pakistan on?

      The reports have galvanised the opinions of some Americans who view the Pakistani military, which runs the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, as a double-dealing entity that accepts $1bn a year in US funding while quietly helping Afghan insurgents.

  25. The Obama Administration has already expressed dismay that WikiLeaks publicized the documents, but a leak informing us that our tax dollars may be being used as seed money for a protection racket associated with a narcotics-trafficking enterprise is a good leak to have. And the checkpoint incident is, again, only one report, from one day.

    the only way to gain “success” there IS though the pay to war lords. We can raise or lower the violence level at will, by how we pay up or not. If we want things to get hot, we stop paying. If we want them quite, we pay. Very simple really and it’s meant to play the US public like a squeeze box…when it deemed we need a goose , they stop paying for awhile. imo

  26. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: PFC Bradley Manning is effectively like a Guantanamo detainee.

    • Julian Assange of Wikileaks on SBS’s Dateline by Mark Davis part 1 of 2

      Julian Assange of Wikileaks on SBS’s Dateline by Mark Davis part 2 of 2

      The WikiLeaks website is fast gaining credibility as a whistleblowing site for political secrets, but one of the people behind it, Australian Julian Assange, remains an international man of mystery.

      His biggest coup so far has been obtaining classified video of Iraqi civilians and Reuters staff being gunned down by a US military helicopter, dubbed Collateral Murder, which has been watched over six million times.

      The site also released what it claimed was the list of websites to be banned under the Australian Governments proposed internet filter, before parts of WikiLeaks itself were blacklisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

      But Julian Assange does all this with no home or office, constantly travelling the world, so Mark Davis tracked him down to Norway, followed him to Sweden, where many of WikiLeaks servers are based, then to Iceland, where he was advising politicians on turning the country into a safe haven for whistleblowers, and finally to Australia, where he was told his passport would be cancelled amid WikiLeaks being investigated by the Australian Federal Police.

      In Australia WiliLeaks is on the Black List and can not be accessed and there is no telling when and no procedure for WikiLeaks’ removal from the ‘Black List’.

  27. Reporter’s View: How The WikiLeaks Story Developed
    “The Pentagon has begun a criminal investigation…”

    Among the biggest revelations from the leaked material was the level of detail about Pakistan’s spy service and its level of involvement supporting the Taliban insurgency while taking billions of dollars in U.S. aid.

    Mark Mazzetti was one of several reporters from The New York Times who sifted through and analyzed the documents leaked by WikiLeaks. In a conversation on Fresh Air, he details what the documents reveal about the war in Afghanistan and how the Times verified the information present in the leaks and then decided what and what not to publish.


    • I have been looking for the NPR interview with the Guardian with their editor and the comments about how initially WikiLeaks was going to post all without hold the most sensitive back, and how they (WikiLeaks) came around to a more ‘journalistic’ assessment and agreed with the three news service about not posting all and doing some redactions and being more responsible in the process.

      Initially I thought they did the redactions on their own, and was surprised to hear that on NPR while driving.

  28. US military combats Wikileaks via Twitter

    A sign of the times – Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of US joint chiefs of staff, responds via Twitter to Wikileaks war logs

    How does the US military’s public relations combat the release of 91,000 gruesome war logs from Afghanistan through the Wikileaks website? By opening a new front on the social media battleground.

    Generals are often accused of fighting the last war – but not Admiral Mike Mullen, the most senior US military officer as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Mullen today made his first public response to the war logs leak – and instead of holding a press conference or releasing a statement, Mullen made his views known in 140 characters through Twitter.

    Posting as @thejointstaff, Mullen wrote:

    Appalled by classified docs leak to Wikileaks & decision to post. It changes nothing on Afghanistan strategy or our relationship w/Pakistan

    Mullen was travelling in Afghanistan when the news of the war logs – carried in the Guardian, New York Times and Der Spiegel – first came to light. Shortly after tweeting his thoughts Mullen held a more conventional press conference in Baghdad.


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