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« on: July 26, 2010, 01:20:56 pm »

What the WikiLeaks Documents Really Reveal

by Leslie H. Gelb

July 26, 2010 | 1:45am
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-07-26/wikileaks-what-the-documents-reveal/?om_rid=NVTZHe&om_mid=_BMTX-XB8PxUPtu&


 Spencer Platt / Getty Images


The extensive release of thousands of secret files shows basic and unsustainable contradictions in U.S. policy, says Leslie H. Gelb—and underscores why the administration needs to reconsider its Af-Pak policy. Plus, Tunku Varadarajan on Pakistan’s double-dealing.

What do the secret documents released by WikiLeaks tell us about U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan? It has to be said right off that they don’t tell us anything important we didn’t already know. There have been “informed” stories for years detailing how Pakistani military intelligence has been providing arms, money, and intelligence to the Afghan Taliban, who in turn have been killing American soldiers.

So, why are these leaked military and intelligence documents now threatening to shake the very foundations of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan? Because it’s now much more difficult to deny or dodge the truths that we’ve all been well aware of.

No amount of rhetorical tap dancing will allow the White House to escape the fundamental contradictions that underlie U.S. policy toward Af-Pak.

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Government officials can always deflect news stories simply by crossing their fingers and waiting for the story to sink in a haze of oil spills and Lindsay Lohan extravaganzas. Now, however, “proof” is there in the black-and-white of secret U.S. documents, compliments of anti-war WikiLeaks. Even if one does not believe that the information contained in every one of these reports is accurate (some do sound rather bizarre), and even if little in the reports can be corroborated independently, the very volume of the “secret” material is overwhelming and plausible—and yes, seductively “secret.”

This leaves the Obama administration with three tales it can tell, most of which it is already shoveling.

First, officials can say that the documents represented leaked material that reveal “only one side of the story.” It’s the story in some cases of rather hysterical soldiers with limited experience and access to wider secrets. We, the government, have other documents that tell another story—one that gives a mixed picture of the behavior of our complicated and loyal Pakistani friends. (I’d hate to be the official assigned to deliver this pile of manure.)

Second, the administration could say that yes, some rogue Pakistani intelligence officers have been carrying out operations in support of the Taliban, that President Obama and his top aides have already remonstrated with the Pakistani government about this, and the Pakistanis are now trying to do better. (That tends to contradict the first story that the leaks are misleading.)

• Philip Shenon: Did Bradley Manning Act Alone?
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-07-25/wikileaks-afghan-files-did-accused-leaker-bradley-manning-act-alone/

• Tunku Varadarajan: Pakistan's Shameful Double Dealing
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-07-25/wikileaks-documents-expose-pakistans-shameful-double-dealing/

• The 7 Most Shocking Secrets from the WikiLeaks Files
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-07-25/wikileaks-secret-files-on-the-afghanistan-war-whats-inside/


Or third, officials could button their jackets, clear their throats, and say the war is the main thing and these difficult and complicated circumstances have to be put in the larger perspective. What counts is winning this war. Victory in Af-Pak, as it is fondly known, is a U.S. vital national interest; the officials could and probably will say.

But no amount of rhetorical tap dancing will allow the White House to escape the fundamental contradictions that underlie U.S. policy toward Af-Pak. In the first contradiction, the administration claims it’s fighting in Afghanistan to prevent al Qaeda from returning, and once again using Afghan soil to attack America. But now that al Qaeda can attack the United States, its friends and allies from Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan or London or New Jersey, it’s hard to claim any uniqueness for Afghanistan. So, why does the United States have to fight the war there with 100,000 troops?

In the second contradiction, the administration says that, deep down, the reason we’re fighting in Afghanistan is to help prevent an extremist takeover of Pakistan, an unstable Muslim country with nuclear weapons. And administration officials point to the fact that Pakistani officials tell us publicly and privately that the U.S. must stay the course in Afghanistan and stabilize the situation there—otherwise its ill effects will spill over into Pakistan and strengthen extremism there. And yet—and here’s where the new trough of secret WikiLeaks comes in—Pakistani military intelligence, known as Inter-Services Intelligence, is indeed helping the Taliban against Americans in Afghanistan. To boot, the Pakistani government is providing safe haven to the Taliban in Northwest Pakistan, thus making it militarily impossible for U.S. forces to smash them.

To put the issue somewhat melodramatically: The United States is giving “moderate” Pakistanis and the Pakistani military billions of dollars yearly in military and economic aid, which allows  Pakistani military intelligence to “secretly” help the Taliban kill Americans in Afghanistan, which will drive America out of Afghanistan and undermine U.S. help for Pakistan.

All this flies in the face of the administration’s new line about an improving Af-Pak relationship. Yes, indeed, we’ve worked out a new trade agreement between these traditional adversaries. Yes, indeed, the Pakistanis are giving us the secret wink for our drone attacks against Taliban safe havens (even as they publicly condemn us for these drone attacks). Yes, indeed, Pakistanis are helping President Hamid Karzai talk with his fellow Pashtun Taliban. (Heaven knows what will come of this).

But let’s face it: Pakistan’s overriding interests in Afghanistan don’t have much to do with the United States. Their fixation is India, plain and simple. They don’t want India to gain any sort of foothold in Afghanistan and somehow encircle them. They’re pressing Washington for sophisticated American arms to fight India, not the Taliban. Some Pakistani leaders even worry of secret plotting between India and the United States against them, especially in Afghanistan.

Pakistani interests are not the same as America’s in Afghanistan, far from it. As it tries to explain away what these secret documents mean, the Obama administration should take time out to reconsider its basic policy toward Af-Pak.

A policy based on fundamental contradictions cannot stand.

Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (HarperCollins 2009), a book that shows how to think about and use power in the 21st century. He is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.
 
URL: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-07-26/wikileaks-what-the-documents-reveal/p/
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2010, 01:31:48 pm »

Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation

by Nick Davies and David Leigh

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68260&hd=&size=1&l=e

Visit page for links please.

July 25, 2010

• Hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops
• Covert unit hunts leaders for 'kill or capture'
• Steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on Nato
• Read the Guardian's full war logs investigation

Here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/series/afghanistan-the-war-logs

A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and over 1,000 US troops.

Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's "surge" strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US navy sailors captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.

The war logs also detail:

• How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.

• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.

• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.

• How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of its roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.

In a statement, the White House said the chaotic picture painted by the logs was the result of "under-resourcing" under Obama's predecessor, saying: "It is important to note that the time period reflected in the documents is January 2004 to December 2009."

The White House also criticised the publication of the files by Wikileaks: "We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact the US government about these documents, which may contain information that endanger the lives of Americans, our partners, and local populations who co-operate with us."

The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed "blue on white" in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents. Some of these casualties come from the controversial air strikes that have led to Afghan government protests in the past, but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists out of a determination to protect themselves from suicide bombers. At least 195 civilians are admitted to have been killed and 174 wounded in total, although this is likely to be an underestimate because many disputed incidents are omitted from the daily snapshots reported by troops on the ground and then collated, sometimes erratically, by military intelligence analysts.

Bloody errors at civilians' expense, as recorded in the logs, include the day French troops strafed a bus full of children in 2008, wounding eight. A US patrol similarly machine-gunned a bus, wounding or killing 15 of its passengers, and in 2007 Polish troops mortared a village, killing a wedding party including a pregnant woman, in an apparent revenge attack.

Questionable shootings of civilians by British troops also figure. The American compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in the streets of Kabul within the space of barely a single month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the killing of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: "Investigation is controlled by the British. We not able [sic] to get the complete story."

A second cluster of similar shootings, all involving Royal Marine commandos in the ferociously contested Helmand province, took place in a six-month period at the end of 2008. Asked by the Guardian about these allegations, the Ministry of Defence said: "We have been unable to corroborate these claims in the short time available and it would be inappropriate to speculate on specific cases without further verification of the alleged actions."

Rachel Reid, who investigates civilian casualty incidents in Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said: "These files bring to light what's been a consistent trend by US and NATO forces: the concealment of civilian casualties. Despite numerous tactical directives ordering transparent investigations when civilians are killed, there have been incidents I've investigated in recent months where this is still not happening. Accountability is not just something you do when you are caught. It should be part of the way US and NATO do business in Afghanistan every time they kill or harm civilians."

The reports, many of which the Guardian is publishing in full online, present an unvarnished and often compelling account of the reality of modern war. Most of the material, although classified "secret" at the time, is no longer militarily sensitive. A small amount of information has been withheld from publication in the Guardian because it might endanger local informants or give away genuine military secrets. Wikileaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, obtained the material in circumstances he will not discuss, also says it redacted harmful material before posting the bulk of the data on its own "uncensorable" series of global servers.

Wikileaks published in April this year a previously suppressed classified video of US Apache helicopters killing two Reuters cameramen on the streets of Baghdad, which gained international attention. A 22-year-old intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, was arrested in Iraq and charged with leaking the video, but not with leaking the latest material. The Pentagon's criminal investigations department continues to try to trace the leaks and recently unsuccessfully asked Assange, he says, to meet them outside the US to help them.

Assange allowed the Guardian to examine the war logs at our request. No fee was involved and Wikileaks has not been involved in the preparation of the Guardian's articles.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/25/afghanistan-war-logs-military-leaks



 
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2010, 01:37:50 pm »

Afghanistan war logs: Story behind biggest leak in intelligence history

by Nick Davies

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68261&hd=&size=1&l=e

From US military computers to a cafe in Brussels, how thousands of classified papers found their way to online activists

July 25, 2010

From US military computers to a cafe in Brussels, how thousands of classified papers found their way to online activists
See Video Interview of Julian Assange here :

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68261&hd=&size=1&l=e


Julian Assange on the Afghanistan war logs: 'They show the true nature of this war'



US authorities have known for weeks that they have suffered a haemorrhage of secret information on a scale which makes even the leaking of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war look limited by comparison.

The Afghan war logs, from which the Guardian reports today, consist of 92,201 internal records of actions by the US military in Afghanistan between January 2004 and December 2009 – threat reports from intelligence agencies, plans and accounts of coalition operations, descriptions of enemy attacks and roadside bombs, records of meetings with local politicians, most of them classified secret.

The Guardian's source for these is Wikileaks, the website which specialises in publishing untraceable material from whistleblowers, which is simultaneously publishing raw material from the logs.

Washington fears it may have lost even more highly sensitive material including an archive of tens of thousands of cable messages sent by US embassies around the world, reflecting arms deals, trade talks, secret meetings and uncensored opinion of other governments.

Wikileaks' founder, Julian Assange, says that in the last two months they have received yet another huge batch of "high-quality material" from military sources and that officers from the Pentagon's criminal investigations department have asked him to meet them on neutral territory to help them plug the sequence of leaks. He has not agreed to do so.

Behind today's revelations lie two distinct stories: first, of the Pentagon's attempts to trace the leaks with painful results for one young soldier; and second, a unique collaboration between the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel magazine in Germany to sift the huge trove of data for material of public interest and to distribute globally this secret record of the world's most powerful nation at war.

The Pentagon was slow to engage. The evidence they have now collected suggests it was last November that somebody working in a high-security facility inside a US military base in Iraq started to copy secret material. On 18 February Wikileaks posted a single document – a classified cable from the US embassy in Reykjavik to Washington, recording the complaints of Icelandic politicians that they were being bullied by the British and Dutch over the collapse of the Icesave bank; and the tart remark of an Icelandic diplomat who described his own president as "unpredictable". Some Wikileaks workers in Iceland claimed they saw signs that they were being followed after this disclosure.

But the Americans evidently were nowhere nearer to discovering the source when, on 5 April, Assange held a press conference in Washington to reveal US military video of a group of civilians in Baghdad, including two Reuters staff, being shot down in the street in 2007 by Apache helicopters: their crew could be heard crowing about their "good shooting" before destroying a van which had come to rescue a wounded man and which turned out to be carrying two children on its front seat.

It was not until late May that the Pentagon finally closed in on a suspect, and that was only after a very strange sequence of events. On 21 May, a Californian computer hacker called Adrian Lamo was contacted by somebody with the online name Bradass87 who started to swap instant messages with him. He was immediately extraordinarily open: "hi... how are you?… im an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern bagdad … if you had unprecedented access to classified networks, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?"

For five days, Bradass87 opened his heart to Lamo. He described how his job gave him access to two secret networks: the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, SIPRNET, which carries US diplomatic and military intelligence classified "secret"; and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System which uses a different security system to carry similar material classified up to "top secret". He said this had allowed him to see "incredible things, awful things … that belong in the public domain and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC … almost criminal political backdealings … the non-PR version of world events and crises."

Bradass87 suggested that "someone I know intimately" had been downloading and compressing and encrypting all this data and uploading it to someone he identified as Julian Assange. At times, he claimed he himself had leaked the material, suggesting that he had taken in blank CDs, labelled as Lady Gaga's music, slotted them into his high-security laptop and lip-synched to nonexistent music to cover his downloading: "i want people to see the truth," he said.

He dwelled on the abundance of the disclosure: "its open diplomacy … its Climategate with a global scope and breathtaking depth … its beautiful and horrifying … It's public data, it belongs in the public domain." At one point, Bradass87 caught himself and said: "i can't believe what im confessing to you." It was too late. Unknown to him, two days into their exchange, on 23 May, Lamo had contacted the US military. On 25 May he met officers from the Pentagon's criminal investigations department in a Starbucks and gave them a printout of Bradass87's online chat.

On 26 May, at US Forward Operating Base Hammer, 25 miles outside Baghdad, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning was arrested, shipped across the border to Kuwait and locked up in a military prison.

News of the arrest leaked out slowly, primarily through Wired News, whose senior editor, Kevin Poulsen, is a friend of Lamo's and who published edited extracts from Bradass87's chatlogs. Pressure started to build on Assange: the Pentagon said formally that it would like to find him; Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said he thought Assange could be in some physical danger; Ellsberg and two other former whistleblowers warned that US agencies would "do all possible to make an example" of the Wikileaks founder. Assange cancelled a planned trip to Las Vegas and went to ground.

After several days trying to make contact through intermediaries, the Guardian finally caught up with Assange in a café in Brussels where he had surfaced to speak at the European parliament.

Assange volunteered that Wikileaks was in possession of several million files, which amounted to an untold history of American government activity around the world, disclosing numerous important and controversial activities. They were putting the finishing touches to an accessible version of the data which they were preparing to post immediately on the internet in order to pre-empt any attempt to censor it.

But he also feared that the significance of the logs and some of the important stories buried in them might be missed if they were simply dumped raw on to the web. Instead he agreed that a small team of specialist reporters from the Guardian could have access to the logs for a few weeks before Wikileaks published, to decode them and establish what they revealed about the conduct of the war.

To reduce the risk of gagging by the authorities, the database would also be made available to the New York Times and the German weekly, Der Spiegel which, along with the Guardian, would publish simultaneously in three different jurisdictions. Under the arrangement, Assange would have no influence on the stories we wrote, but would have a voice in the timing of publication.

He would place the first tranche of data in encrypted form on a secret website and the Guardian would access it with a user name and password constructed from the commercial logo on the cafe's napkin.

Today's stories are based on that batch of logs. Wikileaks has simultaneously published much of the raw data. It says it has been careful to weed out material which could jeopardise human sources.

Since the release of the Apache helicopter video, there has been some evidence of low-level attempts to smear Wikileaks. Online stories accuse Assange of spending Wikileaks money on expensive hotels (at a follow-up meeting in Stockholm, he slept on an office floor); of selling data to mainstream media (the subject of money was never mentioned); or charging for media interviews (also never mentioned).

Earlier this year, Wikileaks published a US military document which disclosed a plan to "destroy the centre of gravity" of Wikileaks by attacking its trustworthiness.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Kuwait, Manning has been charged under US miitary law with improperly downloading and releasing information, including the Icelandic cable and the video of Apache helicopters shooting civilians in Baghdad. He faces trial by court martial with the promise of a heavy jail sentence.

Ellsberg has described Manning as "a new hero of mine". In his online chat, Bradass87 looked into the future: "god knows what happens now … hopefully, worldwide discussion, debates and reforms. if not … we're doomed."



 
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2010, 03:18:38 pm »

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: more revelations to come


Whistleblowing site Wikileaks says it has a 'backlog' of further secret material after publication of Afghanistan war logs

by Jo Adetunji guardian.co.uk,
Monday 26 July 2010 15.37 BST
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jul/26/wikileaks-julian-assange?om_rid=NVTZHe&om_mid=_BMTeX8B8PxUBji&



Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said he hoped for an 'age of the whistleblower'. Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian


The Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, said today that the organisation is working through a "backlog" of further secret material and was expecting a "substantial increase in submissions" from whistleblowers after one of the biggest leaks in US military history.

Speaking in London after his website published more than 92,000 classified military logs relating to the war in Afghanistan, Assange said that he hoped for an "age of the whistleblower" in which more people would come forward with information they believed should be published.

Assange said that the site, which currently operates with a small dedicated team but has a network of about 800 volunteers, had a "backlog" of more material which only "just scratched the surface".

While he would not be drawn into commenting on the nature of the material, he said that the organisation held "several million files" that "concern every country in the world with a population over 1 million".

He said the site had undergone a "publishing haitus" since December during a period of re-engineering. Assange suggested a clear step-up of operations and said that there were difficulties in changing from a small to large organisation while ensuring it would still be able to work in a secure way.

"My greatest fear is that we will be too successful too fast and won't be able to do justice to the material," he said.

He said that from past experience the organisation was expecting more material to add to the backlog. He said that after the site leaked details of one incident that killed 51 people in Afghanistan, "we received substantial increase in submissions".

"Courage is contagious," he added. "Sources are encouraged by the opportunities they see in front of them."

He said that a further 15,000 potentially sensitive reports had been excluded from today's leak and were being were being reviewed further. He said some of this material would be released once it was deemed safe to do so. He added that the majority of this material was threat reports and that it included more than 50 embassy cables.

Assange's plans will cause concern in government agencies, which argue that the site's leaks are "irresponsible" and pose a threat to military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But Assange and said that the site applied "harm minimisation" procedures before publishing material.

"We don't do things in an ad hoc way," he said. We've tried hard to make sure that it puts no innocents at harm. This material is over seven months old so it's of no operational significance, although it's significant for journalistic investigation."

Assange said that although the raw material was there, the real work would now begin to make sense of its scale. He said that a single report of an incident on 9 August 2006 – part of Operation Medusa – had a kill count of 181 but from reports of the official death count, the two figures didn't tally. "We add up all these deaths and we get around 80. The other 101 are unexplained."

He added that there was no single issue brought to light by the material. "There is no single damning, single person, single mass killing. That's not the real story. The real story is that it's war. It's the continuing small events, the continuing deaths of civilians, children and soldiers."

Assange said that although he did not believe that the material was a threat to the US military operation in Afghanistan it was clear that it "will shape a new understanding of the war" and made "less room to gloss over what has happened in the past".

He added that although seven months had passed since the last revealed file, he did not believe that changes in military strategy made by Barack Obama necessarily meant a change on the ground. Assange said that there was a problem with the way operations were reported from the ground.

"Military units when self-reporting speak in another language, redefining civil casualties as insurgent casualties ... When US military report on other US military they tend to be more frank. When they report on ally military units, for the example the UK or the Polish, they're even more likely to be frank. But when they report on the Taliban then all evil comes out. Internal reporting is not accurate. The cover-up starts at the ground. The whole task is to make the war more palatable."

He added: "What we see is the US army as a huge boat that's hard to turn around. It's hard to have a new policy and enact change. [Change] has to come from the bottom not the top."
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2010, 05:52:57 am »

Published on Monday, July 26, 2010 by Spiegel Online(Germany)

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on the 'War Logs': 'I Enjoy Crushing Bastards'

by Spiegel Online(Germany)

In a SPIEGEL interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 39, discusses his decision to publish the Afghanistan war logs, the difficult balance between the public interest and the need for state secrets and why he believes people who wage war are more dangerous than him.

SPIEGEL: You are about to publish a vast amount of classified data on the war in Afghanistan. What is your motivation?

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war -- in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars.

SPIEGEL: Do you think that the publication of this data will influence political decision-makers?

Assange: Yes. This material shines light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war. The archive will change public opinion and it will change the opinion of people in positions of political and diplomatic influence.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you expecting a little too much?

Assange: There is a mood to end the war in Afghanistan. This information won't do it alone, but it will shift political will in a significant manner.

SPIEGEL: The material contains military secrets and names of sources. By publishing it, aren't you endangering the lives of international troops and their informants in Afghanistan?

Assange: The Kabul files contain no information related to current troop movements. The source went through their own harm minimization process, and instructed us to conduct our usual review to make sure there was not a significant chance of innocents being negatively affected. We understand the importance of protecting confidential sources, and we understand why it is important to protect certain US and ISAF sources.

SPIEGEL: So what, specifically, did you do to minimize any possible harm?

Assange: We identified cases where there may be a reasonable chance of harm occurring to the innocent. Those records were identified and edited accordingly.

SPIEGEL: Is there anything that you consider to be a legitimate state secret?

Assange: There is a legitimate role for secrecy, and there is a legitimate role for openness. Unfortunately, those who commit abuses against humanity or against the law find abusing legitimate secrecy to conceal their abuse all too easy. People of good conscience have always revealed abuses by ignoring abusive strictures. It is not WikiLeaks that decides to reveal something. It is a whistleblower or a dissident who decides to reveal it. Our job is to make sure that these individuals are protected, the public is informed and the historical record is not denied.

SPIEGEL: But in the end somebody has to decide whether you publish or not. Who determines the criteria? WikiLeaks considers itself to be a trailblazer when it comes to freedom of information, but it lacks transparency in its own publishing decisions.

Assange: This is ridiculous. We are clear about what we will publish and what we will not. We do not have ad-hoc editorial decisions. We always release the full primary sources to our articles. What other press organization has such exacting standards? Everyone should try to follow our lead.

SPIEGEL: The problem is that it is difficult to hold WikiLeaks accountable. You operate your servers in countries that offer you broad protection. Does WikiLeaks consider itself to be above the law?

Assange: WikiLeaks does not exist in outer space. We are people who exist on Earth, in particular nations, each of which have a particular set of laws. We have been legally challenged in various countries. We have won every challenge. It is courts that decide the law, not corporations or generals. The law, as expressed by constitutions and courts, has been on our side.

SPIEGEL: You have said that there is a correlation between the transparency for which you are fighting and a just society. What do you mean by that?

Assange: Reform can only come about when injustice is exposed. To oppose an unjust plan before it reaches implementation is to stop injustice.

SPIEGEL: During the Vietnam War, US President Richard Nixon once called Daniel Elsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, the most dangerous man in America. Are you today's most dangerous man or the most endangered?

Assange: The most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war. And they need to be stopped. If that makes me dangerous in their eyes, so be it.

SPIEGEL: You could have started a company in Silicon Valley and lived in a home in Palo Alto with a swimming pool. Why did you decide to do the WikiLeaks project instead?

Assange: We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have, and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work.

Interview conducted by John Goetz and Marcel Rosenbach

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2010

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/07/26-0

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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2010, 05:55:08 am »

Published on Monday, July 26, 2010 by Salon.com

The WikiLeaks Afghanistan Leak


by Glenn Greenwald

The most consequential news item of the week will obviously be -- or at least should be -- the massive new leak by WikiLeaks of 90,000 pages of classified material chronicling the truth about the war in Afghanistan from 2004 through 2009 [1].  Those documents provide what The New York Times calls [2] "an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal."  The Guardian describes the documents [3] as "a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency." 

In addition to those two newspapers, WikiLeaks also weeks ago provided these materials to [4] Der Spiegel [4], on the condition that all three wait until today to write about them.  These outlets were presumably chosen by WikiLeaks with the intent to ensure maximum exposure among the American and Western Europeans citizenries which continue to pay for this war and whose governments have been less than forthcoming about what is taking place [a CIA document prepared in March, 2010 [5] -- and previously leaked by WikiLeaks -- plotted how to prevent public opinion in Western Europe from turning further against the war and thus forcing their Governments to withdraw; the CIA's conclusion:  the most valuable asset in putting a pretty face on the war for Western Europeans is Barack Obama's popularity with those populations].

The White House has swiftly vowed to continue the war and predictably condemned WikiLeaks rather harshly [6].  It will be most interesting to see how many Democrats -- who claim to find Daniel Ellsberg heroic and the Pentagon Papers leak to be unambiguously justified -- follow the White House's lead in that regard.  Ellsberg's leak -- though primarily exposing the amoral duplicity of a Democratic administration -- occurred when there was a Republican in the White House.  This latest leak, by contrast, indicts a war which a Democratic President has embraced as his own, and documents similar manipulation of public opinion and suppression of the truth well into 2009.  It's not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted [7], that media "coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published," rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it.  What position Democratic officials and administration supporters take in the inevitable debate over WikiLeaks remains to be seen (by shrewdly leaking these materials to 3 major newspapers, which themselves then published many of the most incriminating documents, WikiLeaks provided itself with some cover). 

Note how obviously lame is the White House's prime tactic thus far for dismissing the importance of the leak:  that the documents only go through December, 2009, the month when Obama ordered his "surge," as though that timeline leaves these documents without any current relevance.  The Pentagon Papers only went up through 1968 and were not released until 3 years later (in 1971), yet having the public behold the dishonesty about the war had a significant effect on public opinion, as well as their willingness to trust future government pronouncements.  At the very least, it's difficult to imagine this leak not having the same effect.  Then again, since -- unlike Vietnam -- only a tiny portion of war supporters actually bears any direct burden from the war (themselves or close family members fighting it), it's possible that the public will remain largely apathetic even knowing what they will now know.  It's relatively easy to support and/or acquiesce to a war when neither you nor your loved ones are risking their lives to fight it.

It's hardly a shock that the war in Afghanistan is going far worse than political officials have been publicly claiming.  Aside from the fact that lying about war is what war leaders do almost intrinsically -- that's part of what makes war so degrading to democratic values -- there have been numerous official documents that have recently emerged [8] or leaked out [9] that explicitly state that the war is going worse than ever and is all but unwinnable.  A French General was formally punished earlier this month [10] for revealing that the NATO war situation "has never been worse," while French officials now openly plot [11] how to set new "intermediate" benchmarks to ensure -- in their words -- that "public opinion doesn't get the impression of a useless effort."  Anyone paying even mild attention knows that our war effort there has entailed countless incidents [12] of civilian slaughter followed by [13] official lies about it [14], "hit lists" compiled with no due process [15], and feel-good pronouncements from the Government that have little relationship to the realities in that country (other leak highlights are here [16]).  This leak is not unlike the Washington Post series from the last week [17]:  the broad strokes were already well-known, but the sheer magnitude of the disclosures may force more public attention on these matters than had occurred previously.

Read the full article [18].

© 2010 Salon.com
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book "How Would a Patriot Act? [19]," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy [20]", examines the Bush legacy.


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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2010, 05:56:50 am »

Published on Monday, July 26, 2010 by CommonDreams.org


Afghan War Leaks Expose Costly, Deceitful March of Folly

 
by Ray McGovern

The brutality and fecklessness of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan have been laid bare in an indisputable way just days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on whether to throw $33.5 billion more into the Afghan quagmire, when that money is badly needed at home.

On Sunday, the Web site Wikileaks posted 75,000 reports written mostly by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during a six-year period from January 2004 to December 2009. The authenticity of the material - published under the title "Afghan War Diaries [1]" - is not in doubt.

The New York Times, which received an embargoed version of the documents from Wikileaks, devoted six pages of its Monday editions to several articles [2] on the disclosures, which reveal how the Afghan War slid into its current morass while the Bush administration concentrated U.S. military efforts on Iraq.

Wikileaks also gave advanced copies to the British newspaper, The Guardian, and the German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, thus guaranteeing that the U.S. Fawning Corporate Media could not ignore these classified cables the way it did five years ago with the "Downing Street Memo," a leaked British document which described how intelligence was "fixed" around President George W. Bush's determination to invade Iraq.

The Washington Post also led its Monday editions with a lengthy article about the Wikileaks' disclosure of the Afghan War reports.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the new evidence of a foundering war in Afghanistan will lead to a public groundswell of opposition to expending more billions of dollars there when the money is so critically needed to help people to keep their jobs, their homes and their personal dignity in the United States.

But there may be new hope that the House of Representatives will find the collective courage to deny further funding for feckless bloodshed in Afghanistan that seems more designed to protect political flanks in Washington than the military perimeters of U.S. bases over there.

Assange on Pentagon Papers

Wikileaks leader Julian Assange compared the release of "The Afghan War Diaries" to Daniel Ellsberg's release in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers. Those classified documents revealed the duplicitous arguments used to justify the Vietnam War and played an important role in eventually getting Congress to cut off funding.

Ellsberg's courageous act was the subject of a recent Oscar-nominated documentary, entitled "The Most Dangerous Man in America," named after one of the less profane sobriquets thrown Ellsberg's way by then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger. 

I imagine Dan is happy at this point to cede that particular honorific to the Wikileaks' leaker, who is suspected of being Pfc. Bradley Manning, a young intelligence specialist in Iraq who was recently detained and charged with leaking classified material to Wikileaks.

An earlier Wikileaks' disclosure - also reportedly from Manning - revealed video of a U.S. helicopter crew cavalierly gunning down about a dozen Iraqi men, including two Reuters journalists, as they walked along a Baghdad street.

Wikileaks declined to say whether Manning was the source of the material. However, possibly to counter accusations that the leaker (allegedly Manning) acted recklessly in releasing thousands of secret military records, Wikileaks said it was still withholding 15,000 reports "as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source."

After Ellsberg was identified as the Pentagon Papers leaker in 1971, he was indicted and faced a long prison sentence if convicted. However, a federal judge threw out the charges following disclosures of the Nixon administration's own abuses, such as a break-in at the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

In public speeches over the past several years, Ellsberg has been vigorously pressing for someone to do what he did, this time on the misbegotten wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellsberg also has praised Assange for providing a means for the documents to reach the public.

Ellsberg and other members of The Truth Telling Coalition established on Sept. 9, 2004, have been appealing to government officials who encounter "deception and cover-up" on vital issues to opt for "unauthorized truth telling." [At the end of this story, see full text of the group's letter, which I signed.]

Emphasizing that "citizens cannot make informed choices if they do not have the facts," the Truth Telling Coalition challenged officials to give primary allegiance to the Constitution, and noted the readiness of groups like the ACLU and The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to offer advice and support.

What's New?

In a taped interview, Assange noted in his understated way that, with the Internet, the "situation is markedly different" from Pentagon Papers days. "More material can be pushed to bigger audiences, and much sooner."

Also, the flow of information can evade the obstructions of traditional news gatekeepers who failed so miserably to inform the American people about the Bush administration's deceptions before the Iraq War.

People all over the world can get "the whole wad at once" and put the various reports into context, which "is not something that has previously occurred; that is something that can only be brought about as a result of the Internet," Assange said.

However, Assange also recognized the value of involving the traditional news media to ensure that the reports got maximum attention. So, he took a page from Ellsberg's experience by creating some competitive pressure among major news outlets, giving the 75,000 reports to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel.  Beginning Sunday afternoon, all three posted articles about the huge dump of information.

Assange noted that the classified material includes many heart-rending incidents that fit into the mosaic of a larger human catastrophe. These include one depicted in Der Spiegel's reportage of accidental killings on June 17, 2007, when U.S. Special Forces fired five rockets at a Koran school in which a prominent al-Qaeda functionary was believed to be hiding.

When the smoke cleared, the Special Forces found no terrorist, but rather six dead children in the rubble of the school and another who died shortly after.

Role of Pakistan

Perhaps the most explosive revelations disclose the double game being played by the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Der Spiegel reported: "The documents clearly show that this Pakistani intelligence agency is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan."

The documents also show ISI envoys not only are present when insurgent commanders hold war councils, but also give specific orders to carry out assassinations - including, according to one report, an attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in August 2008. 

Former Pakistani intelligence chief, Gen. Hamid Gul, is depicted as an important source of aid to the Taliban, and even, in another report, as a "leader" of the insurgents. The reports show Gul ordering suicide attacks, and describe him as one of the most important suppliers of weaponry to the Talban.

Though the Pakistani government has angrily denied U.S. government complaints about Gul and the ISI regarding secret ties to the Taliban and even to al-Qaeda, the new evidence must raise questions about what the Pakistanis have been doing with the billions of dollars that Washington has given them.

Two Ex-Generals Got It Right

We have another patriotic truth-teller to thank for leaking the texts of cables that Ambassador (and former Lt. Gen.) Karl Eikenberry sent to Washington on Nov. 6 and 9, 2009, several weeks before President Barack Obama made his fateful decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. 

In a somewhat condescending tone, Eikenberry described the request from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, for more troops as "logical and compelling within his narrow mandate to define the needs" of the military campaign.

But then Eikenberry warned repeatedly about "unaddressed variables" like militants' "sanctuaries" in Pakistan. For example, the ambassador wrote:

"More troops won't end the insurgency as long as Pakistan sanctuaries remain ... and Pakistan views its strategic interests as best served by a weak neighbor."

In Eikenberry's final try at informing the White House discussion (in his cable of Nov. 9), the ambassador warned pointedly of the risk that "we will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves."

At the time, it seemed that Eikenberry's message was getting through to the White House. On Nov. 7, Der Spiegel published an interview with National Security Adviser (former Marine General) James Jones, who was asked whether he agreed with Gen. McChrystal that a substantial troop increase was needed. Jones replied:

"Generals always ask for more troops; I believe we will not solve the problem with more troops alone. You can keep on putting troops in, and you could have 200,000 troops there and Afghanistan will swallow them up as it has done in the past."

However, McChrystal and his boss, then-Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus pressed the case for more troops, a position that had strong support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Vice President Dick Cheney, key hawks in Congress and Washington's neoconservative-dominated opinion circles.

After months of internal debate, President Obama finally caved in and gave McChrystal nearly all the troops that he had requested. (McChrystal has since been replaced by Petraeus as commander of forces in Afghanistan.)

Despite the fact that the Wikileaks disclosures offer fresh support for the doubters on the Afghan War escalation, Jones acted as the good soldier on Sunday, decrying the unauthorized release of classified information, calling Wikileaks "irresponsible."

Jones also lectured the Pakistanis:

"Pakistan's military and intelligence services must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups. The balance must shift decisively against al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups."

[Note: Okay; he's a general. But the grammatical mood is just a shade short of imperative. And the tone is imperial/colonial through and through. I'll bet the Pakistanis are as much swayed by that approach as they have been by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's admonitions not to be concerned about India - just terrorists.]

And regarding "progress" in Afghanistan? Jones added that "the U.S. and its allies have scored several significant blows against the insurgency."

However, that's not the positive spin that Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen was offering just four weeks ago. On his way to Kabul, again, Mullen spoke of "recent setbacks in the Afghan campaign."

"We underestimated some of the challenges" in Marja, the rural area of Helmand province that was cleared in March by U.S. Marines, only to have Taliban fighters return. "They're coming back at night; the intimidation is still there," Mullen said.

Of the much more ambitious (and repeatedly delayed) campaign to stabilize the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Mullen said: "It's going to take until the end of the year to know where we are there."

Would you say yes to an additional $33.5 billion for this fool's errand?

 

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President's Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Text of 2004 Appeal from Truth Telling Coalition follows:

September 9, 2004

APPEAL TO: Current Government Officials

FROM: The Truth-Telling Coalition

It is time for unauthorized truth telling.

Citizens cannot make informed choices if they do not have the facts—for example, the facts that have been wrongly concealed about the ongoing war in Iraq:  the real reasons behind it, the prospective costs in blood and treasure, and the setback it has dealt to efforts to stem terrorism. Administration deception and cover-up on these vital matters has so far been all too successful in misleading the public.

Many Americans are too young to remember Vietnam.  Then, as now, senior government officials did not tell the American people the truth.  Now, as then, insiders who know better have kept their silence, as the country was misled into the most serious foreign policy disaster since Vietnam.

Some of you have documentation of wrongly concealed facts and analyses that—if brought to light—would impact heavily on public debate regarding crucial matters of national security, both foreign and domestic.  We urge you to provide that information now, both to Congress and, through the media, to the public.

Thanks to our First Amendment, there is in America no broad Officials Secrets Act, nor even a statutory basis for the classification system. Only very rarely would it be appropriate to reveal information of the three types whose disclosure has been expressly criminalized by Congress: communications intelligence, nuclear data, and the identity of US intelligence operatives. However, this administration has stretched existing criminal laws to cover other disclosures in ways never contemplated by Congress.

There is a growing network of support for whistleblowers.  In particular, for anyone who wishes to know the legal implications of disclosures they may be contemplating, the ACLU stands ready to provide pro bono legal counsel, with lawyer-client privilege. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) will offer advice on whistle blowing, dissemination and relations with the media.

Needless to say, any unauthorized disclosure that exposes your superiors to embarrassment entails personal risk. Should you be identified as the source, the price could be considerable, including loss of career and possibly even prosecution. Some of us know from experience how difficult it is to countenance such costs.  But continued silence brings an even more terrible cost, as our leaders persist in a disastrous course and young Americans come home in coffins or with missing limbs.

This is precisely what happened at this comparable stage in the Vietnam War. Some of us live with profound regret that we did not at that point expose the administration’s dishonesty and perhaps prevent the needless slaughter of 50,000 more American troops and some 2 to 3 million Vietnamese over the next ten years. We know how misplaced loyalty to bosses, agencies, and careers can obscure the higher allegiance all government officials owe the Constitution, the sovereign public, and the young men and women put in harm’s way.  We urge you to act on those higher loyalties.

A hundred forty thousand young Americans are risking their lives every day in Iraq for dubious purpose.  Our country has urgent need of comparable moral courage from its public officials.  Truth telling is a patriotic and effective way to serve the nation.  The time for speaking out is now.

SIGNATORIES
Appeal from the Truth-Telling Coalition

Edward Costello, Former Special Agent (Counterintelligence), Federal Bureau of Investigation

Sibel Edmonds, Former Language Specialist, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Daniel Ellsberg, Former official, U.S. Departments of Defense and State

John D. Heinberg, Former Economist, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor

Larry C. Johnson, Former Deputy Director for Anti-Terrorism Assistance, Transportation Security, and Special Operations, Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism

Lt. Col Karen Kwiatowski, USAF (ret.), who served in the Pentagon's Office of Near East Planning

John Brady Kiesling, Former Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy, Athens, Department of State

David MacMichael, Former Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council, Central Intelligence Agency

Ray McGovern, Former Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency

Philip G. Vargas, Ph.D., J.D., Dir. Privacy & Confidentiality Study, Commission on Federal Paperwork (Author/Director: "The Vargas Report on Government Secrecy" -- CENSORED)

Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and U.S. Foreign Service Officer


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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2010, 06:11:24 am »

Published on Monday, July 26, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Wikileaks: A New Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan


The US military logs released by Wikileaks reveal widespread use of targeted killings. But is our aim true?
by Philippe Sands

Nothing beats raw material for its capacity to home in on truth. These logs are unvarnished and brutal [1], and it will take some time to digest in full their implications. They describe the reality of the Afghan war, including, apparently, the widespread and increasing use of targeted killings.

In particular, the logs describe the efforts of a secret commando unit, Task Force 373 [2], with its "joint prioritized effects list" of hundreds of senior targets, and its efforts to assassinate the enemy. Contrary to the impression that governments seek to promote, these operations are often unsuccessful and sometimes result in the killing of friendly forces and civilians.

One of the leaked logs, for example, describes an incident on the night of 11 June 2007, as a joint night operation at night between Coalition Forces and Afghan Security forces hunted a Taliban commander called Qarl Ur-Rahmanin, in a valley near Jalalabad. The log describes how Task Force 373's efforts led to the death of seven friendly Afghan police officers, catalyzing local resentment.

This might be said to be a fact of modern warfare, yet the reality is that no great progress seems to have been made over the past century and half. Take a trip to the Tricycle Theater to see its current production of The Great Game [3], if you need a reminder. It opens with a grim, timely account of the 1842 Kabul retreat by a large contingent of British soldiers, based on Lady Sale's Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan [4], published by John Murray in 1843.

The diary is available on the web, and many of the entries are depressingly similar to the logs. Compare her entry for 30 September 1841 with the account of the events of 11 June 2007:

"Last night as the cavalry videttes went their rounds at Siah Sung, a party of men rushed out of a cave and fired at them; some were taken prisoners; part of them were Affghans, but four were Hindostanees, and one of them was a Chuprassy of Capt Bygrave, who endeavored to excuse himself by saying, he fired at the party supposing them to be Afghans, but could give no reason for being there himself."
Friendly fire, civilian deaths - so what has changed in Afghanistan since then? We now have extensive international rules on the conduct of armed conflict, incorporated into the Security Council resolutions that govern the operations of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, as it is formally known. The latest of these - resolution 917 adopted in March 2010 - calls for "full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and international humanitarian law throughout Afghanistan". The logs indicate that these rules do not seem to have brought much by way of added protection to the local population.

Under these international rules, targeted killings may be permitted in the armed conflict in Afghanistan, provided they are used against individuals who are directly involved in combat. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Professor Philip Alston [5], has raised concerns that targeted killings "are increasingly being used far from any battle zone". These newly available logs underscore this expression of concern, not least since they refer to the use of unmanned drones, including Predators, on a significant scale, and the deaths of a great number of civilians. Alston has alerted us to the use of targeted killings "in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law".

That seems like understatement.

© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited
Philippe Sands QC is a barrister in the Matrix Chambers and a professor of international law at University College London. He is the author of Torture Team (published by Penguin)

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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2010, 06:21:21 am »

This Is How Your White House Defends Its War


Posted by Byard Duncan on @ 7:36 am
Article printed from speakeasy: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy
URL to article: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/07/26/this-is-how-your-white-house-defends-its-war/


Here’s the White House’s full response to the latest WikiLeaks saga:

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. Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents – the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.


The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years. This shift in strategy addressed challenges in Afghanistan that were the subject of an exhaustive policy review last fall. We know that serious challenges lie ahead, but if Afghanistan is permitted to slide backwards, we will again face a threat from violent extremist groups like al Qaeda who will have more space to plot and train. That is why we are now focused on breaking the Taliban’s momentum and building Afghan capacity so that the Afghan government can begin to assume responsibility for its future. The United States remains committed to a strong, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan.

Since 2009, the United States and Pakistan have deepened our important bilateral partnership. Counter-terrorism cooperation has led to significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership. The Pakistani military has gone on the offensive in Swat and South Waziristan, at great cost to the Pakistani military and people. The United States and Pakistan have also commenced a Strategic Dialogue, which has expanded cooperation on issues ranging from security to economic development. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also improved their bilateral ties, most recently through the completion of a Transit-Trade Agreement. Yet the Pakistani government – and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services – must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups. The balance must shift decisively against al Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups, while supporting the aspirations of the Pakistani people.

And Glenn Greenwald’s take, via Salon.

It’s hardly a shock that the war in Afghanistan is going far worse than political officials have been publicly claiming.  Aside from the fact that lying about war is what war leaders do almost intrinsically — that’s part of what makes war so degrading to democratic values — there have been numerous official documents that have recently emerged or leaked out that explicitly state that the war is going worse than ever and is all but unwinnable.  A French General was formally punished earlier this month for revealing that the NATO war situation “has never been worse,” while French officials now openly plot how to set new “intermediate” benchmarks to ensure — in their words — that “public opinion doesn’t get the impression of a useless effort.”  Anyone paying even mild attention knows that our war effort there has entailed countless incidents of civilian slaughter followed by official lies about it, “hit lists” compiled with no due process, and feel-good pronouncements from the Government that have little relationship to the realities in that country (other leak highlights are here).  This leak is not unlike the Washington Post series from the last week:  the broad strokes were already well-known, but the sheer magnitude of the disclosures may force more public attention on these matters than had occurred previously.

Byard Duncan is a contributing writer and editor for AlterNet. His work has appeared on AlterNet, Truthout, Common Dreams and the China Daily.
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2010, 06:30:09 am »

South Asia
Jul 28, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG28Df02.html 
 
Leaks make war policy vulnerable


By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - The 92,000 reports on the war in Afghanistan made public by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, and reported on Monday by selected international publications, offer no major revelations that are entirely new, as did the Pentagon Papers to which they are inevitably being compared.

But they increase the political pressure on a war policy that has already suffered a precipitous loss of credibility this year by highlighting contradictions between the official assumptions of the strategy and the realities shown in the documents - especially in regard to Pakistan's role in the war.

Unlike the Pentagon Papers, which chronicle the policymaking process leading up to and during the Vietnam War, the WikiLeaks documents relate thousands of local incidents and situations encountered by United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops that illustrate severe problems for the US-NATO effort.

Among the themes that are documented, sometimes dramatically but often through bland military reports, are the seemingly casual killing of civilians away from combat situations, night raids by special forces that are often based on bad intelligence, the absence of legal constraints on the abuses of Afghan police, and the deeply rooted character of corruption among Afghan officials.

The most politically salient issue highlighted by the new documents, however, is Pakistan's political and material support for the Taliban insurgency, despite its ostensible support for US policy in Afghanistan.

The documents include many intelligence reports about Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, the director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's military intelligence agency, in the late 1980s, continuing to work with the Taliban commanders loyal to Mullah Omar as well as the Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar insurgent networks.

Some of the reports obviously reflect the anti-Pakistan bias of the Afghan intelligence service when it was under former Northern Alliance intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh. Nevertheless, the overall impression they convey of Pakistani support for the Taliban is credible to the news media, because they confirm numerous press reports over the past few years.

The New York Times led its coverage of the documents with its report on the Pakistani-Taliban issue. The story said the documents reflect "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 US$1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants."

The issue of Pakistani "double-dealing" on Afghanistan is one of the Barack Obama administration's greatest political vulnerabilities because it bears on a point of particular political sensitivity among the political and national security elite who are worried about whether there is any hope for success for the war strategy, even with General David Petraeus in command.

One Democratic opponent of the war policy was quick to take advantage of the leaked documents' focus on Pakistan's support for the Taliban. In a statement issued on Monday, Senator Russ Feingold, Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the documents "highlight a fundamental strategic problem, which is that elements of the Pakistani security services have been complicit in the insurgency".

In combination with "competing agendas within the Afghan security forces", Feingold argued, that problem precludes any "military solution in Afghanistan".

Afghan President Hamid Karzai took advantage of the new story generated by the documents to release a statement pointing to Pakistani sanctuaries across the border as the primary problem faced by his government. "Our efforts against terrorism will have no effect as long as these sanctuaries and sources remain intact," said Karzai.

Last February, then director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said what administration officials had privately conceded. Disrupting the "safe havens" enjoyed by the Taliban on the Pakistani side of the border, he said, "won't be sufficient by itself to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan", but it is a "necessary condition" for making "progress" in Afghanistan.

Implicitly admitting its political vulnerability on the issue, on Sunday the White House issued a compilation of statements by senior administration officials over the past 18 months aimed at showing that they had been tough with Pakistan on Afghanistan.

But none of the statements quoted in the compilation admitted the reality that Pakistan's policy of supporting the Taliban insurgency has long been firmly fixed and is not going to change.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed in April 2009 that "elements" of the ISI were "connected to those militant organizations". But he suggested that Pakistani chief of staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, with whom Mullen had developed a close personal relationship, was in the process of changing the intelligence agency.

Mullen essentially pleaded for time, saying that change "isn't going to happen overnight" and that "it takes a fairly significant time to change an organization".

Admitting that Pakistan's fundamental interests in Afghanistan conflict with US war strategy would be a serious - and possibly fatal - blow to the credibility of the Obama administration's strategy of using force to "reverse the momentum" of the Taliban.

To the extent that this contradiction and others are highlighted in the coming weeks as the news media comb through the mountains of new documents, it could accelerate the process by which political support for the Afghanistan War among the foreign policy and political elite continues to diminish.

The loss of this support has accelerated in recent months and is already far advanced. More prominent figures in the national security elite, both Republican and Democratic, have signaled a developing consensus in those circles that the war strategy cannot succeed, paralleling the process that occurred in Washington in 2006 in regard to the Iraq War.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press service) 
 
 
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2010, 06:44:14 am »

World powers react to WikiLeaks' documents

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 26, 2010 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)

U.S. troops patrol near a shepherd and his flock in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

-NEW: Levin credits Obama strategy with "tangible improvements"

-Pelosi says leak won't affect funding vote

-White House spokesman calls release "a breach of federal law"

-Pakistan calls the documents "misplaced, skewed"


(CNN) -- Here are reactions to the posting on WikiLeaks.org of tens of thousands of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic reports on the war in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan:

"The Afghan government is shocked with the report that has opened the reality of the Afghan war," said Siamak Herawi, a government spokesman.

Herawi focused on the allegation that Pakistan was secretly supporting al Qaeda and asserted that Washington needs to deal with the Pakistani intelligence agency, known as the ISI.

"There should be serious action taken against the ISI, who has a direct connection with the terrorists," he said. "These reports show that the U.S. was already aware of the ISI connection with the al Qaeda terrorist network. The United States is overdue on the ISI issue, and now the United States should answer."

Pakistan:

In a statement, Pakistan's foreign office said Monday that the documents are "misplaced, skewed and contrary to the factual position on the ground."

"The people of Pakistan and its security forces, including the ISI, have rendered enormous sacrifices against militancy and terrorism. Our contributions have been acknowledged by the international community, in particular by the United States. As underlined by the U.S. national security adviser in his statement on Wikileaks yesterday, the ongoing counterterrorism cooperation between Pakistan and the [United States] will continue with a view to defeating our common enemies."

Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of Pakistan's intelligence service who is mentioned numerous times in the WikiLeaks documents, called the accusations that Pakistan was secretly supporting al Qaeda lies.

Qamar Zaman Kaira, Pakistan's federal information minister, said allegations against the ISI are "baseless."

"If someone has any evidence, it should be brought to us, and we will take action," he said. "The Pakistani military, especially the ISI, has sacrificed more than any other forces in the war on terrorism."

A spokesman for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Farahnaz Ispahani, said the "unsubstantiated leaks" based on uncorroborated "one-sided reports ... will not deter the Pakistani government's commitment to the eradication of terrorism, peace with our neighbors and stability in the region."

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, issued a statement Sunday saying the reports "do not reflect the current onground realities."

Rather, they "reflect nothing more than single source comments and rumors, which abound on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and are often proved wrong after deeper examination," Haqqani's statement said.

"Pakistan's government under the democratically elected leadership of President Zardari and Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza] Gilani is following a clearly laid out strategy of fighting and marginalizing terrorists, and our military and intelligence services are effectively executing that policy," the statement said.

United States:

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said in a statement that some of the documents "reinforce a longstanding concern of mine about the supporting role of some Pakistani officials in the Afghan insurgency."

Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had "strongly urged the Pakistanis to take forceful action against militant networks using Pakistan as a base to attack Afghanistan and our troops."

But he said Obama's new strategy "has yielded some tangible improvements in preparing Afghanistan to take responsibility for its own security."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the documents' release "a breach of federal law" and said that an investigation into the source of the leak was initiated before late last week.

But, he told reporters, "I don't think that what is being reported hasn't in many ways been publicly discussed -- whether by you or by representatives of the U.S. government -- for quite some time."

Asked about the leak, he said, "There is no doubt that this is a concerning development in operational security."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the release would not affect a $33 billion war supplemental vote, to be held this week. "A lot of it predates the president's new policy," she said.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who is co-sponsoring a bill that would direct President Obama to remove U.S. forces from Pakistan, said the documents "provide a fuller picture of what we have long known about Afghanistan: The war is going badly."

He added, "It is not the leak of documents that endangers the lives of American troops and our allies, it is the belief that occupying Afghanistan will make us safer. Congress must say no to war funding, bring our troops home and invest in the American recovery."

Sen. Kit Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the release of the documents "shocking."

"The damage to our national security caused by leaks like this won't stop until we see more perpetrators in orange jumpsuits," the Missouri Republican said in a statement.

The senator stressed that the leak underscores the need to start taking more seriously the threat to national security that leaks cause. Bond pointed out that this is not a new problem: The bipartisan September 11 Commission found that national security was threatened by widespread leaks of classified information. This point was emphasized by former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who testified before Congress that because of leaks, the U.s. effectively has applied "Darwinian Theory" to terrorists: catching only the dumb ones.

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones issued a statement Sunday condemning the documents' release.

"These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people," the statement said.

The Department of Defense will not comment on them until the Pentagon has had a chance to look at them, a department official said.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, issued a statement Sunday saying that the documents -- regardless of how they came to light -- "raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, issued a statement saying: "I am extremely concerned about the manner in which these documents were leaked and with the recklessness of WikiLeaks in posting them. Our nation's secrets are classified for a reason, and the release of classified documents could put our national security -- and the lives of our men and women in combat -- at serious risk.

"These leaked documents, while troubling, appear to support what I was asserting for years: The war in Afghanistan was not going well, and we needed a real strategy for success. For nearly a decade under the previous administration, our brave war fighters were under-resourced and lacked the direction of a clear strategy. Under the new counterinsurgency strategy implemented earlier this year, we now have the pieces in place to turn things around. These leaked reports pre-date our new strategy in Afghanistan and should not be used as a measure of success or a determining factor in our continued mission there.

"Additionally, some of these documents implicate Pakistan in aiding the Taliban and fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan. It is critical that we not use outdated reports to paint a picture of the cooperation of Pakistan in our efforts in Afghanistan. Since these reports were issued, Pakistan has significantly stepped up its fight against the Taliban, including efforts that led to the capture of the highest ranking member of the Taliban since the start of the war. The Pakistani military has also been in combat for more than a year against its country's own Taliban, which is aligned with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban attacking American forces and our NATO allies. While we still have concerns about Pakistan's efforts against the Afghan Taliban, there is no doubt that there have been significant improvements in its overall effort."

Britain:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I have not seen those [reports] in detail, but they should not be damaging the international efforts. We saw last week in Afghanistan the huge progress that is being made and the phenomenal challenges that are still in front of us in Afghanistan. But the fact that a good deal of progress is being made in building up the capacity of the Afghan state and Afghanistan working together with so many nations in the world. I hope any leaks will not poison that atmosphere, and I do not think they will."

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange said the documents are "legitimate," but he added that it is important not to take their contents at face value.

"We publish CIA reports all the time that are legitimate CIA reports. That doesn't mean the CIA is telling the truth," he said.

"Similarly, with this material, there is reporting from military units of various kinds, in Afghanistan, U.S. embassies across the world, about matters relevant to Afghanistan. ... Those are legitimate reports," he said. "It doesn't mean the contents are true."

CNN's Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.
 
 
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http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/07/26/afghanistan.wikileaks.reaction/index.html 
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2010, 07:01:27 am »

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
09:29 Mecca time, 06:29 GMT
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/201072735231394786.html
   
News CENTRAL/S. ASIA 
 
US hunts Afghan war files leaker 

 
The Pentagon is investigating what damage the leaks could have caused on the ground in Afghanistan [AFP]
 
The US defence department has launched an investigation to identify who leaked tens of thousands of classified documents on the war in Afghanistan to whistleblower website.

Officials said on Monday that whoever handed over the about 91,000 documents to Wikileaks appeared to have security clearance and access to sensitive documents.

"We will do what is necessary to try to determine who is responsible for the leaking of this information," Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said.

He warned that while it remained unclear who had handed over the information more leaks were possible.

"Until we know who's responsible, you have to hold out the possibility that there could be more information that has yet to be disclosed. And that's obviously a concern."

Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst, was charged earlier this month in connection with the leak of a classified video, showing a 2007 helicopter attackthat killed a dozen civilians in Baghdad, to Wikileaks.

The Pentagon said in June that it was investigating allegations that Manning had handed over classified video and 260,000 secret diplomatic cables to the website.

It was not immediately clear if he was being investigated about the leak of the files on the war in Afghanistan and the Pentagon has declined to name any suspects.

Assessing damage

The unverified files suggest that Pakistan's intelligence agency has been holding strategy sessionswith Taliban leaders to aid their efforts in Afghanistan.

IN DEPTH

-  Reports reveal Afghan war details
-  Ex-spy chief denies Taliban links
-  Losing the east in Afghanistan
-  Excerpts: A less encouraging story
-  Leaked Afghan war files condemned
-  Video: Ability of Afghan forces questioned
-  Ex-ISI chief denies aiding Taliban
-  Focus: Why the world needs Wikileaks
-  Afghan forces' flaws exposed

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/07/201072735231394786.html
 
The documents also include descriptions of a covert US special operations unit formed to target high-level al-Qaeda and Taliban figures, incidents that caused civilian casualties and a host of other operational reports.

The Pentagon said its review of the documents made public would take "days if not weeks" and that it was too soon to assess any damage to national security.

Still, US military officials played down the significance of what had emerged so far, saying that they appeared to be low-level assessments that largely confirm the military's publicly stated concerns about the Afghan war.

"The scale of [the leak], the scope of it, is clearly alarming. I don't think the content of it is very illuminating," Morrell said.

The Pentagon said it was also looking at possible damage to the war effort on the ground in Afghanistan.

Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, said the leak was a gift to the enemies of the United States.

"If I had gotten this trove on the Taliban or al-Qaeda, I would have called it priceless," he said.

He predicted that the Taliban would take anything that described a US attack and the intelligence behind it "and figure out who was in the room when that particular operation, say in 2008, was planned, and in whose home".

Then the fighters would likely punish the traitor who had worked with the Americans, Hayden said.

'Enemies list'

Jane Harman, a Democratic congresswoman, said the White House had indicated the disclosures compromised a number of Afghan sources.

PJ Crowley tells Al Jazeera most of the leaked documents on Wikileaks are old news
WATCH :


 
"Someone inadvertently or on purpose gave the Taliban its new enemies list," she said.

The leak of classified documents could create deeper doubts about the war at home, cause new friction with Pakistan over allegations about its spy agency and raise questions around the world about Washington's ability to protect military secrets.

The White House called the leak, which is one of the biggest in US military history, "alarming".

But Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, emphasised that the documents covered the period before Barack Obama, the president, ordered a major increase in US troops fighting in Afghanistan, and the administration denied they would cause any policy shift in the fight against the Taliban.
 
 
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2010, 09:37:52 am »

Let Us All Solemnly Praise Wikileaks


by Arthur Silber

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/2010/07/let-us-all-solemnly-praise-wikileaks.html

July 26, 2010

We properly should offer recognition and honor to the great heroism of the people at Wikileaks:

A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and more than 1,000 US troops.
The leaders of America's Death State reacted in the manner typical of imperial murderers:
In a statement, the White House said the chaotic picture painted by the logs was the result of "under-resourcing" under Obama's predecessor, saying: "It is important to note that the time period reflected in the documents is January 2004 to December 2009."

The White House also criticised the publication of the files by Wikileaks: "We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact the US government about these documents, which may contain information that endanger the lives of Americans, our partners, and local populations who co-operate with us."
On the first point -- the White House contention that these failures were "the result of 'under-resourcing'" and that everything is different now, under the wise leadership of Obama: this is complete, and completely evil, bullshit.

It is bullshit because, to begin with, Obama's "new" strategy is not "new" in any significant respect at all. See two articles for the details: "A Deadly Liar and Manipulator," and "Wherein We Gaze Into Our Inerrant Crystal Ball and Espy A Deadly Rat."

It is also bullshit because Obama's "surge" strategy in Afghanistan is intentionally patterned after the "surge" strategy in Iraq, which allegedly led to great success -- or, as Obama himself expressed it, to an "extraordinary achievement." This, too, is a monstrous and sickening lie. See "The Blood-Drenched Darkness of American Exceptionalism" for the excessively bloody details. The White House's contention that the "new" strategy in Afghanistan, which is not new, will lead to any kind of "success" as recognized by sane, healthy human beings is thus a complete and evil lie. More may be more in terms of numbers of American troops alone. More is not "new" or "better." It certainly may be even deadlier -- especially insofar as innocent civilians are concerned -- and this is the only germ of truth such arguments might contain. Perhaps this is, in fact, precisely the meaning Obama intends.

On the White House's second point -- where the White House "strongly condemn" the leak -- let us keep squarely in the front of our minds the actual nature of U.S. foreign policy, and the actual nature of what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan. As I expressed it recently:
To put the actual point very bluntly: the Russians, along with the Iranians, along with everyone else in the world, are entirely justified in thinking that, if they are not on their guard and if they do not take all possible precautions, the United States will **** up their ****. This is what it means to be devoted to a policy of American worldwide hegemony, enabled by, among other elements, a global empire of bases. The United States is intent, to the fullest extent it can, on **** up everyone's ****. That's what the U.S. has been doing for more than a century.
Given that the U.S. today continues to follow the course upon which it embarked over a century ago, i.e., that it intends to **** up everyone's **** in the name of American global hegemony, leaks such as these embody a singularly great allegiance to the value of innocent human life, and to the pursuit of genuine peace. The U.S. government cares about neither. Oh, it says that it does, with the compulsive, nauseating repetitiveness of the most vicious murderer -- and when exactly are murderers notably open and honest about their true motives and goals, especially when they are so devotionally intent upon viewing themselves and making certain that all others view them as noble fighters on behalf of the liberation of all mankind? Do not ever credit in even the smallest degree what is the most obvious and most obviously sickening propaganda and public relations.

The Guardian story provides evidence from the Wikileaks material concerning the U.S.'s (and other coalition troops') utter disregard for innocent human life:
The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed "blue on white" in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents.

Some of these casualties come from the controversial air strikes that have led to Afghan government protests, but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists out of a determination to protect themselves from suicide bombers.

At least 195 civilians are admitted to have been killed and 174 wounded in total, but this is likely to be an underestimate as many disputed incidents are omitted from the daily snapshots reported by troops on the ground and then collated, sometimes erratically, by military intelligence analysts.

Bloody errors at civilians' expense, as recorded in the logs, include the day French troops strafed a bus full of children in 2008, wounding eight. A US patrol similarly machine-gunned a bus, wounding or killing 15 of its passengers, and in 2007 Polish troops mortared a village, killing a wedding party including a pregnant woman, in an apparent revenge attack.
See the Guardian report for many additional details.

And with regard to Wikileaks' actions which the U.S. government strongly condemns, you may be certain that neither the government nor the many others who will rush to condemn Wikileaks will note the following, also from the Guardian story:
Most of the material, though classified "secret" at the time, is no longer militarily sensitive. A small amount of information has been withheld from publication because it might endanger local informants or give away genuine military secrets. Wikileaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, obtained the material in circumstances he will not discuss, said it would redact harmful material before posting the bulk of the data on its "uncensorable" servers.
When you face a genocidal serial murderer, a murderer without conscience or soul, it is your obligation as a minimally decent human being to oppose him in any way you can. Through its leak of material such as that now made public, Wikileaks seeks to fulfill this solemn responsibility.

Long may it thrive, until the blessed day when its services are no longer required.

 
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2010, 09:42:44 am »

A reading list to help understand Wikileaks’ ‘War Logs’


By Nicholas Kusnetz and Karen Weise, ProPublica

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68301&hd=&size=1&l=e

RAW STORY, July 26, 2010

This morning, The New York Times, England’s The Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel published reports on what’s been termed the "War Logs"—nearly 92,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan made public by WikiLeaks. To put the leaked documents in context, we pulled together some of the best, past reporting on the main themes in the reports.

Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan

The documents suggest that Pakistan’s intelligence service has been aiding the Taliban and the Afghan insurgency. (See some of the documents here.) At the heart of this debate is the question Dexter Filkins posed in his Pulitzer-Prize winning coverage in late 2007: "Whose side is Pakistan really on?"

This morning, The New York Times, England’s The Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel published reports on what’s been termed the "War Logs"—nearly 92,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan made public by WikiLeaks. To put the leaked documents in context, we pulled together some of the best, past reporting on the main themes in the reports.

Much of the reporting on this issue centers on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Taliban warlords and Al Qaeda have a strong base. A "Frontline" documentary from 2006 looked at those groups’ presence in the Waziristan region, and how the Taliban there received assistance from the Pakistan intelligence service. Later, The New York Times’ David Rohde detailed the inner workings of the Taliban in the region in his account of his kidnapping in 2009, when he was taken over the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Further south in Pakistan, the Taliban has grown in Quetta, where, as Carlotta Gall wrote in 2007, there were signs that "Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them."

For more analysis, in a 2008 Q&A with Harpers, the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid explained that the roots of Pakistan’s covert support for the Taliban solidified when the U.S. focused on hunting down Al Qaeda after Sept. 11, leaving the Taliban free to develop in Pakistan. Now, the New Yorker’s Steve Coll saysPakistan’s military believes that Islamic militias could be "useful proxies to ward off a perceived existential threat from India."

One particular member of Pakistan’s intelligence agency frequently appeared in the WikiLeaks documents. According to the documents, the agency’s former director, Hamid Gul, has strong connections with the Taliban and has been supporting the Afghan insurgency. The Washington Post’s Candace Rondeaux profiledGul last year, when he was implicated in the bombings in Mumbai.

Civilian casualties

From the beginning of the war, press reports have drawn attention to civilian deaths resulting from U.S. and NATO strikes in Afghanistan. One Washington Post report from October 2001noted growing concern among Afghans over errant airstrikes, saying locals were beginning to view Americans as just another in the long line of invaders that had come through the country.

Just months later, The New York Times reported that American attacks had already killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Afghan civilians. The story line was much the same in 2007, when the Times reported that civilian deaths were causing divisions within NATO and undermining support for the Afghan government. The reports range far and wide, but below is a sampling of some of the most devastating attacks in recent years.

In April 2007, Marines opened fire on unarmed civilians and killed 10 people, wounding more than 30 others. The Washington Post reported it was "one of the largest" civilian death tolls since the war had begun.
In August 2008, the Post noted that increased reliance on airstrikes had led to more civilian deaths, including one attack that killed at least 90 innocent Afghans.
In an incident highlighted in the Times’ coverage of the WikiLeaks documents, NATO bombs targeted a couple of hijacked fuel tankers and killed more than 100 people in Kunduz Province last September. At the time, The Washington Post reported that at least a dozen of the victims were civilians. Theleaked documents show the military concluded the strike had killed 56 people, none of them insurgents.
Today, the Times reported that a NATO strike in Helmand Province killed 52 people, according to Afghan officials. American military officials did not deny the report, but said it was premature to reach any conclusions.


Secret commandos

The Times reports that the leaked documents also include details on secret commando raids, citing notable successes but also increased civilian casualties from the operations. In February of last year, the paper detailed just such a raid, in which bearded American and Afghan forces kicked open the door to one man’s house. The story recounts how Syed Mohammed was taken from his home by the commandos and interrogated for several hours before being released:

"When he returned home, Mr. Mohammed said, he went next door to his son’s house, only to find that most of his family had been killed: the son, Nurallah, and his pregnant wife and two of his sons, Abdul Basit, age 1, and Mohammed, 2. Only Mr. Mohammed’s 4-year-old grandson, Zarqawi, survived."

A month later, the Times was reporting that the military had temporarily halted such raids after media coverage and a U.N. report that singled out the secret missions for contributing to a rising civilian death toll.

Unmanned drones

The Times says the documents show that drone aircraft have not been as "impressive" as they are typically portrayed. "Some crash or collide, forcing American troops to undertake risky retrieval missions before the Taliban can claim the drone’s weaponry," the Times writes. The documents mention one situation of a drone that went "rogue" and eventually had to be shot down by a fighter jet before it crossed out of Afghan territory.

The drones have become an increasingly popular tool for the military. Because they’re operated off-site, in theory they reduce casualties for U.S. troops. NPR and "60 Minutes" each went inside the Nevada headquarters of the Army’s drone operations, where pilots use remote controls to fly and monitor the drones. They use satellites and a camera mounted inside to be the eyes of the drone, which NPR said was like "seeing the world through a soda straw."

The drones are gaining popularity not only with the Army, but with the CIA as well. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer looked at the how the CIA’s increased dependence on drones represent "a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force."

By Nicholas Kusnetz and Karen Weise, ProPublica

 

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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2010, 03:46:56 pm »

Leaked documents expose imperialist war in Afghanistan


By Alex Lantier

http://uruknet.info/?p=m68322&hd=&size=1&l=e

WSWS, 27 July 2010

On Sunday, the WikiLeaks web site posted 91,731 American military documents on the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan, covering the period from January 2004 to December 2009. The release was timed to coincide with articles on these revelations in the New York Times, the British Guardian and the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, all of which had received the documents several weeks ago.

The documents make clear that the occupation of Afghanistan is a filthy imperialist war. Popular resistance and protest demonstrations are drowned in blood, US death squads operate at will under a media blackout, and Washington and NATO collaborate with a narrow elite of corrupt warlords and Afghan officers.

The documents were released as the Afghan government confirmed that NATO rocket fire last week killed more than 50 civilians, largely women and children, in the Sangin district of Helmand Province. The attack was one of the worst since the May 2009 Gerani air strike, in neighboring Farah province, which killed 140 civilians, including 93 children and 28 women.

The WikiLeaks documents confirm the massive scale of US-NATO repression. By the American military’s own classification, which downplays the role of US and NATO troops, the release includes 13,734 reports of "friendly action" by US-NATO forces. The number of Afghan attacks—there are 27,078 reports of "enemy action" and 23,082 of "explosive hazards"—shatters claims that the Afghan resistance is the product of a few Al Qaeda terrorists. There are 237 reports of popular demonstrations against the US occupation or US-controlled Afghan authorities.

These documents themselves are reportedly only a small selection of millions of US files uploaded to WikiLeaks databases. What has already been released, however, makes clear that the US military sees Afghan casualties as unimportant, to be dealt with primarily by relying on the Western media to conceal the scope of the killing from the populations in NATO countries and internationally.

According to one report, on March 28, 2007, Dutch forces fired on Chanartu, a village in Kandahar province that was reportedly under Taliban attack. They killed four and wounded seven Afghan villagers in an operation the report called "justified." It said the Dutch government had "engaged in a proactive public relations campaign to prevent political fallout here and in the Netherlands," explaining that otherwise Dutch soldiers might "hesitate" to fire on Afghans in the future. The killings were classified as the result of action by "enemy" forces.

Written from the standpoint of the US military in the heat of events, the documents often understate Afghan casualties. For example, the September 2009 Kunduz bombing—when German officers called in a US air raid on two fuel trucks, killing 142 Afghans, overwhelmingly civilians—is listed as having caused 56 insurgent deaths.

The documents contain countless reports of civilians shot for approaching NATO vehicles, or for failing to stop at checkpoints. This includes two instances in 2008 where NATO forces machine-gunned a bus—once by French troops, wounding eight, and once by US forces, with 15 casualties.

There are also repeated accounts of NATO forces repressing demonstrations, often in close coordination with local Afghan authorities. On May 11, 2005 a unit of Marines reported demonstrations in Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. After requests for help from the regional governor, Din Mohammed, the Marines called in "AH-64s [Apache attack helicopters] for a show of force."

Under cover of air support, Afghan and UN forces moved against the demonstrators. Though the US military reported 37 Afghan civilians were killed and 10 wounded, it classified the Jalalabad demonstration as a "non-combat event" by "neutral" forces.

The documents also reveal the existence of Task Force 373—a covert, heavily-armed Special Forces death squad that mounts operations throughout Afghanistan, seeking to assassinate Taliban leaders. On the night of June 11, 2007, while trying to capture Taliban commander Qarl Ur-Rahman near Jalalabad, Task Force 373 was surprised by a friendly Afghan police patrol which shone a light on them in the darkness. The task force called in an air raid by an AC-130 gunship which blasted the policemen with cannon fire. Seven Afghan police were killed and four wounded.

One week later, Task Force 373 launched another mission, against Abu Laith al-Libi in Paktika province. The plan was to fire a salvo of six missiles at the village of Nangar Khel, where al-Libi was suspected of hiding, then send in troops to attack the village. Though they did not find al-Libi, they discovered that the missile strike had killed six adults, whom they described as Taliban fighters, and eight Afghan children in a madrasa.

On October 4, 2007, the task force attacked Taliban forces in the village of Laswanday, only 6 miles from Nangar Khel. During a pause in the fighting the Taliban slipped away. However, Task Force 373 called in an air raid, killing four civilian men, one woman, and one girl. Two teenage girls and a boy, as well as 12 US soldiers, were wounded. There are suspicions that some of the Afghan villagers were executed, as one of the men was found with his hands tied behind his back.

Coalition forces initially put out a statement claiming US forces had killed several Taliban militants. A US contingent visited the village and sought to blame the deaths on the villagers. According to the leaked reports, they "stressed that the fault of the deaths of the innocent lies on the villagers, who did not resist the insurgents and their anti-government activities."

The documents also reveal growing NATO losses in the air, including numerous drones and even manned aircraft, with at least one F-15 fighter being lost over Afghanistan. In an April 2007 report, the US military cited reports that the Iranian government had purchased portable anti-aircraft missiles from the Algerian government and given them to Afghan insurgents. This has not been previously reported.

White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones denounced WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents, saying Washington "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."

He continued, "WikiLeaks made no effort to contact us about these documents—the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted."

While the US government is most directly exposed by the documents released so far, many more countries must be concerned over further material that might be released. Assange claims that WikiLeaks has extensive documents on the positions on Afghanistan of every country whose population is over 1 million—that is to say, all of the world’s major powers.

The occupation of Afghanistan is broadly unpopular in countries throughout the world.

At a Monday press conference in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he had recently received more "high quality material" from military sources. The Guardian notes: "Washington fears it may have lost even more highly sensitive material, including an archive of tens of thousands of cable messages sent by US embassies around the world, reflecting arms deals, trade talks, secret meetings, and uncensored opinions of other governments."

Assange has come under intense pressure from the US and allied governments. The Pentagon proposed to send investigators to meet him on "neutral territory" and discuss his sources, but Assange refused. After the May 26 arrest of 22-year-old US military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning at US Forward Operating Base Hammer 22 miles outside of Baghdad, Assange went into hiding.

Manning is currently locked up in a US military prison in Kuwait.

The Australian government had briefly taken Assange’s passport earlier that month, telling him it might be cancelled. Assange is Australian.

The Guardian writes that journalist "Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said he thought Assange could be in some physical danger; Ellsberg and two other former whistleblowers warned that US agencies would 'do all possible to make an example’ of the WikiLeaks founder."

The Guardian claims that, after a manhunt, it found Assange in a café in Brussels, where he had traveled to speak to the European parliament. He agreed that a team of Guardian reporters could access the reports, which were also sent to the New York Times and to Der Spiegel.

Asked about his security at a press conference at the Frontline club in London, Assange said: "As we all know, the United Kingdom is a surveillance state." He continued by saying he believed he had political support in the UK, so that it would be difficult "for me to be arrested or detained. I can’t imagine that happening in this country, unless there was a miscommunication from the bureaucracy to the political leadership"—i.e., a decision by the British police or military to violate the authority of the government.

In fact, the main division is not so much between the pro-war Cameron government in Britain and the state machine, but between masses of working people internationally who oppose the war and governments and security forces who are determined to wage it.

Significantly, none of the publications who broke the story called for opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Indeed, the Guardian editorial called for its indefinite extension. It wrote that the revelations in WikiLeaks’ documents meant that "this is not an Afghanistan that either the US or Britain is about to hand over gift-wrapped with pink ribbons to a sovereign national government in Kabul."

Sections of the US political establishment are pressing to use the WikiLeaks material to carry out a tactical shift in US-NATO war policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. US Senator John Kerry published a statement, writing: "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent."

Kerry is holding hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Afghanistan war today.

The leaking of the documents has been accompanied by a campaign in the US press, denouncing the Pakistani government’s support for Afghan warlord factions opposed to the Karzai regime in Kabul. Discussion has centered on the role of Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistani military intelligence—the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The New York Times wrote: "Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul ran the ISI from 1987 to 1989, a time when Pakistani spies and the CIA joined forces to run guns to Afghan militias who were battling Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the fighting stopped, he maintained his contacts with the former mujahedin, who would eventually transform themselves into the Taliban."

The Times continues, "more than two decades later, it appears that General Gul is still at work. The documents indicate that he has worked tirelessly to reactivate his old networks, employing familiar allies like Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose networks of thousands of fighters are responsible for waves of violence in Afghanistan."

The US government is now accusing Pakistan, whom it publicly recognizes as one of its main allies, of supporting Afghan forces fighting the US. These accusations underscore the basic hypocrisy of the US intervention in Afghanistan. It is not about fighting right-wing Islamism or terrorism, but defending major US strategic interests and controlling the balance of power in the fast-developing Asian continent.

Amid mass popular opposition to the US occupation in Afghanistan, Washington has been unable to shape an agreement between Pakistani-backed factions around Hekmatyar, Haqqani, and the Taliban, on the one side, and the Northern Alliance forces that prop up the Karzai regime in Kabul, on the other. These latter forces have historically been backed by Pakistan’s regional rival, India, as well as Russia. However, a turn by US imperialism to confront Pakistan carries immense dangers—notably, a confrontation with China, Pakistan’s most powerful ally in the region.





 
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2010, 03:03:25 pm »

WikiLeaks “Afghan War Diaries”


by Stephen Lendman



July 28, 2010
http://uruknet.info/?p=m68362&hd=&size=1&l=e


Calling itself "the intelligence agency of the people," WikiLeaks is "a multi-juristidictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive material to communicate to the public" that has a right and need to know — to then use responsibly for better government in a free and open society, absent in today’s America run by warlords, criminal politicians, and corporate bosses, spurning the rule of law for their own gain.

On July 26, WikiLeaks published "The Afghan War Diaries," its modern day Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents eroding support for the Vietnam War, the New York Times saying they "demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance" — what Julian Assange has done on Afghanistan, revealing Bush and Obama administration lies and duplicity about their illegal war of aggression, America’s longest. More on that below.

Releasing over 75,000 of nearly 92,000 reports, they represent a small fraction of millions of US files uploaded to WikiLeaks databases, more to be regularly released, "high quality material," according to Assange.

They’re chronologically listed in over 100 categories, covering the period January 2004-December 2009, describing lethal US military actions, including numbers internally killed, wounded, or detained by geographical location, units involved, and major weapons used.

Since the Pentagon Papers, they comprise the "most significant (comprehensive) archive about the reality of war," with no resolution or opposition in Congress, providing "a comprehensive understanding of the war (and) modern warfare in general."

Accounts come mainly from soldiers and intelligence officers, but also from US embassies and other sources revealing corruption and criminality across Afghanistan, including coverups, collusion, distortion, and duplicity — a sordid story needing telling to shock a comatose public to action, and revive a badly needed anti-war movement.

As expected, the White House reacted sharply and deceptively, National Security Advisor James Jones saying:

"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," ignoring the war’s illegality; its duplicitous, mindless, shameless destructiveness; a brutal quagmire; waged under false pretenses; and its shocking human costs on both sides; Afghan civilians mostly, but also NATO casualties, including deaths, mutilations, disabling injuries, PTSD, suicides, deadly toxins exposure, and proper care at home denied.

In several Nation magazine articles, Joshua Kors highlighted how US soldiers are treated, his April 26, 2010 article titled, "Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon is Cheating Wounded Vets," mistreating them, misdiagnosing their needs to deny care and disability pay, providing substandard care, abandoning them when no longer needed, the major media not reporting it, how they’re now sanitizing WikiLeaks revelations, downplaying their importance, omitting important truths – about illegal wars and crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Bush and Obama administrations culpable.

America’s Lawlessness

The Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 grants Congress only the power to declare war, appropriate funding, and "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the" nation.

The UN Charter is also explicit, explaining under what circumstances violence and coercion (by one state against another) are permitted. Articles 2(3) and 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use, and Article 51 allows the "right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member… until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible. Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any unilateral threat or use of force not specifically allowed under Article 51 or authorized by the Security Council.

Three important General Assembly resolutions concur, unconditionally prohibiting "non-consensual military intervention:"

– the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;

– the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and

– the 1974 Definition of Aggression — "the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations…."

Under Bush and Obama, Washington violated these laws by attacking and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, two nations posing no threat to America, willful aggression, what the Nuremberg Tribunal’s Justice Robert Jackson called "the supreme international crime," enforceable under the Constitution’s "supremacy clause" (Article VI, clause 2), under which international laws and treaties automatically become US ones.

Then since October 2001, US forces (including CIA operatives) committed appalling crimes of war and against humanity, in violation of the four Geneva Conventions, the US War Crimes Act, the UN Torture Convention, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles, US Army Field Manual 27-10, and other US and international laws — using weapons of mass destruction to massacre millions (mainly civilians), cause vast devastation and destruction, and continue oppressive occupations illegally.

WikiLeaks documented the evidence, lifting the fog of war, revealing its true face, the human carnage, shocking atrocities, rampaging death squads against civilians, murdering women and children wantonly, torturing randomly arrested victims, operating freely under a media blackout.

Partnered with NATO, America’s military/industrial/media collaborators misportray US wars as humanitarian, hiding their imperial purpose — state terrorism against millions, showing an utter disregard for the law, truth, humanity or justice.

Even now after WikiLeaks revelations, media reports focus largely on their legality, political impact in November, and how congressional Democrats and the Obama administration may be harmed. They say nothing about nine years of duplicitous lies, shocking war crimes, no accountability, and two illegal wars, demanding they end, their grotesque harm stopped, and hundreds of billions for war profiteers used for homeland needs to revive a sick economy, harming millions as a result.

Undaunted, the White House vowed to keep fighting, continue America’s longest war, its occupation and violence in Iraq, defying popular sentiment against them, discounted for imperial gain and expediency — what the media won’t explain.

WikiLeaks Reports

Civilians are willfully targeted, those killed or wounded called insurgents, the numbers affected downplayed and misreported, embedded journalists an echo chamber for Pentagon/NATO lies and distortion.

Reports cover most Army units, not Special Forces, top-secret European ones, and other International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) except in combined operations, including assassinations and killing of civilians, including women and children, the media calling them militants or saying nothing at all.

Downplaying the revelations, the New York Times described "an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war," portraying a bleaker picture than reported, yet collaborating with the White House to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing, its usual practice for sensitive materials to keep readers misinformed, an article like this one impossible to clear its censors.

Der Spiegel published an interview with Julian Assange on his motivation for publishing. He said it eclipses everything released so far about the war and modern warfare, shockingly detailed to influence public opinion and political decision-makers: by "shin(ing) light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war," in hopes the mood will shift to end it.

"Reform can only come (when) injustice is exposed. To oppose an unjust plan before it reaches implementation is to stop injustice." America’s most dangerous men wage wars, not whistleblowers who expose them, their motives, false promises and crimes. Asked why he established WikiLeaks, he said:

"We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time (and) do something… meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work," more than ever vitally needed.

Headlining "Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation," London Guardian writers, Nick Davies and David Leigh, discussed numerous incidents of tens or "hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops," covert units hunting leaders for "kill or capture," the "steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on NATO," and the paper’s full war logs investigation, exposing real war, not a sanitized version omitting the human toll, vast destruction, corruption and drug-dealing, collusion and deceit, key unreported incidents happening daily, an "unvarnished picture," lifting the fog of war.

The Guardian said "Washington fears it may have lost even more highly sensitive material, including an archive of tens of thousands of cable messages sent by US embassies around the world, reflecting arms deals, trade talks, secret meetings, and uncensored opinions of other governments."

Interviewed on Democracy Now!, Daniel Ellsberg was "very impressed," calling the release the first "in 39 or 40 years, since I first gave the Pentagon Papers to the Senate," saying he hopes it will inspire others to come forward and reveal what they know despite the considerable risk.

The documents were released in advance to the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and New York Times, revealing "a contemporaneous catalogue of conflict," classified secret, encyclopedic but incomplete, in total presenting a very disturbing picture, including many accounts of coalition forces willfully targeting civilians, killing or injuring them, unreported until now.

Other reports cover hundreds of border clashes between Afghan and Pakistani troops, armies supposedly allies, Special Forces killing Taliban, Al Queda leaders, and civilians, mindless slaughter on both sides, and numerous incidents of lethal friendly fire, taking NATO, American and Afghan forces lives — the main concern then concealing the evidence, weapons used, and crimes committed, embedded journalists saying nothing, including about regular demonstrations against America’s presence and the corrupted Kabul government, Hamid Karzai a US stooge.

The documents also discuss Pakistan’s ISI (its Inter-Services Intelligence) linkage 'to some of the war’s most notorious commanders," sending 1,000 motorbikes to warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani for suicide attacks in Khost and Logar provinces. In addition, Islamabad’s involvement "in a sensational range of plots, from attempting to assassinate President Hamid Karzai to poisoning the beer supply of western troops."

Even the White House admits that elements of Pakistan’s army are linked to Afghan militants, endangering US troops by providing them safe havens.

As revealed, "this is not an Afghanistan that either the US or Britain" are about to turn over to the Kabul government. "Quite the contrary. After nine years of warfare (a Guardian editorial wanting it indefinitely extended), the chaos threatens to overwhelm. A war fought ostensibly for the hearts and minds of Afghans cannot be won like this."

Neither can one be fought for imperial gain, Afghan and American hearts and minds be damned. The first casualty also — the truth, WikiLeaks courageously exposing it to arouse a groundswell of public outrage and opposition, demanding the (Iraq and Afghan) wars end, and wasted billions diverted to homeland needs, people ones, including economic development creating jobs and futures, not handed to war profiteers and Wall Street bandits.

A Final Comment

In his 1995 book, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, former Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, said "we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why" about a war that shouldn’t have been fought and couldn’t be won, what he told Lyndon Johnson privately, what the public never knew and few know now.

It’s no less true about Iraq and Afghanistan, General Stanley McChystal not sacked for deriding his superiors but for losing an unwinnable war, his Chief of Operations, Major General Bill Mayville saying: "It’s not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," an assessment McChrystal and others know, what major media accounts won’t report, what WikiLeaks hopes to change by inspiring a crescendo of antiwar sentiment, what can’t come a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.



 
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« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2010, 06:17:05 am »

Published on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 by The Washington Post


Could Wikileaks Offer A Way Out of War?


by Katrina vanden Heuvel

The war in Afghanistan just got a little foggier -- or a little more transparent -- depending on how you choose to see the weekend's 92,000-item document dump courtesy of Wikileaks. As London's Guardian editorialized [1], "These war logs -- written in the heat of engagement -- show a conflict that is brutally messy, confused and immediate. It is in some contrast with the tidied-up and sanitised 'public' war, as glimpsed through official communiqués as well as the necessarily limited snapshots of embedded reporting."

The futility and frustration illustrated in these documents should provide a fairly wide opening for a much-needed "what are we doing there, anyway?" debate. And I hope the ensuing discussion will lead President Obama to understand that the human and financial costs of continuing on this path far outstrip any conceivable security benefits. In fact, it is clear from the granular details in the war logs, and especially in the sections about collusion between Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban [2], that any homeland security provided by the war is significantly undermined by the anger and resentment -- and armed resistance -- of our Central and South Asian hosts. And the evidence that U.S. troops have sanitized accounts of bloody scenes [3] they've left in their wake underscores that our presence in Afghanistan is counterproductive.

What to make of the leak itself? Of course, more than a few commentators -- including Daniel Ellsberg himself -- have called it a 21st-century Pentagon Papers. That "21st century" modifier may prove to be the most salient facet of this story.

In noting the distinct "times have changed" element to the leak, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen wrote [4], "In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But WikiLeaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new. Just as the Internet has no terrestrial address or central office, neither does WikiLeaks."

It's also significant that Wikileaks used three traditional news outlets (the Guardian, the New York Times and Germany's Der Spiegel) to deliver its treasure to the masses, a reminder that information is useless unless you (or someone you know) know how to interpret it. At the Atlantic, James Fallows loosely proposes [5] that this Wikileaks plus traditional media synergy could prove to be quite valuable for a news industry that's been trying to reinvent itself: "At first glance this is a very sophisticated illustration of how newly evolving media continually change the way we get information, but don't totally replace existing systems. The collaboration of three of the world's leading 'traditional' news brands makes a difference in the way this news is received." After all, can Joe the Plumber be expected to pore over 200,000 pages of documents and determine for himself whether our endeavors in Afghanistan are worth his tax dollars? Should he be expected to do so?

The Times explained in a Note to Readers [6] that it felt a civic obligation to publish and analyze a portion of the Wikileaks documents: "[T]here are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not."

Perhaps a new take on an old war is just what we need to extract ourselves from another quagmire.

© 2010 The Washington Post
Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation [7].

 
Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/28-7

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« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2010, 06:18:37 am »

Published on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 by TruthDig.com

WikiLeaks’ Afghan War Diary


by Amy Goodman

Wikileaks.org has done it again, publishing thousands of classified documents about the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The website provides a secure platform for whistle-blowers to deliver documents, videos and other electronic media while maintaining anonymity. Last March it released a video shot from a U.S. military helicopter over Baghdad, exposing the Army's indiscriminate killing of at least 12 people, two of whom worked for the Reuters news agency. This week, WikiLeaks, along with three mainstream media partners-The New York Times, The Guardian of London and Der Spiegel in Germany-released 91,000 classified reports from the United States military in Afghanistan. The reports, mostly written by soldiers on the ground immediately after military actions, represent a true diary of the war from 2004 to 2009, detailing everything from the killing of civilians, including children, to the growing strength of the Taliban insurgency, to Pakistan's support for the Taliban.

After the documents were released, WikiLeaks founder and Editor in Chief Julian Assange told me: "Most civilian casualties occur in instances where one, two, 10 or 20 people are killed-they really numerically dominate the list of events. ... The way to really understand this war is by seeing that there is one killed after another, every day, going on and on."

Assange described a massacre, what he called a "Polish My Lai." On Aug. 16, 2007, Polish troops returned to a village where they had suffered an IED roadside bomb that morning. The Poles launched mortars into the village, striking a house where a wedding party was under way. Assange suspects that the Poles, retaliating for the IED, committed a war crime, concealed in the dry bureaucratic language in the report:

"Current Casualty list: 6x KIA (1x male, 4 female, one baby) 3x WIA (all female, one of which was 9 months pregnant)"

KIA means "Killed in Action," and the tens of thousands of classified reports are dense with KIAs. Assange says that there are 2,000 civilian deaths detailed in the reports. Other entries describe "Task Force 373," a U.S. Army assassination unit that allegedly captures or kills people believed to be members of the Taliban or al-Qaida.

The Obama administration is running for cover, and its response has been confused. National security adviser Gen. James Jones condemned the disclosure of classified information, saying it "could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security." At the same time, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said "there's no broad new revelations in this."

The threat posed by this historic leak is not a threat to the lives of American soldiers at war, but rather to a policy that puts those lives at risk. With public support already waning, this leak can only strengthen the call for the war's end.

"I've been waiting for it for a long time," tweeted Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistle-blower in America. Ellsberg is the former military analyst who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, thousands of pages of a top-secret government study revealing the secret history of the Vietnam War. Many credit Ellsberg's action with helping to end the Vietnam War. Ellsberg told me this week: "I'm very impressed by the [WikiLeaks] release. It is the first release in 39 years on the scale of the Pentagon Papers. How many times in these 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?"

Assange has been advised by his lawyers not to enter the United States.

Homeland security agents descended on a recent hacker conference in New York where he was scheduled to speak. He had canceled. He said the Obama administration also tried to get the Australian government to arrest him. Speaking to me from London, Assange said: "We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. That is our modus operandi behind our whole organization: to get out suppressed information into the public where the press and the public and our nations' politics can work on it to produce better outcomes."

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2010 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now! [1]," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 800 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.


Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/28-4

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« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2010, 06:42:48 am »

South Asia
Jul 30, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG30Df04.html 
 
INTERVIEW

An ancient vision

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, says his work is based on the "ancient vision" of uncovering the truth. And he says sources would rather turn over their information to him than to traditional news outlets because he can protect them better. Assange spoke with RFE/RL's Ron Synovitz and Christopher Schwartz on July 27 by phone from London.

RFE/RL: What is your response to those in Pakistan who doubt the veracity of WikiLeaks' "Afghan War Diary?" In particular, Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, has said he thinks the reports are fabrications.

Julian Assange: We need to look at these reports in a subtle way. A lot of material is included there. There are 91,000 reports from units in the field, from embassies in relation to Afghanistan, intelligence officers and from informers. The informers make their reports for money. They are paid by the United States government for making serious allegations. They make reports to knock out a competitor - a detested neighbor or family enemy - and they make reports for legitimate reasons.

In looking at the ISI material by informers, we see that the US military puts a sort of label on each informer as to how reliable they believe they are. If we just look [at these], we do see an extensive number of reports about the ISI. Now, any one of them may be incorrect, any two of them may be correct. It's really in the such large numbers and figures involving so many different circumstances and/or involving the ISI that we start to become very suspicious of the ISI [in Afghanistan].

RFE/RL: There's a rumor circulating in Pakistan - one that's being encouraged by some Pakistani officials - that this leak was actually orchestrated by the US government to justify an increased military presence in, or even invasion of, Pakistan.

JA: Well, it's simply not true, and people can read the individual reports and individual details and make connections about each one of those circumstances. Though we had a previous rumor that we were the CIA, [WikiLeaks] has put out information from the main manuals of Guantanamo Bay, [former US vice presidential candidate] Sarah Palin's e-mails, secret Chinese censorship briefs, official assassinations in Kenya and East Timor. It is clear that we are strictly impartial and we do take all comers from across the world who have material that is difficult for them to get out to the public.

RFE/RL: A lot of comparisons are being made between WikiLeaks' "Afghan War Diary" and Daniel Ellsberg's leaking in 1971 of the US Department of Defense's classified report on the Vietnam War, known as the "Pentagon Papers". Do you see a parallel?

JA: We have great respect for Dan Ellsberg and the work that he has done and continues to do in promoting the importance of whistle-blowers and their role in society. As a comparison, this has been - this is the Pentagon Papers - it was the nearest analogy to what we were doing. And Dan Ellsberg says that he sees this being in the same way.

RFE/RL: Have you or WikiLeaks received any threats of violence or legal action, as Ellsberg did?

JA: In relation to this particular event, we have received no court order or legal action, and as far as I'm aware, none of our legal partners have either.

You know, as a serious organization we sometimes take serious threats. In relation to this issue, there has been no physical threats. Now, there has been spying, some disturbing sounds coming out of the US administration about a month ago in private. Those seem to have stopped, although it is too early to see what the reaction will be in relation to this publication.

RFE/RL: Why did you select The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel as the media outlets to share the leak with?

JA: We make a promise to our sources: one, that we will do everything in our power technically and legally to protect them; two, that we are going to maximize the impact of the submissions that they make to us, and we believe in this case that that was the way to maximize the impact.

RFE/RL: Why do you think so many important sources have chosen to give their information to WikiLeaks instead of traditional media outlets?

JA: Because we are specialists. We specialize in protecting sources. We specialize in getting the full material out to the public. Now, mainstream media, through internal concentrations in countries where there's really only sort of one or two dominant media organizations in a town, has had a sort of perverse effect where sources are treated as something to be kept at bay rather than something to treasure. That has resulted in organizations such as The [New York] Times sitting on significant disclosures for a year, not releasing them, or only picking a few cherries from a whistle-blower's disclosure, instead of all the material that they submit in their documents.

Sources understand that we are the most reliable, from a safety point of view and from a publishing point of view, organization to deal with.

RFE/RL: How do you see WikiLeaks - is it journalism, activism, or some new kind of intermediary between sources and journalists?

JA: The vision behind it is really quite ancient: in order to make any sensible decision you need to know what's really going on, and in order to make any just decision you need to know and understand what abuses or plans for abuses are occurring. As technologists, we can see that big reforms come when the public and decision makers can see what's really going on.

Copyright (c) 2010, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

(To view the original, please click here.) 
 http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_WikiLeaks_Founder_Julian_Assange/2111481.html 
 
 
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« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2010, 07:57:46 am »

"You Need to Know What's Really Going On":

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on the Fight for the Truth


Assange: "In order to make any just decision you need to know and understand what abuses or plans for abuses are occurring."


By Ron Synovitz and Christopher Schwartz, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Posted on August 4, 2010, Printed on August 4, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/147734/

Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, says his work is based on the "ancient vision" of uncovering the truth. And he says sources would rather turn over their information to him than to traditional news outlets because he can protect them better. Assange spoke with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Ron Synovitz and Christopher Schwartz on July 27 by phone from London.

What is your response to those in Pakistan who doubt the veracity of WikiLeaks' "Afghan War Diary?" In particular, Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, has said he thinks the reports are fabrications.

Julian Assange: We need to look at these reports in a subtle way. A lot of material is included there. There are 91,000 reports from units in the field, from embassies in relation to Afghanistan, intelligence officers, and from informers. The informers make their reports for money. They are paid by the United States government for making serious allegations. They make reports to knock out a competitor -- a detested neighbor or family enemy -- and they make reports for legitimate reasons.

In looking at the ISI material by informers, we see that the U.S. military puts a sort of label on each informer as to how reliable they believe they are. If we just look [at these], we do see an extensive number of reports about the ISI. Now, any one of them may be incorrect, any two of them may be correct. It's really in the such large numbers and figures involving so many different circumstances and/or involving the ISI that we start to become very suspicious of the ISI [in Afghanistan]. 

There's a rumor circulating in Pakistan -- one that's being encouraged by some Pakistani officials -- that this leak was actually orchestrated by the U.S. government to justify an increased military presence in, or even invasion of, Pakistan. 

Assange: Well, it's simply not true, and people can read the individual reports and individual details and make connections about each one of those circumstances. Though we had a previous rumor that we were the CIA, [WikiLeaks] has put out information from the main manuals of Guantanamo Bay, [former U.S. vice-presidential candidate] Sarah Palin's e-mails, secret Chinese censorship briefs, official assassinations in Kenya and East Timor. It is clear that we are strictly impartial and we do take all comers from across the world who have material that is difficult for them to get out to the public. 

A lot of comparisons are being made between Wikileaks' "Afghan War Diary" and Daniel Ellsberg's leaking in 1971 of the U.S. Department of Defense's classified report on the Vietnam War, known as the "Pentagon Papers." Do you see a parallel?

Assange: We have great respect for Dan Ellsberg and the work that he has done and continues to do in promoting the importance of whistle-blowers and their role in society. As a comparison, this has been -- this is the Pentagon Papers -- it was the nearest analogy to what we were doing. And Dan Ellsberg says that he sees this being in the same way. 

Have you or WikiLeaks received any threats of violence or legal action, as Ellsberg did? 

Assange: In relation to this particular event, we have received no court order or legal action, and as far as I'm aware, none of our legal partners have either.

You know, as a serious organization we sometimes take serious threats. In relation to this issue, there has been no physical threats. Now, there has been spying, some disturbing sounds coming out of the U.S. administration about a month ago in private. Those seem to have stopped, although it is too early to see what the reaction will be in relation to this publication. 

Why did you select "The New York Times," "The Guardian," and "Der Spiegel" as the media outlets to share the leak with? 

Assange: We make a promise to our sources: one, that we will do everything in our power technically and legally to protect them; two, that we are going to maximize the impact of the submissions that they make to us, and we believe in this case that that was the way to maximize the impact.

Why do you think so many important sources have chosen to give their information to WikiLeaks instead of traditional media outlets?

Assange: Because we are specialists. We specialize in protecting sources. We specialize in getting the full material out to the public. Now, mainstream media, through internal concentrations in countries where there's really only sort of one or two dominant media organizations in a town, has had a sort of perverse effect where sources are treated as something to be kept at bay rather than something to treasure. That has resulted in organizations such as "The [New York] Times" sitting on significant disclosures for a year, not releasing them, or only picking a few cherries from a whistle-blower's disclosure, instead of all the material that they submit in their documents. 

Sources understand that we are the most reliable, from a safety point of view and from a publishing point of view, organization to deal with. 

How do you see WikiLeaks -- is it journalism, activism, or some new kind of intermediary between sources and journalists?

Assange: The vision behind it is really quite ancient: in order to make any sensible decision you need to know what's really going on, and in order to make any just decision you need to know and understand what abuses or plans for abuses are occurring. As technologists, we can see that big reforms come when the public and decision makers can see what's really going on.

Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Read the original here:
http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_WikiLeaks_Founder_Julian_Assange/2111481.html



© 2010 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty All rights reserved.
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« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2010, 08:06:11 am »

WikiLeaks in Baghdad

Sarah Lazare and Ryan Harvey | July 29, 2010



One by one, soldiers just arriving in Baghdad were taken into a room and questioned by their commanding officers. "All questions led up to the big question," explains former Army Spc. Josh Stieber. "If someone were to pull out a weapon in a marketplace full of unarmed civilians, would you open fire on that person, even if you knew you would hurt a lot of innocent people in the process?"

It was a trick question. "Not only did you have to say yes, but you had to say yes without hesitating," explains Stieber. "In refusing to go along with the crowd, it was not irregular for somebody to get beat up," he adds. "They'll take you in a room, close the door and knock you around if they didn't like your answer," says former Army Spc. Ray Corcoles, who deployed with Stieber.

According to these former soldiers, this was a typical moment of training for Bravo Company 2-16 (2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment), the ground unit involved in the infamous "Collateral Murder" video, which captured global headlines when it was released in April by WikiLeaks, the online clearinghouse for anonymous leaks. (In late July WikiLeaks dropped another bombshell with its release of more than 90,000 secret US military documents from the war in Afghanistan, including detailed reports on Pakistani collusion with the insurgents—who have successfully used heat-seeking missiles against allied forces—US assassination teams, widespread civilian casualties from US attacks and staggering Afghan government incompetence and corruption.)

The graphic video from Baghdad shows a July 2007 attack in which US forces, firing from helicopter gunships, wounded two children and killed more than a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters employees and the father of those children. The video quickly became an international symbol of the brutality and callousness of the US military in Iraq. What the world did not see is the months of training that led up to the incident, in which soldiers were taught to respond to threats with a barrage of fire—a "wall of steel," in Army parlance—even if it put civilians at risk.

Now three former soldiers from this unit have come forward to make the case that the incident is not a matter of a few bad-apple soldiers but rather just one example of US military protocol in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where excessive acts of violence often stem from the chain of command. This comes at a time when the top brass in Afghanistan are speaking openly of relaxing the rules of engagement. After Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recent ouster for publicly criticizing the Obama administration, his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, has asserted that military protocol in Afghanistan should be adjusted because of "concerns" about "the application of our rules of engagement," a move that critics fear will cause civilian deaths to skyrocket.

The story that Stieber, Corcoles and former Army Spc. Ethan McCord tell provides crucial background for the incident that WikiLeaks made famous. Bravo Company 2-16 deployed to Iraq in February 2007 during the "surge" ordered by George W. Bush. Their spring arrival in New Baghdad, a dangerous neighborhood in eastern Baghdad bordering Sadr City, coincided with the start of the deadliest three-month period for US forces during the Iraq War.

"I had the idea that I was going over there to help the Iraqi people—you know, freedom and democracy," says McCord, an expectation that Stieber and Corcoles say they shared. They learned quickly that the reality was very different. All three of these former soldiers describe a general policy of, in McCord's words, trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists" in order to establish power in a neighborhood that clearly did not want US troops there. The next months would be spent raiding houses, responding to sniper fire and IEDs, and, as Corcoles says, "driving around just waiting to get shot at." All of them would witness the abuse, displacement and killing of Iraqi civilians.

When Bravo Company 2-16 arrived in New Baghdad to establish its Combat Outpost (COP) in an old factory, hundreds of angry residents gathered in protest. In grainy video footage brought back by McCord, residents can be seen converging around the soldiers and chanting, and McCord is seen standing in front of the crowd with his weapon drawn. Corcoles, behind the camera, was guarding the gate of the new post. "The first sergeant told me to shoot anyone who tried to rush the soldiers outside the gate," he says. Some Iraqis were then dragged inside, beaten and questioned. When the crowds dispersed, construction crews came in to begin building a wall around the new post. To clear the area, the military forced people to leave. "We were kicking people out of their homes," says McCord. "People who didn't want to move, we would basically force them to move...pretty much making them leave at gunpoint."

From then on the violence escalated. Corcoles describes the first IED death his unit suffered. "We did a mission that night till like midnight, and we were actually just sitting down.... I hadn't even got three or four drags off my cigarette and an IED went off.... We watched the Humvee burn, but we didn't realize (someone) was still in it."

The IED attacks left the soldiers angry and scared. McCord recalls one mission to impose curfews. Earlier that day, a popular soldier had died in an IED attack, and the troops took it out on the Iraqis. "There were a lot of people who got beat up that night," he says bluntly. This anger was turned into policy by the chain of command. "We had just lost three guys to an IED when the battalion commander came out to the COP," says McCord. He went on to explain that the commander gave orders to shoot indiscriminately after IED attacks. "He said, 'f**k it, this is what I want...anytime someone in your line gets hit by an IED...you kill every motherf**ker in the street,'" McCord testifies.

"When one (IED) went off, you were supposed to open fire on anybody," says Stieber. "At first I would just fire into a field. Then I wouldn't fire at all." He describes an IED that went off near a crowd of teenagers. "I said I wouldn't fire," even though "other people were firing," he recalls. Like Stieber, Corcoles describes incidents in which he purposely aimed his gun away from people. "You don't even know if somebody's shooting at you," he says. "It's just insanity to just start shooting people." Stieber pointed out that in incidents like these, it was very rare for US military vehicles to stop to help the wounded or assess how many people had been injured or killed.

Stieber was intimidated and reprimanded by his command for refusing orders to shoot. "One time when I didn't fire, people in my truck were yelling at me for the rest of the mission. When we got back, one or two leaders got up in my face and kept yelling at me and stuff," he says. The command eventually stopped sending him on missions as a gunner, and Stieber says he "faced a lot of criticism for it." Corcoles saw this too. "One night our truck got hit by an IED and Josh didn't fire, and another soldier didn't fire," he says. "And they were getting yelled at: 'Why aren't you firing?' And they said, 'There's nobody to fire at.'"

Corcoles recalls another "wall of steel" incident: "Our first sergeant was with us, and after we got hit by an IED, people started shooting everywhere, and they were also actually shooting at him." He explains that his sergeant happened to be within range of indiscriminate fire coming from US soldiers. After almost getting shot by the soldiers, "our first sergeant told us not to do this anymore," says Corcoles.

Excessive acts of violence were woven into daily missions, house searches and prisoner detention, says McCord. "This one time, in the summer of 2007, we were in a barbershop and my platoon leader was asking the barbershop owner about the local militia," he says. "The interpreter kept saying the owner didn't know anything. The platoon leader said, 'He is f**king lying,'" says McCord, explaining that it was always assumed that Iraqis who said they didn't know anything were lying. "I remember my platoon leader punching him in the face. When (the barbershop owner) went to ground, he was kicked by others in the platoon. Many other Iraqis were in there to get their hair cut. They were up against the wall watching him get kicked."

McCord says that when others in his unit saw this kind of behavior condoned by the leadership, they followed suit. He describes multiple instances in which soldiers abused detainees or beat people up in their houses. In one case, he says, someone was taken from his house, beaten up and then left on the side of the road, bloodied and still handcuffed.

In this setting, the "Collateral Murder" incident does not stand out as a drastic departure from the norm. That morning, Corcoles and McCord prepared for a "Ranger dominance" mission, "a clearing mission to basically go through every house, top to bottom, from one end of town to the next," says Corcoles. Stieber, who had been pulled off these missions because of his refusal to fire at crowds, was not with them this time. For the rest of the unit, what started as another day of house searches became a four-hour battle with militia members, say Corcoles and McCord. McCord was searching houses near Corcoles when he heard two Apache helicopters open fire nearby. He knew these helicopters were assigned to guard forces on the ground, so he knew something serious was occurring. "I heard over the net that we needed to move to that position," he recalls. He ran four or five blocks to the scene. "I was one of the first six dismounted soldiers to arrive there."

"It seemed unreal," says McCord, who describes running up and "seeing the carnage of what used to be human beings on the corner." A passenger van sat nearby, pocked with bullet holes and littered with bodies. Corcoles arrived on the scene shortly after McCord, who soon discovered two critically wounded children in the van and was able to pull them to safety. These moments would later be broadcast around the world in harrowing detail. McCord is seen in the video rushing wounded children away from the van. Photos that McCord took at the scene show mangled corpses lying in the road and one of the children, crouched in the front seat of the van next to a dead body.

Immediately following the incident, McCord was threatened and mocked by his commanding officer for pulling the children from the van. He says his platoon leader "yelled at me that I need to quit worrying about these 'motherf**king kids' and pull security." McCord later approached a staff sergeant and told him he needed mental healthcare after the incident. "He told me to stop being a ****...to get the sand out of my ****," he says. "I was told there would be repercussions." Fearing punishment, McCord did not ask again.

After conducting an internal investigation, the military cleared the unit of any wrongdoing. An "Investigation into Civilian Casualties Resulting from an Engagement on 12 July 2007 in the New Baghdad District of Baghdad, Iraq" found that "the proceedings comply with legal requirements" and "contain no material errors or violate any individual's substantial rights." The US Central Command refused several requests for an interview. And now Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking the video to WikiLeaks, is facing heavy charges punishable under the Espionage Act. The 22-year-old was transferred to Kuwait for a military trial that could lock him away in prison for decades.

In the months following the July 12 events, violence in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood subsided as the political winds shifted. After Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr declared a cease-fire and the United States moved toward a strategy of alliance with the Sunni Awakening Councils and some Shiite militia members, the soldiers began working with the very people they had once been told to fight, Stieber explains. "Things were pretty calm for most of the rest of the time, until like the last couple weeks that we were there," he says. As the troops finished their tour, some factions broke with Sadr's cease-fire and resumed fighting, and Bravo Company 2-16's COP was burned to the ground. "All hell broke loose," says Stieber. "The quick surge in violence at the end of our tour, when peace treaties were broken...show(s) that any progress that was made was (made) through negotiation as opposed to brute force." He says he found it contradictory that soldiers would end up legitimizing the people they had once fought.

McCord would return home early, suffering long-term injury from IED attacks that left him with a shattered lower spine and traumatic brain injury (TBI). He says the military at first tried to deny him treatment but eventually agreed to grant him back surgery after civilian tests showed serious injury. Despite TBI and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), McCord says the military refused to grant him a medical discharge and instead discharged him with a pre-existing personality disorder, a distinction that precludes him from receiving disability benefits from the military (see Joshua Kors, "Disposable Soldiers," [1] April 26).

The three soldiers returned to the United States disillusioned with the war they had once volunteered to fight. "From my experiences in Iraq, we shouldn't even be in these countries fighting wars. This is a war of aggression, of occupation. There is nothing justifiable to me about this war," says McCord. "And this isn't someone sitting back saying 'I think' or 'I believe.' This is from someone who was there."

Three years after their deployment to Iraq, these former soldiers were forced to confront that war when the WikiLeaks video was thrust into the limelight. They watched as the familiar scene became a media sensation, making international headlines and raising the ire and disgust of people around the world.

By this point, Stieber, now 22, had become an outspoken peace activist. When he heard about the video, he was in the midst of planning a speaking tour with a man from Iraq with the goal of "showing that we have more in common with the people we're told are our enemies than those telling us who our enemies are," he says. After WikiLeaks posted the video, Stieber e-mailed several people from his former unit explaining that he was going to speak out about the incident. McCord, now 34 and raising two children, and Corcoles, 35 and raising a child, have both decided to join Stieber's effort.

The three have decided to go public to let the world know the context behind the acts caught on film. "If people don't like that video, then the entire system needs to be re-examined, and I think it illustrates why we shouldn't put soldiers in that situation," insists Stieber. Corcoles, now suffering from severe PTSD, says he wants the public to understand that "war kills civilians first." He says, "I think Americans...need to take responsibility. If you pay taxes, you pay for that soldier's wage. You're just as guilty as the soldier pulling the trigger."

"What was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created," reads an open letter from McCord and Stieber to the Iraqis who were injured or lost loved ones in the July 2007 attack. "From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region."

Of course, these three are not the first soldiers to break the silence about the rules of engagement in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the March 2008 Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland, more than fifty veterans and active-duty service members publicly testified about the orders they were told to carry out in these countries, sharing stories of excessive violence, as well as of abusive and threatening treatment they endured from their superiors (see Laila Al-Arian, "Winter Soldiers Speak [2]," April 7, 2008; and Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, "The Other War [3]," July 30/August 6, 2007).

The three former soldiers say they support the decision to leak these videos to the public. "Avoiding talking about what's going on is going to make us continue making the same mistakes and not learning our lesson," insists Stieber. About the most recent WikiLeaks revelations, Stieber says, "People all over the world have been confronted once again with the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," adding that the latest release "confirms what veterans like Ethan, Ray and I, and so many other veteran witnesses, have been talking about."

But the occupations drag on, with President Obama continuing a Bush-era plan that will leave 50,000 "noncombat" troops in Iraq until at least the end of 2011. And top military brass have suggested that the August 31 deadline for withdrawal of "combat" troops may be extended. Meanwhile, Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total force there to more than 100,000, in what is now the longest war in US history. June was the deadliest month for NATO forces in Afghanistan, with 102 deaths, and as of press time July had become the second deadliest, with seventy-eight deaths.

All three soldiers say they hope Americans will learn the right lessons from the WikiLeaks video. "We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of 'god and country,'" write McCord and Stieber in their open letter. "The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn't have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us."

"Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Source URL: http://www.thenation.com/article/38034/wikileaks-baghdad
Links:
[1] http://www.thenation.com/article/disposable-soldiers
[2] http://www.thenation.com/article/winter-soldiers-speak
[3] http://www.thenation.com/article/other-war-iraq-vets-bear-witness-0

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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2010, 06:34:40 am »

Published on Thursday, August 5, 2010 by The Associated Press


'Insurance': WikiLeaks Posts Huge Encrypted File to Web

by Raphael G. Satter

LONDON  -- Online whistle-blower WikiLeaks has posted a huge encrypted file named "Insurance" to its website [1], sparking speculation that those behind the organization may be prepared to release more classified information if authorities interfere with them.


PENTAGON THREATENS WIKILEAKS  --  Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds up a copy of a newspaper during a press conference at the Frontline Club in central London, July 26, 2010. The Pentagon demanded on Thursday that whistle-blower web site WikiLeaks immediately hand over about 15,000 secret documents it had not yet released over the war in Afghanistan and erase material it had already put online.


Bloggers have noted that it's 20 times larger than the batch of 77,000 secret U.S. military documents about Afghanistan that WikiLeaks dumped onto the Web last month. Contributors to tech sites such as CNet have speculated that the file could be a way of threatening to disclose more information if WikiLeaks' staffers were detained or if the site was attacked, although the organization itself has kept mum.

"As a matter of policy, we do not discuss security procedures," WikiLeaks said Thursday in an e-mail response to questions about the 1.4 gigabyte file.

Editor-in-chief Julian Assange was a bit more expansive - if equally cryptic - in his response to the same line of questioning in a television interview with independent U.S. news network Democracy Now!

"I think it's better that we don't comment on that," Assange said, according to the network's transcript of the interview. "But, you know, one could imagine in a similar situation that it might be worth ensuring that important parts of history do not disappear."

Assange, a former computer hacker, has expressed concern over his safety in the past, complaining of surveillance and telling interviewers that he's been warned away from visiting the United States.

Since the publication of the Afghanistan files, at least one activist associated with the site has been questioned by U.S. authorities. Programmer Jacob Appelbaum, who filled in for Assange at a conference last month, was reportedly detained and questioned about the site by officials after arriving in the U.S. on a flight from the Netherlands.

U.S. officials have had harsh words for Assange, with Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying he and his colleagues had disclosed potentially life-threatening information and might already have blood on their hands.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has refused to rule out the possibility that Assange could be a target into the military's investigation into the leak.

Online:

Wikileaks Website: http://wikileaks.org/ [1]

Democracy Now! interview: http://bit.ly/cDw1LX [2]

© 2010 Associated Press

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/05-2


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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2010, 07:21:11 am »

- Associated Press

 - August 12, 2010
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/08/12/wikileaks-spokesman-preparing-release-remaining-afghan-intelligence-files/?test=latestnews

WikiLeaks Preparing to Release More Afghan Documents



LONDON -- WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange said Thursday his organization is preparing to release the rest of the secret Afghan war documents it has on file. The Pentagon warned that would be more damaging to security and risk more lives than the organization's initial release of some 76,000 war documents.

That extraordinary disclosure, which laid bare classified military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010, has angered U.S. officials, energized critics of the NATO-led campaign, and drawn the attention of the Taliban, which has promised to use the material to track down people it considers traitors.

The Pentagon says it believes it has identified the additional 15,000 classified documents, and said Thursday that their exposure would be even more damaging to the military than what has already been published.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell described the prospective publication as the "height of irresponsibility."

"It would compound a mistake that has already put far too many lives at risk," he said.

Speaking via videolink to London's Frontline Club, Assange brushed aside the Pentagon's demands that he stop publishing their intelligence. He gave no specific timeframe for the release of the 15,000 remaining files, but said his organization had gone through about half of them.

"We're about 7,000 reports in," he said, describing the process of combing through the files to ensure that no Afghans would be hurt by their disclosure as "very expensive and very painstaking."

Still, he told the audience that he would "absolutely" publish them. He gave no indication whether he would give the documents to media outlets The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel -- as he has before -- or simply dump them on the WikiLeaks website.

The leaks exposed unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings by NATO forces and covert operations against Taliban figures. Assange has said that hundreds of those reports should be investigated by the media for evidence of war crimes.

WikiLeaks' supporters say the blow-by-blow account of the conflict reveal the horror of the campaign's daily grind. Detractors say the site has recklessly endangered the war effort and Afghan informants working to stop the Taliban.

The Pentagon has a task force of about 100 people reading the leaked documents to assess the damage done and working, for instance, to alert Afghans who might be identified by name and now could be in danger.

Taliban spokesmen have said they would use the material to try to hunt down people who've been cooperating with what the Taliban considers a foreign invader. That has aroused the concern of several human rights group operating in Afghanistan -- as well as Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which on Thursday accused WikiLeaks of recklessness.

Jean-Francois Julliard, the group's secretary-general, said that WikiLeaks showed "incredible irresponsibility" when posting the documents online.

"WikiLeaks has in the past played a useful role by making information available ... that exposed serious violations of human rights and civil liberties which the Bush administration committed in the name of its war against terror," Julliard said in an open letter to Assange posted to his group's website.

"But revealing the identity of hundreds of people who collaborated with the coalition in Afghanistan is highly dangerous."

WikiLeaks, through its account on micro-blogging website Twitter, dismissed the letter as "some idiot statement, based on a bunch of quotes we never made."

While he acknowledged that some of the critiques leveled at his group were legitimate, he said the Pentagon -- as well as human rights groups -- had so far refused to help WikiLeaks purge the name of Afghan informants from the files.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said he was not aware of any effort by department officials to contact WikiLeaks.

Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan dismissed WikiLeaks' claims that they were reviewing the documents and removing information that could harm civilians.

"They don't have the expertise to determine what might be too sensitive to publish," he said. As for when the Pentagon expected WikiLeaks to release the documents, Lapan said: "WikiLeaks is about as predictable as North Korea."

A team of more than a hundred analysts from across the U.S. military, lead by the Defense Intelligence Agency, is poring over the WikiLeaks documents, according to defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence. Called the Information Review Task Force, the team is working out of the Crystal-City, Virginia-based Counterintelligence Collaboration Center.

The analysts are combing the documents, trying to determine the implications of the WikiLeaks release -- everything from whether military or intelligence-gathering tactics and procedures have been revealed and compromised, to whether specific intelligence sources have been endangered. They're also looking for incidents of civilian casualties that might not have previously been reported, anything concerning allies or coalition partners, and even "derogatory comments regarding Afghan culture or Islam."

The officials said the ultimate goal is to ensure the safety of U.S. and coalition members. The team is operating independently of an ongoing Army criminal investigation, and that of other law enforcement agencies, the officials said.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. has also reportedly urged its allies to look into Assange and his international network of activists, although it's not clear how aggressive Washington has been in prodding its foreign friends.

Earlier Thursday the Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told The Associated Press that Washington had not approached the his government about pursuing possible criminal charges against Assange, an Australian citizen, or about putting restrictions on his travel.

"Quite clearly we're working closely with the United States on these matters," Smith said, citing Australia's Defense Department and the Pentagon as the agencies working together. "These are very serious matters for concern."

Australia, which has some 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, has already launched its own investigation into whether posting classified military documents had compromised the national interest or endangered soldiers.
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« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2010, 09:19:53 am »

Published on Friday, August 13, 2010 by The Nation


Wikileaks and War Crimes


by Jeremy Scahill

Four months before WikiLeaks rocketed to international notoriety, the Robin Hoods of the Internet quietly published a confidential CIA document labeled "NOFORN" (for "no foreign nationals")-meaning that it should not be shared even with US allies. That's because the March "Red Cell Special Memorandum" was a call to arms for a propaganda war to influence public opinion in allied nations. The CIA report describes a crisis in European support for the Afghanistan war, noting that 80 percent of German and French citizens are against increasing their countries' military involvement. The report suggests that "Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the [International Security Assistance Force] role in combating the Taliban because of women's ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory."

On July 25 WikiLeaks published its massive cache of classified documents on the war in Afghanistan. Four days later, Time magazine posted on its website its August 9 cover story, featuring a horrifying image of a beautiful young Afghan woman named Aisha with a gaping hole where her nose once was, under the headline "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan"-echoing the strategy laid out in the Red Cell report [see Ann Jones, "Our Afghan Demons," page 4].

These two media events unfolded in starkly different ways. While Time has been praised for telling Aisha's story, WikiLeaks has been characterized as a criminal syndicate with blood on its hands. Former Bush administration speechwriter Marc Thiessen called for the United States to use whatever means necessary to snatch WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, including rendering him from abroad. Others have called for the United States to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute its members. Michigan Republican Congressman Mike Rogers has called for the alleged leaker, 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, to be executed if he is convicted.

Time managing editor Richard Stengel drew the contrast with WikiLeaks in an editor's letter accompanying the story, claiming that the WikiLeaks documents, unlike the Time article, fail to provide "insight into the way life is lived" in Afghanistan or to speak to "the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead." Actually, the documents do exactly that. WikiLeaks may not be a media outlet and Assange may not be a journalist, but why does it matter? The documents provide concrete evidence of widespread US killings of Afghan civilians and attempts to cover up killings, and they portray unaccountable Special Operations forces as roaming the country hunting people-literally. They describe incidents of mass outrage sparked by the killing of civilians and confirm that the United States is funding both sides of the war through bribes paid to the Taliban and other resistance forces.

There was a brief moment when it seemed the contents of the WikiLeaks documents would spark an inquiry into what they say about the war and the way the United States is conducting it. "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Senator John Kerry, chair of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, on the day the documents were revealed. "Those policies are at a critical stage, and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent."

But two days later, the official meme about WikiLeaks was in full swing: the leaks had endangered American lives. Kerry swiftly changed his tune. "I think it's important not to over-hype or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents," Kerry said at a hearing on Afghanistan.

But what if what Daniel Ellsberg says about the leaker being a heroic whistleblower is true? What if, like Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers, Manning really was motivated by conscience to leak documents he believed the American people and the world deserved to see?

Then again, Manning-who has been charged only in connection with the release of the "Collateral Murder" video of a helicopter assault in Iraq-might not even be the leaker. Assange has not confirmed any dealings between WikiLeaks and Manning. In Manning's online chats with Adrian Lamo, the hacker turned government informant who turned him in, Manning claimed to have access to 260,000 classified State Department cables exposing "almost criminal political backdealings." Lamo asked Manning to list the "highlights" of what he gave to WikiLeaks. Among those described by Manning are documents on the US Joint Task Force at Guantánamo, which Manning called the "Gitmo papers," a video of an airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians and State Department cables-the information, Manning said, would cause Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "have a heart attack." Curiously, there was no mention of Afghan war documents. We may never know whether Manning leaked those documents. But what is clear from the chat logs is that Manning believed he was performing a public service by leaking what he did.

In one chat, Manning and Lamo are discussing Manning's passing of documents to WikiLeaks. Lamo asks Manning what his "endgame" is. Manning replies, "god knows what happens now," and adds, "hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms if not... than [sic] we're doomed as a species."

In one of his last chats with Lamo, reportedly on May 25, Manning says, "what if i were someone more malicious i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?"

"why didn't you?" Lamo asks.

"because it's public data," Manning responds. "information should be free it belongs in the public domain...if its out in the open... it should be a public good." He adds: "im crazy like that."

Within days, Manning was arrested.

© 2010 The Nation
Jeremy Scahill is the author [1] of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army [2]. He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

 


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Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/13


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« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2010, 06:01:11 am »

How Many Lives Will WikiLeaks Save?

As long as there's been war, American officials have fought against transparency. Could organizations like WikiLeaks finally turn the tables?


By Ray McGovern, AlterNet
Posted on August 19, 2010, Printed on August 19, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/147852/

If independent-minded Web sites, like WikiLeaks or, say, Consortiumnews.com, existed 43 years ago, I might have risen to the occasion and helped save the lives of some 25,000 U.S. soldiers, and a million Vietnamese, by exposing the lies contained in just one SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon.

I need to speak out now because I have been sickened watching the herculean effort by Official Washington and our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) to divert attention from the violence and deceit in Afghanistan, reflected in thousands of U.S. Army documents, by shooting the messenger(s) — WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning.

After all the indiscriminate death and destruction from nearly nine years of war, the hypocrisy is all too transparent when WikiLeaks and suspected leaker Manning are accused of risking lives by exposing too much truth.

Besides, I still have a guilty conscience for what I chose NOT to do in exposing facts about the Vietnam War that might have saved lives. The sad-but-true story recounted below is offered in the hope that those in similar circumstances today might show more courage than I was able to muster in 1967, and take full advantage of the incredible advancements in technology since then.

Many of my Junior Officer Trainee Program colleagues at CIA came to Washington in the early Sixties inspired by President John Kennedy’s Inaugural speech in which he asked us to ask ourselves what we might do for our country. (Sounds corny nowadays, I suppose; I guess I’ll just have to ask you to take it on faith. It may not have been Camelot exactly, but the spirit and ambience were fresh — and good.)

Among those who found Kennedy’s summons compelling was Sam Adams, a young former naval officer out of Harvard College. After the Navy, Sam tried Harvard Law School, but found it boring. Instead, he decided to go to Washington, join the CIA as an officer trainee, and do something more adventurous. He got more than his share of adventure.

Sam was one of the brightest and most dedicated among us. Quite early in his career, he acquired a very lively and important account — that of assessing Vietnamese Communist strength early in the war. He took to the task with uncommon resourcefulness and quickly proved himself the consummate analyst.

Relying largely on captured documents, buttressed by reporting from all manner of other sources, Adams concluded in 1967 that there were twice as many Communists (about 600,000) under arms in South Vietnam as the U.S. military there would admit.

Dissembling in Saigon

Visiting Saigon during 1967, Adams learned from Army analysts that their commanding general, William Westmoreland, had placed an artificial cap on the official Army count rather than risk questions regarding “progress” in the war (sound familiar?). It was a clash of cultures; with Army intelligence analysts saluting generals following politically dictated orders, and Sam Adams aghast at the dishonesty — consequential dishonesty.

From time to time I would have lunch with Sam and learn of the formidable opposition he encountered in trying to get out the truth.

Commiserating with Sam over lunch one day in late August 1967, I asked what could possibly be Gen. Westmoreland’s incentive to make enemy strength appear to be half what it actually was. Sam gave me the answer he had from the horse’s mouth in Saigon.

Adams told me that in a cable dated Aug. 20, 1967, Westmoreland's deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, set forth the rationale for the deception.

Abrams wrote that the new, higher numbers (reflecting Sam’s count, which was supported by all intelligence agencies except Army intelligence, which reflected the “command position”) "were in sharp contrast to the current overall strength figure of about 299,000 given to the press.”

Abrams emphasized, "We have been projecting an image of success over recent months" and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, "all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion."

No further proof was needed that the most senior U.S. Army commanders were lying, so that they could continue to feign “progress” in the war. Equally unfortunate, the crassness and callousness of Abrams’s cable notwithstanding, it had become increasingly clear that rather than stand up for Sam, his superiors would probably acquiesce in the Army's bogus figures. Sadly, that’s what they did.

CIA Director Richard Helms, who saw his primary duty quite narrowly as “protecting” the agency, set the tone. He told subordinates that he could not discharge that duty if he let the agency get involved in a heated argument with the U.S. Army on such a key issue in wartime.

This cut across the grain of what we had been led to believe was the prime duty of CIA analysts — to speak truth to power without fear or favor. And our experience thus far had shown both of us that this ethos amounted to much more than just slogans. We had, so far, been able to “tell it like it is.”

After lunch with Sam, for the first time ever I had no appetite for dessert. Sam and I had not come to Washington to “protect the agency.” And, having served in Vietnam, Sam knew first hand that thousands upon thousands were being killed in a feckless war.

What to Do?

I have an all-too-distinct memory of a long silence over coffee, as each of us ruminated on what might be done. I recall thinking to myself; someone should take the Abrams cable down to the New York Times (at the time an independent-minded newspaper).

Clearly, the only reason for the cable's SECRET/EYES ONLY classification was to hide deliberate deception by our most senior generals regarding “progress” in the war and deprive the American people of the chance to know the truth.

Going to the press was, of course, antithetical to the culture of secrecy in which we had been trained. Besides, you would likely be caught at your next polygraph examination. Better not to stick your neck out.

I pondered all this in the days after that lunch with Adams. And I succeeded in coming up with a slew of reasons why I ought to keep silent: a mortgage; a plum overseas assignment for which I was in the final stages of language training; and, not least, the analytic work — important, exciting work on which Sam and I thrived.

Better to keep quiet for now, grow in gravitas, and live on to slay other dragons. Right?

One can, I suppose, always find excuses for not sticking one's neck out. The neck, after all, is a convenient connection between head and torso, albeit the “neck” that was the focus of my concern was a figurative one, suggesting possible loss of career, money and status – not the literal “necks” of both Americans and Vietnamese that were on the line daily in the war.

But if there is nothing for which you would risk your career “neck” – like, say, saving the lives of soldiers and civilians in a war zone – your "neck" has become your idol, and your career is not worthy of that. I now regret giving such worship to my own neck.

Not only did I fail the neck test. I had not thought things through very rigorously from a moral point of view.

Promises to Keep?

As a condition of employment, I had signed a promise not to divulge classified information so as not to endanger sources, methods or national security. Promises are important, and one should not lightly violate them. Plus, there are legitimate reasons for protecting some secrets. But were any of those legitimate concerns the real reasons why Abrams’s cable was stamped SECRET/EYES ONLY? I think not.

It is not good to operate in a moral vacuum, oblivious to the reality that there exists a hierarchy of values and that circumstances often determine the morality of a course of action.

How does a written promise to keep secret everything with a classified stamp on it square with one’s moral responsibility to stop a war based on lies? Does stopping a misbegotten war not supersede a secrecy promise? Ethicists use the words “supervening value” for this; the concept makes sense to me.

And is there yet another value? As an Army officer, I had taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was also drummed into us that officers do not lie. (Pardon, if that has come to seem quaint or obsolete.)

How did the lying by the Army command in Saigon square with all that? Were/are generals exempt? Should we not call them out when we learn of deliberate deception that subverts the democratic process? Can the American people make good, informed decisions if they are lied to?

Would I have helped stop unnecessary killing by giving the New York Times the not-really-secret, SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Gen. Abrams? We’ll never know, will we? And I live with that. I could not take the easy way out, saying Let Sam Do It. Because I knew he wouldn’t. Sam chose to go through the established grievance channels and got the royal run-around, even after the Communist countrywide offensive at Tet in January-February 1968 proved beyond any doubt that his count of Communist forces was correct.

When the Tet offensive began, as a way of keeping his sanity, Adams drafted a caustic cable to Saigon saying, "It is something of an anomaly to be taking so much punishment from Communist soldiers whose existence is not officially acknowledged." But he did not think the situation at all funny.

Dan Ellsberg Steps In

Sam kept playing by the rules, but it happened that – unbeknown to Sam – Dan Ellsberg gave Sam's figures on enemy strength to the New York Times, which published them on March 19, 1968. Dan had learned that President Lyndon Johnson was about to bow to Pentagon pressure to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos and up to the Chinese border – perhaps even beyond.

Later, it became clear that his timely leak – together with another unauthorized disclosure to the Times that the Pentagon had requested 206,000 more troops – prevented a wider war. On March 25, Johnson complained to a small gathering, "The leaks to the New York Times hurt us. … We have no support for the war. … I would have given Westy the 206,000 men."

Ellsberg later copied the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top-secret history of U.S. decision-making on Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 – and, in 1971, he gave copies to the New York Times, Washington Post and other news organizations. In the years since, Ellsberg has had difficulty shaking off the thought that, had he released the Pentagon Papers sooner, the war might have ended years earlier with untold lives saved. Ellsberg has put it this way:

“Like so many others, I put personal loyalty to the president above all else – above loyalty to the Constitution and above obligation to the law, to truth, to Americans, and to humankind. I was wrong.”

And so was I wrong in not asking Sam for a copy of that cable from Gen. Abrams. Sam, too, eventually had strong too-late regrets. He doggedly pursued the matter, but within CIA, until he learned that Dan Ellsberg was on trial in 1973 for releasing the Pentagon Papers and was being accused of endangering national security by revealing figures on enemy strength.

Which figures? The same old faked numbers from 1967! "Imagine," said Adams, "hanging a man for leaking faked numbers," as he hustled off to testify on Dan's behalf. (The case against Ellsberg was ultimately thrown out of court because of abuses by the Nixon administration.)

After the war drew down, Adams was tormented by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled by the system, the entire left half of the Vietnam Memorial wall would not be there. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.

Sam Adams died prematurely at age 55 with nagging remorse that he had not done enough.

In a letter appearing in the (then independent-minded) New York Times on Oct. 18, 1975, John T. Moore, a CIA analyst who worked in Saigon and the Pentagon from 1965 to 1970, confirmed Adams's story after Sam told it in detail in the May 1975 issue of Harper's magazine. Moore wrote:

"My only regret is that I did not have Sam's courage. … The record is clear. It speaks of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, of outright dishonesty and professional cowardice. “It reflects an intelligence community captured by an aging bureaucracy, which too often placed institutional self-interest or personal advancement before the national interest. It is a page of shame in the history of American intelligence."

Tanks But No Thanks, Abrams

What about Gen. Creighton Abrams? Not every general gets the Army’s main battle tank named after him. The honor, though, came not from his service in Vietnam, but rather from his courage in the early days of his military career, leading his tanks through German lines to relieve Bastogne during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. Gen. George Patton praised Abrams as the only tank commander he considered his equal.

Sadly, as things turned out, 23 years later Abrams became a poster child for old soldiers who, as Gen. Douglas McArthur suggested, should “just fade away,” rather than hang on too long after their genuinely distinguished accomplishments. In May 1967, Abrams was picked to be Westmoreland’s deputy in Vietnam and succeeded him a year later. But Abrams could not succeed in the war, no matter how effective “an image of success” his subordinates projected for the media.

The “erroneous and gloomy conclusions of the press” that Abrams had tried so hard to head off proved all too accurate.

Ironically, when reality hit home, it fell to Abrams to cut back U.S. forces in Vietnam from a peak of 543,000 in early 1969 to 49,000 in June 1972 — almost five years after Abrams’s progress-defending cable from Saigon. By 1972, some 58,000 U.S. troops, not to mention two to three million Vietnamese, had been killed.

Both Westmoreland and Abrams had reasonably good reputations when they started out—but, when they finished, not so much.

And Petraeus?

Comparisons can be invidious, but Gen. David Petraeus is another Army commander who has wowed Congress with his ribbons, medals and merit badges. A pity he was not born early enough to have served in Vietnam where he might have learned some real-life hard lessons about the limitations of counterinsurgency theories.

Moreover, it appears that no one took the trouble to tell him that in the early Sixties we young infantry officers already had plenty of counterinsurgency manuals to study at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. There are many things one cannot learn from reading or writing manuals — as many of my Army colleagues learned too late in the jungles and mountains of South Vietnam.

Unless one is to believe, contrary to all indications, that Petraeus is not all that bright, one has to assume he knows that the Afghanistan expedition is a folly beyond repair. Thus, it is not encouraging that he regaled a Washington Post reporter yesterday (Sunday) in Kabul with stories about “incipient signs of [you guessed it!] progress in parts of the volatile south” and “nascent steps” to reintegrate low-level insurgents.

According to the Post, Petraeus has been “burrowing into operations here [Afghanistan] and traveling to the far reaches of this country,” and “has concluded that the U.S. strategy to win the nearly nine-year-old war is ‘fundamentally sound.’” Does this not sound very much like the approach taken by Gen. Abrams in his August 1967 cable from Saigon?

It is rubbish, and it is hard to believe Petraeus does not recognize it as such. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to believe that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (see below) shares that rosy view. This, of course, is precisely why the ground-truth of the documents released by WikiLeaks is so important. We need, among other things, to hear more from Eikenberry, and we will not get anything useful from some public speech.

Whistleblowers Galore

And it’s not just the WikiLeaks documents that have caused consternation inside the U.S. government. Investigators reportedly are rigorously searching for the source that provided the New York Times with the texts of two cables (of 6 and 9 November 2009) from Ambassador Eikenberry in Kabul. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama Ignores Key Afghan Warning.”] To its credit, even today’s far-less independent New York Times published a major story based on the information in those cables, while President Barack Obama was still trying to figure out what to do about Afghanistan. Later the Times posted the entire texts of the cables, which were classified TOP SECRET and NODIS (meaning “no dissemination” to anyone but the most senior officials to whom the documents were addressed).

The cables conveyed Eikenberry’s experienced, cogent views on the foolishness of the policy in place and, implicitly, of any eventual decision to double down on the Afghan War. (That, of course, is pretty much what the President ended up doing.) Eikenberry provided chapter and verse to explain why, as he put it, “I cannot support [the Defense Department’s] recommendation for an immediate Presidential decision to deploy another 40,000 here.”

Such frank disclosures are anathema to self-serving bureaucrats and ideologues who would much prefer depriving the American people of information that might lead them to question the government’s benighted policy—in this case toward Afghanistan.

As the New York Times/Eikenberry cables show, even today’s FCM may sometimes display the old spunk of American journalism and refuse to hide or fudge the truth, even if the facts might cause the people to draw “an erroneous and gloomy conclusion,” to borrow Gen. Abrams’s words of 43 years ago.

Polished Pentagon Spokesman

Remember “Baghdad Bob,” the irrepressible and unreliable Iraqi Information Minister at the time of the U.S.-led invasion? He came to mind as I watched Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell’s chaotic, quixotic press briefing on Aug. 5 regarding the WikiLeaks exposures. The briefing was revealing in several respects. Clear from his prepared statement was what is bothering the Pentagon the most. Here’s Morrell:

“WikiLeaks’s webpage constitutes a brazen solicitation to U.S. government officials, including our military, to break the law. WikiLeaks’s public assertion that submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law is materially false and misleading. The Department of Defense therefore also demands that WikiLeaks discontinue any solicitation of this type.”

Rest assured that the Defense Department will do all it can to make it “unsafe” for any government official or contractor to provide WikiLeaks with sensitive material. But it is contending with a clever group of hi-tech experts who have built in precautions to allow information to be submitted anonymously.

That the Pentagon will prevail anytime soon is far from certain.

Also, in a ludicrous attempt to close the barn door after tens of thousands of classified documents had already escaped, Morrell insisted that WikiLeaks give back all the documents and electronic media in its possession. Even the normally docile Pentagon press corps could not suppress a collective laugh, irritating the Pentagon spokesman no end. The impression gained was one of a Pentagon Gulliver tied down by terabytes of Lilliputians.

Morrell’s self-righteous appeal to the leaders of WikiLeaks to “do the right thing” was accompanied by an explicit threat that, otherwise, “We shall have to compel them to do the right thing.” His attempt to assert Pentagon power in this regard fell flat, given the realities.

Morrell also chose the occasion to remind the Pentagon press corps to behave themselves or face rejection when applying to be embedded in units of U.S. armed forces. The correspondents were shown nodding docilely as Morrell reminded them that permission for embedding “is by no means a right. It is a privilege.” The generals giveth and the generals taketh away.

It was a moment of arrogance — and press subservience — that would have sickened Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, not to mention the courageous war correspondents who did their duty in Vietnam.

Morrell and the generals can control the “embeds”; they cannot control the ether. Not yet, anyway.

And that was all too apparent beneath the strutting, preening, and finger waving by the Pentagon’s fancy silk necktie to the world. Actually, the opportunities afforded by WikiLeaks and other Internet Web sites can serve to diminish what few advantages there are to being in bed with the Army.


What Would I Have Done

Would I have had the courage to whisk Gen. Abrams’s cable into the ether in 1967, if WikiLeaks or other Web sites had been available to provide a viable opportunity to expose the deceit of the top Army command in Saigon? I cannot speak with certainty about “then.” What I can say is I am confident I would be able to summon that courage today, having made a serious effort to think through not only the technology aspects but—more important—issues regarding how one properly goes about prioritizing competing values.

The Pentagon can argue that using the Internet this way is not “safe, easy, and protected by law.” We shall have to watch how that argument fares in court. Meanwhile, this way of exposing information needed by people in a democracy will continue to be attractive — and, while perhaps not entirely “safe,” surely a lot easier than running the risk of being seen with someone from the New York Times.

From what I have learned over these past 43 years, supervening moral values can, and should, trump lesser promises. Today, I am confident I would “do the right thing,” were I to have access to an Abrams-like cable from Petraeus in Kabul.

And I believe that Sam Adams, if he were alive today, would enthusiastically agree that this would be not only the morally correct decision, but also the only one with half a chance of exposing the lies.

Footnote: In the Tradition of Sam Adams

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a group of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.

Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a lamp lighter exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences. The Washington, DC, presentations are held in the fall, usually before a large university audience; Dan Ellsberg, a charter member, is usually with us.

Sam Adams Annual Award recipients:

-Coleen Rowley of the FBI, in Washington, DC

-Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; in Copenhagen, Denmark

-Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; in Washington, DC

-Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; in NY City

-Sam Provance, former Sgt, US Army, truth teller about Abu Ghraib; in Washington, DC

-Frank Grevil, Maj., Danish Army Intelligence, imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s Prime Minister disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark

-Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who has exposed what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal;" in Washington, DC

In April, the SAAII nominating committee decided unanimously to give this year’s award to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Stay tuned for information on time and place for the presentation. Or check with Geoff Morrell, who is likely to know as soon as we decide.


Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147852/


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« Reply #25 on: August 27, 2010, 07:22:08 am »

Wikileaked CIA Memo Warns of American Jewish Extremists Exporting Terror Abroad

A CIA memo released by Wikileaks on Wednesday looks at America's long tradition of exporting violent extremism abroad, and its implications for U.S. foreign policy.


By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on August 26, 2010, Printed on August 27, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/147987/


The United States has a long and rich history of exporting terrorism abroad, according to a CIA memo released by Wikileaks on Wednesday. After noting several incidents in which American Muslims launched much-discussed attacks abroad, the analysts warned, “less attention has been paid to homegrown terrorism… exported overseas” by non-Muslim groups. 

The February 5 memo, marked “secret/ noforn” (the intelligence community’s designation for "not for release to foreign nationals"), was penned by the CIA’s “Red Cell,” a group tasked with “taking a pronounced ‘out-of-the-box’ approach” in order to “offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues.”<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

“Contrary to common belief,” noted the anonymous authors, “the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin.” According to the analysts, Jewish extremists “have supported and even engaged in violent acts against perceived enemies of Israel,” and “some Irish-Americans have long provided financial and material support for violent efforts to compel the United Kingdom to relinquish control of Northern Ireland.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

The report highlighted the consequences of American violence abroad. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American Jewish doctor from New York, “emigrated to Israel, joined the extremist group Kach, and killed 29 Palestinians during their prayers in the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.” The deadly attack “helped to trigger a wave of bus bombings by HAMAS in early 1995.” Kach was founded by Meier Kahane, an American Israeli rabbi best described as a “radical cleric.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

Violent extremism among American Jews isn’t a new phenomenon. Kahane also founded the Jewish Defense League (JDL), which the FBI listed as “a violent extremist Jewish organization.” According to a 1999 article in the Washington Report on Mideast Affairs, “A 1985 FBI study of terrorist acts in the United States since 1981 found 18 incidents initiated by Jews, 15 of the acts by the JDL.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

In a 1986 study of domestic terrorism, the Department of Energy concluded: “For more than a decade, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) has been one of the most active terrorist groups in the United States....Since 1968, JDL operations have killed 7 persons and wounded at least 22.”

<!--[endif]-->
Among the acts of terrorism attributed to the JDL was a deadly 1972 bombing of a New York talent agency that brought Russian performers to the U.S., and the 1985 assassination of a regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in California. According to the FBI, in 2001, months after the 9/11 attacks, two JDL members, Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel “were arrested by the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force for conspiring to build and place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, and the local office of Congressman Darrell Issa.”<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

Today, some American Jews support violent settlers in the Occupied Territories. In 2008, Israeli officials warned that a wave of terrorism could “spill over into Israel proper, where extremist settlers could target prominent left-wingers or even national leaders.” According to a report that year in the Jewish Journal, “The latest settler rampage came … after Israeli police evacuated settlers from a building in Hebron. Jewish settlers had moved into the building in March 2007 after an American Jewish businessman claimed to have bought it for them, but the Palestinian owner denied selling it.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

Last month, the New York Times reported that “at least 40 American groups … have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade.” While much of that is for peaceful purposes, “it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities” like “guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

The Times noted that the efforts are “effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.” “I am not happy about it,” a senior Israeli military commander in the West Bank told the Times when asked about American “contributions to a radical religious academy whose director has urged soldiers to defy orders to evict settlers.”<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

The Red Cell memo also highlighted the fact that Irish-Americans provided most of the financial support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the “troubles” that plagued Northern Ireland prior to the peace accords in 1994. According to the CIA’s analysis, “The US-based Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID), founded in the late 1960s, provided the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) with money that was frequently used for arms purchases.” The U.S. government only began cracking down on Irish Americans who provided “material support” for terrorists after the British exerted heavy pressure on Washington in the 1980s. <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the significance of the analysis to a Washington Post reporter, saying, “These sorts of analytic products -- clearly identified as coming from the Agency's 'Red Cell' -- are designed simply to provoke thought.”  <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

The analysts warned of the potential difficulties U.S. foreign-policy makers might encounter if America should become widely perceived to be a source of violent extremism. “If the US were seen as an exporter of terrorism,” they warned, “foreign partners may be less willing to cooperate with the United States on extrajudicial activities, including detention, transfer, and interrogation of suspects in third party countries.” More troubling is the prospect that the perception that the U.S. exports terror, combined with “US refusal to cooperate with foreign government ” might lead foreign intelligence agencies “to consider secretly extracting US citizens suspected of foreign terrorism from US soil” in much the same way the U.S government has done since 9/11. <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

A notable but wholly predictable omission from the memo is any mention of officially sanctioned support for international terror groups. The focus of the Red Cell memo is exclusively on individual extremists and radical groups. The analysts note that the “dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens.”  <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

But as Princeton University historian Arno Mayer wrote soon after the 9/11 attacks, “Since 1947 America has been the chief and pioneering perpetrator of ‘preemptive’ state terror, exclusively in the Third World and therefore widely dissembled.” Washington, he wrote, “has resorted to political assassinations, surrogate death squads and unseemly freedom fighters… [and] these ‘rogue’ actions worsened local political and economic conditions.” <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[endif]-->

It is unsurprising that those acts of terror aren’t included in a classified CIA document; but it is impossible to deny that they go a long way toward influencing foreign perceptions of America’s relationship with international terrorism.


Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. Drop him an email or Follow him on Twitter.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147987/
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« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2010, 01:11:49 pm »

5 Jaw-Dropping Stories in Wikileaks' Archives Begging for National Attention



By Nick Turse



September 3, 2010

http://www.alternet.org/story/148063/?page=5

Many files, beyond the Afghan War Diary and the 'Collateral Murder' video, continue to hide in plain sight on Wikileaks’ Web site.



In December 2008, I received an email message from Julian Assange -- the now world-famous public face of the whistleblower organization, Wikileaks. I don’t recall why or how it came about, but he invited me to join a counterinsurgency "analysis team" alongside a number of other academics, journalists and analysts.

The idea was to offer us embargoed material, much as Wikileaks recently did with the files of the Afghan War Diary -- a 6-year archive of tens of thousands of classified military documents, dealing with the U.S. war in Afghanistan -- giving the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel advance access to the documents. The reason for doing so was because Wikileaks had released a number of important U.S. military counterinsurgency manuals in the preceding months, but few reporters had shown much interest in them. Operating in a media environment where breaking the story is key and the fear of being scooped limits the amount of time and energy publications are willing to invest on documents sitting out in public, Assange carried out a trial run of a strategy that served Wikileaks exceptionally well this year.

I never wrote anything on the embargoed counterinsurgency manuals and the "analysis team" either petered out or gave up on me. But just as was the case then, today there are many files, beyond the much-publicized Afghan War Diary and the "Collateral Murder" video of a U.S. Army Apache attack helicopter mowing down people in Baghdad in 2007, that continue to hide in plain sight on Wikileaks’ Web site. Below are just five examples of the types of documents available at Wikileaks.org that deserve in-depth analysis and national media attention.

COIN of the Realm

Those counterinsurgency (COIN) manuals I read and then never wrote about, as well as other related materials, are still available at Wikileaks and have taken on ever-increasing importance as COIN has become the strategy du jour for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Wikileaks currently offers no fewer than eight core U.S. counterinsurgency manuals and handbooks as well as numerous supporting materials with special bearing on COIN operations. One of the most important is the U.S. Special Forces Southern Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Handbook of 2006 which was designed to provide "guidance to the commanders and staffs of combined-arms forces that have a primary mission of eliminating insurgent forces and discusses the nature of organized guerrilla units and underground elements and their supporters."

The handbook is notable for the fact that it is incredibly unsophisticated and rehashes lots of well-worn material on guerrillas and conventional efforts to defeat them. As a result, it explains a great deal about why and how the U.S. finds itself nearly a decade into a war against a rather rag-tag insurgency without exceptionally fervent popular support or the sponsorship of a major power.

Another COIN-related document of special interest on Wikileaks’ Web site is the September 2008 U.S. Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare manual. Defined as "
  • perations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations," unconventional warfare (UW) is just one of the panoply of other non-traditional types of operations, like irregular warfare and counterinsurgency, that the U.S. military both studies and carries out. At nearly 250 pages, the acronym-filled manual offers everything from a stilted primer on U.S. "national power" to guidance on when to begin conducting psychological operations in a UW campaign ("as early as possible") to obtuse and near-useless formulations that, in almost any other publication, would be red-lined by an editor. For example:

The information environment is the total of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information. The actors include leaders, decision makers, individuals, and organizations. Resources include the materials and systems employed to collect, analyze, apply, or disseminate information. The information environment is where humans and automated systems observe, orient, decide, and act upon information, and is therefore the principal environment of decision making. Even though the information environment is considered distinct, it resides within each of the four domains of air, land, sea, and space.

The manual is also filled with dubious assertions, like this one that people from the Indian tribes of the Great Plains, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to name a few locales, might dispute:

The United States avoids resorting to military force, preferring to wield all other instruments of power in the pursuit of national objectives and in the context of international competition and conflict. Therefore, diplomacy routinely blocks the need for the application of the military instrument of power.

Other U.S. Military Material

U.S. military documents found at Wikileaks’ Web site are not, however, limited to COIN-related material. There are, to take just two examples, the March 2004 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Camp Delta -- the main prison facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- and the U.S. military’s Rules of Engagement (ROE) for Iraq circa 2005, both of which are of potential use to reporters and scholars evaluating U.S. military treatment of noncombatants during the Bush years.

One very different but no less interesting report is the "Marine Corps Midrange Threat Estimate: 2005-2015," which was prepared by Marine Corps Intelligence’s Global Threats Branch. "Marine Corps forces will be challenged by emerging technical, military, and geopolitical threats; by thegrowing resourcefulness and the ingenuity of non-state actors and terrorist networks; and by natural disasters," begins the report. "The U.S. military must develop more agile strategies and adaptive tactics if it is to succeed in this complex environment." The Marines were changing, said the report, to do just that.

"The threat environment facing today’s Marines can be defined in three words: unconventional, unforeseen, and unpredictable," reads the document. Despite admitting that future threats were largely unforeseeable, Marine Intelligence still endeavored to forecast the likelihood of various intervention scenarios "based on an independent, data-driven methodology that assessed the conditions for possible Marine intervention or assistance in the selected countries," more specifically, "20 states of interest that represent a wide range of potential future security challenges for the Marine Corps."

For those interested in keeping score over the next five years, the Marine Corps’ report forecasts that counterterrorism missions by U.S. Marines in Albania, Bangladesh, Colombia and Saudi Arabia are "possible" -- the mid-range on the three-point scale of likelihood -- as are COIN missions in Liberia, Syria and Uzbekistan. Countries that rated "high" on the scale, when it came to the chance of conducting counterterrorism operations, included Ethiopia, Georgia, Mauritania, and Nigeria, while Iran and North Korea were rated as "high" when it came "major regional contingencies" -- that is full-scale wars.

Insider Information from the CIA

Wikileaks offers access to a number of documents prepared by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which, if not for the site, would likely be totally out of the reach of the very taxpayers who foot the bill for them. These files include everything from a report about the threat Al Qaeda poses to the United States, which was prepared by the Agency’s Counterterrorism Center’s Office of Terrorism Analysis in 2005 to a 10-page book listing the briefings about the U.S. use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (also known as torture) provided to members of Congress during 2009.

Another especially intriguing CIA document, with special bearing on the war in Afghanistan, was released by Wikileaks this spring and offers a window into the ways in which the United States thinks about allied countries, their people and the worth of their opinions.

Since taking office in January 2009, President Barack Obama has repeatedly escalated the war in Afghanistan, increasing troop numbers, boosting air strikes by unmanned drones, and sending more CIA agents and covert operators into the country. Over that same time period, opposition to the war in allied NATO countries has been on the rise, as Canada declared it would withdraw its 2,800 soldiers by the end of 2011 and the Dutch government collapsed under the weight of anti-war sentiment.

This spring, a month after the Dutch government fell, the CIA "Red Cell" -- an analytic team "charged by the Director of Intelligence with taking a pronounced 'out-of-the-box’ approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint" -- issued a report on "Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission" in Afghanistan. The document, produced in collaboration with an Agency "strategic communications" expert and analysts from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), outlines strategies for manipulating public opinion in France, Germany, and other allied NATO nations in order to further U.S. war aims in Afghanistan.

The report, classified confidential, and not surprisingly, not to be shown to foreign nationals, noted that public apathy in France and Germany -- where most citizens have paid scant attention to the war -- has allowed their national governments "to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)… despite the opposition of 80 percent of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments." The document cautions that increased ISAF casualties or press coverage of civilian carnage might catch the attention of the European public and increase hostility toward the war effort. The worse case scenario being that, as elections approach, the Dutch troop withdrawal might cause "politicians elsewhere [to] cite a precedent for 'listening to the voters.’"

To forestall the possibility that NATO nations will respond to public will, the CIA report suggests focused propaganda campaigns, dubbed an "iterative strategic communication program." For France, it suggests tailored messages focused on civilians and refugees that will "leverage French (and other European) guilt" to the advantage of the U.S. For Germans, increasing positive press about the military situation combined with scare tactics highlighting the possibility that defeat in Afghanistan might "heighten Germany’s exposure to terrorism, opium, and refugees" were offered as viable strategies. The CIA team also indicated that Afghan women could be deployed, as part of a concerted strategy, to manipulate public opinion in support of the war effort.

Foreign Government Documents

While classified U.S. government records may be the highest profile materials that appear on Wikileaks.org, they are far from alone. Other governments have also seen their documents, whether leaked directly to Wikileaks or reposted from elsewhere, exposed via the Web site. One example is a secret, 186-page database of settlements, written in Hebrew, that was compiled by the Israeli government. Writing about it earlier this year, Steven Aftergood, the head of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists explained:

The database provides a concise description of each of the dozens of settlements, including their location, legal status, population, and even the origins of their names, which are often Biblically inspired. Crucially, the database makes clear that unauthorized and illegal construction activity has taken place in most of the settlements.

Another example of the type of foreign government information available through Wikileaks is the Indian Army’s doctrine from 2004, which demonstrates that stilted language and statements of the obvious are not limited to U.S. military manuals. Consider this gem:

Offensive operations are a decisive form of winning a war. Their purpose is to attain the desired end state and achieve decisive victory. Offensive operations seek to seize the initiative from the enemy, retain it and exploit the dividends accruing from such actions. These operations end when the force either achieves the desired end state or reaches its culmination point.

Corporate Documents

Earlier this year, Aftergood castigated Wikileaks for posting everything from documents detailing the secret rituals of sororities to those shedding light on the shadowy rites of Masons and Mormons. "This is not whistleblowing and it is not journalism," he wrote. "It is a kind of information vandalism."

Wikileaks also offers a selection of internal corporate memos, manuals and emails, some of which intersect with matters of politics, law enforcement and/or national security issues. One prime example is an email reportedly sent by Anthony Jones, the vice president and senior site executive of mega-defense contractor Boeing's Huntsville, Alabama operations to plant employees in an effort to combat Obama administration efforts to make cuts to the company’s ground-based midcourse missile defense system. Offering subordinates talking points and contact information for Congressional representatives, the email even suggests that workers’ families might also become involved in the campaign. Missing from the note is even a mention of Boeing’s financial interests. The email, instead, frames all concerns in terms of U.S. national security.

Another corporate document that is available at Wikileaks.org is the Microsoft Global Criminal Compliance Handbook. In February of this year, Cryptome.org -- a Web site that, since the 1990s, has "welcome[d] documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance" -- posted the manual and was shut down by its hosting provider, Network Solutions, at Microsoft’s behest. Labeled "Confidential For Law Enforcement Use Only," the 22-page manual contains no trade secrets, but did allow Microsoft customers to learn just what information the software giant is retaining from their Hotmail and Xbox Live accounts and under what circumstances it will be turned over to law enforcement when presented with a subpoena, court order or search warrant. ("Xbox Live records every IP address you ever use to login and stores them for perpetuity," Wired.com’s Ryan Singel noted in an article published earlier this year.)

What Else Wikileaks Has to Offer

While most media outlets and bloggers alike, are seemingly content to wait for Wikileaks to unveil a second batch of documents -- roughly 15,000 in all -- about the Afghan war in the days ahead, other important materials are waiting for intrepid reporters and researchers to wade in and make something of the information.

While the chilling "Collateral Murder" video and the gargantuan Afghan War Diary have, quite rightly, garnered a tremendous amount of attention for Wikileaks.org this year, the site has long offered much more in the way of classified, shadowy or otherwise unavailable material from public and private sources. It remains a relatively untapped or at least undertapped treasure trove for journalists, bloggers and academic researchers willing to put in the time and effort.


Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso), which brings together leading analysts from across the political spectrum, will be published later this month.  He is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on at http://nickturse.tumblr.com/Tumblr, and on Facebook. His website is NickTurse.com.

 

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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2010, 05:35:18 am »

September 6, 2010
http://counterpunch.com/davidson09062010.html


Protecting the Public's Right to Know

Wikileaks and Shield Laws



By LAWRENCE DAVIDSON

Underneath the radar screen of the average American citizen, a legislative battle is going on for what is called a "Federal Shield Law." This is legislation that would "protect journalists from having to reveal anonymous sources when challenged by prosecutors in federal court." Actually, all but ten of the Unites States have such laws operating at the state level, but as of now there is no federal equivalent. Last year the House of Representatives passed a bill that would establish such a law and defined the categories of cases to which it would apply, but the Senate is yet to act. Why not? The answer to that is Wikileaks.


The Wikileaks Affair

It will be remembered that in July 2010 Wikileaks published on line tens of thousands of Defense Department documents, along with combat videos, concerning the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was "classified" material leaked to the web site by a whistle blower within the military. The documents show that the two wars were carried on with such loose rules of engagement as to result in massive civilian casualties. Before it released the documents, Wikileaks reviewed them as part of a "harm minimization process demanded by our source." As a result it withheld 15,000 documents. Nonetheless, as a former FBI attorney put it, the information that was released is "embarrassing, inconvenient and gets in the way of the war effort." Thus, ignoring Wikileaks own vetting process, the Defense Department accused the website of simply dumping classified material onto the web and thereby compromising the safety of U.S. troops and their allied informants, to say nothing of harming what is left of the U.S. reputation in the region.

These charges are to be taken seriously for one reason only. They come from an institution that can legally retaliate in a way that could have dire consequences for Wikileaks as well as that portion of the American public desiring to know the real consequences of policies pursued in their name. As to the substance of the charges themselves, there is much room for skepticism. The dumping charge is untrue on the face of it. Wikileaks did vet the material and that is why the 15,000 documents were withheld. We have only the Pentagon’s word for the allegation that the material made public endangered anyone. And the Pentagon, whose job in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be the endangerment of everyone, is not a source to be trusted. The only charge made against Wikileaks that everyone can agree on is that the organization embarrassed the American government.

Enter the Shield Law Effort

As all this was going on U.S. news organizations and their journalist employees were pushing hard for a passage of a federal Shield Law. All expectations were that the Senate would pass its equivalent of the House bill this Fall. It is to be noted that the bill that passed the House last year specifically exempted cases that had to do with both terrorism and national security. The presiding judge on any such case can remove the Shield Law protection. In addition the House bill also limits protection of the Shield Law in cases having to do with classified military secrets.

Then came the Wikileaks Affair. The Senate’s linking of the Weakileaks to the Shield Law seems puzzling. The website’s July posting clearly falls under the national security and military secrets rubrics. So Wikileaks would not warrant Shield Law protection under the proposed law. Nonetheless, those opposed to the bill are using the Wikileaks Affair as a focal point for renewed opposition to the Shield Law. Perhaps, from their perspective those in opposition, all whistle blowers are at best the grown up version of the despised tattletales of their youth, at worst they are all just traitors of one sort or another.

Supporters of the bill have responded in two ways. First, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, Charles Shumer, Democrat from New York, is drafting new wording that would explicitly distance the bill from Wikileaks or similar organizations. The second and more important response comes from the country’s news organizations and journalists. They are all lining up to loudly condemn Wikileaks. They claim that Wikileaks is just "a drop box for leaked documents." It just "publishes raw data without editorial oversight." Wikileaks employees are not authentic journalists because the real ones always "go through a period of consultation before publishing sensitive material." The fact that these assertions are demonstrably untrue seems not to matter to either the news organizations or the journalists. Both have participated in maligning Wikileaks as a politically expedient tactic aimed at saving the federal Shield Law. For the sake of that end, both groups are quite willing to throw Wikileaks to the wolves.

What is Really at Stake Here?

It is a sign of the superficiality of our politicians and the vested interest orientation of American news organizations and their journalists that they have seriously misinterpreted the importance of the Wikileaks Affair. This is not about who is or who is not a "real" journalist. It is about the status and future of what is suppose to be an "open" society wherein people are accurately informed about decisions and policies that actually or potentially impact their lives. It is about the right to know and the right not to be misled.

The reason that the Wikileaks’ action in July caused such an uproar within the U.S. government is because public support for both the actions that initiated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the policies that keep them going were and are based on lies and calculated omissions in public information. In other words, the administration of George W. Bush repeatedly misled the public and the administration of Barack Obama not only protects those responsible, but continues their practices. As a result millions have been killed and maimed and nothing of lasting positive significance has been gained. Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange have taken the position that this is not only morally wrong, but politically fatal for a country that purports to be an open democracy. The news organizations/journalists have taken the position that they don’t give a fig for this fatal threat as long as they can win protection in particular categories of cases that the government itself will define.

There is a lot at stake here. Yet it bears repeating that this entire affair has gone on below the radar screen of most citizens. The vast majority go along with what the government says even as they indulge in demeaning jokes about dishonest politicians. If they did not, things would be very different. The government uses the term "national security" and the vast majority of citizens, including the journalists, simply abdicate their right to know. They assume that these two almost magic words denote activities that save lives rather than destroy them. Along comes Wikileaks and it says no, Americans must know the consequences of the policies carried out by their government. America, here are the facts. The result, from the general public, has been a proverbial "whimper." No "bang" has been detected. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the British critic and lexicographer, once observed that "about things on which the public thinks long it commonly attains to think right." I greatly admire Johnson, but on this he was wrong. Unless manipulated into doing so by the mass media, the public rarely if ever thinks long about anything,. Sadly, this includes the right, much less the need, to know what is done in its name.

Lawrence Davidson is a Professor of History at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
 

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« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2010, 10:31:20 am »

Massive Cache of Iraq War Docs to Be Published by WikiLeaks


by Kim Zetter



Wired, September 10, 2010
http://uruknet.com/?p=m69656&hd=&size=1&l=e


A massive cache of previously unpublished classified U.S. military documents from the Iraq War is being readied for publication by WikiLeaks, a new report has confirmed.

The documents constitute the "biggest leak of military intelligence" that has ever occurred, according to Iain Overton, editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit British organization that is working with WikiLeaks on the documents.

The documents are expected to be published in several weeks.

Overton, who discussed the project with Newsweek, didn’t say how many documents were involved or disclose their origin, but they may be among the leaks that an imprisoned Army intelligence analyst claimed to have sent to WikiLeaks earlier this year.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been charged with improperly downloading and leaking classified information, disclosed to a former hacker in May that he had given WikiLeaks a database covering 500,000 events in the Iraq War between 2004 and 2009. Manning said the database included reports, dates, and latitude and longitude of events, as well as casualty figures.

A leak of this sort would vastly dwarf the cache of about 75,000 documents that WikiLeaks published in July from the Afghanistan War. That cache involved field reports from analysts who compiled information from informants and others on incidents and intelligence.

Overton said that his group is working on the new cache of documents with major television networks and print-media outlets in several countries, including the United States, to produce documentaries and stories based on them. The collaboration is similar to what was done in July when WikiLeaks worked with three news outlets — The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel — to simultaneously publish stories on the Afghan War logs.

Overton told Newsweek that the media organizations working on the new Iraq documents have taken into consideration the controversy that surrounded the publication of the Afghan War logs.

WikiLeaks, which published unredacted raw documents on its website at the same time the news outlets published their stories, was criticized by the Defense Department and others for potentially disclosing identifying information that could put the lives of informants and their families in danger. There has been no evidence to date, however, that anyone has suffered actual harm due to the documents.

"We are hugely aware that this is an issue, and we’re taking it very seriously," Overton said, noting that his organization would not be publishing raw documents but would instead be mining them for information for stories.

The media organizations working with WikiLeaks will each be making financial contributions to the production costs, according to Overton. It’s not clear if this means the media organizations will contribute money to WikiLeaks or will simply be pooling money to produce joint media projects and stories related to the documents.

Overton said he would not be answering any more questions about the issue, when contacted by Threat Level for clarification.

Newsweek has quoted anonymous sources who say that some of the most-disturbing information in the documents relates to the abusive treatment of detainees by Iraqi security forces.

The Defense Department did not respond to a request for comment from Threat Level.

 
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« Reply #29 on: September 15, 2010, 06:24:28 am »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2010
5:13 AM
 CONTACT: Courage to Resist [1]
http://www.couragetoresist.org/
David Solnit: david@couragetoresist.org [2]
Jeff Paterson: Jeff@couragetoresist.org [3]

 

 

Daniel Ellsberg Calls for Release of Wikileaks “Whistleblower” Army Pfc. Bradley Manning

Ellsberg, CIA Analyst, Army Colonel and US Diplomat Kick Off US Campaign to Free Manning in Oakland on Sept. 16


Michael Moore to Broadcast Event Live


Nationwide - September 14 - Daniel Ellsberg helped end the war in Vietnam when he leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1970. Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged “whistleblower” accused of releasing documents and combat video showing the gunning down of Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists to Wikileaks. Manning was not born when Ellsberg blew the whistle on the Vietnam War, but Ellsberg says, “Soldiers sworn oath is to defend and support the Constitution. Bradley Manning has been defending and supporting our Constitution."


On Sept. 16 at Oakland’s Humanist Hall, Ellsberg, US Army Col. Ann Wright (ret.), a former US diplomat to Afghanistan and Ray McGovern, senior CIA analyst (ret.) will kick off of nation-wide series of support events for Manning [4] in 18 US cities. They will call for Manning’s release and for honesty in United States war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event, organized by Courage to Resist, starts at 7pm in the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland, California.


Former senior CIA Analyst McGovern, who prepared daily security briefings for both President’s Reagan and George H.W. Bush, says combat video of civilians being machine-gunned should be released: “And it is that video that Private Manning is accused of giving to Wikileaks.” In contrast he says,  “Our Secretary of Defense had not one word of regret about the dozen human beings, including two employees of Reuters, murdered on that fateful day in July 2007—or about the now-fatherless children who were seriously wounded.”

"To suggest that 'lives were put in danger' by the release of the WikiLeaks documents is the most cynical of statements,” says Michael Moore, who will be broadcasting the event live at www.MichaelMoore.com [5] on Thursday Sept. 16 from 7-9pm (Pacific Standard Time). He continues, “Lives were put in danger the night we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, an act that had nothing to do with what the Bradley Mannings of this country signed up for: to defend our people from attack. It was a war based on a complete lie and lives were not only 'put in danger,' hundreds of thousands of them were exterminated. For those who organized this massacre to point a finger at Bradley Manning is the ultimate example of Orwellian hypocrisy,"  The combat videos and other documents released by Wikileaks at www.collateralmurder.com [6] led to the arrest of Manning in May 2010, now held in Quantico, Virginia. If convicted, he faces up to 52 years in prison and is currently being held in solitary confinement.

###

Courage to Resist is motivated by a "people power" strategy that we believe can weaken the pillars that maintain war and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. By supporting GI resistance, counter-recruitment, and draft resistance, we hope to diminish the number of troops available for unjust war and occupation.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/09/14


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« Reply #30 on: September 16, 2010, 06:10:13 am »

South Asia
Sep 17, 2010 
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI17Df01.html 
 

'Death to America, death to Obama'


By Nick Turse

In July, the whistle-blower organization Wikileaks made a six-year archive of tens of thousands of classified military documents, dealing with the United States war in Afghanistan, available on the Internet.

They also gave advance access to a select few publications, including the New York Times and the British Guardian. In its initial coverage, the Times led with allegations contained in the documents that America's ally, Pakistan, allowed members of its spy service to meet and conspire with members of the Taliban.

The Guardian, instead, primarily focused on the unreported killings of Afghan civilians, beginning its lead article by declaring: "A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents."

In the first days after the story broke, Wikileaks' website was nearly impossible to navigate, as web-users flocked to take a look at the documents. The Internet was then abuzz with talk of crowd-sourced analysis and yet, weeks later, in-depth investigations of other key contents of the archive that were initially ignored have been few and far between - with most media outlets and bloggers seemingly content to wait for Wikileaks to unveil a second batch of Afghan war documents - roughly 15,000 in all - in the days or weeks ahead.

Much, however, remains to be learned from the first cache of files that comprise Wikileaks' "Afghan War Diary" - from the fact that Pakistani military personnel apparently were present at a forward operating base in Afghanistan during an incident of cultural insensitivity that a US officer called "regrettable", to the effects of the war on ordinary Afghans, and to the mindset of US officers leading America's troops in the war-ravaged country. What follows are just four examples of the type of material that await those willing to wade deeper into the files on Wikileaks' website.

'Death to Obama'
Even a cursory examination of the Wikileaks files reveals the existence of a vibrant and vocal Afghan protest movement - above and beyond recent protests against actual and proposed Koran-burning in the United States - typified by street demonstrations against various strata of the Afghan government as well as the United States and its coalition allies.

For example, on December 4, 2009, US troops at Combat Outpost (COP) Michigan, in the center of the Pech River Valley and near the mouth of the Korengal Valley, fired an anti-tank missile, known as a TOW, at five Afghans who were spotted in what had been a past enemy fighting position.

The documents refer to the men as both LNs, or local nationals, and AAFs (anti-Afghan forces) and mention weapons being spotted, but not hostile actions, or even intent, being evidenced. Soon after the strike, an Afghan man wounded by the missile was brought to the COP for treatment, but died. Then the corpse of another victim of the strike was brought to the outpost.

Later that day, 100 Afghan locals massed and were "blocking the road by [the] Kandigal Bazzar" using a boulder, concertina wire and fires as their barricade. A spot report noted, "Protesters are organized and are moving toward COP Michigan. Crowd has grown larger and now has a Taliban flag."

As the "LNs" converged on the outpost, US-allied Afghan troops ineffectually fired warning shots to disperse the crowd. US troops manning the COP's guard towers then stood down as local elders were called in to help diffuse the situation.

Meanwhile, according to US Army documents, 100 "LNs [we]re chanting ‘Death to America' ‘Death to Obama'." Afghan troops would later inform the US that the protest actually concerned two Afghan children from Ahmar Village in Konar province who were killed a day earlier by long-range fire. The US disputed the claim, alleging no children had been slain and instead chalking it up to Taliban propaganda.

The December 2009 "Death to Obama" incident is, however, only one of hundreds of Afghan protests, demonstrations and riots mentioned in the Wikileaks document dump. A glance at just some of the other protests that same month - the most recent in the Wikileaks files - gives an indication of both popular Afghan discontent and a willingness to take to the streets to demand action.

On December 8, for example, Afghans who were, according to US documents, "protesting the fact that the representative they voted for to represent them in Kabul was not allowed to go, but someone else was picked to represent them that they did not vote for", blocked road traffic to air their grievances.

On December 10, 400 to 500 Afghans in Kabul assembled to protest in the name of peace and in support of war victims as well as against the "infringement of human rights in Afghanistan", say US documents. Peaceful protests by civilians in Nanghahar province, who believed their votes in a provincial council election were not counted, also took place on December 21.

On December 23 near COP Zormat in Paktia province, local Afghans staged a protest against a recent coalition forces' military operation in the area. On December 27, according to a US report, a crowd of 400 converged on the governor's compound in Nanghahar province shouting "death to the governor".

The protesters - whom the Americans classified as "cranky" but "non-violent" - were allegedly upset that their "votes weren't counted" in provincial elections. Later, US reports recast the demonstration as "about street vendors being outlawed and them wanting either new jobs or street vending legalized". While on December 30, Afghan civilians gathered in Jalalabad City to protest the alleged killings of civilians, in Konar province, by coalition forces.

'Smoking hash'
While rampant opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has regularly made headlines over the course of the US occupation, coverage of drug use by Afghans has been largely confined to articles about the staggering scope of the drug problem. (It has, in fact, been estimated that there are approximately one million Afghans addicted to opium, heroin and other drugs.)

Wikileaks' documents, however, offer a more intimate view of war-weary Afghans' efforts at self-medication, just who is involved with drugs and US attitudes toward drug use by locals.

A December 2009 document, for example, notes that previous searches of the quarters of Afghan forces based at Forward Operating Base Costell had "turned up drugs". Nor was this an isolated incident. "During the inspection of the old district center the PRT [Provincial Reconstruction Team] wandered into a room full of ANP [Afghan National Police] smoking hash," reads one December 2006 document.

It continues: "ANP uniforms were found around the compound thrown into trash heaps or stashed in containers. The police stated that wearing a uniform was a death sentence."

When a US combat patrol entered Bashikheyl village in October 2007, "the patrol leader noticed several (5 or 6) hypodermic needles scattered around on the ground." An analyst comment inserted in the documents reads:
It is likely that these needles were used to shoot heroine [sic]. Generally poor villagers smoke hashish or smoke opium-laced cigarettes. The fact that these were probably used for heroine [sic] may suggest ACM [anti-coalition militia] presence as the locals do not have the money to buy it.
Another unrelated report noted that a local official was "usually high on drugs and does not work well with the community".

'They don't have the balls to fight ... they hide like women'
Documents released by Wikileaks also outline the ways in which the US military attempts to influence foreign civilians through propaganda, misinformation, and tough talk that can descend into adolescent name-calling, macho boasts and outright misogyny.

When US troops endeavored to aid allied Afghan forces in the "seizure and occupation" of the town of Musa Qaleh, they came up with a series of propaganda "talking points" that offer a window onto US methods of suasion and influence.

The list begins by stating that US troops have arrived at the behest of the Afghan government and then offers a highly dubious assessment of that government as "strong and ... committed to governance, reconstruction, and the well being of all Afghans". Equally questionable is a later assertion that the Afghan security forces "are well-trained and are here to protect your rights and enforce the laws of Afghanistan".

Yet another talking point seemingly seeks to diminish the importance of the US military's iron-clad obligations under international law to respect the lives and welfare of civilians, and to abdicate, partially at least, its responsibility for protecting non-combatants, while admitting to the frequent killing of civilians.

It reads, "[t]he Taliban insurgents are cowards and hide behind innocent Afghans to attack ANSF and ISAF Forces. Countless of [sic] innocent fellow Afghans are killed each week by these senseless acts of violence."

Lieutenant Jonathan Brostrom, a young army officer, was even more blunt when addressing Afghan elders at a shura at Bella Outpost in Nuristan province, according to US documents. "I ... told them that they need to get the AAF out of their village ... They need to give the Taliban the option of leaving their village, tuning themselves in, or go fight the CF [coalition forces] like a man and die," wrote Brostrum, who was killed in a Taliban attack on another outpost a few months later.

The elders said they would like to help the Coalition Forces, but that the guerrillas were too numerous and the village had no weapons to counter a large armed force. Despite their powerlessness, Brostrom insisted the locals risk their lives and those of their families for his men and mission.

He also, despite the fact that his commander and chief had touted ensuring women's rights as a key feature of the US occupation, lapsed into sexist braggadocio to make his point. "I told them that the AAF are taking advantage of their hospitality and are cowards for hiding in their village and that they are weak and dont [sic] have the balls to fight the Coalition Forces in the open, they hide like women."

'They ... were making obscene gestures'
Having put an increasing emphasis on counter-insurgency over the past several years, the US military has supposedly invested a great deal in demonstrating greater cultural sensitivity toward Afghans. Documents from December 2009 suggest, however, that much is still lacking in their efforts. During the middle of the month, a female US Air Force dog handler conducted a search of a mosque at a joint US-Afghan forward operating base.

"Following the search, the ABP [Afghan Border Police], ASG [Afghan Security Guards] and Afghan interpreters became very angry that a female dog team had entered the mosque," say US documents outlining the incident. With his allies up in arms, the US commander was forced to engage in immediate damage control, meeting with not only representatives of the Afghan security forces but also, according to the documents, members of the Pakistani military at the base, to offer apologies, while also purchasing "a cow to sacrifice in order to purify the mosque".

At the same time, other US personnel began taking steps to limit the fallout if news of the incident spread outside the base to local villages. The air force dog handler was, apparently, reassigned and swiftly sent away from the base, while all US personnel were ordered to be retrained in regard to "respect and dignity for the local populace, local their customs and beliefs, and acceptable actions involving [sic] in and around a mosque."

Allied Afghan troops are not alone in their anger at US actions. One leader at a shura, according to US documents, "stated that after every coalition operation, the results have been negativea'. He went on to mention that "people have been hurt by this". Others spoke up too. An excerpt from a US Army summary of the goings-on at the gathering reads:
The shura leaders stated that the expenses of the operation could have been better spent on the people. The shura leader stated that over the last three months of operations, there have been no accomplishments. When asked about the INS [insurgent] presence he stated there are only 6 TB, [Taliban, but] 100 thieves, 100 killers, and 100 drug users in the valley. The animosity and fighting in Tagab has been ongoing for 35 years and people are leaving the valley because of the fighting.
United States documents also note that the local population living near Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province regularly shoot at coalition aircraft as did one civilian, on July 25, 2009, "who was upset at aircraft conducting multiple turns and flying low over his residence".

He wasn't the first (nor no doubt, will he be the last) to express anger at foreigners in the skies of his homeland. For example, a pilot's debriefing report following another flyover, reads, "White and black flags were observed on LN house rooftops. Over 20 households were observed with the flags and local populace seemed to be angry at our pressence [sic]. They tried throwing rocks and were making obscene gestures."

What's left at Wikileaks?
In addition to insights into Afghan activism and drug use, American military methods, propaganda and cultural faux pas as well as the Afghan response to them, there's much more to be learned from the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary.

While the Guardian did an admirable job in focusing on civilian casualties catalogued in the files, there is still a great deal of material in the document dump about the everyday suffering of ordinary Afghans and the day-in-day-out hardship of living under foreign occupation - subjects that have been much neglected despite almost a decade of news coverage of the American war in Afghanistan.

With any luck, to whichever publications Wikileaks chooses to release its next 15,000 documents on the Afghan War, they will dig a little deeper and mine the files for material on the everyday effects of the war on those who disproportionately bear the brunt of it - Afghan civilians. This is the real secret story of the war that, even at this late date, has yet to be investigated in any exhaustive or comprehensive sense.

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso Books), which brings together leading analysts from across the political spectrum, has just been published. He discusses why withdrawal from Afghanistan hasn't been on the American agenda in Timothy MacBain's latest TomCast audio interview, which can be accessed by clicking here or downloaded to your iPod here. Turse is currently a fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook. His website is NickTurse.com.

 
 
 
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« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2010, 06:27:08 am »

WikiLeaks Prepares Next Big Document Dump,
While Media and Pentagon Continue Smear Campaign Against Its Founder


by Scott Thill



September 22, 2010

http://uruknet.info/?p=m70024&hd=&size=1&l=e

AlterNet | Report

Attacks on Wikileaks are really an attack on free speech says its founder, Julian Assange.

Scheduled for release in the next few weeks in concert with international and American media outlets, Wikileaks' data dump on Iraq could prove to be just as explosive as its download on Afghanistan.

According to Newsweek, the Iraq collection is already three times larger than the 92,000 Afghan field reports made public in Wikileaks' last release, and perhaps the largest in history. It predictably details American military participation in bloody conflicts as well as detainee abuse conducted by Iraqi security forces. It's unclear at this point if its documents were submitted by Private First Class Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. military intelligence analyst who was charged in July with leaking the chilling Collateral Murder video to Wikileaks. Manning is already looking at over 50 years in prison for Uniform Code of Military Justice violations of "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source."

After Collateral Murder went viral online and in real-time, Manning's whistle-blowing dominated the news cycle and even prompted U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen to clumsily claim that Wikileaks "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier." Although he may have been speaking only of Manning, Mullen's damning statement has yet to be fortified with hard evidence. The move swamped the American government and military with further shame, compounding the shame of pursuing two simultaneous wars that retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright argued "have violated domestic and international law, violations that have been fully exposed in the WikiLeaks documents."

But the details, as always, are bedeviling. Mullen and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates openly admitted that Wikileaks' Afghanistan revelations had no strategic bearing on the war's prosecution. That added firepower to founder Julian Assange's claims that the military's beef with his organization has nothing to do with data at all. It has only to do with free speech, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

That pulls the case against Wikileaks into the less sexy orbit of mundane censorship, rather than glamorous tactical compromises or even subconscious desires to bloody young soldiers for no good reason. Which, like Iraq, is a quagmire. Because in a century dominated by the Internet and its light-speed exchanges of information, the concept much less the enforcement of keeping the world in the dark about exorbitantly expensive wars -- over a conservative $1 trillion and counting! -- makes zero sense. In fact, it is costing us more than we can afford. It could cost us the First Amendment altogether.

Recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor predicted that the Wikileaks controversy will inevitably lead the high court to once again weigh in on the problematic tightrope between national security and the First Amendment. The last momentous clash came in 1971, after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in New York Times Co. v. United States that the Nixon administration didn't have sufficient burden of proof to suspend publication of the Pentagon Papers, an exhaustive U.S. Department of Defense history of the Vietnam War compiled by the Rand Corporation. Leaked by Rand employee and ex-Marine Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times and others, the Pentagon Papers proved without much doubt that the American government had zero problem with purposefully lying to its people for the sake of a doomed war that greatly enriched only a few while destroying the lives of millions.

But our temporal dislocation is alarming. Back then, it took a major newspaper like the the New York Times to both publish and defend the Pentagon Papers in the Supreme Court. These days, the New York Times is better known for allowing politically compromised reporters like Judith Miller to manufacture lies to sway public approval for Vietnam 2.0 in Iraq. Miller's most egregious transgression -- helping to out intelligence agent Valerie Plame to discredit due criticism of the Bush administration's foregone conclusion -- fits our post-ironic epoch like a bulletproof vest. Instead of unpacking government's criminal element and protecting whistle-blowing in the public interest, mainstream media in the 21st century are content to betray that public interest for the benefit of those whose hands really are drowning in the blood and capital of innocents.

It is left to online outlets like Wikileaks to not only reboot journalism by informing a vastly uninformed American public, but also fortify that public's homegrown First Amendment with every data dump. The fact that Wikileaks, and its inevitably replicating clones, might have to defend freedom of speech in front of Sotomayor and the Supreme Court is alarming when you consider that Assange isn't even American. He's Australian, and his affiliated transparency champions are a global group armed with information-stuffed servers stashed across the planet. Through their essential leaks and international makeup, they understand that safeguarding so-called national security at the expense of international truth and transparency is a loser's game in this still-new century.

Which is not to say that the Supreme Court might not disagree, given the chance. It's not radical to suggest that judges like Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and John Roberts might be partial to protecting national security at the expense of the First Amendment. Sotomayor can legally give no indication where she stands on the issue until it arises before the Supreme Court, and good luck getting anything out of Elena Kagan. Like the New York Times, the Supreme Court could side with the transitory powers-that-be over what should be immutable American constitutional rights. But for how long?

Millennia of human culture have weighed in on the issue and the verdict is pretty clear: Information is contagious, and cannot be contained with any credible strength for long. Mash in a globally networked Internet, whose design and purpose -- military in origin -- expressly mandates extensive information transmission. You're not going to stop data dumps by Wikileaks, or anyone else, from occurring forever. Unless of course, you shut everything down and pull the plug on democracy.

Like us, information wants to be free, and mostly because we need it to survive as a species. Without it today, we're drones on autopilot, until we're arbitrarily activated to wreak collateral damage on digital abstractions we once considered fellow humans. We shouldn't cross that technocultural line; we should reinscribe it. We can start by defending those, like Wikileaks, who are redefining both journalism and free speech in an internetworked age.

Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others. 

 

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