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Wikileaks release Afghan "war logs" in co-operation with mainstream media

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The Wikileaks has released a mass of "secret" material of the United State's involvement in Afghanistan in the five years from 2004 to 2009.

 

The material was scrutinised in co-operation with the main stream newspapers The Guardian and the New York Times, and the German magazine the Der Spiegel, who cross referenced the leaked material with published material to check the veracity of the material.

 

The material makes explicit the accusation that the Taliban is recieving support including w:man portable anti-aircraft missiles from Iran, and Pakistan. However, despite being condemnded by the authoritis in the United States, commentators have said that nothing in the released material would come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the war.

 

http://www.wikileaks.org/

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Guest WikiLeaks

The Afghan War Diary is an extraordinary secret compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. The reports describe the majority of lethal military actions involving the United States military. They include the number of persons internally stated to be killed, wounded, or detained during each action, together with the precise geographical location of each event, and the military units involved and major weapon systems used.

 

The Afghan War Diary is the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war. The deaths of tens of thousands is normally only a statistic but the archive reveals the locations and the key events behind each most of these deaths. We hope its release will lead to a comprehensive understanding of the war in Afghanistan and provide the raw ingredients necessary to change its course.

 

Most entries have been written by soldiers and intelligence officers listening to reports radioed in from front line deployments. However the reports also contain related information from Marines intelligence, US Embassies, and reports about corruption and development activity across Afghanistan.

 

Each report consists of the time and precise geographic location of an event that the US Army considers significant. It includes several additional standardized fields: The broad type of the event (combat, non-combat, propaganda, etc.); the category of the event as classified by US Forces, how many were detained, wounded, and killed from civilian, allied, host nation, and enemy forces; the name of the reporting unit and a number of other fields, the most significant of which is the summary - an English language description of the events that are covered in the report.

 

The Diary is available on the web and can be viewed in chronological order and by by over 100 categories assigned by the US Forces such as: "escalation of force", "friendly-fire", "development meeting", etc. The reports can also be viewed by our "severity" measure-the total number of people killed, injured or detained. All incidents have been placed onto a map of Afghanistan and can be viewed on Google Earth limited to a particular window of time or place. In this way the unfolding of the last six years of war may be seen.

 

The material shows that cover-ups start on the ground. When reporting their own activities US Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves. The reports, when made about other US Military units are more likely to be truthful, but still down play criticism. Conversely, when reporting on the actions of non-US ISAF forces the reports tend to be frank or critical and when reporting on the Taliban or other rebel groups, bad behavior is described in comprehensive detail. The behavior of the Afghan Army and Afghan authorities are also frequently described.

 

The reports come from US Army with the exception most Special Forces activities. The reports do not generally cover top-secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations. However when a combined operation involving regular Army units occurs, details of Army partners are often revealed. For example a number of bloody operations carried out by Task Force 373, a secret US Special Forces assassination unit, are exposed in the Diary -- including a raid that lead to the death of seven children.

 

This archive shows the vast range of small tragedies that are almost never reported by the press but which account for the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries.

 

We have delayed the release of some 15,000 reports from total archive as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source. After further review, these reports will be released, with occasional redactions, and eventually, in full, as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.

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Guest Virgil

Bravo WikiLeaks! There is the Government everyone watches on tv and then there is a a vast Secret Government with a web composed of military and intelligence agencies and the largest corporations so sprawling and unaccountable that nobody even knows what it does?

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Guest Desert Rat

This individual who released these documents should be placed on the FBI's most wanted list. There is a major traitor that is trying to play God and pass judgment on all the men and women who are risking their lives for US!

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Guest LAW

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 7/26/2010

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

 

1:07 P.M. EDT

 

MR. GIBBS: Yes, sir.

 

Q Thanks, Robert. Two questions, a few on WikiLeaks. What was the President’s reaction once he heard about the leaking --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I remember talking to the President sometime last week after discussions with news organizations that these stories were coming. Look, I think our reaction to this type of material, a breach of federal law, is always the same, and that is whenever you have the potential for names and for operations and for programs to be out there in the public domain, that it -- besides being against the law -- has a potential to be very harmful to those that are in our military, those that are cooperating with our military, and those that are working to keep us safe.

 

Q Well, I mean, was he personally angered by this? Did he demand answers or an investigation?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, there is an ongoing investigation that predated the end of last week into leaks of highly classified secret documents.

 

Q Does the White House believe that the documents raise doubts about whether Pakistan is a reliable partner in fighting terrorism?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, let’s understand a few things about the documents. Based on what we've seen, I don't think that what is being reported hasn’t in many ways been publicly discussed either by you all or by representatives of the U.S. government for quite some time. We have certainly known about safe havens in Pakistan; we have been concerned about civilian casualties for quite some time -- and on both of those aspects we've taken steps to make improvements.

 

I think just the last time General Petreaus testified in front of the Senate there was a fairly robust discussion about the historical relationships that have been had between the Taliban and Pakistan’s intelligence services.

 

Q So no doubts about Pakistan’s trustworthiness or reliability?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no, look, I think the President was clear back in March of 2009 that there was no blank check for Pakistan, that Pakistan had to change the way it dealt with us, it had to make progress on safe havens. Look, it’s in the interest of the Pakistanis because we certainly saw last year those extremists that enjoy the safe haven there turning their eye on innocent Pakistanis. That's why you’ve seen Pakistan make progress in moving against extremists in Swat and in South Waziristan.

 

But at the same time, even as they make progress, we understand that the status quo is not acceptable and that we have to continue moving this relationship in the right direction.

 

Q One more quickly on this. What do you think this says about the ability of the government to protect confidential information if a breach like this can occur?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think there is no doubt that this is a concerning development in operational security. And as we said earlier, it is -- it poses a very real and potential threat to those that are working hard every day to keep us safe.

 

Q On the WikiLeaks, one of the questions that this raises is whether it makes sense for the United States to continue to give billions of dollars of aid to Pakistan if they are helping the Taliban. And I’m wondering if that's a concern and what you think.

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, as I said a minute ago, on March 27, 2009, the President said, “After years of mixed results we will not and cannot provide a blank check. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders.”

 

Again, I am not going to stand here on July the 26th and tell you that all is well. I will tell you that we have made progress in moving this relationship forward; in having the Pakistanis, as I said earlier, address the issue of safe havens, the issue of extremists operating in the country by undertaking operations, again, in Swat and in South Waziristan -- because over the course of the past more than year and a half, what the Pakistanis have found is that the extremists that once enjoyed complete save haven in parts of their country now threaten their country. So they’ve taken steps. We want to continue to work with them to take more steps.

 

We understand that we are in this region of the world because of what happened on 9/11; that ensuring that there is not a safe haven in Afghanistan by which attacks against this country and countries around the world can be planned. That’s why we’re there and that’s why we’re going to continue to make progress on this relationship.

 

Q A blank check is one thing, but is there enough progress there to justify the aid that is being given to them?

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, look, we -- I think it was -- even if you look at some of the comments the Secretary of State made just last week in Pakistan, our criticism has been relayed both publicly and privately and we will continue to do so in order to move this relationship forward.

 

Q And I know you’re unhappy about the leak, but could you talk about how that part of the issue was characterized in the memos and whether you think it’s accurate?

 

MR. GIBBS: Which --

 

Q In terms of Pakistan’s role.

 

MR. GIBBS: Look, again, I would point you to -- as I said a minute ago, I don’t know that what is being said or what is being reported isn’t something that hasn’t been discussed fairly publicly, again, by named U.S. officials and in many news stories. I mean, The New York Times had a story on this topic in March of 2009 written by the same authors.

 

Q Robert back on WikiLeaks. A couple of times now, you’ve said in the last couple of moments that a lot of this information is not really new, that named U.S. government officials have said some of this same information publicly.

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I’m not saying it’s -- yes, I said there weren’t any new revelations in the material.

 

Q So how does it harm national security if we’ve known this already?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, because you’ve got -- it’s not the content as much as it is their names, their operations, there’s logistics, there are sources -- all of that information out in a public way has the potential, Ed, to do harm. If somebody is cooperating with the federal government and their name is listed in an action report, I don't think it’s a stretch to believe that that could potentially put a group or an individual at great personal risk.

 

Q But is part of the concern as well that this is going to embarrass government officials because maybe the war in Afghanistan is a lot worse off than this administration and the previous administration let on?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, Ed, that's why I would go back to my first point, which is in terms of broad revelations, there aren’t any that we see in these documents. And let’s understand this -- when you talk about the way the war is going in Afghanistan, the documents purportedly cover from I think January of 2004 to December 2009.

 

I can't speak for the conduct of that war from an operational perspective for most of that time. I do know that when the President came into office in 2009, he, in the first few months, ordered an increase in the number of out troops -- having spent two years talking about how our efforts in Afghanistan were greatly under-resourced -- increased resources and troops to provide security for an election, and then, as you well know, conducted a fairly comprehensive and painstaking review of our policy, which resulted in December 1, 2009’s speech about a new direction in Afghanistan.

 

And I would say this: We came in talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan as a region, not as simply two separate and distinct countries, which put emphasis on our relationship and the actions of Pakistan.

 

Q Right, but even if there was a new policy put in place in December of 2009, does that erase the mistakes that may have been made years in advance of that --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, of course not --

 

Q -- how can that -- but do these documents then suggest that this war is too far gone --

 

MR. GIBBS: No --

 

Q -- to turn around with one policy change?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, I don't in any way suggest the documents suggest that and I haven't seen anybody to suggest that -- except to say this, Ed, we agree that the direction -- this administration spent a large part of 2007 and 2008 campaigning to be this administration and saying that the way that the war had been prosecuted, the resources that hadn’t been devoted to it threatened our national security.

 

Remember, we had a fairly grand debate about whether or not the central front in this war was Iraq or Afghanistan. We weighed in pretty heavily on Afghanistan because for years and years and years, more troops were needed -- more troops actually had been requested by the commanding general, but no troops were forthcoming. That’s why the President increased our number of troops, heading into an important election period, and why we took steps through a, again, painstaking and comprehensive review, to come up with a new strategy.

 

Q But even after that painstaking review, these documents are suggesting that the Pakistani government has representatives of its spy agency essentially meeting representatives of the Taliban, plotting to attack American soldiers and Afghan officials.

 

MR. GIBBS: Let me just make sure --

 

Q How can that suggest the war is going well?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no -- you’re conflating about seven issues into one question. But let’s be clear, Ed. I don’t think -- let me finish, let me finish --

 

Q If Pakistani officials are working with the Taliban, how can the war be going well? That’s one question.

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, Ed, I’m saying that the war -- the direction of our relationship with Pakistan, based on steps that we’ve asked them to take, has improved that relationship -- right?

 

Q Okay, because last week Secretary Clinton said that the U.S. and Pakistan are “partners joined in common cause.”

 

MR. GIBBS: Yes.

 

Q Despite these documents, the U.S. and Pakistan are joined in common cause?

 

MR. GIBBS: Yes, in fighting, as I just mentioned a few moments ago, in fighting extremists that are within that border. Again, go back to last year, Ed. Remember last year?

 

Q Sure.

 

MR. GIBBS: When those extremists decided that they were going to march on the capital in Pakistan? That became a threat to Pakistan. For the first time ever, you saw Pakistan fighting back against violent extremists that had otherwise enjoyed safe havens. When General Jones refers to in his statement the actions that they took in Swat and South Waziristan, that's exactly what we’re talking about.

 

The point I’d make on the premise of your question, understand that the documents go through December of 2009. I don't know if you meant to conflate actions -- let’s just say that the documents --

 

Q Well, have the actions stopped? Do we know for sure that the Pakistani intelligence is no longer working --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, these documents --

 

Q -- with the Taliban?

 

MR. GIBBS: I think they're making progress, and again, I’d refer to you --

 

Q Making progress but it has not ended even after December 2009?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, again, I would you point you to the hearing that was conducted just a month ago, less than a month ago, with General Petraeus where this was talked about.

 

Ed, nobody is here to declare “mission accomplished.” You’ve not heard that phrase uttered or emitted by us as a way of saying that everything is going well. Understand this, that we got involved in this region of the world after September 11th, and then for years and years and years and years, this area was neglected, it was under-resourced, it was underfunded. That's what led the President to say that what we needed to do was focus on what was going on in Afghanistan. That's why we’re here.

 

Yes, ma’am.

 

Q Two questions, Robert. The first one is, given the apparent ease that Mr. Manning was able to obtain and transfer these documents, has the White House or anyone of the administration ordered any kind of immediate change to make sure that this is not --

 

MR. GIBBS: I would point you to the Department of Defense, that you should be able to discuss what changes they’ve made in operational security.

 

Q Do you have any insight into what Mr. Manning may have been motivated by?

 

MR. GIBBS: Not personally, no. I don't know if the Department of Defense would have something on that.

 

Q And in terms of the President’s reaction, can you give us any kind of insight in terms of, was he angry, was he concerned, was he worried?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, I think any time in which more than 90,000 top secret documents, which are against the law for me to give to you, would -- I think it would be safe to say it’s alarming to find 90,000 of them published on a website.

 

Q Following up on -- I think I know how you feel about this, but the conventional wisdom in Washington is that the White House is trying to keep the focus on the release of the documents rather than what’s in the documents.

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no --

 

Q You say the President is very concerned with this release, this breach of federal law. But is he concerned with evidence in these documents about civilian casualties, about cooperation between the Taliban and the ISI?

 

MR. GIBBS: Chip, let’s be clear. Again, the statements that the President made in March of 2009 very much understand the complicating aspects of our relationship with both of these two countries, the existence of, as I said, historical relationships between the Taliban and Pakistani intelligence. And, look, during the recent debate about General McChrystal, remember a decent part of the Rolling Stone article discusses frustration within our own military about rules of engagement around civilian casualties.

 

So we’re not trying to either conventionally -- through conventional wisdom trying to deflect anything. What I’m merely saying is that what has been, I think what is known, about our relationship and our efforts in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are not markedly changed by what is in these documents. In fact, I think if, again, you go back to March of 2009, what the President says, we are clearly taking steps to make progress in dealing with Pakistan’s safe havens; certainly dealing with civilian casualties. We all know that in efforts like this to win hearts and minds, you’re certainly not going to do that with innocent civilians caught tragically in the crossfire.

 

Q In reading these documents, if they’re true, you can’t help but be shocked by what you read in here about some of the horrible things that have happened. Has the President read enough of it himself to be shocked and horrified by it?

 

MR. GIBBS: I don’t know -- look, Chip, I want to be clear. The President does not need to read a leaked document on the Internet today to be shocked and horrified by unnecessary -- and every civilian casualty is unnecessary -- casualty of innocent life. We can go back -- and I’ve been asked about them inside this briefing room for well over a year -- times in which our commander at that point, General McChrystal, Ambassador Eikenberry and former General Eikenberry had gone to see different places around Afghanistan that had seen horrific civilian casualties.

 

Look, each and every -- as I said, each and every casualty, innocent civilian casualty is a tragedy and it makes the job against the extremists much, much harder.

 

Q On the -- does the President believe that the release of these documents has harmed or will harm the war effort overall?

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I think anytime in which you potentially put those that could be -- whose names could be in these documents, missions and operations -- Chip, documents are classified and rated secret for a reason. And I think that’s the law.

 

Q So this is -- it’s a setback to the war effort?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, I think it’s concerning that you have -- you certainly have operational security concerns. Again, I think many of our challenges in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are the same today as they were last week. I don’t think anybody would tell you that they anticipate that progress isn’t going to be slow and difficult in both of these two countries. That’s why --

 

Q I’m still unclear on where you are on this. I mean, it’s a pretty fundamental question. Do these documents constitute a setback to the war effort in Afghanistan?

 

MR. GIBBS: I think they constitute a potential national security concern.

 

Yes, ma’am.

 

Q The White House has made a point to say that WikiLeaks is not an objective news outlet, but rather an organization that opposes U.S. policy in Afghanistan. I just wonder if you could explain how that’s relevant to the accuracy of the documents.

 

MR. GIBBS: I think that the founder of WikiLeaks, if I read his interviews correctly today, comparing troops in Afghanistan to the secret East German police as -- certainly something that we would fundamentally disagree with and something that has -- somebody that clearly has an agenda.

 

Q That may be the case, but does that in any way impact the accuracy of these documents? For example, are you suggesting they selectively held back documents that would be more favorable to the U.S.?

 

MR. GIBBS: Savannah, I don’t -- I’m not afforded -- nobody in this government was afforded the opportunity to see what they do or don’t have. I don’t know that that question is relevant for me as much as it is for him.

 

Q I just wondered if by making this point you’re trying to I guess attack the credibility of the documents that are out there.

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no --

 

Q I mean, other news organizations --

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I have not -- I certainly have not reviewed 90,000 documents. This got brought to us late last week. Again, the coverage I read off of the news documents doesn’t I think materially change the challenges that we have in each of these two countries. As I said a second ago, I don’t think the challenges that you would have listed on a piece of paper this time last week are, quite honestly, different based on what we read in this documents at this time this week.

 

I think the challenges that we’ve had and the historical relationships with Pakistan intelligence and the Taliban were certainly something we were working to address. So it’s not -- that in and of itself isn’t a surprise. Working on safe havens in Pakistan and their impact on our efforts in the war -- all of those things -- I think all of those things many of you all have covered.

 

Q Is the administration confident it has the leaker in custody?

 

Q Could you tell me what effort the White House has made before the publication of the WikiLeak documents, and after, to try to contain any political fallout? Any outreach to Capitol Hill? Any efforts by General Jones or anyone else from the National Security Council --

 

MR. GIBBS: Jonathan, we certainly, when we learned of the story, notified relevant committees on Capitol Hill that these documents were about to go online. I don’t know that I would -- I wouldn’t put that under the rubric of containing political damage. I would put that under the rubric of understanding that 90,000 documents dating back to January of 2004, which traditionally don’t become public, were about to be, and Capitol Hill was notified.

 

Q And what efforts -- I know that you met with the Times. What efforts did you make to try to get in touch with Assange or any of the WikiLeak people?

 

MR. GIBBS: They are not in touch with us. The only effort that I made in discussing -- the only effort that I made with the Times -- who I will say came to us, I think handled this story in a responsible way -- I passed a message through the writers at the New York Times to the head of WikiLeaks to redact information that could harm personnel or threaten operations or security. And I think that’s in their story, in the Times story today.

 

Q And one last question. You mentioned at the beginning of this briefing an investigation into improper leaking of classified information. Is WikiLeaks part of that investigation?

 

MR. GIBBS: There is an ongoing investigation as to this leak, yes.

 

Q Is that the Manning investigation?

 

MR. GIBBS: I’m not going to get into that. Nice try.

 

Q Robert, did you try to get The New York Times not to publish?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, never asked them that. Let’s understand a few things. The New York Times didn’t publish the documents; WikiLeaks published the documents. I will say this, had only The New York Times had this story, would we have made a case and an effort, as we have with them and other news organizations, not to compromise security? Yes. But understand that the Times was one -- The New York Times was one of three news organizations that had access to these documents. We got questions from -- I believe on Friday -- from Der Spiegel, and met with -- Tommy Vietor, Ben Rhodes, and I met with The New York Times on Thursday.

 

Yes, sir.

 

Q Robert, can you talk a little bit about any White House concern about support for the war being possibly eroded by the leaks here? Have you done any sort of assessment? What’s your thinking on that?

 

MR. GIBBS: No, again, Roger, I go back to the point that I made to Savannah and others. I think if you took out a piece of paper, certainly if -- the President’s monthly AfPak reviews will happen on Thursday down in the Situation Room. I’m unaware of a list of concerns that would be different today than they were a week ago based on what we’ve seen. I don’t -- again, I don’t see broad new revelations that we weren’t either concerned about and working through this time a week ago.

 

Q Back to WikiLeaks. Is it your belief that the documents themselves, to the degree you’ve either been briefed about them or they’ve been described to you by people who know a little bit more than you do, are authentic?

 

MR. GIBBS: I think we’ve acted as if they were.

 

Q Okay. There have been some who’ve talked about it and say these things should be viewed by the public as it, to the degree it does, goes through them with some degree of skepticism because they are, by nature, fragmentary. They develop or talk about one certain episode or --

 

MR. GIBBS: Right.

 

Q What would you as spokesman for the White House advise the public who may be running through these things and taking them in, in some degree of interest --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, look --

 

Q -- what is your overall assessment of how much is true? What’s not true? Mostly true, mostly untrue? How should they weigh this?

 

MR. GIBBS: I think these are -- I think I’m, Major, not going to play that broad a role except to say that I think obviously this is on-the-ground reporting. What is unclear, certainly, if you read through the stories, is whether some of the events that they think might happen happened.

 

But, again, I think the -- I would sum this up the way I summed it up a little bit ago, and that is that what -- the concerns that are in these documents -- and they’re important concerns; they’re concerns that we’ve certainly dealt with since the time we’ve been here and certainly as it related to Afghanistan and Pakistan, what precipitated the administration from doing a comprehensive review about our policy in both areas. That is -- our goal is to get this right. Our goal is to keep America safe and to ensure that -- and ensure the safety of those that are conducting these operations.

 

Q Let me take it from a different point of view. There are some -- and this was part of the subtext or one of the subtexts of the Washington Post’s lengthy series last week -- that maybe too many things are kept secret. Some might look at these documents and say do these all need to be top secret? Is all this information really that vital, really that sensitive to American national security that these should all be top secret? Do you have any evaluation of that?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, I think that is -- those are made on a document-by-document basis. I’m not an expert in the classification process. Look, obviously if you -- I think the President would always lean on the American people knowing as much as they possibly can. Look, I think if you --

 

Q -- not this time.

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, no. Hold on, let’s be clear. Go back to the 12 or so meetings held in the Situation Room. We announced every one. We had readouts from every one. Lord knows, you had readouts beyond the readouts from each and every one. There were photos from each. We didn’t exactly have a cloistered evaluation of our policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s not the way we’ve operated.

 

And, again, I think it’s -- let’s be clear, and I want to make sure that I’m clear on this -- based on the fact that there’s nothing -- there’s no broad new revelations in this, our concern isn’t that people might know that we’re concerned about safe havens in Pakistan, or that we’re concerned, as we are, about civilian casualties. Lord, all you need is a laptop and a mouse to figure that out, or 50 cents or $1.50, depending on which newspaper you buy. I don’t think that is, in a sense, top secret. But what generally governs the classification of these documents are names, operations, personnel, people that are cooperating -- all of which if it’s compromised has a compromising effect on our security.

 

Q And can you explain the precipitating factor for the al-Megrahi letter?

 

MR. GIBBS: I just have a copy of it. I don’t know -- I assume -- look, at this point -- and this is some conjecture on my part -- at this point, this is a fairly public process. I don’t know what exactly lead to this letter. I know the letter speaks quite clearly to our preference, strong preference, as communicated both in this letter and in conversations that we had directly with the government there, that Megrahi should not be released.

 

Yes, sir.

 

Q Robert, take your premise that there is nothing really new in these documents that broadly says something different than what we already knew. There are many examples in Washington where the same thing can be said and that a precipitating event like this causes political shockwaves that change the dynamic.

 

MR. GIBBS: I think you’re talking about the media culture, aren’t you?

 

Q Well, perhaps. But we know there’s some interaction there. So I guess the question is -- and it sort of goes back to Jonathan’s, which I don’t think you answered, which is are you all doing anything --

 

MR. GIBBS: No, I answered Jonathan’s question.

 

Q You answered the first part, but not the second part, which was have you done anything since the documents -- since the documents were released this morning to try to assess whether or not these documents provide any ammunition to your critics, any political --

 

MR. GIBBS: Critics like who?

 

Q Well, there are critics of the Afghanistan war, increasingly people who are uncomfortable with it even in the Republican Party.

 

MR. GIBBS: I don’t know if -- I don’t know every call that’s been made out of here. What I was trying to do was decouple the fact that we notified Congress that 90,000 documents are about to be put on a website that were, up until the moment that they go live, were classified documents is part of what is generally assumed to be our notification process. Look, I don’t know of -- I certainly have not heard of a broad effort relating to what you’re talking about.

 

Q WikiLeaks one more time. To follow on Michael’s question about the inflection points in public opinion in history, what do you make of the comparisons between these leaks and the Pentagon Papers?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, the Pentagon Papers are different in the sense that you’re talking about policy documents. These are sort of on-the-ground reporting of different events. I don't see how in any way they're really comparable, again, given the fact that -- go back and look at -- again, just in the past month I know we’ve talked about in here, we’ve talked about the concern about civilian casualties. It’s not something that has been -- not something that we previously hadn’t touched on that all of a sudden burst out into the public arena. Certainly, as I said earlier, the historic relationships that have been had between the Taliban and the Pakistani intelligence services -- the headline in The New York Times story says -- basically attributes the headline of that connection to U.S. aid.

 

So, again, it’s not -- I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of those concerns. They are serious. That's why we’ve taken steps to try to improve that relationship, for the Pakistanis to take certain steps, so that we can build in Pakistan and in Afghanistan a situation that improves our security.

 

Q You probably could have said a lot of those things about the Pentagon Papers, too, a lot of those same concerns were raised before. I guess my question is about the public opinion climate --

 

MR. GIBBS: What I’m trying to -- what I’m trying to --

 

Q -- does it change it?

 

MR. GIBBS: I don't think the material that's in the Pentagon -- again, the Pentagon Papers is a fairly exhaustive policy review by the Pentagon. I think as Major said earlier, these are a series of one-off documents about an operation here or an instance there, or a -- they're not a broad sort of -- this isn’t a broad review of aspects of civilian -- progress that we have or haven’t made on civilian casualties. It’s just on-the-ground reporting on that. I think that's --

 

Q But don't they kind of paint sort of a portrait, Robert? I mean it’s -- the aggregation of these documents -- don't they sort of collectively paint a portrait?

 

MR. GIBBS: But again, Glenn, you don't -- because there’s only a certain time period and you don't know what was and what wasn’t either leaked or posted, I think to say that you know everything is probably not the case.

 

Ann.

 

Q Would you compare it to Abu Ghraib or at least the repercussions from the impact --

 

MR. GIBBS: I’m always -- I will say this. I’m always loath to look back and compare one event to something else when I just don't always -- I think we have a tendency to always want to compare it to something else rather than simply reporting out what -- but, again, Ann, I want to stress again that the notion that -- again, if you wrote down all of what our concerns in our relationship with Pakistan, if you wrote down what they were about our relationship and the challenges that we face in Afghanistan, I do not know that you would list one thing differently today as a result of what we’ve read in these documents that you wouldn’t have already listed a week ago.

 

I just don't -- and I think that's partly your answer to that, Mark, that you don't have some revelation that there’s a systematic change of the course of events, that we have stepped up operations at a certain part in the war in Southeast Asia, that we’ve escalated -- that's just not -- that's not what these documents are.

 

Q The head of WikiLeaks tells us that he won’t identify the source of the material. He actually says, we still don't know who the source is, but if it was Private First Class Manning, who is already in custody, the head of WikiLeaks says he’s a hero. What does the President say to WikiLeaks and those who believe that they are doing the right thing in outing a policy they disagree with?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think there are ways in which one can disagree with a policy without breaking the law and putting in potential danger those who are there to keep us safe.

 

Again, Ann, if I were to have handed one of you these documents, I would be breaking the law. I think there are certainly better ways to discuss and register one’s opposition rather than putting people in potential harm’s way.

 

Q Let me follow on WikiLeaks -- let me just follow on WikiLeaks for a second. Even if there is nothing substantially new in these documents -- you’re in the communications business -- are you concerned that the public and, therefore, perhaps members of Congress will think that there’s something new here, and that perception will drive reality and it will have an impact on your policy?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think inherently the last phrase of your question that you didn’t necessarily enumerate was about the politics of all this. The President made a decision to put almost 50,000 more troops in Afghanistan not based on the politics but based on what was right; based on what he believed was -- gave us the best chance at succeeding in Afghanistan, and in making the decisions that gave us the best opportunity to improve our relationship with Pakistan and create, as Ed pointed out, a partnership to go after those in Pakistan that sought to do Pakistanis harm or those in Pakistan and Afghanistan that sought to do Americans harm. That’s the filter by which the President went through the meetings. That’s the filter by which the President made that decision.

 

The politics of all of this stuff will settle out regardless. The question the President asked himself and the question that the team asked themselves in making this decision is, what’s the right policy for this country? What’s the right policy that keeps us safe, and what’s the right policy that prevents safe havens from being recreated in Afghanistan, where planning can happen again, unfettered, to attack this country, as happened on September 11th? That’s what we’re focused on.

 

Q May I follow on that, please? Is it unanimous among all the administration that this is the right policy, that it is keeping America safer? And what is the U.S. policy towards the Taliban right now? Are there U.S. troops protecting the Taliban’s crops?

 

MR. GIBBS: I would point you to DOD on that. I would say this, that there was a very, very large, very, very extensive, with multiple inputs, review of where we were and what we needed to do going forward. We’re in the process of implementing going -- we’re in the process of implementing that new strategy, evaluating that new strategy and moving forward.

 

Q But is America really safer?

 

MR. GIBBS: I believe America is safer, because if we were not to be in this area, if we were to -- if the Taliban were to come and overthrow a government and create a safe haven that allowed al Qaeda and its extremist allies to not have to plot in a cave but sit in the open and plot the next September 11th, our country would be much, much more dangerous, a much greater target. And I think that’s why the President has made the decisions that he’s made.

 

April.

 

Q Robert, one short question?

 

Q Robert, granted documents in the WikiLeak date back to 2004, is this a direct slap in the face to this administration’s intelligence efforts in Afghanistan?

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I think if it says anything, it speaks to some concerns about operational security. I don’t believe that that’s directed at us personally.

 

Q Okay, well, and let me -- and also on that, on the intelligence, but more so on a broader scope on intelligence -- after 9/11 the Bush administration kept saying it was not about “if” but a matter of “when” another attack would happen on U.S. soil. Is that still the case, as you deal with intelligence on a daily basis?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, without getting into discussing the same type of material I’ve said I wouldn’t discuss here, we are -- there are a group of people within this government and within this White House that work each day to make sure that doesn’t happen.

 

Q You said you all reached out to Congress last week, and I get that most of this information predates the President --

 

MR. GIBBS: I think that -- honestly, I think that most of the outreach was probably done less last week and more, quite honestly, Sam, over the course of the last 24 hours.

 

Q Well, the message that this -- that most of this information predates the President’s new strategy doesn’t seem to have gotten through to people like Senator Kerry, who said today that this information raises serious questions. Are you all trying to tamp that down and make sure that there’s a real --

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no, let me first be clear about -- I think it would be hard to identify anybody that has done as much as Senator Kerry has. He was obviously intimately involved in, met several times with President Karzai around the election and the aftermath on that. He has been -- he’s traveled to both countries and I think has been an important leader in ensuring that our policy is the right one.

 

Q Well, then he should know more than anybody that these aren’t new concerns, but he’s still saying it raises serious questions.

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, it -- again, I’m not minimizing that this information is out there. What I’m simply saying, Sam, is I think if you asked this of Senator Kerry, I think if you asked this of most on Capitol Hill -- and this doesn’t have to do with whether this stuff predates it. I will say that, again, our concern about the direction of the war, the funding and the resources that were being given to it -- and, look, that is your strategy. If you’re not going to fund your strategy or if you’re going -- if your strategy is going to be predicated on 25,000 troops rather than 100,000 troops, that limits your ability to impact that strategy.

 

But, look, I think Senator Kerry has been a leading voice on this and I think our responsibility and his responsibility as the leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to do all that we can to get this right.

 

Sam, we have weekly -- the President hears weekly from commanders on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have monthly meetings -- as I said, that will happen just this Thursday in the Situation Room -- to evaluate where we are and to make adjustments. Nobody is writing -- nobody wrote anything in stone and is then just hoping that it all happens. We will continually evaluate where we are, what needs to happen, how do we build Afghan capacity, how do we train up the Afghan national police and the Afghan national army as part of a comprehensive national security force that gives us the ability, once areas are cleared, to be able to transfer, again, both from a governance and a military perspective. I think all of that is important, and all of that will be continually evaluated.

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Guest Robert Parry

The 92,000 classified Afghan War documents, which were just released by Wikileaks, provide a troubling narrative of that conflict’s downward spiral as President George W. Bush concentrated the American military on the neoconservative target of choice, Iraq.

 

Though the reports don’t directly address Bush’s strategic blunder, they tell the story of badly stretched U.S. forces trying to manage a complex task in Afghanistan while the Taliban, al-Qaeda and their allies in Pakistan regrouped along the border and became a dangerous adversary.

 

Also indirectly, the reports underscore the successful counter-strategy pursued by al-Qaeda leaders, to keep the United States bogged down in Iraq while they rebuilt their capabilities in their safe havens within the tribal territories of northwest Pakistan.

 

Some of that strategy was already known. For instance, one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants, called “Atiyah,” wrote in a letter dated Dec. 11, 2005, that “prolonging the war [in Iraq] is in our interest.” The letter was sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the hyper-violent leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by a U.S. bombing raid in June 2006.

 

Atiyah’s advice to Zarqawi had been to tone down his violence against Iraqis and to proceed more patiently in developing alliances. Al-Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan was clearly worried that Zarqawi was alienating too many Iraqis by trying to rush the war against the Americans.

 

It was in that context that Atiyah informed Zarqawi that the broader strategy was to keep U.S. attention on Iraq by “prolonging the war.” Back in Washington, President Bush continued to play into al-Qaeda’s hands by insisting that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror.”

 

Other intelligence information also revealed that in 2004, al-Qaeda understood that its situation along the Pakistani-Afghan border remained precarious and would improve only if Bush continued his blunderbuss approach that was alienating people across the Muslim world.

 

Al-Qaeda leaders even feared that a rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would cause many of its young recruits to put down their guns and go home.

Bin Laden Boosts Bush

 

In late October 2004, U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that bin Laden released a pre-election video with the intent of helping Bush gain a second term so his war policies would continue.

 

Bin Laden devoted most of his harangue to denouncing Bush in what looked like a Brer Rabbit ploy of “Don’t throw me in the briar patch” – suggesting to American voters that whatever they do, don’t give Bush a second term – when that was exactly what al-Qaeda wanted.

 

After bin Laden’s video dominated the news on the Friday before Election 2004, a meeting of senior CIA analysts began with deputy CIA director John McLaughlin observing that “bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President,” according to Ron Suskind’s book The One Percent Doctrine, which relies heavily on CIA insiders.

 

“Certainly,” CIA deputy associate director for intelligence Jami Miscik said, “he [bin Laden] would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years,” according to Suskind’s account of the meeting.

 

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts drifted into silence, troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote.

 

If helping Bush was bin Laden’s intent, the strategy appeared to work. Two last-minute polls showed Bush moving from a virtual dead heat with Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, to about a five percentage point lead. Bush then hung on to win by an official margin of less than three points.

 

Intelligence Consensus

 

In April 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate, representing the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, formalized some of the analysis about the benefit of the Iraq War to Islamic terrorism. The Iraq War had become a “cause celebre” that was “cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement,” the NIE said.

 

Then, through 2006 and 2007, Iraq experienced a staggering level of civil strife, with Sunni and Shiite extremists forming death squads to go after their rival sects – as well as the Americans.

 

However, several developments gradually tamped down the violence by late 2007, including the fact that beginning in 2006 some Sunnis militants, who had grown disgusted with al-Qaeda’s brutality, agreed to stop killing Americans in exchange for money. The de facto ethnic cleansing that had separated Sunnis from Shiites also reduced the opportunities for sectarian violence.

 

Still, the conventional wisdom of Washington – significantly shaped by influential neoconservative commentators – held that Bush’s decision to “surge” U.S. forces by about 40,000 troops explained the decline in killings. The myth of the “successful surge” was born as the neocons scrambled to reclaim their status as the U.S. experts on the Middle East.

 

But another development may have had even a greater effect on the plummeting U.S. death toll in Iraq. American deaths declined into single digits per month when it became clear that the Americans would be forced into a military withdrawal, which became increasingly apparent to Iraqis in 2008 as a new “status of forces agreement” was hammered out.

 

By late 2008, however, even as the U.S. government finally acquiesced to a military departure from Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan had deteriorated badly. The hard-line Taliban, which had ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until the post-9/11 U.S. invasion, had reorganized with the help of old allies in Pakistani intelligence. Al-Qaeda also was gaining operational strength.

 

Just as Atiyah had envisioned, “prolonging the war” in Iraq had bought al-Qaeda and its allies precious time to regroup inside Pakistan, which had another appealing feature to bin Laden and friends, its nuclear bombs.

Dangers Mount

 

The worsening predicament for U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a reality that resonates through the larger narrative presented by the 92,000 documents released by Wikileaks, covering a six-year period from January 2004 to December 2009.

 

For instance, there are the dramatic electronic messages from Combat Outpost Keating, an isolated American base camp that was part of an undermanned Bush strategy for challenging the Taliban in remote eastern Afghanistan. The strategy had become increasingly untenable as the Taliban regained its fighting strength and began to surround these outposts.

 

As part of the Obama administration’s early review of the Afghan War, the decision was made to begin abandoning these vulnerable outposts. However, before Keating could be closed down, it came under heavy attack on Oct. 3, 2009, with a concentrated force of militants storming the outpost and breaching its perimeter.

 

With helicopter gunships some 40 minutes away, the Keating defenders were largely on their own. The electronic messages to headquarters grew increasingly frantic with the base in danger of falling.

 

“Enemy in the wire at keating,” one defender typed. “ENEMUY IN THE WIRE ENEMY IN THE WIRE!!!”

 

As the U.S. troops suffered growing casualties, American F-15s bombed several suspected insurgent positions. Eventually, helicopters arrived with U.S. reinforcements forcing the enemy to retreat, but not before eight Americans were killed and nearly two dozen were wounded.

 

President Barack Obama’s decision last fall to “surge” U.S. forces by 30,000 more troops, bringing the total to around 100,000, has led to a further spike in American casualties, with the total death toll now exceeding 1,200.

 

However, the bottom line for the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan is that Obama’s escalation may well be a case of too little, way too late. The opportunity to stabilize Afghanistan and to eradicate al-Qaeda appears to have been squandered in late 2001 when the Bush administration pivoted prematurely to Iraq.

Shifting Attention

 

Even as bin Laden and his top lieutenants were cornered in the Afghan mountains at Tora Bora in fall 2001, the attention of Bush and his neocon advisers had already shifted toward Iraq, which the neocons considered a greater threat to Israel’s security. Neocon theorists also held that by taking Iraq, regime change could then be pressed against Syria and Iran, thus eliminating all of Israel’s major Islamic enemies.

 

So, when the small American Special Forces team pursuing bin Laden called for reinforcements to seal off his escape routes to Pakistan and to mount an assault on al-Qaeda’s mountain strongholds, their appeals fell mostly on ears already listening to White House demands for Iraq war plans, said an analysis of the Tora Bora battle by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 

Instead of staying focused on capturing bin Laden and destroying al-Qaeda, Central Command Gen. Tommy Franks was instructed to begin planning for the invasion of Iraq.

 

“On Nov. 21, 2001, President Bush put his arm on Defense Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld as they were leaving a National Security Council meeting at the White House. ‘I need to see you,’ the president said. It was 72 days after the 9/11 attacks and just a week after the fall of Kabul. But Bush already had new plans.”

 

Citing Bob Woodward’s book, Plan of Attack, the Senate report quoted Bush as asking Rumsfeld, “What kind of war plan do you have for Iraq?”

 

In an interview with Woodward, Bush recalled instructing Rumsfeld to “get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to.”

 

In his memoir, American General, Franks said he got a phone call from Rumsfeld on Nov. 21, after the Defense Secretary had met with the President, and was told about Bush’s interest in an updated Iraq war plan.

 

At the time, Franks said he was in his office at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida working with one of his aides on arranging air support for the Afghan militia who were under the guidance of the U.S. Special Forces in charge of the assault on bin Laden’s Tora Bora stronghold.

 

Franks told Rumsfeld that the Iraq war plan was out of date, prompting the Defense Secretary to instruct Franks to “dust it off and get back to me in a week.”

 

“For critics of the Bush administration’s commitment to Afghanistan,” the Senate report noted, “the shift in focus just as Franks and his senior aides were literally working on plans for the attacks on Tora Bora represents a dramatic turning point that allowed a sustained victory in Afghanistan to slip through our fingers. Almost immediately, intelligence and military planning resources were transferred to begin planning the next war in Iraq.”

 

Losing Bin Laden

 

The CIA and Special Forces teams, calling for reinforcements to finish off bin Laden and al-Qaeda, “did not know what was happening back at CentCom, the drain in resources and shift in attention would affect them and the future course of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan,” the Senate report said.

 

Henry Crumpton, who was in charge of the CIA’s Afghan strategy, made direct appeals to Franks to move more than 1,000 Marines to Tora Bora to block escape routes to Pakistan. But the CentCom commander rebuffed the request, citing logistical and time problems, the report said.

 

“At the end of November, Crumpton went to the White House to brief President Bush and Vice President [Dick] Cheney and repeated the message that he had delivered to Franks,” the report said. “Crumpton warned the president that the Afghan campaign’s primary goal of capturing bin Laden was in jeopardy because of the military’s reliance on Afghan militias at Tora Bora. …

 

“Crumpton questioned whether the Pakistani forces would be able to seal off the escape routes and pointed out that the promised Pakistani troops had not arrived yet.”

 

But the Iraq-obsessed Bush still didn’t act. Finally, in mid-December 2001, the small U.S. Special Forces team convinced the Afghan militia fighters to undertake a sweep of the mountainous terrain, but they found it largely deserted.

 

The Senate report said bin Laden and his bodyguards apparently departed Tora Bora on Dec. 16, 2001, adding: “With help from Afghans and Pakistanis who had been paid in advance, the group made its way on foot and horseback across the mountain passes and into Pakistan without encountering any resistance.

 

“The Special Operations Command history (of the Afghan invasion) noted that there were not enough U.S. troops to prevent the escape, acknowledging that the failure to capture or kill … bin Laden made Tora Bora a controversial battle.”

 

Bush, however, was following the advice of Washington’s neocons who considered Afghanistan essentially a sideshow with the main event awaiting in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, in vanquishing Israel’s enemies.

 

So, for the next seven years, U.S. forces in Afghanistan had to make do with the limited attention of Washington while the Bush administration obsessed over Iraq.

 

The narrative of that reversal of fortune in Afghanistan – as the undermanned occupying troops saw their advantage lost to a resurgent resistance – can be found in the 92,000 classified documents released by Wikileaks.

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Guest Jim Garamone

he chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he is “appalled” by the breach of security represented by the Wikileaks case.

 

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters traveling with him that the leaks could put American service members at risk. Investigators are still sifting through some 90,000 classified documents to determine the exact harm that the release could bring, he said.

 

The chairman said the information is older – from 2004 to 2009 – and this may mitigate the situation to an extent. Many of the documents are field reports covering the situation in Pakistan.

 

“From the time I’ve been chairman I’ve been very clear about the need to improve the relationship with Pakistan, re-establish the trust that was broken in the 1990s,” he said. “In the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, none of us have been anything but very forthcoming on the criticality of Pakistan. We can’t get at the safe havens that we know exist in Pakistan without their cooperation.”

 

The chairman is very concerned about the release of these documents. “Releasing classified documents could put in jeopardy American lives,” he said.

 

“We’re going through a review to see in fact if that release has done that. But in my experience with troops from conventional to special forces, I think sometimes people don’t appreciate what information could be out there that makes their jobs a lot more difficult and in fact, could jeopardize their lives.”

 

“I feel very strongly to do all we can to make sure leaks like this don’t occur in the future,” he continued.

 

Mullen spoke to the reporters aboard an Air Force C-17 transport following meeting in Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan. Previously the chairman had visited Islamabad, Pakistan; New Delhi, India and Seoul, South Korea.

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Guest Michael J. Carden

The Pentagon today condemned the actions of the group Wikileaks.org, which released thousands of classified U.S. military documents on its website last night.

 

“The leaking of classified information is something we take very seriously,” Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today.

 

“We are in the process right now of assessing the documents,” Lapan added.

 

The documents, reportedly given to several U.S. and international media weeks ago, are said to detail field reports from Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan relationships with the Taliban. The more than 90,000 documents cover the period from January 2004 through December 2009, according to news reports.

 

The Pentagon has yet to confirm the impact of the reports, as it’s still early in the assessment process, Lapan said.

 

“As they are made available, we will be looking at them to try to determine potential damage to lives of our service members and our coalition partners; whether they reveal sources in methods and any potential damage to national security,” he said. “Since this was just released last night, we’re still in the process going through that assessment.”

 

Of the reports the Pentagon has seen, they fall into a category of basic, unit-level reporting, Lapan said.

 

“We’ve only seen a fraction of the documents that are reported to be out there, so until we get a look at all of them, we can’t know exactly what the extent of the damage may be,” he said.

 

It could take the Pentagon weeks to make such determinations, Lapan said. But much of what the Pentagon has discovered early in the investigation is that the documents are classified at a “secret” level, and not “top-secret,” which is reserved for more sensitive material, he said.

 

The disclosed documents reveal “the type of reporting that goes on at the tactical level on a routine basis,” the colonel said, noting examples such as roadside bomb incidences, civilian and military casualty reports and intelligence and information gathering.

 

“There’s nothing we’ve seen so far that is particularly relevant,” Lapan added.

 

At this point, he said, the Pentagon is concentrating on the information that’s been made public, and is not investigating the source of the leak. Lapan explained that any number of military and civilian defense employees have access to such documents.

 

Also, the Pentagon is not looking to limit the number of people with access to “secret” material, he said.

 

“We have lots of systems in place,” Lapan said. “And at the very top of that is the responsibility that those who are entrusted with access to that type of information protect that from unauthorized disclosure.”

 

The Pentagon, however, will eventually attempt to narrow down the source of the leak, he said. However, Lapan could not disclose whether a formal investigation on the matter would take place.

 

“As we’ve said, we put a great deal of trust and confidence in individuals not to betray their oath to their country,” Lapan said.

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Private Bradley Manning is suspected as being the source of the Afgan wikileaks.

 

Edited by Luke_Wilbur

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Guest Mike Gogulski

post-2502-128024102439_thumb.jpg

 

At 4PM EST on July 27, the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.bradleymanning.org) will begin accepting online donations for the legal defense of Private First Class Bradley Manning.

 

The Network, a grassroots initiative formed to defend and support accused whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning, has partnered with Courage to Resist, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting military objectors.

 

Manning, a 22 year old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, stands accused of disclosing a classified video depicting American troops shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Eleven adults are killed in the video, including two Reuters employees, and two children critically injured. The video, available at www.collateralmurder.com, was published by WikiLeaks on April 5, 2010. No charges have been filed against the soldiers in the video.

 

Bradley Manning faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted of the charges against him.

 

While news sources have speculated about Manning's involvement in a new leak of over 90,000 secret documents (collectively known as the Afghanistan "war logs") made public by WikiLeaks on Sunday, no charges regarding this recent breach have been filed.

 

As of this writing, Manning has not yet chosen a civilian attorney to defend him in the expected trial. While several news sources had previously indicated that funding for Manning's legal counsel was already arranged, the Bradley Manning Support Network states that there an immediate need for donations to his legal defense.

 

Legal defense in this case will be particularly expensive because any legal team will most likely need a background in military law and the flexibility to travel overseas for the trial as well as secret security clearance.

 

"We have heard from the family and the military lawyers assigned to Bradley that the cost of his defense will be significant," said Mike Gogulski, an online activist and founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network. "We are also concerned that Bradley may choose his legal counsel based on his available funds. If he fears his family will absorb the cost of the trial, he might choose a less experienced, less expensive attorney. We're very concerned about the ramifications of such a decision."

 

The Bradley Manning Support Network passed a resolution on July 12, 2010 to begin fundraising for Manning's legal defense. At this time, the Network estimates between $50,000 and $200,000 in legal fees and expenses will be needed to mount a vigorous defense on behalf of Manning. They have also indicated that WikiLeaks, who published and promoted the Collateral Murder video, has promised a significant donation to Manning's defense.

 

"If Manning is the source of the video, then he did what he had to do to expose a possible war crime. So regardless, he's wrongly imprisoned and we want to do everything possible to support him," said Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist. "I know from past experience working with military objectors that public support and the right civilian defense team can be the difference between an administrative separation and years in the stockade."

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Guest Jake I.

Bradley E. Manning, was arrested in May for stealing classified info from military computers, and part of his subterfuge was disguising one sensitive disc full of gov’t secrets as a Lady Gaga CD. Manning “hummed and lip synched to Lady Gaga songs” to fool his superiors into thinking he was merely wasting Uncle Sam’s time with pop tripe when he was actually getting his James Bond on.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/world/09breach.html

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Guest RT



The U.S. military is desperately trying to close-in on the sources behind the biggest leak in its history. Pentagon chiefs admit it will take weeks to assess the damage to U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan after the revelations, which include the killing of innocent citizens. Meanwhile, the Wikileaks website is promising that further revelations are on the way. The online whistleblower is now checking into reports dealing with American conduct in Iraq. It's thought they could expose similar findings to the thousands of documents already posted on the web.

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