Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WikiLeaks backstory

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Afghanistan war logs: Story behind biggest leak in intelligence history. Here's a snippet, follow the link to watch a video of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' founder, discussing the latest leak broadcast on his website:

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.

Of course, the WikiLeaks backstory was published in the British press, not in the American press ... just like the guy behind WikiLeaks is from Australia. What's my point? For some reason, Americans can't seem to look themselves in the eye about major things like the two massively pointless and expensive -- in dollars and human life — wars that continue to rage on in the global theater. We sit around like nothing's happening and then act dismayed when someone pushes a mirror in front of us.

What are we fighting for, anyway? What? We're fighting for pride at this point, and pride is worthless. We have no business in either Iraq or Afghanistan. We have no business spending trillions of dollars on two unwinnable wars while, at the same time, bitching about the national deficit. Stop funneling money into wars, complainers.

So, it should be no surprise that the Raleigh News and Observer is reporting that the WikiLeaks "scandal" — I hesitate to call it that since it's no scandal for people in a democracy to know what's going on in their government and in their military — has shaken people's view of the war in Afghanistan. Were we all sure about the war to begin with, way back in 2001 — a full nine years ago, when the war began? I wasn't.

If I remember correctly, the nation was high on the idea of hunting down Osama bin Laden and making him pay for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers in New York City. We were going to hunt him down and make him pay. Then, we'd all be free to feel better about the 1,366 people who died on that horrible day in our nation's history.

Instead, however, we invaded an uninvolved country for oil like a bunch of addicts. Now, we've managed to multiply the number of dead bodies many fold. We are now in the business of killing civilians, so who's the terrorist now? And, where in the hell is our prize? Where is Osama bin Laden?

We are also now in the business of hiding the truth about the war — whether that be the budget, our secret armies, the faces of the dead or the fact that we do, in fact, bomb civilians. We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this happen at all, and even more so for allowing it to continue for a decade.

It's time to demand an end to both of these futile wars, once and for all. With that, I'll ask you again: What are we fighting for? What are America's and Iraq's and Afghanistan's children dying for? What? For no good goddamn reason is what. No good goddamn reason.

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