WikiLeaks put Afghanistan war history in a new light this weekend. The WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents that were published put WikiLeaks at the center of Afghanistan debate. Somehow, the website got 90,000 pages of classified details on the war, its strategies and battle from 2004 to late 2009. Already, the White House has called it a dangerous leak, although the website is protected from any prosecution or from being shut down. With the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war diary, America’s longest war is again under scrutiny.
The extensive collection of documents has already gone down as the biggest government leak of all time, at least in volume. At the least, it may be the most comprehensive leak during wartime since the Pentagon Papers, although its long-term impact is still to be determined.
The WikiLeaks Afghanistan papers allegedly expose Taliban missile tactics, cooperation between militants and agents of Pakistan, coverups of civilian killings, and a group called “Task Force 373” that reports to the Pentagon alone. Task Force 373 is accused of working outside the command structure to take out enemy leaders, although papers like Der Spiegel already suspected it.
Not only did the Afghanistan documents hit the WikiLeaks website, they sent the info to papers like the New York Times and the Guardian. In publishing it themselves, the Guardian defended itself by saying the papers are not “militarily sensitive” anymore. Meanwhile, the Times assured that WikiLeaks already redacted names that might have been in danger.
The main White House defense against the WikiLeaks Afghanistan report is that most of this was done before President Obama’s new strategy. The documents stop at around late 2009, a few months before the President instituted his new plans for the war. However, his plans have been altered around a bit by recent reports.
Thanks to Rolling Stone and General McChrystal’s loose lips, the President had to replace his head Afghan general weeks ago. Now, with this WikiLeaks Afghanistan report, President Obama has to answer more questions about the nature of the war, and the bleak outlook in some of the papers. This might not even be the end of it, as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he has more classified papers.
The WikiLeaks Afghanistan reports are protected, since the website is a certified safety net for whistle blowing and classified leaks. Although the White House may condemn the site for this, there’s not much they can do to stop it – or not much that they can do without being obvious. Given the reputation and the public standing of the website, anything they do would only make things look worse.
Christian Science Monitor- “WikiLeaks report harms national security in Afghanistan, says White House”
Pilot Online- “WikiLeaks sees evidence of war crimes in documents”
Salon.com- “The WikiLeaks Afghanistan leak”