HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us
Afghanistan

Wikileaks Hath Spoken

Now Step Aside Or Get Stampeded By Journalists Seeking Pulitzers

By Steve Schippert | July 26, 2010

Wikileaks has spoken. Again. And surely the news cycles I will miss while basking in sand and saltwater will be nearly breathless in their coverage.

Personally, I find this latest episode amusing at best and reckless at minimum. There's nearly nothing (that I've seen thus far) new here. If you've paid attention to the Afghanistan conflict over the years, ask yourself if you really learned something you didn't know or definitively confirmed something you didn't already suspect or presume. The answer will probably be an honest "no" twice in a row.

But Wikileaks.org seems intent on driving its own relevance. That's why it fed the New York Times, the UK's Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel. See their original reports, embargoed until Sunday, below.

New York Times: Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert

Guardian: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation

Der Spiegel: Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It

Each has its role in the "joint venture," as described by the UK's Guardian. From surface sheen, the New York Times has the duty of how Pakistan is undercutting the American president with its military intelligence rubbing elbows and more with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Guardian has its familiar role of portraying the United States military as civilian butchers without a leash, murderous and wanton. Der Spiegel, meanwhile, has seemingly settled, initially, for a select summary of reports, including documents related to Task Force 373 - one of America's top hunter-killer task forces for the worst of the worst.

Each of them collude and abet - no matter how you shake it, stir it or serve it - in the public release of classified information. Congratulations are ongoing and Pulitzers are being slated, to be sure.

But what have the documents, on an initial cursory read, revealed?

Pakistani military intelligence is double-dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Really? Shocked? Then you haven't been paying attention for at least 9 years, probably longer. It's a fact, not a 'Wikileak' ™. The thing is, before you permit yourself to engage in a bit of New York Times-inspired righteous indignation, do an inventory of your solutions to this real world problem first. It's akin to complaining about how someone else is keeping you poor while you refuse to work. Righteousness is cheap. Solutions? Not so much.

A U.S. helicopter was brought down by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile (MANPAD), similar to how the mujahideen brought down Soviet Hind's in the late 1980's. A sexy headline story, to be sure, and a troubling one indeed. Check the sources on that one first though. Fuzzy. But that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Which brings me to the larger point, however: The idea of this story is to create panic amid the ten-foot-tall mujahideen imagery and the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. That would be a fair story to tell. Except for the fact that American Apache's and CH-47's and Blackhawks aren't falling out of the sky like Soviet Hinds. There has always been a fear that they may, that the enemy would get hands on the good toys.

But it just. Hasn't. Happened. And if it does? Well, to can any flowery language, that would suck. Immensely. And we might just have to adapt and overcome. You know, like in a war when the enemy wants to kill you but you still want to kill him first? Yeah. Something like that. If wars were easy, no one would die. And if they were unnecessary, no one would fight them.

US soldiers are murdering civilians. Again. In case you forgot. No war has ever been fought without civilian loss. Ever. Likewise, no war(s) has been fought with one side (American fighting men and the West) so keenly aware of and determined to avoid civilian casualties. Ever. For crying out loud, the loudest debate from Washington to Kabul was just over rules of engagement that are so heavily weighted toward the avoidance of civilian casualties that its criticism is that it is killing more American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. The media & Wikileaks can try all they like, but they just can't have it both ways all the time.

And so it goes. If you are inclined to either believe that the United States is what is wrong with the world or that no matter what we do we are going to lose and die, then you will read their accounts with breathless interest, if morbidly so. Otherwise, have a peek and move along. Why? Never trust a journalist who insists that he has the keys to understanding a war, particularly a largely intelligence war.

Contrary to Wikileaks' founder's claims, the uncovering and publication of these classified documents has little to do, at best, with "transparency in government activities" or any other disingenuous claim. Wikileaks is run by a fervent anti-American and intended to be a vanguard against all-things US military and capitalism. And that's the long and short of it.

When Wikileaks becomes an equal opportunity leaker and starts thumbing its nose at Vlad Putin, for instance, then maybe we'll talk. The thing is, journalists and intelligence folks who run afoul of Vlad have a strange habit of getting dead. (One would think there would be a story to be leaked in there somewhere to the industrious folks at Wikileaks.)

But stand clear. There's a Pulitzer at stake, and it's being pulled violently by teams in New York, London and Berlin.