Wikileaks, the controversial news website founded by Julian Assange, released 92,000 classified documents containing sensitive information about the war in Afghanistan. In what is being called one of the biggest stories in recent years, Wikileaks gave the classified documents to the New York Times in the U.S., The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany. After spending weeks analyzing the data, the three newspapers unleashed a torrent of controversial reports on July 25. The Wikileaks documents provide new insight on how the Taliban insurgency is gaining strength, civilians are being killed in the crossfire, and Pakistan intelligence operatives are accepting American cash in one hand and aiding and abetting the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the other.
Wikileaks documents given to leading newspapers
The classified documents released by Wikileaks are used by desk officers in the Pentagon and troops in the field when they make operational plans and prepare briefings on the situation in the war zone. Before publishing stories that used information in the documents the New York Times and the Guardian wrote commentary saying they had taken care not to publish information that would harm national security interests. But U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones disagreed, 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.”
Pakistan intelligence aiding Taliban insurgency?
Of the numerous stories in the New York Times based on the Wikileaks documents, one reports about documents describing how Pakistani intelligence works with Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Although experts said directly linking the Pakistani spy agency with Al Qaeda is difficult, the documents contain firsthand accounts of American anger at Pakistan’s unwillingness to confront insurgents who launched attacks near Pakistani border posts, moved openly by the truckload across the frontier, and retreated to Pakistani territory for safety.
Truth about Afghanistan much worse than official spin
In a series of articles, the Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel articles paint a picture of the Afghanistan war that is much worse than the spin put out by the U.S. government. Any progress is limited by a corrupt Afghan government and police force, a disloyal Afghan army and a an uncooperative Pakistani military that is aiding and abetting the Taliban insurgency. Some analysts say the Wikileaks documents just confirm what was already known. But the Wikileaks documents bare the truth about the Afghanistan war as Congress and the public are increasingly disillusioned about America’s deepening involvement.
Wikileaks suspected of espionage
A former hacker who turned in Private Bradley Manning, the soldier suspected of handing military secrets to Wikileaks, harshly criticized Wikileaks for releasing the documents. ABC News reports that Adrian Lamo said he ratted on Manning to keep the reports from becoming public. But Lamo said the sheer volume of information released by Wikileaks suggests Manning didn’t act alone. He thinks Julian Assange may have hired him as ” a personal shopper for classified data.”