The NYT, the Guardian, and the Der Spiegel have come out with simultaneously released but individually prepared reports based on Wikileaks documents -- some 92,000 individual reports in all -- made available to these three publications. And while all these reports come with a whole lot of riders and caveats, they are bound to create a flurry of instant analyses and commentary.
The Guardian provides a useful summary:
A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.
The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and over 1,000 US troops.
Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's "surge" strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US navy sailors captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.
The war logs also detail:
- How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.
- How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.
- How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
- How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of its roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.
The NYT provides the background to the stories:
The articles published today are based on thousands of United States military incident and intelligence reports — records of engagements, mishaps, intelligence on enemy activity and other events from the war in Afghanistan — that were to be made public on Sunday on the Internet. The New York Times, The Guardian newspaper in London, and the German magazine Der Spiegel were given access to the material several weeks ago. These reports 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. Most of the reports are routine, even mundane, but many add insights, texture and context to a war that has been waged for nearly nine years.
Over all these documents amount to a real-time history of the war reported from one important vantage point — that of the soldiers and officers actually doing the fighting and reconstruction.
Read on at the NYT
Among the various documents and reports, the ones about the ISI's "double game" is bound to interest Indian security analysts, even though, as the Guardian points out, these documents "fail to provide a convincing smoking gun for ISI complicity" with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The documents, to be made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.
Read on at NYT: Pakistan Spy Service Aids Insurgents, Reports Assert
A stream of US military intelligence reports accuse Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of arming, training and financing the Taliban insurgency since 2004, the war logs reveal, bringing fresh scrutiny on one of the war's most contentious issues.
Read on at the Guardian: Afghanistan war logs: Clandestine aid for Taliban bears Pakistan's fingerprints
Also See: The biggest leak in intelligence history
This is a rushed blog-post as I am still to read the Der Spiegel repports. Much of the raw data is also published simultaneously on wikileaks.org/