01 August 2010

Afghanistan: the WikiLeaks

The 92,000 documents relating to the war in Afghanistan  which were leaked to WikiLeaks, 75,000 of which are published as The War Diary on the WikiLeaks website (www.wikileaks.org), are reports written by soldiers and intelligence officers, which mainly describe lethal military actions involving the United States military. They also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details.

The document collection is posted on a dedicated webpage.  They are the raw material of intelligence, and making sense of them would take an experienced and diligent reader a very long time.

The New York Times has had several weeks’ start on the rest of us and has deployed significant resources to reviewing the material. In its 25 July 2010 edition it published an overview of the material, with links to specific documents which illustrate the points made in the overview. In the words of The New York Times, the documents illustrate in mosaic detail why, after the United States has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.  The reports portray a resilient, canny insurgency that has bled American forces through a war of small cuts. The insurgents set the war’s pace, usually fighting on ground of their own choosing and then slipping away. The NYT overview may be accessed here.

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