Wikileaks And OpSec

Anyone who thinks the publication of the ‘War Logs’ by Wikileaks, NYT, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, is an unalloyed good needs to think again. By and large what was leaked and subsequently posted was a public good. It’s a public good in that we now have a fuller picture of what’s really happening in AfPak and it’s aggregated in one place.

However, there are some very real issues of OpSec. Wikileaks did not redact the names of many people in the reports it published. Why is that problematic? Well, just read this series of tweets by Joshua Foust (someone whom I trust when it comes to all things AfPak):

I hope Engineer Kareem has a safe place to hide in Ghazni, because Wikileaks has put his life in danger.

Or this:

Bakwa Mafia, a local contractor working in Farah, is no longer safe because of Wikileaks.

Or this:

Single data point: John Reynolds cannot travel to Pakistan again, ever, because of Wikileaks.

That’s just a sample of what he found in a short time. It is simply unconscionable that these names were not redacted. There is no excuse for it. I’m appalled, actually. These people are very, very much at risk of death now. (And before someone chimes in with their “who cares, they are the military, after all,” well, what about the Afghan contractor who’s now been exposed working for the US? Or the local Afghan engineer? Dude’s just trying to feed his family. Do you want his blood on his hands so you can feel righteous?) What Wikileaks has done here is not only irresponsible, but immoral.

Look, on balance, I like what Assange is doing, but let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that everything Wikileaks, or Assange does is an unadulterated public good. It’s not. And it’s a shame that we have to rely on a brazen self-promoter like Assange to fill the vacuum the Versailles media has created.

This post was read 298 times.

About author View all posts

Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

114 CommentsLeave a comment

  • …is a double edged sword.

    As for the people in question, now might be a good time to pick up their things and leave. Some people, right or wrong, consider helping an occupying force treason, punishable by death.

    Same thing happened here in the United States to those sympathetic to the British empire.

    I did inhale.

  • Do you believe these people could keep their activities secret, in their own countries? I don’t. Has wikileaks increased their risk? Doubtful, they had no secrets.

    In WW II collaborators with the Nazis were were known, and after the Nazi Germany fell, punished. Deservedly so in the Public’s Opinion.

    Collaborator and War-profiteer were very, very strong accusations. And should be so.

    Why the different standard now? Actions have consequences.

  • I have many acquaintances in the military field. Certainly they would be appalled. But do you know that those creepy MI guys at DOD have been looking for Assange? What do you suppose they would have done to him before he authorized the disbursement of this information?

    I’ll bet they would have flown him to an undisclosed location, tortured him, and killed him. That’s what I think. And since our glorious leaders are in the business of “looking forward, not backward” while this happened, is happening, and will continue to happen, who the f*ck are we to get our tit in a wringer about who is endangered by letting this information out?

    And while we’re at it, how the hell does John Kerry get away with pretending the Senate doesn’t know about all the crap that’s going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan? They have oversight! They have access to the information! Is what’s in these files some big f*cking surprise?

  • there is the unredacted name of a guy who is informing against the Taleban. The Taleban isn’t stupid. What happens when they put a bullet in this guy’s head? Do you want that blood on your hand?

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • Collaborating with an occupying or invading force is usually seen as treason, unless you’re working towards humanitarian relief during armed conflicts and you’re not just there to feed your family.

    I’d sound more sympathetic if Karzai’s regime wasn’t corrupt and we don’t eventually make peace with the Taliban before we leave (and not after so much propaganda bullshit about the plight of women).

    I would care about the guy informing against the Taliban if I couldn’t reasonably assume some Afghanistan intelligence officer wasn’t a double agent. Afghanistan is so compromised from within it seems pointless to support the Karzai regime in a “state” that prefers tribal governments.

  • Welcome to the Great Game (TM)! How much blood from how many innocents does the average American have on their hands? Everyone who thinks you can take Shock and Awe back, take one step forward. Whoops! Not so fast, bud . . .

    What kind of assurances should any Afghan have about the duration or seriousness of our involvement there? The current president will sell even his political allies down the river. Do you really think anybody doing business with the Americans don’t have a plan B? They’ve all been through this with the Soviets before. Why do you think most of them are wary of dealing with Americans in the first place? I would be too unless I was getting one of those shipments of $billions in cash on a loading pallet.

  • are not “just trying to feed his family”. It’s a risky thing to do.

    If the tables were turned, I would not want the identity of the collaborators and spies in my neighborhood concealed.

    The trouble with some folks deciding what information the public does and does not have a right to know is that it creates a cover of secrecy leading us straight to the pervasive treachery we have now. In my opinion, the public should be fully informed about any activities undertaken on behalf of the public, with public money. Classified/secret cloak-and-dagger bullshit always works against us by and by. The government should not be in the business of doing anything that must be kept secret. That’s organized crime, not governance.

  • callously cheer on the death of others. Must be the wimp factor.

    Yeah, sure, why don’t you ask Mahmud how well his plan fucking b worked out.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • I’m not cheering, but I wonder why you think we should be standing by ourselves after one decade of evolving bullshit. If we were invaded for liberation without invitation I would see nothing wrong with killing our own civilians working for a foreign government.

    There are legitimate grievances against the Taliban but the sides are fuzzy if not interchangeable (some of those Taliban-for-hires pick up guns to feed their families too), and the cluster fuck that is the Afghan government leaves me rooting for no one. Aside from the personal travesties that occur every day, just who am I supposed to feel sorry for? Americans don’t seem to pay attention to a ROE that kills our troops in the name of COIN but I’m supposed to hold my breath for Bakwa?

  • although I don’t see why I should have to be, the time has long since passed when our occupation of Afghanistan could have turned out successfully. The watershed moment was probably in 2003 when we took resources from AfPak to Iraq.

    This isn’t about whether the Taleban is bad or not, either. And it’s damn sure not about feeling ‘sorry’ for someone. It’s about making sure our assets are protected. It’s about preventing people from being killed in cold blood. About contractors–not mercenaries–people from USAID who met with an Afghan tribal leader, who’s trying to keep his village safe from the Uzbeks up the road, or the Hazara’s down the street. Or a Pashtun is afraid of the Tajiks in the village over the hills.

    As for informers, traitors, etc. . . I submit to you and Don and everyone else who has chimed in about it: it’s an extremely different animal in a place like Afghanistan. Remember: Afghanistan is not a nation. Nor is it really a functioning state. So the idea of an informer, or collaborator is very different than ours. Afghan politics are tribal in nature, not national, and tribal politics and the meaning of loyalty is much more fluid to Afghans than it is Americans who have a flag, an anthem, a Congress, a president, that means the same things to all of us.

    These people trust us to protect them. And that trust was betrayed by Wikileaks by not redacting their names. How hard would it be to have done that?

    Again, I’m not saying Wikileaks is all bad. I’m saying they need to improve. There is a large difference. It’s called nuance.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • Why do you think these people have not already been found out?

    The Taliban are not stupid. They probably already know about the informant. He took his life in his own hands when he decided to become an informer, collaborator and traitor.

    Do you sincerely believe that the Taliban do not know about Engineer Kareem negotiating about the dams? Or that they cannot see them being built? Same with Bakwa Mafia, et al.

    Joshua Foust may be someone you trust, but I am not sure why he believes UK Maj. “John Reynolds cannot travel to Pakistan again, ever, because of Wikileaks.” He strikes me as a drama queen.

    As for wikileaks having a moral obligation to disclose the identities of the whistle blowers, that is not a valid argument and you know it. Chalo said it was about the public being fully informed by the government about activities taken on behalf of the public, with public money. That is a culture of secrecy. Wikileaks is not the government. They exist solely for the purpose of exposing secrecy. Moreover, wikileaks promised the whistle blowers confidentiality. Championing confidentiality for something you are happy has been disclosed by wikileaks and criticizing it from something you do not want to disclosed is a double standard. They serve a purpose, and I appreciate that purpose.

    Why have you not criticized the whistle blowers for not redacting the names? If blood is on anyone’s hands, then it would be theirs. Lest we not forget the blood on our hands for all the innocent civilians that die at the hands of the coalition forces … oh … that’s right … collateral damage.

  • “who cares, they are the military, after all,”

    The US military are the only people there with a permanent cohesive identity. Everyone else with a gun changes alliances at the drop of a hat or a C-note. If you don’t have a permanent side yourself, you have no moral authority shooting informers or anyone else.

    His position in society, his high repute among his fellow men, his nimbus as a master biped.

    – Rex Stout

  • Well, for starters he’s been to Afghanistan and worked there. On these very issues.

    Fuck man, even the Mafia does what is can to protect its assets. Even the fucking Mafia recognizes that kind of morality. Why is this so hard to understand?

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • I want a government that doesn’t use security classification to hide information from its own citizens, active conscientious media, only enemies and bad people hurt or killed, humble self-effacing leakers. . . and a pony. War is such an awesome, good, fast way to bring goodness, civilization, light, gender equality, prosperity, and whatever else is the universal right of the day to the people who live where our weapons happen to strike. It’s such a good way that the moral question we need to ask ourselves is “Does this non-governmentally sanctioned action harm anybody?”

    Or as Glenn Greenwald put it, It’s not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted, that media “coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published,” rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it.

  • have been prevented. That is not what I am saying. I am saying that Wikileaks, if it wants to continue to be taken seriously, and I hope it does because we need Wikileaks, needs to change some of its methods. It needs to be more fucking careful with those people who are on the front lines, doing the grunt work, it needs to think about the little people it claims to represent.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • The thing is that it is not a game for the people who live there. It is their lives. What was their alternative to dealing with the Americans? The Taliban? Not much of a choice.

  • “It’s relatively easy to support and/or acquiesce to a war when neither you nor your loved ones are risking their lives to fight it.”

    To which I would add a corollary: “It’s relatively easy to condemn all actors as immoral and deserving of ‘what they get’ in any conflict when you don’t understand the nature of the conflict.”

    Again, this are clear violations of OpSec that put lives, real lives, real human beings at risk. Why is that so hard to understand?

    I’ve long been on record as opposing our adventure in Afghanistan for numerous reasons. But I would never violate OpSec.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • This is treason. Lives will be lost, intelligence sources will be lost and this will set us back years. Ever wonder how we targeted those for drone attacks? It took years to develop these sources. This is treason and we are at war. In WW II those responsible would have been put against the wall. Loose lips sank ships then,today loose lips kill your neighbor’s sons. This is Horrible.

  • and stealing our money to do what it does. That is the difference. We don’t have an intrinsic right to your granny’s cookie recipe, or Apple’s new product lineup, or the inventory report from the local convenience store. But when we the public are paying the costs, both financially and politically, we deserve to know what is happening in our names– all of it. How can we consent or object to things that are kept secret from us?

    Ultimately, the costs of having official secrecy are much higher than the costs of not having it.

  • there is a difference between leaking something that risks no lives, and something that does. I’m all for radical transparency, but not at the cost of REAL lives, especially when it comes to those who have dealt with us in good faith and trust us.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • release of the documents is a public good. Treason would be leaking documents pertaining to a vital national interest or vital national secret. This leak does not rise to that level. It’s embarrassing to the government and it puts some lives at risk. But it ain’t high treason.

    However, as I have repeatedly stated, the lack of redactions leaves Wikileaks with potential blood on their hands. How hard would it have been to redact all names of non-senior personnel? Not terribly difficult, I imagine.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • that publication should be prevented. I’m saying that it’s moral outrage on the issue is a diversion that benefits the greater evil. I don’t care whether Wikileaks is taken seriously or not unless it has some impact. I don’t care what its claims are about representing the little people unless fewer little people die. And I worry less about changing Wikileaks than about stopping the U.S. government’s military adventures. We need to be more fucking careful with people.

  • …doing in the narratives in open text at all. Don’t know how US forces do it, but most HUMINT intermediate product that I’ve ever seen declass has source identities stripped and substituted with a cryptonym or a source id number. This strikes me as somewhat sloppy given that the this stuff is intended to be used in a machine readable format – be reasonably easy to set up a classified look up table containing the source idents. Then, if the analyst has an abiding need to know the identity of the source, they can apply for access.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • but more like after-action reports from soldiers and officers. But WTF do I know, really? I’m relying on Johsua’s expertise here. So far he’s been pretty spot on.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • If someone’s name is so important, it should never appear in official documents like that. The Pentagon’s always screwing people wherever it goes because its intelligence arm is full of incompetents, conservative idealogues, and government gold diggers. But I repeat myself. Read Frank Snepp’s “Decent Interval” about how all our allies in the Republic of South Vietnam got served up to the Vietcong on a silver platter. It’s revolting.

  • …can you hold that “assassination” against a literal handful of US citizens is so beyond the pale but something like this – something that puts tens, maybe hundreds or even thousands of sources OTR (On The Run) for fear of their lives – is on balance a public good? Seriously, it’s a question not a rhetorical device…

    I dunno man, I got problems with all this. All that stuff in the media coverage about how they vetted things for OPSEC concerns is sounding a lot like “vetted for OPSEC concern of non brown folks”. Never occurred to me that they’d have stuff like this in the narratives, but it’s really a mind bender that it’s still been left in when leaked – kinda goes towards the notion that most of the folks propagating the leak don’t know quite what it is that they’re looking at.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • The point of The Leaks was not name the names of low level collaborators, and so it was unnecessary. Unnecessarily causing a death carries culpability. The names should have been scrubbed, IMHO.

    As far as the charges of treason being thrown around as a way to excuse the death of those named as being possibly permissible, it could only be considered treason by the Taliban, who are not exactly legitimate state actors, and by those who support them for whatever reason.

    If you aren’t already part of the Taliban but support them, chances are its out of fear and you would support the next regime that frightened you. (simplistic, but take the larger meaning) It’s pretty dicey to mount charges of betrayal against such folk.

  • You ask: “I’m trying to wrap my head around this. How on one hand can you hold that “assassination” against a literal handful of US citizens is so beyond the pale but something like this – something that puts tens, maybe hundreds or even thousands of sources OTR (On The Run) for fear of their lives – is on balance a public good? Seriously, it’s a question not a rhetorical device.”

    In two parts. I should clarify:

    I am just as appalled as you by the serious breaches of OpSec and that is in no way a public good. Full stop.

    Had Wikileaks taken OpSec of ALL people, not just white, but brown, as serious as the life or death issue it is, and redacted the names (and some other important giveaways) then on the whole it would have been a public good. An aggregation of all this for the public to see, to get reported on, without the ‘Official Filter’ being applied, so the unvarnished truth comes out, is a public good. I’m sure you’ll disagree. So be it.

    But, the lack of taking OpSec seriously by Wikileaks, seriously tarnishes what they did here.

    Is that better?

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • Of our allies in an occupied country is a death sentence for the allies. The US will not be there for ever, and has a poor track record of occupations.

    If the names do not become known now, then they could become known later, very easily.

    The stupidity is first invading an ungovernable country, second escalating a war in a country that has nothing, and third recording the names.

    What does the US believe the wars of independence, started in 1776 and occurring on and off until a cluster of such wars, encouraged by the US is its disdain for the European empires, in the 50s and 60s mean for its ambitions?

  • Were a sovereign government. Currently the are a government-in-exile.

    Which would make the Taliban legitimate state actors. Enough of the Afghans believe this to cause the occupying power much blood and treasure.

  • …of the day. By extension they are not a valid government in exile.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • I agree. It doesn’t make sense to see these people as collaborators. The Taleban was basically a reign of terror. Would anyone consider the Germans who helped the allies defeat the Nazis as collaborators? For most people, cooperating with the Americans was probably their best hope.

  • Some people, right or wrong, consider helping an occupying force treason, punishable by death.

    This is not a matter of judgment, just a fact. When those people chose to pass information to the US army they became snitches among their own. No different than an inmate passing intel to prison guards.

    Not wise, when you have to sleep among those people.

    Concerning wikileaks: There are times when there’s no way of exposing war criminals without also endangering others. Even if you redact names, those familiar with the cases will put two and two together and know who did what.

    Like I said, if you’ve been a fucking snitch, might be a good time to pick up your shit and leave.

    PS. My government never asked me if I was on board when they decided to invade and occupy foreign countries. I am not responsible when the consequences of that action comes home to roost on those that are.

    I did inhale.

  • …I’m not sure I would disagree. Me, I always like to see data out there – folks continue to disappoint as to what uses they put it to, but data is generally a good thing.

    My reaction what we see right now is a little more severe, however – this isn’t something that has “tarnished” what they’ve done. My view, it’s a serious and ongoing moral offense. Having read though a couple of these things, I have a little better understanding of why they didn’t source code them (from what I’ve seen thus far they wouldn’t actually be considered formal HUMINT sources) but I can’t think that this is something that they would have considered to be non-sensitive, either.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • agreement, then. As the day goes on and I read more about it and get more context I grow more and more appalled and disgusted. A morally responsible person just doesn’t do shit like this. Full stop.

    “Sí che dal fatto il dir non sia diverso.”


  • … Taliban’s side. If you have followed their rise to power and conduct in the least you should know that they are truly heinous and very much a creation of Pakistan’s ISS and Saudi Arabia sponsored Wahhabism brain washing.

    Afghan civilians caught in the cross fire simply have no good choices. There are no good guys in this story.

    IMHO SPK is absolutely correct in his criticism.

  • The one dimensional idea of traitors or collaborators simply doesn’t hold in a tribal country without defining nationhood.

    As I tried to point out to Don’s original posting it wasn’t that simple for the American Revolution either or there wasn’t a rather distinct nation to your north now.

  • I have no doubt we have much invested in believing that, but I’m extremely skeptical that it’s true.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • And it seems to be rather convincingly confirmed at this point. Of course Pakistan is not a solid entity but more a mess of constantly infighting elites. Untangling this makes the Gordian knot look trivial.

    One thing is fairly certain though: The IIS created the Taleban and would like to make their neighbor a client state.

  • “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • I’m sure the prison guards don’t represent the interests of their prisoners.

    Edit: For that matter neither does Karzai’s regime. You can’t have it this way and ask others to have it that way.

  • But the US is like the prison guards in a way. While they bring food and provide shelter, they most definitely are not concerned with the well being of the locals.

    When in prison, I didn’t like the fact that someone might be selling heroin or running a gambling ring. But I damn sure didn’t tell on those that did.

    Whoever thought the US government would stand behind them for helping the cause made a terrible mistake in judgment. We have never stood behind our snitches. We get what we want and feed them to the dogs.

    I say expose it all and let the cards fall where they will.

    I did inhale.

  • Alright here’s a comparable. Wikileaks released a big spreadsheet of all of Norm Coleman’s credit card donors, and they deleted the actual CC numbers. However the checksums were also improperly stored with the credit cards so i think they included the checksums.

    Similar argument to be made in this situation. Less severe, but parallel. In a war or a political campaign there is a kind of expectation of privacy for the donors’ personal datas, or whatever hapless local is tangled in Afghan/US operations.

    The thing in the Coleman case was that it was known around town this credit card data got leaked. I did a story about it as soon as I could (recount website epic fail). I tried to let the public know that the Coleman campaign had violated their trust by leaking out their credit card data – it came from a non-protected folder on their own dang site, a ZIP file of the whole Access tables.

    The MN Attorney General was supposed to (“shall” in statute) hold Coleman accountable for this, and deal with the privacy fallout upon these consumers (i.e. force the Coleman camp to notify everyone to cancel their credit cards). But the AG failed to do this. The story lay nascent for a few weeks, then I saw Wikileaks hinting about it on twitter and knew instantly which data they were referencing. The Coleman campaign failed to protect its donors and notify them, preferring to dissemble about what happened.

    So finally wikileaks releases the partially scrubbed tables, and everyone gets all pissed off at wikileaks (not that many people had heard of them by Feb 09). But Wikileaks didn’t break the data out of the server, they didn’t need to. Coleman’s people leaked it, they were the negligent ones. Wikileaks just forced the hand of Coleman et al, to finally make them tell everyone to cancel their credit cards.

    Wikileaks even said I wrote the most “approachable” account of what went down — frankly in part because I made it clear that it wasn’t wikileaks who set this all loose originally.

    So the case here is that the Pentagon completely failed to protect this OpSec sensitive names of informants et al, they were the ones who let all this stuff go floating around on SIPRnet for anyone to get. This material could have just been sold to the highest bidder, and frankly if Manning had gotten caught selling it to a foreign power he would be in *less trouble* because they get away with this all the time.

    In the Coleman case it was Coleman’s fault for breaking the opsec of credit cards. In this case at root it was the Pentagon’s fault for jeopardizing these people with their crappy security.

    Also I’m pretty sure OpSec was pioneered by good ol Ollie North who recognized that drug smuggling conduits with 95% effective OpSec could be denied effectively by the law enforcement authorities of the day. Today OpSec protects drugmoney cashflowz from “anyone being forced to give a sh*t” — and that’s certainly true in Afghanistan.

  • Let me start with a plain platitude – we live in an imperfect world, we are fighting a very nasty war, and within such constraints there is no such thing as clean, decisive action. I agree with SPK that risk has increased for people whose name were not edited. I wouldn’t be able to quantify the increase, though. Clearly it was not zero the day before the leak.

    Another platitude to go with the first one: the impact of this action is amplified by the context, that is to say by the very secretive attitude of the Coalition governments (more than secretive – often insincere and misleading, to say the least), denying civil society the right to know the truth. This ‘vulnerability to the truth’ is a responsibility of the leaders, not of the whistleblowers.

    Looking at the bigger picture -accepting that imperfection and recognizing that amplification-, the leak appears to be a basically political action conceived to help force decisions about the absurd Afghanistan war. If it adds to other pressure, and anticipates by “x” months the inevitable end of a lost war, how many lives could this political action help to save? Of soldiers, of civilians?

    (I do assure you that I’m not using ‘absurd’ or ‘lost’ with any glee, just with despair. I opposed both wars quite actively, when I was still living in Spain, my home country, and had to explain to some angry people that I was doing so out of love for America. The current disaster it’s not just an American disaster – the whole Western world is and will be saddled with it, although its biggest share was undoubtedly bought by the USA.)

    If there remains something to be done, this something will start being possible the day after the last ‘copter takes off from the roof of the last Western embassy in Kabul. For me, almost anything which brings that day nearer, exposing the web of lies and interests which keeps the West entangled down there, deserves consideration as the lesser evil.

  • in the misguided view of the publisher, was to maintain the purity of the information, you know uncensored in any way.
    I however respectfully disagree with you, this is not journalism.
    As an historian I am sure you will agree, this type of information is dispensed long after the information’s intelligence value as seen in earlier periods WWII, Vietnam and the cold war. As mentioned before, this is a war. Your interpretation of deleting names is a compromise far beyond the line of national security. The mere mention of events, places, actions and operations will provide the enemy with unforeseen advantage, every period, and comma will provide the enemy with untold information. As a side bar, I will admit the information of the Taliban being in possession of portable anti aircraft missiles was not surprising to me. However it was very unsettling. We all know this is what brought the Russians down.

  • apparently fails to understand how dreadfully important these bits of information are when he says “Ho Hum.”

    Of course, he does point out that there isn’t any exciting new information, but he doesn’t address the issue of the names. I think it very unlikely that Afghans don’t know who cooperates with the U. S.

    I do understand that I don’t understand, but the reference to Engineer Kareem was an endorsement of his work by some elders and assurances to him that he wouldn’t have problems with the Taliban. The Bakwa Mafia reference is the same sort of thing. Neither document reveals anything which wouldn’t have been common knowledge. They weren’t involved in deep, dark, sneaky action against anyone. You can’t build dams or drill wells secretly if there are people around.

    It is also difficult for me to imagine that a British Major isn’t in danger while traveling around Pakistan.

    All three references are just reports to someone about what appear to be pretty public meetings that weren’t even intended to be secret.

  • The Taliban are a creation of the Paranoid Saudi Princes hell bent on controlling Shiite Iran after the Iranian Revolution. The Taliban are the end result of years of radicalization of Sunni Pasthun Pakistani tribes through Wahabbi religious schools. They are not and have never been a legitimate central governmental entity. Throughout their regime, the nation waged war upon itself, they are nothing but the end result of another nation’s master plan, our Saudi brothers. Which to me is fine and dandy except when you harbor, protect, hide and support the greatest threat to the western world Al-Qaeda, whose true aim is the conversion, through force, of the west to their brand of Islam.
    They are not a government in exile, they are just back where they have always been Pashtuns hanging with their cousins in Pakistan. Let them stay there.

  • So and so is in danger? Oh dear? How many thousands have been bombed into oblivion in a war that is yet one more big fat lie? Now we get some truth and there is hand wringing?

  • This is about every F’ing war the U.S. gets into. Everyone of these wars is a lie; it is a lie about the reason; a lie about the pretense; and a lie about the goals. Now some actual news comes out and everyone is afraid that someone a few will be hurt but think of the millions; yes, millions who have died under U.S. bombs in Vietnam; in Iraq 1, in Iraq 2, in Serbia, in Afghanistan, all lies, lies, lies, lies and more lies.

  • One piece of the news is that someone is willing to publish the truth. The Families of the few can blame the U.S. government for creating the web of lies that they were caught up in.

  • … much own the creation of the Taleban with the US initially involved as happy cash donor as long as the Soviets where in Afghanistan.

    I’d say they clearly tipped their hand. Not clear on the role of the UAE.

  • “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • …data into which all may reach to find something that supports their preconceptions. This they will label “truth”, but it will be far from it and none of those publishing will have to pay the attendant bill.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • … alliance kept holding them off.

    If you want to fish in European history for an an analogy I suggest Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England. Although in comparison to the Taleban he clearly was a paragon of virtue.

  • …attempt to set the scene, prior to withdrawal, for the most constrained field of play for the Taliban possible, without tipping it over into a free for all. The last time we saw the latter the casualties were in the hundreds of thousands, the former – unconstrained – is inimical to US interests. Set the scene so they are constrained, as one party among a contested whole and there is possibility – fail to do so such that they make a play for unchallenged primacy and one sets the scene for unending reprisal. Think British strategy of punitive raid with PGMs…

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • quax: How does calling him a traitor essentially imply I am taking the Taliban’s side? What are you princess drama queen? I was stating a fact as opposed to an implication. Learn the difference. Learn to read.

    Anyone that takes sides with an occupational force in their country, provides them with information is and will always be considered an informant, a collaborator and/or a traitor. They pay the consequences of their decisions.

    I suspect you will be the first to look for an economic gain should your country be occupied. Somehow, you will rationalize that it is a good thing and you are not an informant, a collaborator and/or a traitor. You were only caught in the crossfire.

    Have you ever been in a war zone quax? I have. Several. There are choices. Those choices keep you alive and out of harm’s way. Decisions vs. Consequences. it is no different for civilians, military personnel and/or intel officers.

    SP: Foust? I read his stuff. Yawn. I have been there too. I know people there now. I know people that fought there in the 1980’s on both sides, and afterward. He does not have a clue.

    You know SP, if this was about protecting the people there, then you should read all the documents about the killing of innocent civilians there caught in the crossfire. You know the ones our media does not report about, which were killed by us and/or coalition forces. Where is your outrage about that?

    Amazing that you fail to respond to the questions I propounded. Hmmm … not really amazing … but evasive. Really, the Mafia? How does that compare with a government that does not protect the treasure? It does not. I know, you think it is a nuance, but it is not. They protect their profits. We protect what? The military industrial complex, Wall Street … blah, blah, blah … oh, right, we protect our profits. What about the people?

    So, are you essentially championing the military industrial complex and the protection of their assets?

    I guess the next time wikileaks posts some documents about the targeting of Americans living abroad for assassination will be met with an “how can they post that” overreaction from you?


    I would love to stay and chat about it, but it is morning here. I want to get some photos of Ukrainian skinheads protesting the Patriarch of Russia and freedom of religion.

  • That would be the people of the world SP. We have a fucking right to know. Quit blaming the messenger. Why have you not placed your blame on the persons that provided the message to the messenger?

  • You would never violate OPSEC, even if you witnessed war crimes?

    What about the moral obligation you refer to continuously in this thread?

  • This is a difficult and complex issue, to state the obvious. As per Sean Paul, the failure to redact the names of non-senior official and officers, whether military, governmental or civilian, troubles me. While in some cases not doing so may have been judged important, particularly given Assange’s comments regarding the provision of evidence for criminal trials and such, it appears that there was little to no effort, en masse, to redact names on the documents that have been released so far.

    On one hand, I strongly value what wikileaks does, particularly in an age of dwindling investigative reporting and imperial politics. They provide at times what I consider an essential service for the public good, whatever their personal motives may be. But this is not the first time wikileaks choices have troubled me, so I am conflicted. It is also not the most ideal method of providing the some of the legwork for investigative reporting, but then, beggars can’t be choosers.

    So I am conflicted. This is a complex issue and I don’t have enough knowledge, either of actual, warranted OPSEC (and much of it is not warranted) or of even a reasonably portion of the full 90000 or so documents leaked so far.

  • that so far I’ve seen nothing but conjecture to indicate these documents contain evidence of war crimes – I agree.

    It has to be said that “OpSec” would rise closer to a sacred value if its own adherents had not profaned it so many times, like citing it to obscure the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • … a homogeneous country doesn’t make sense and the Taleban are anything but a purely indiginous force. Which is why I read your choice of words as a moral judgment. No offense intended. My understanding is that Afghanistan is a conglomerate of tribes and power mostly rests with local war lords. The Northern Alliance held of the Taleban before the US made it their war e.g. labeling such Afghans working with the US against their long established enemies “traitors” is just non-nonsensical to me.

    In fact you may recall that SPK met such an Afghan in Istanbul. To me the retelling of this encounter was the most moving of SPK travel diaries I’ve read so far.

  • I’m sure he would never exagerrate things or seek to spin how they’re depicted for gain.

    “Sarcasm. Hurts your cheek from the force of the tongue and tastes just like chicken.” ~ not-Richard Haass

  • 1) As I am sure you will have noted, the war has not being going “well”. This means that a goodly portion of the folks contained in those files who “collaborated” (things like taking the rich white folks up on their offer to dig wells or build schools) did so when the Taliban had no counter-intelligence capability in their district or even their province (i.e., they were far from knowingly taking their lives in their hands – more like holding their hands out for their due piece of the pie, actually). This source, however, provides a ready made CI roadmap of past behaviour – if I, in the circumstances of moving into a new area, having limited resources, want to know exactly which heads to “trim” this is very handy.

    2) While there’s a lot of pious commentary regarding the “goodness” of bringing this out into the public eye, the public’s understanding of things would not be hindered at all were it Engineer [redacted] doing things. Additionally, I’d have a lot more tolerance for the idea of these as public good were I to actually think that the public will read them. I’m not going to hold my breath – shit, folks can’t even manage to read the Times.

    “Bring brother Redacted into my presence so that I may explain to him the error of his ways.” ~ not-Richard Haass, in touch with inner his white mice, Taliban edition

  • There shouldn’t need to be a Wikileaks and this should never have to happen if the government could be candid with the people and the press had integrity but they don’t and they aren’t so we have to have Wikileaks.

  • …well known to anyone who’s been arsed to take the time to follow the coverage. Even were one to read only government statements and the most mainstream of the “MSM” one could know the score if they take the time to read and have two neurons to rub together.

    All this is simply a mass of data onto which the vast majority will project with the added frisson of having been “sekret” to make it extra juicy. Doubtless there’s a lot of stuff in there that could increase understanding, but pretty much no one is actually going to strap that on. A big chunk of the populace doesn’t even have the discipline for print media, what would lead one to believe that they have the skills and patience for the type of painstaking collation that would be required here to shed light?

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • We should keep them ignorant? Is that what you are saying? People can’t understand stuff so why tell them about it? Sort of a self fulfilling prophecy isn’t it?

    The government has shown over and over again that it cannot manage having secrets without abusing them. I completely understand that secrets can be necessary. This is the Socratic thing, they, the military and government, abused their institutions, making themselves untrustworthy to have secrets but then they complain about the damage.

  • …something like wikileaks is a remedy to the state of ignorance of the populace is ill-founded. Further, I am saying that their state of ignorance has little to do with the degree of candour in government or the integrity of the press, but a very great deal to do with their unwillingness to pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and actually read.

    If they are unwilling to do simple things like read, they are certainly unwilling to do complicated things like collate and summarize data statistically as required to make sense of the wikileaks disclosure.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • What’s the alternative? Without the Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers we would all still kind of know what a big lie Vietnam was but we couldn’t be sure; it would be nothing more than a conspiracy theory. When will the documents come out that tell us what this war is about? How can we be sure anything the government and military does is on the level?

  • remember Assange starting the stuff about the U. S. killing or torturing him. He keeps a really low profile. The first prominent posting I remember on that subject was by Ellsberg.

  • …Afghanistan conflict as the Pentagon Papers were to the Viet Nam war. Numerous commentators have been at pains to point out that this is emphatically not the case. What this war is “about” is not a great, big secret. If you haven’t established an answer that satisfies you in nine years, I very much doubt that anything that I can say to you would clarify it acceptably.

    As to the degree to which the government and military are “on the level”, you’ll have to use your best judgment, just like the rest of us. I would suggest, however, that taking opposition to the “official line” as the imprimatur of truth – as many appear to do – is a mistake. This is particularly so in matters like this.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • If anything happens to us, you know why: it is our Apr 5 film. And you know who is responsible. 12:33 AM Mar 24th

    WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Following/photographing/filming/detaining. 12:31 AM Mar 24th

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • Don’t watch anyone’s twitter feed. Wonder why anyone might be a little paranoid about the U. S. security complex? Of course, you and I know that anyone who is suspected of thoughts which might be contrary to the proper, approved thoughts deserves anything we might happen to do them.

  • is this war about? I’m sure you’re right, but I seem to recall hearing different official/semi-official rationales.

    I liked the statement “If you haven’t established an answer that satisfies you in nine years,” because it suggests that I will have to create that rationale for myself.

  • …having thoughts that are “contrary to the proper, approved thoughts” is little guarantee that those thoughts are, in fact, correct. You may have noticed that I’m a bit of a prick [wee understatement] about “correct”.

    “And before you ask, yes, it is me that makes the judgment as to whether something’s correct. Forever. For everyone, everywhere. Mwuahahahaha. Oh, and I am Iron Man.” ~ not-Richard Haass powerdrunk in the mid-afternoon

  • …of choice, which it seems to me is what this has become. Started off with a fairly limited set of aims which then expanded – in large part, I think, to make up for past decisions as well as to prove that non-US players still had relevance in the international security arena. As time has progressed and opposition has mounted, both the clarity of purpose and the public’s tolerance for sacrifice have diminished significantly (the latter perhaps more than the former). Question at this point is not whether “victory” is possible but whether folks have it in them to seek the best possible end state given the late date and the very real resource constraints.

    For the record, I’m guessing “no”.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • Yeah, its a war on terrorists, I keep forgetting the enemy are the uh … Al Qaeda, Taliban, Whatsits. Bin Laden, it would appear thanks to these leaks is dead 6 years now and there really are no Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    No, let me give you my little conspiracy theory, Afghanistan is very strategic geographically, it borders Iran, Pakistan, countries North, countries West which are one of the few places of increasing oil production left and not far, not far from Kazakstan another place with lots of energy reserves and Kyrgyzstan a country which stands in between Kazakstan energy supplies and China. So, my guess, theory, or conspiracy is that bringing Afghanistan into the U.S. sphere of influence is a major strategic goal from both energy security and having our hand on the oil Spigot leading to China and India. That’s my guess based on reading but no one knows because ITS A SECRET! Shusssshhhh, don’t tell the Chinese and the Russians, oh wait a minute they know; they have analysts and all that; but, all those young American Men and Women, are they willing to volunteer, put their lives on the line for a game of geopolitical chess? Are the American people going to tolerate this war if they know its purpose and that is precisely why it is a secret and that is precisely the same reason that the Pentagon Papers were a secret.

    Now these Wikileaks documents may or may not verify or contradict my Why We are There theory; curious that I should have to have one. However, they bring us a little closer to the fundamental truth and that is the U.S. has no business being in Afghanistan, it is another immoral enterprise.

  • …”On reflection, you’re right. Nothing you can say will clarify it acceptably.”?

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • I don’t understand what you are saying unless you think that geopolitical chess is a perfectly good reason for making wars; for me it is unacceptable.

    My central point is that the American people will not accept the truth so they are told a lie, not because they don’t understand it but because the real reason is simply unacceptable. Therefore, Wikileaks is needed so that Democracy has a chance.

  • …re-weighting surveys, serially discovering past errors and figuring out how to compensate for them (read: paper over past dumbassery while balancing the desire not to look too much like an idiot against retaining strict fidelity to the data – fidelity trumps BTW). The Tony Stark brilliant libertine fantasy is looking mighty appealing, let me tell you.

    Doing a survey once is easy. Doing it more than once and producing results that are comparable is hard. If the results are the same, as a surveyor I’m heartened by how repeatable the instrument is, but as an analyst I’m bored spitless. All in all, I gotta say the tin suit sounds pretty good. Poisonous arc reactor in the chest’s a bit of a downer, but hey.” ~ not-Richard Haass

  • …on offer to you as to the whys and wherefores of how we have found ourselves at this juncture in this war is likely to be accepted by you as valid. Were the guys and gals who made those decisions themselves to relate them to you, I suspect you would view them as untruthful or deluded. Sorry, but that doesn’t suggest that there’s much of a basis for discussion.

    Personally, I think that the American people might well have accepted the truth (that, among other things, this is a poorly defined generational project) were that to have been on offer from the begining, but that there is no significant chance that they would accept it at this late date. They believe themselves to have sacrificed sufficient blood and treasure (quite self-interestedly [not exactly the right word, but a better one eludes me], in my opinion) for goals they do not understand.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • If Wikileaks wanted to release these documents in a timely manner, they had no choice, I think. It would take a long time to redact them in a way that people’s identities cannot be INFERRED. Just erasing the names is not enough, although at least that could have been done rather quickly and automatically.

  • Exactly. It may not be sufficient but it’s the least that one should have expected. Could have bought some time for the most endangered individuals.

  • There are the day-to-day tactical decisions that can morph the military mission and there is the strategic context in which they are taking place which also morphs as decisions are made and new stakeholders appear. I am speaking of the strategic context you seem to be speaking about the tactical level.

  • …to grand-strategic level.

    “The absence of any US-Iran bilateral channel…may have the perverse effect of reinforcing Iranian interest in progressing in the nuclear realm so that the US will be forced to take it seriously and engage it directly.” ~ Richard Haass

  • I agree, same thing with Valerie Plame. I mean, did you really think she wasnt already found out ? So whats the big deal ?

    For those of you really dim bulbs out there, that is sarcasm. Any douchebags out there who screamed bloody murder about Valerie Plame sure as hell better not rationalize the WikiLeaks “outings” in terms of “oh, I bet the Taliban already knows”.

    At least Valerie Plame wasnt in danger of having her head cut off on a jihadi videotape.

    The wikileaks turd really fucked up when he didnt properly redact the names. Talk about entering “maximum fucktard” mode.

    Mad Dog

  • Would that include revealing evidence used in a public trial ?

    How about the identity of our double agents in Al-Queda ?

    How about revealing the fact you have genital herpes if you use Medicare ? After all, we wouldnt want you to spread that would we ?

    Are you really this fucking naive ? THe world doesnt revolve around your bullshit conspiracy theories.

    I can only imagine Chalo in 1944. “Mr. President, its in the public interest that we reveal that we broke the German codes.” (publicly funded and all…..) ***

    The fact of the matter that no individual is smart enough to be able to absorb and make rational decisions on every matter of public policy. You _dont_ need to know everything.

    No, really, you dont.

    Mad Dog

    *** if you cant see the problem with this, you probably smoke too much pot.

  • all the terrible stuff that happens because there is official secrecy. Think about it. It’s worse to have it than not to have it– and most of the ill effects you can imagine for opening up official secrets are really just aftereffects from having it in the first place.

  • No Chalo, “terrible things” are not all the result of secrecy.

    Everyday crime is not caused by secret wire-taps, and so forth.

    Secrets are important. You are qualified or capable to know everything.

    Take our WW2 Ultra case…. would you have been in favor of exposing this state secret during the war ?

    Mad Dog

  • grave misstatement of what Chalo wrote here –

    “all the terrible stuff that happens because there is official secrecy”

    – which pretty clearly means “all the terrible things that are caused by secrecy”, as opposed to your apparent interpretation as “… all terrible things are caused by secrecy”.

    I don’t believe, for example, that Chalo is arguing that colo-rectal cancer is caused by secrecy.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Listened to the Wikileaks founder today on BBC WS and he is saying that the NYT and the Times of London cannot point to the particular documents that have these names and in the case of the name given by the London newspaper the person has already been dead for two years.

  • how the fake story got planted.

    Assuming that info isn’t secret, of course.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • the humble Chickadee, UE, whose several ancestors stuck with the British paymasters in the way back times. Mind you, the very same ancestors also put in good time in Patriot militias so today their efforts are equally heralded by the DAR in the US. I guess whose side you aligned yourself with on any given day may have had something to do with whose soldiers were riding through town intent on torching the farms of those unwilling to switch sides. Basically, think Afghanistan.

    “”If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?” – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

Leave a Reply