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On Wikileaks & the Pakistan memos

Today Wikileaks published 92,000 classified cables from military, intelligence, and other US officials in the field in Afghanistan. The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel were given access to the documents a month ago and have published reports on the data (for a description on how this came about, see this NYT report).

Of particular interest are the cables on Pakistan's support of the Afghan Taliban and other terror groups. Read the full NYT report on this issue here for an excellent summary.

Longtime readers of The Long War Journal will not be shocked by these reports. For years, Tom Joscelyn and I have been documenting the involvement of the Pakistani military and intelligence services with various terror groups. See Pakistan's Jihad and Analysis: Al Qaeda is the tip of the jihadist spear for summary reports from 2008 and 2009. Also, Hamid Gul has long been known to support the Taliban and al Qaeda. For a summary of the activities of Hamid Gul and others, see US moves to declare former Pakistani officers international terrorists.

Tom and I will have more to come on these and other subjects as we sift through the documents.

On a final note, there is criticism of some of the intelligence reports as some of the information has originated from Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, which has viewed Pakistan as driving the violence in Afghanistan. This is a specious argument. As the NYT points out, there are specific attacks in Afghanistan that can be matched with intelligence reports that were written prior to the time the attacks were executed.

READER COMMENTS: "On Wikileaks & the Pakistan memos"

Posted by Charley at July 25, 2010 11:15 PM ET:

Some heads should roll in Pentagon and State for knowingly letting our troops be in harm's way by providing billions to Pakistan for their fiendish behavior. This is treason.

Posted by naresh c at July 26, 2010 1:46 AM ET:

And what does the wikileak say about who funds the Pakistani military, ISI and the economy?
It is aid from US.

Posted by James at July 26, 2010 5:07 AM ET:

Wow ! How do you proof read over 90,000 pages of purported documents? Answer: you don't.

This is nothing but a "fishing expedition" by the anti war crowd. Look up the phrase "fishing expedition" in any law dictionary (or just google it) to see what I am referring to here. And, the source material for this "fishing expedition" will be these so-called documents.

Scrutinize carefully the articles cited by Bill to the NYT articles. They have decided to take liberty upon themselves to "redact" select data (such as names, places, etc.). How can someone trying to proofread such documents confirm their authenticity or reliability?

There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of it is most likely decoy material to throw off any critical appraisle of the material.

There may well be (an) individual (or individuals) guilty of commiting treason in this matter.

We are guilty of abandoning the good Afghans not once but twice. Once, when we abandoned them after they expelled the Soviets, and again, when we went into Iraq which drained our resources and took up so much of our attention. This is why we've fallen so far behind in Afghanistan.

Yet, you won't see that point being made by the NYT or the other outlets wikileaks so selectivetly decided to reveal this alleged data to.

A cardinal rule of any good military planner is "never allow your enemy to regroup itself." Yet, the previous administration is guilty I feel of such a colossal blunder on a par with Hitler's colossal blunder at Dunkirk.

And, wasn't it him who said right after the 9-11 attacks that (before Congress or the UN I forget which): "They that harbor terrorists must share in their fate." So, when scum laden ("allegedly" and so conveniently) "escaped" into Pakistan with his fellow ilk, why didn't he order (or allow) our military to go in after him?

Posted by hillbill at July 26, 2010 9:38 AM ET:

USA needs a scapegoat for its failure and who else would be a better scapegoat than pakistan.
this report is all rif raf . pakistan is willing to provide face saving exit for USA,say; thank you pakistan and get the hell out of here.

Posted by Neo at July 26, 2010 9:39 AM ET:

First my reaction to the information released. It is a shockingly vast amount of intelligence, but it pretty much confirms what I have been reading all along. It has plenty of new detail, but does not present a radically changed picture. The "official" picture of Afghanistan presented by the government, is less a rosy picture than dry portrayal that downplays how the war has gotten worse over the years. During that time, attention was focused elsewhere. There hasn't been a lot of coverage of the war in Afghanistan and even less interest by the general public. As for the information itself, it is tracked by the news media and most notably by this web site, which relies for the most part on publicly sourced information. So the information is available, but not in this quantity and detail. We have been discussing the rather bleak realities in both Afghanistan and Pakistan for about five years now. It's not like this radically changes the picture.

This is ready made public firestorm done to support a political agenda. The question is, will the public firestorm be directed at the conduct of the war, or will this whole thing backfire on Wikileaks. Wikileaks mission truly audacious. They aim to "take on" the governments ability to keep any sort of state secrets. They are openly willing to encourage treason to support their political agenda. It will be interesting to see how the political community lines up on this. Openly and directly supporting treason is a pretty radical stance. I think there are quite a few people who have doubts about the war, but still feel this sort of directed subterfuge is beyond the pale. The "Truthers" will be absolutely giddy with delight about this. It will be interesting to see how the general public reacts to such an audacious tactic.

On a political note, this sort of action may be extremely corrosive within the Democratic party. I realize that this isn't the place for political debate on this. It must be stated though, that the core of the anti-war faction is now openly pitting themselves against the state. It's one thing to be politically active within the system to change policy or to organize the media and grass roots efforts for public action outside of the political system. It's is another thing altogether to join internationalist "peace" movements that directly defy laws, directly act to undermine the conduct of government, openly encourage acts of treason, and in the end directly circumvent the will of the electorate.

I'll leave the little note about possible political repercussions at that. There will be more!

Posted by Neo at July 26, 2010 9:52 AM ET:

This is much >>>> bigger than the "Pentagon Papers" Note for the scandal it brings up, but for the political ramifications. This is a direct challenge not only against current government policy and conduct, but it directly challenges the foundations of carrying out government policy. That means any policy! Let there be no mistake, this is an open attack on the policy establishment.

Posted by Mike at July 26, 2010 10:38 AM ET:

Whether or not this leak this is a fishing expedition, or whether we're funding the insurgency indirectly with aid to Pakistan, treason is probably not the word we're looking for here. Whoever leaked the documents most likely committed a crime, yes, but it is not treasonous. Aiding Pakistan may be unwise as policy, but it is not treasonous. Since when was doing something the political right wing disagrees with tantamount to treason? It is a funny quirk in our national discourse right now...

The effect of publishing this information is to shed light on some aspects of this war that have remained hidden. The agenda of the wikileaks and their sources is not really the issue.

Openness is not the enemy in this war. Secrecy is sometimes necessary, but as a nation the US should be unafraid of a full airing of the truth. (And as I understand it, certain documents were witheld to protect the identities of informants against the Taliban.)

Posted by Charley at July 26, 2010 12:37 PM ET:

The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. This offence is punished with death.

What Did They Know, When Did They Know It?

We are clearly giving aid (Kerry/Lugar) and comfort to the enemy (Pakistan), and adhering to them ("indispensable ally in GWOT").

Posted by john at July 26, 2010 1:00 PM ET:

This is the best thing to have happened in the Afghan war for a long time. The more the public is aware of extent of pakistan's role harder it becomes to justify the doleouts to its army. Without the discounted. american spares & aircraft, the army would crumble within couple of years. Any scenario which leaves the army in a strong position, post-withdrawal would doom the US.

Posted by Charu at July 26, 2010 1:02 PM ET:

Gambling in Casablanca? Shocking! How is aiding Pakistan not treasonous when this aid is used to kill our troops? How are we supposed to win a war where the enemy is given shelter and aided and abetted by our "ally"; an ally who stays afloat only because of the billions of our taxpayer money pouring in? This charge of treason indicts several administrations, and not just this one; however, this is the administration currently in charge and they should be on the dock for continuing matters as they currently are, even though they know exactly what the Pakistanis are playing at. The Pakistani military is a rogue military like few that have ever existed. The killings in Mumbai were clearly directed by Pakistani military personnel. Anyone who heard the recorded conversation between the Pakistani handler and the doomed Jewish hostage at the Chabad house in Mumbai knows this. David Headley, apparently, has confirmed the involvement of Pakistani military in training and controlling the operation. And yet we pretend that these rogue operations against one country that is peripherally on our radar means nothing towards how Pakistan "helps" us with our operations. It ain't the Pakistanis who are being schizophrenic; they are almost gleefully duplicitous in their actions. It is we who keep giving them the benefit of the doubt - from allowing China to give them a usable bomb, to allowing them to set up a nuclear Walmart and allowing them to cooperate on WMDs with North Korea (the only other country that is even more out-of-control than Pakistan), and now to allowing them to stab us in the back. This has to be treason, plain and simple. Someone must be making a lot of money from kickbacks and profiteering to allow this kind of perfidy to run unchecked; and it certainly isn't the grunt in the trenches.

Posted by Neo at July 26, 2010 1:17 PM ET:

Releasing restricted documents in the name of a political cause at a time of war, is treasonous. This isn't a whistle blower we are talking about. The first amendment has never been interpreted to mean that all affairs of state are public and all state information public. I rather doubt the Supreme Court would rules as such either. The government is fully within its rights to restrict the documents. It doesn't have to directly aid a foreign state to be treasonous. As far a Pakistan is concerned it probably creates more problems for them than provide useful intelligence. Just wait a few months until they out all the diplomatic communication they have as well.

Posted by wallbangr at July 26, 2010 1:47 PM ET:

Curious if old Pfc. Bradley Manning of "Collateral Murder" infamy) was the source. Recall in the media coverage earlier this month of the charges brought against him there was a lot of tough talk by Gates and the Administration about not tolerating leaks by whistleblowers. I wonder if perhaps they saw this coming. I note that Manning was charged not just for the so-called "collateral murder" leak, but for possessing and attempting to pass along a ton of other classified information.

Per WaPo: "Among the materials Manning is accused of transmitting to 'a person not entitled to receive them' are the video and more than 50 classified diplomatic cables. According to the charge sheet, he also downloaded more than 150,000 unclassified cables" He certainly had the axe to grind. Maybe he only got 92K cables of the 150K+ he had downloaded over to Wikileaks before they threw the book at him.

I don't know much about intelligence gathering but I'm aware that seemingly innocuous information can potentially give away our highly protected methods. What we know isn't as damaging as the fact that they are specifically aware that we know it. So while perhaps there were no real revelations about things like ISI complicity, this could have a real impact on our ability to continue to monitor them in the future. Of course, that presumes that they give a damn to begin with. Considering how openly they have flaunted their tacit support for our enemy, I'm doubtful they will feel the need to conceal it in the future.

And while I don't think that more awareness of Pak's duplicity is necessarily a bad thing, the Administration has had some reason not to let the press hear it from the horse's mouth. Can't unring that bell now. Perhaps it will put a little more pressure on the Pak leadership to quit turning the blind eye towards the common enemies within their own ranks. I won't hold my breath, though.

Posted by wallbangr at July 26, 2010 2:06 PM ET:

As to the constitutional issue, here is the legal analysis with respect to the government's ability to go after Wikileaks for the leak. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/07/26/pentagon-papers-ii-on-wikileaks-and-the-first-amendment/

Doubtful, although the government may be inclined to try it to avoid this situation from occuring in the future. Especially if they can prove that Wikileaks was "in on" getting the information to begin with, rather than just a passive recipient.

If the Gov't knew it was coming (as I suspect they might have given the tough talk surrounding the charges against Pfc. Manning) they likely couldn't have done anything to stop it anyway, per the Pentagon Papers (NYTimes vs. US) decision before the Supreme Court.

The person they will want to nail to the wall is the person who leaked. Which is why I think they tried to come down hard on Mr. Manning in an attempt to disuade him from permitting their publication.

Whether Mr. Manning (or whoever leaked the information) has a first amendment right to publish this informaion I seriously doubt. Proving that he was the source might be the problem. Wikileaks will never reveal their source. I wonder what the government has on Mr. Manning. It has acknowledged that he downloaded more than 150K classified cables.

It would probably be a legal dogfight, but I think Mr. Manning might just be reconsidering his little act of protest if he was, in fact, the source of the leak.

Posted by TimSln at July 26, 2010 6:22 PM ET:

As Bill and Neo stated and as a long time reader of the LWJ, I don't see anything fundamentally different from what I already know.

Just like the Pakistani Taliban connections to the Times Square plot, the LWJ again is ahead of the MSM, especially on the ISI and Hamid Gul.

Posted by TimSln at July 26, 2010 6:51 PM ET:

I don't know if anything will come out of this, but former ISI official Colonel Imam Sultan Amir Tarar threatens to tell all.
If the government continues to refuse negotiations for his freedom,
Tarar further threatens to disclose highly sensitive information about "the weaknesses of our nation"
and the secret "game being played with Afghanistan, India, Russia, and America."


Posted by DANNY at July 26, 2010 8:37 PM ET:

I just saw the guy from Wikileaks saying on CNN or MSNBC, this information leaked shows cover-up of US war crimes. Sounds like his agenda is quite different than LWJs.

Posted by Neo at July 27, 2010 9:54 AM ET:

Yes, the person who is legal hot water is Pfc. Bradley Manning. The wikileaks site would be hard to prosecute unless they were actively involved in the gathering of information. Manning will be going away for a very long time. At first glance it looks like Manning is a rather immature fellow whose first impulse at his disillusionment is direct and massive sabotage. It is a direct act of sabotage for an intelligence analyst to dump as much raw information as he had access to onto the internet.

Posted by wallbangr at July 27, 2010 10:21 AM ET:

He's definitely got an axe to grind. Which may mean that he had more to do with obtaining the leaked cables than simply being a "passive recipient." If that is the case, the government could potentially go after Wikileaks. However, given their overseas situs, difficult jurisdictional issues are likely. Considering his statements in the past and his obvious bent towards exposing the "Big Lie," I'm guessing that Wikileaks has been more than a passive recipient

Posted by Mr T at July 27, 2010 12:06 PM ET:

Mr Wikileaks dufus doesn't know it but some of that data which make look inoculous to him, will provide meaningful data to our enemies. They will be able to see something that will lead them to hide things we are secretly onto as well as provide them information on collaborators which will probably result in their death by brutal Taliban extremists. He is getting people killed. Perhaps he should be brought to justice for his crimes against humanity.

He doesn't seem to worry if others die, perhaps he needs to suffer the same fate and see how it feels.

Posted by Sumit at July 27, 2010 12:36 PM ET:

Well, It doesn't comes as a surprise to many of us for sure. I don't seem US media picking it up and running with this disclosure. How does it affects local Politics in US when all this info is in public domain? during my stay in US I gathered that common American citizen don't want war and want the boys to be back home asap which Obama promised as part of change. What happens now? Will the mighty US leave Af-pak as defeated? How about some face saving and making someone scapegoat? How about getting the worth out of Pakistan for the all tax paying dollars?

Posted by Neo at July 27, 2010 1:44 PM ET:

This OP ed from the New York Times by Andrew Exum was very good. http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2010/07/on_wikileaks_the_pakistan_memo.php

His primary point is that these are raw reports are given without any sort of overall context. He also repeats the opinion held by many here that there is little in the way of radically new information within the achieve. It contains greater detail and more examples but nothing that essentially contradicts the reporting of events that has been going on for the last decade.

He makes a point that this is less profound than the "Pentagon Papers" in that the Pentagon Papers offer an internal narrative of the Vietnam War that contradicted the public account of the Vietnam War at the time. This only provides more data in raw form. I have to agree with the point, although I still think that the size and audacity of the security breach and its challenge to the intelligence community is greater than the Pentagon Papers.

What is radical here is the fact that we now have private activists going into the business of large scale and systematic espionage. It isn't traditional in the sense they dare send in their own moles to ferret out information, but they have set themselves up as a conduit to gather and collate then pass along sensitive information they deem suitably damaging.

Posted by James at July 28, 2010 3:15 AM ET:

Strange, with all his talk about war crimes, I see plenty of war crimes in these documents COMMITTED BY THE TALIBAN. For instance, where they summarily executed 4 doctors working for a foreign humanitarian aid network (as was so "casually" mentioned in a TIME online article).

Rather odd to I might add, that this guy has been all over this world EXCEPT FOR AFGHANISTAN (which he even admits to in the TIME interview). Should we wonder why?

Of course, if he ever does contemplate going into Afghanistan, I'm sure his security might be a major concern of his. There are probably a lot of Afghans (not to mention ISI stooges in Pakistan) that wouldn't mind it all to have this guy conveniently (to put it rather nicely) "eliminated."

Posted by T Ruth at July 28, 2010 1:32 PM ET:

So the Taliban are supported by the ISI and the ISI/Pak army are supported by the Pak people and the ISI/Pak army/Pak people are supported by the US.

Isn't that the big-picture story?

So why should one get lost in the detail of the messengers, Wikileaks, their source, Manning or whoever?

As for wikileaks, welcome to the Information Age of 21C. They're here to stay and you can't do a fig about it. Analyse it till the cow's come home. Or, conserve your energy and sort out your evil ally, if you can. That is, if you can rectify the incompetence of the last 9 years. You don't need a PhD to figure this out.

America's role and status in the world in this 21C is being defined by this war.

Posted by T Ruth at July 28, 2010 1:47 PM ET:

TimSim, thanks for that link. Poor Col Imam, i guess wikileaks took the wind out of his sails.
John, i do believe you are spot-on. The Pak army has so long been part of the problem, it is illogical to conceive that they will suddenly, or even over time, become part of the solution.

Posted by bill s at July 28, 2010 2:14 PM ET:

Assange & co just put coalition agents at risk. Its easy to criticize the war from afar, they should try being at the sharp end, where death & misery are constant companions.

Posted by James at July 28, 2010 9:22 PM ET:

I am curious can this guy (the founder) from wikileaks be sued in the civil courts for slander and libel for falsely accusing US service members (in addition to other nationalities) of committing war crimes?

And, can he be sued for callously and recklessly putting in grave danger the lives of innocent Afghan civilians?

In addition, can the NYT and other media outlets also be sued on a similar basis.

Just as I predicted, the "fishing expedition" has begun.

As I asserted before, I believe this material was mainly intended to serve as the "raw material" for his preselected media outlets and the anti war critics to conduct this "fishing expedition."

I'm still trying to decipher this stuff. It's about as exciting as trying to read through a statistical abstract from start to finish.

Posted by Sumit at July 29, 2010 12:42 AM ET:

Look at this image, speaks all about pakistan truth. Why its so difficult for Government of the United States to understand this..


Posted by T ruth at August 1, 2010 1:04 AM ET: