The approximately 91,000 reports from the war in Afghanistan that were leaked to Wikileaks.org caused cries of outrage. Unfortunately this outrage was for all the wrong reasons. Headlines read "Pakistan helping Taliban," "The [Afghan] war takes a hit," and the like. What they should have read is "Heads Role" and "WikiLeaks: Founder and Leaker arrested for treason."
Most people already know the information reported. For instance, the entire world population already knows that the Bush Administration ignored this war in favor of starting a new one in Iraq. If you are paying attention at all, you also know that President Karzai has not stopped chastising the American leadership about causing too many civilian casualties since day one. Further, journalists, analysts and Afghans have all been forthright about providing large amounts of open source information on the Pakistani intelligence services aiding the Taliban.
In fact, the US has known that the Pakistanis have been aiding these groups for years. In the late 80's while the US was providing unlimited funds and arms to the very people we are now fighting, Pakistani officials were ingratiating themselves with these insurgent and suicide promoting madmen while pocketing US, Saudi Arabian and other allied monies. Journalists like Ahmad Rashid and Steve Coll, who is now the President of the New America Foundation, have been writing about the Pakistani connection for the past two decades.
The real tragedy here is not the basic information in the reports. It is the fact that these documents identify both the locations of operation and many of the tactics used by intelligence professionals both military and civilian putting them at an extremely high level of risk. Further, it puts civilians who are working on development projects with or housed by the military in imminent danger.
WikiLeaks.org, whose founder, Julian Assange, who seems to be more interested in notoriety than truth, has acted irresponsibly. Assange, who also doctored an earlier video 'leaked' to show American troops shooting a journalist in Iraq, has made quite a bit of money on these disclosures. Despite his claim to secrecy, he has also made himself a instant media star.
Assange has not only put American soldiers at risk, he has put the lives of those serving for 34 other nations in jeopardy as well. He should be in jail for disclosing this information in a time of war.
Yes, in case the public has forgotten, this nation is still at war. I am all for transparency, information sharing and freedom of speech, but "outing" soldiers in a time of war is borderline treason.
Anyone who felt this was an act purely to undermine the Administration or make Obama look bad in the context of this war is naive. These Wikileaks have done more harm than good. Not only are soldiers now at greater risk, but our country also is as well. These leaks provided more fodder for political splits in US agencies, Congress and the public. A split country, not to mention and increasingly angry one, is making this country more vulnerable than Al Qaeda ever could.
Unfortunately our leaders are silent. The White House has said little and Congress is again failing to support this president in a time of national need. They prefer to play it safe. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, backpedaled with this frightening remark, "I think it's important not to over-hype or get excessively excited about the meaning of those documents." No word from the Republicans. And as for the public, they just seem all to happy to see this Administration struggle, blaming Obama again for whatever is convenient.
The Obama Administration should note all of this and take immediate steps to bring these people to justice. No excuses, no spin. Heads should roll and retirements should happen -- now.
Obama should also use it as an opportunity for the Administration to flex its muscle, spend some of its political capital, and get our international security house in order. The national security establishment can no longer hold tight to their silos and all this partisan nonsense.
All agencies, with a bipartisan push from Congress, MUST get together and make sure our nation is structured to manage not only the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq), but also future US national security requirements. The current leaks and partisan behavior is not securing anyone. In fact it is quite the opposite, it is putting all of us, especially the men and women in the line of fire, in greater danger.
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