Wikileaks: Hundreds of Afghan Civilians Killed

So this is what had the Wikileaks founder so jumpy. No wonder the government wanted to keep this under wraps:

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 Timesand 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.

From Steve Hynd over at Newshoggers:

The newspapers admit they kept some secrets too sensitive for publication buried and the details in the document dump seem to be of the kind well known already to wonks who have followed Afghanistan reporting over the years, but the manner and volume of the War Log’s release will doubtless crystallize the opinions of many who were only casual readers of news from the West’s occupation there. With public opinion against that occupation running at some 60% in the U.S. and over 70% in the UK and Germany, these leaks will put further pressure on Western governments to find an exit sooner rather than later.

Among the stories on which new light has been shed:

— Pakistan and to a far lesser extent Iran have been offering funding and other direct aid to Taliban groups for years. Pakistan’s ISI is reported to have been behind many Taliban targeting decisions, including on U.S. and coalition troops, despite it being an ostensible ally.

— The U.S. has been using an undisclosed “black” unit of special forces, Task Force 373, to hunt down targets for death or detention without trial. This team has been responsible for the deaths of Afghan policemen and civilians, including children but authorities seem to have been more concerned with keeping its operations secret than curtailing its zeal.

— There have been over 50 incidents of “Green on Green” fire – where Afghan police or soldiers opened fire on their fellow uniformed countrymen, many begun by drug use, corruption or indiscipline.

— There are reports of hundreds of border clashes between Pakistani troops and their Afghan or American opposite numbers – far more than previously reported.

— The 140 reports of incidents involving the shooting and blowing up of civilians by Coalition troops reveal a casual disregard for human life, including “nearly 100 occasions by jumpy troops at checkpoints, near bases or on convoys…‘warning shots’ often seem to cause death or injury, generally ascribed to ricochets.”

The reason why governments don’t want us to see war too closely is that they see how little point there is to the whole bloody mess. Why are we still there?

9 thoughts on “Wikileaks: Hundreds of Afghan Civilians Killed

  1. Just like the Pentagon Papers uncovered by Daniel Ellsburg (I think) in the 60’s revealing a totally unjustified and immoral war while wasting thousands of innocent lives and billions of dollars. Hopefully these revelations will force Congress to deny more funding for the Afghan quagmire.

  2. Why are we still there? Money and politics. Lotsa cash is flowing to the military-industrial complex from arming all sides, as well as money coming in from the lucrative opium trade.

    Politically, well, we saw last week the utter cowardice of the Obama administration in action, so it’s a safe bet that they’d never, ever shut down a war and take the risk of being called girly-men.

    So soldiers and civilians get to keep dying.

  3. You’re right about that, Susie. Clinton, whose hawkishness has always been my least favorite thing about her, would have been in a worse position still. But it doesn’t make it right in either case.

  4. Susie, merciless, I don’t know that about Clinton, and you don’t either. She didn’t get a chance to show us. This “Clinton” was more hawkishness is a unknown. I love how people tell us what people will do based on “media projections” etc, if that were the case Obama would have done (fill in the blank) a hundred times over. I don’t know what Hillary would have done on the war, but that is not an argument for anything. As everybody keeps pointing out, SHE LOST. But I do know things would be different on women’s issues and domestic issues.

  5. “This “Clinton” was more hawkishness is a unknown.”

    Um, no it’s not actually. ,a href=””>April, 2008:

    if Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, what would our response be. And I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that, because it does mean that they have to look very carefully at their society, because at whatever stage of development they might be in their nuclear weapons program, in the next 10 years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel we would be able to totally obliterate them. That’s a terrible thing to say, but those people who run Iran need to understand that, because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic.

    she also supported the Iraq War. And allo sorts of stuff here.

    I’m very disappointed with Obama, but have no doubt in my mind that Clinton would be aggressively militaristic too. We expect that our presidents be bloodthirsty. Every single one of them has been.

  6. Now, the reality. If every single troop, mercenary and collaborator were pulled out of the wars, the American economy would collapse under the force of the unemployment.

    Unsolicited tip: There is a small item drifting around the blogosphere that says that the American military uses more oil than all countries but China and the United States.

  7. brendancalling , I was not saying that, I was saying we don’t know what she would have done. If we go by what Obama promised she could have done anything. I was also saying I’m sick of people “knowing” what a Clinton administration would be. She is not Bill Clinton, but also I don’t see the Bill Clinton years as bad, the Ominbus bill didn’t hurt me. To think Obama has been a liberal, and is trying to end wars, please? Show me? Instead of comparing a non-extant presidency why don’t you ask about who is continuing wars? Your debate is about what he said in the primaries. How is that working out for you?

  8. pdgrey, I wasn’t making any assumptions about what Clinton would or would not do. Susie’s comment, and mine, was about the untenable position any democrat would be put in, if s/he tried to pull out of this war. Any democrat would be called a treasonous surrender monkey, and Clinton would be called every single name she hasn’t been already been called (if there are any left).

    My point is that I understand the “optics,” but still believe that the war is wrong, is going nowhere, should be stopped, and Obama does not have the cojones to do it.

    …and deja vu moment’s point is right on; the military industrial complex employs millions, they’re in every district, and the release of hundreds of thousands of soldiers would wreak havoc. But hey! There’s always Iran.

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