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Monday, July 26, 2010

Wikileaks' 90,000 secret documents on Afghanistan

One wonders who is going to read them all. And, hold on, there are still other 15,000 that Wikileaks and their unknown source agreed not to release just yet but when the situation in Afghanistan improves (will that ever happen?) These would seem to be the most substantial ones and I wonder who is going to leak them from Wikileaks itself and when.

En fin. The documents can be accessed at Wikileaks (if the link is not overloaded with requests) and you can also get a quicker taste of the main contents by looking at Wikileaks' media partners: Der Spiegel, The Guardian and NYT (this one is pay per view).

Of course, at the moment of writing this I have only had a quick look at the news outlets. The main revelations seem to be things that we knew already but maybe were not so strongly confirmed: Pakistani secret services help (helped?) the Taliban (DS, TG), US/NATO troops don't care about civilians (TG)and that the intelligence services are unable to process all the data they gather (DS).

Other reports deal with 'friendly fire' casualties, clashes between NATO and the Afghan security forces, Iranian secret operations across the border, unexpectedly good land-air war capability of the Taliban or the controversial 'drone' flying robots that sometimes get out of control and often are shot down and have to be rescued for fear of the technology falling in unwanted hands.

The Guardian also includes an interactive map listing a selection of more than 200 incidents. Many include police shooting demonstrators, a matter that is not addressed, as far as I can see, in any of the main articles.

I also miss key information areas, maybe withheld in the 15,000 unreleased reports or maybe too secret to have ever reached the informant. For example: what happened to Osama Bin Laden? Where is he? Is he alive or dead? Why a French snipper in the early days of the war was never confirmed to shoot down Bin Laden when he was on target? Or how reliable or corrupt is the current Afghan government? Why was actually Mc Chrystal fired? What's the diplomatic involvement/alignment of other key powers: Russia, China, India? Are there really plans to butcher Pakistan into smaller states? Who does really control the opium trade? Is it used to finance the Afghan government, the Taliban, NATO, covert operations elsewhere? Which is the reality behind Al Qaeda: does it really exist at all, who controls it?

Too many questions still unsolved. This leak, while very much welcome, seems kind of watered down: not really the information we would like to get our hands on. Truly sensitive information is being withheld or has never reached the Wikileaks headquarters at all.

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