October 23, 2010

What are we to make of the new Wikileaks documents?

Read here, including the additional links across the top. There are the details of the hellishness of war, but, beyond that, what are we seeing?

59 comments:

Rose said...

That our weakness now lies in electronic data. That government cannot trust online communication or data storage. And that our security is at stake.

Fen said...
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Fen said...

but, beyond that, what are we seeing?

1) alot of editorializing by PRAVDA, ie. "this is the reason Iraq turned against us, etc"

2) the inability of this administration to stop a spy/traitor and prevent critical operational info from falling into the hands of our enemies.

Julian Assange should have been killed long ago. Send a STA Team after him with "kill/capture" orders.

America's Politico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clyde said...

We're seeing that somebody needs to be held accountable for leaking all of that classified data. If I'd done something like that back when I was in the Army, they would have court-martialed my ass and had me breaking big rocks into little rocks at Leavenworth for the rest of my days, at the very least. We're also seeing that somebody needs to drop a Predator drone on the guy who runs the Wikileaks site, pour encourager les autres. Yeah, I said it before, but it bears repeating. The guy is an enemy of this country and is causing untold damage to our security. We'd do it to that Awlaki character, who's nominally an American citizen, so why not to this dipstick? Or let the CIA take him out.

Fen said...

But, this has no bearing on Nov. 2010 election

Yes, we already knew that Party trumps Nation for you.

Just don't come here complaining when 1/2 your constituency is vaporized.

Chef Mojo said...

What we are seeing is the banality of the bureaucratic aspect of modern warfare that goes back to the Civil War. Is some of it shocking? Sure. But compare it to, say, the documentation coming out of a single battle in the Pacific in WW2, and the whole thing sort of gets put into perspective.

What Wikileaks is doing is repulsive, but it's not anything that won't happen a ways down the road anyway with FOIA and routine declassification.

Expat(ish) said...

It would take an astoundingly ahistorical knowledge of warfare to think that this is a hellish war.

One need not go back to Roman times or even mid/late 20th century - read up on the Chechen 'conflict' of the late 20th.

-XC

sol said...

The church has alway taught that war is a occasion for sin. Good christians can resist temptation. Everyone else should consult with the chaplain privately.

traditionalguy said...

In the information age and propaganda weapons deployed everywhere agvainst enemies, this development has done exactly what Obama has been struggling to do: Make all of the USA's allies abandon us. That isolation will leave us without a support anywhere in the world. I for one congratulate the Kenyan Marxist for a job well done.

Ironclad said...

It also shows that the Iraqis are as brutal to each other as they were under Saddam. Most of the action seems to have been performed by them (with the indirect consent of the US military). But by that time in the war, things had gotten so brutal that any way of removing a common enemy was not dismissed.

The only real question is how many of the "additional" victims were killed for political reasons than military ones. In this part of the world (I am close to there), the distinction many times blurs. Political opposition being considered "aggression".

I don't consider this unusual at all - much of the same went on in Europe after D-Day when the "resistance" wrecked havoc on the Germans and collaborators. And I am sure that the military then knew about it. War is hell for a good reason.

garage mahal said...

We can compare this to any other war in history. Except the first gulf war.

bagoh20 said...

Has there been any war that when reviewed in detail suggests that: Hey, that was a damned nice war?

We may need to be reminded why wars is such a last resort, but none of this kind of thing should be surprising to anyone. Once you decide to kill people by the thousands, guess what, they die by the thousands. I supported the war, but I have no fantasies about it being anything but brutal, unfair and horrible to many. I just think it was less so than the alternative in the long term. That's the important analysis in the end. Horror versus horror.

edutcher said...

Counter-insurgent warfare is messy, always has been. Nobody tries harder to keep civilian deaths low the way we do, witness the case of Col Allen West.

This little creep has no regard for the men on the ground, including his own countrymen (I'm, sure, like The Zero and George Soros, he considers himself a citizen of the world), but he does want his 15 minutes, along with the chance to make our people targets, here as well as there. We need an Official Secrets Act in this country with the will behind it to send people like him and the ones who feed him this stuff away for a very long time.

Chef Mojo said...

But what we're also seeing is the Democrat October Surprise; the release timed to distract from the final week before the election. The press will jump all over this with much sturm und drang, bellowing to the skies that we can't possibly vote the Republicans a majority after they did this!

Not gonna work. The Dems used to be better at October Surprises. Now they have to use foreign provocateurs conspiring with a compliant press to do the heavy lifting. Sort of sad, really.

traditionalguy said...

Remember that since time immemorial the Union thugs and the Welfare State Democrats, with a rare outlier until the Clinton era, have opposed WASTING THEIR MONEY on the USA's military preparedness and foreign wars. Follow the money indeed, since Marxism is only a cloak for theft.

Fen said...

I don' think our commenters understand how much these wikileaks damage operational security.

Bart DePalma said...

The change is that the NYT was finally compelled to admit that the terrorists and not our military killed the vast majority of Iraqi civilians and the Lancet propaganda claiming that 600,000+ died in Iraq was nonsense.

Although it is three years too late, I suppose that this represent progress or sorts.

Skyler said...

What are we seeing? We're seeing evidence for a court martial for treason.

rdkraus said...

War?

What war?

We're at war?

Who knew?

Nobody is talking about this.

Aren't we having a national election in two weeks? Isn't this the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER? Are the candidates debating WAR? No.

Therefore we are not at war, so what are you talking about?

Remember. We are only at war (in a bad way) when Republicans are President.

Where the hell is the antiwar crowd? Move along. Nothing to see here.

bagoh20 said...

The challenge this year is avoiding an October surprise. If there is one, it will backfire. The GOP is just waiting for that final screw up by the Dems. I won't be surprised if they get it. The left this year is so dysfunctional, nothing is beyond them. They don't seem capable of seeing anything as a mistake until after it gets pointed out to them as in Juan Williams.

America's Politico said...
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Maguro said...

Yeah...there's nothing that's really surprising in the article and I don't even see why Wikileaks would bother releasing it now. We all know that people die in wars, don't we?

Ari Tai said...

Looks pretty tame to me, esp. compared to what happened in the Clinton era where the government "outsourced" intelligence and interrogations (using renditions) to middle-eastern countries’ secret-police - rather than the more moral decision (of a bad and worse alternative), taking responsibility and acting ourselves, with restraint, as Mr. Bush did.

Even so, the nominally democratic government of Iraq has got a long ways to go to catch up to the depravity and terror that Saddam and sons employed to enslave the majority population (and even their own cabal. Remember the torture and hanging of the sons-in-laws?).

Hagar said...

The United States has not had a war on its home territory since the Civil War, and the people here has very little understanding of what war is about.

And yes, releasing this stuff while the war is still very much going on, is treason.

Chef Mojo said...

@Fen:

You are entirely correct, but I don't think that is what Althouse is asking about.

OPSEC issues are the red meat, emotional reaction from those of us on the right. Believe me, I understand.

But Althouse is asking one of those "what does it all mean" questions she regularly posits, and I think it's worth looking beyond the obvious and trying to understand the deeper implications of this Wikileaks crap.

Look, I'd just as soon see someone with an M9 take this sonofabitch out back and put a bullet in his skull. That covers the OPSEC problem.

But what's done is done. We've known he's been holding this for a long time now. Suddenly, a week and a half before a major American election, he gets together with the American press to release this stuff. What are we really seeing?

vza said...

WikiLeaks: An inside perspective
The latest release from WikiLeaks reveals few surprises, contrary to the views of some who suggest otherwise.
Robert Grenier

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010/10/20101023122038452956.html

Robert Cook said...

"I don' think our commenters understand how much these wikileaks damage operational security."

Why don't you tell us exactly how much these leaks have damaged our operational security?

virgil xenophon said...

Lex of the milblog "NeptunusLex" has a good post about this subject and suggests all should visit the Guardian's interactive "death map" and click on the red dots--the revelation being how the majority are simply labeled "murder" i.e., civilian internecine crimes--the result of the long pent-up tribal/religious forces released by the war Go over and read his post.

bagoh20 said...

This will change how many votes? Zip.

edutcher said...

bagoh20 said...

Has there been any war that when reviewed in detail suggests that: Hey, that was a damned nice war?

There was always "Our Splendid Little War" with Spain.

Skyler said...

What are we seeing? We're seeing evidence for a court martial for treason.

Not sure (the Professor would know), but I believe treason is a civilian issue, so it would be a standard criminal trial.

And, yes, I'd love to see it.

PS Are we all agreed AP is really Titus?

Fen said...

Chef: Suddenly, a week and a half before a major American election, he gets together with the American press to release this stuff. What are we really seeing?

Ah, good point. Thanks.

George said...

I don't know, maybe it was meant to confirm conclusively that orchestrated leaks just prior to an election no longer have the desired effect? If so, Assange should be commended.

c3 said...

Information surely has saved so many in Rwanda, Congo, Myanmar, Tianamen Square, Chechnya....

Chef Mojo said...

The people who, if they are military, leaked these documents to Wikileaks could be charged under the UCMJ of:

Aiding the enemy.
Espionage.
And possibly Sedition.

These are all capital crimes under UCMJ as of 2008. And they don't have to be committed in wartime to carry the death sentence.

Treason is a civilian charge.

Chef Mojo said...

And yes. AP has to be Titus.

Dead Julius said...

Oh you pathetic Americans!

If something is not a big dramatic headline that can be stated in big dramatic terms, then you pay no attention to it...

My elderly parents watch NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams every evening. Every night, it starts with dramatic music and a dramatic listing of the dramatic events that Brian Williams will talk about this evening.

The truth is almost always more mundane. It is days that look pretty much the same as yesterday, It is issues and concerns that slowly build over time instead of thrusting on to the scene immediately.

The American citizens and the American media and the American political class have ignored this day-to-day slog of War in Iraq. And that allows our leaders to slowly start lying about it: there is no "body count", the numbers of the Iraq Body Count are inflated, our private contractors are not inflicting atrocities of our own, we don't support torture. After a while it becomes lie after lie after lie, and nobody in America seems to care because there is no big headline about it.

Well, here's your big headline. And here's the data.

--

Fen said:

I don' think our commenters understand how much these wikileaks damage operational security.

"Operational security" to Fen seems to mean one thing: the ability of our political ruling class to lie.

Folks like Fen and Hillary Clinton do not oppose the leak of these documents because of the risk to the small players; the documents don't say anything new. They oppose the leak because of the risk to the big players-- those who have been knowingly feeding the world with blatantly false information.

Stop lying about the wars and there would be nothing for Wikileaks to do.

Hagar said...

Chef,
I for once tuned in NPR this morning on my way to the barber, and on ATC the reporter said that Assange actually gave this stuff to 5 news organizations a couple of months ago. I would guess contingent on agreeing to a certain release date, which these 5 apparently have "honored." (This would explain how come they had time to review the documents and extensively redact (black out) so many items, which is something I also wondered about at the previous document dump.)

Doug Wright said...

1st: What Fen said about Assange!

2nd: One way to stop this would have been to have tried Hanoi Jane and her then husband with treason. Plus showing the truth about JF Kerry's original dischange and the real reason for Carter's blanket pardon during his one term.

Cheers and stay alert.

Chef Mojo said...

@Dead

In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

Winston Churchill

Thus it ever has been. Thus shall it ever be.

Big Mike said...

Interesting thought experiment. What if Wikileaks had been around during World War II? What would the reports have looked like?

Dead Julius said...

Julian Assange works for the American government. His organization gets these documents because they are given up voluntarily-- there is no actual leak. There are enormous gaping holes in the case against the previous accused leaker, but nobody 'cept some silly hackers seem seems to care. The narrative of some rogue soldier covertly leaking stuff is easier for Americans to believe.

This is stuff that Obama & Co want released! They just don't want to have to deal with the political fallout that comes with telling the truth-- chiefly appearing as weak wimps.

Releasing this info through Wikileaks allows Obama & Co to still appear tough and bang the drums of war, while enjoying the political advantages of having the media dwell on the incompetence and lies of the Bush administration... all conveniently happening one-and-a-half weeks before an important election.

edutcher said...

sarc

Fascinating how only people like Ritmo and Julius and Wack know the real truth.

/sarc

EDH said...

...beyond that, what are we seeing?

Ahistorical election-year, recession-year "squid ink"?

Daniel Fielding said...

agree with Fen. They need to send out out hunter/killer teams to kill off Assange and every single person involved in stealing secret documents and the spying operation/conspiracy they are involved in. Also kill the folks providing Assange and his henchmen logistic and other sorts of support.

Cedarford said...

I am not sure that Wikileaks rises to the level of Fen's advocacy of needing taking out a 3rd-party national that supports the enemy cause by his deeds, or the traitor soldiers that leaked the information.

But it is worth discussing.

We know that civilian law enforcement and "due process" can do little about this.
We also know that leaks in other times have ended up giving material support (aid and comfort) to the enemy, and cost lives on "our side".
We know that quietly, certain 3rd party nationals or those within an Empire that help the enemy were taken out...rather than inflame the masses with a big show trial. The British liquidated several Nazi sympathizers in Egypt, India, Portugal, Palestine, and Spain in WWII. Americans took out several Nazis in ostensibly neutral Argentina. In other cases, phone calls and meetings led to 3rd nations throwing the dangerous faction into prison or being discretely killed. As a favor to us, to help save American lives.

This Julian Assage may be best handled by signalling to the Iraqis that America and Britain "won't make a big deal" if Iraqi agents are sent, even to London, to take the guy out.
London is a place where the Russians have tidied up their messes as well, though the Brits were pissed that the Russians chose a radioactive poison that spread contamination everywhere in silencing one of their embarassments.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What are we to make of the new Wikileaks documents?

Why, we can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...

The Drill SGT said...

Daniel Fielding said...
Also kill the folks providing kill off Assange and every single person involved in stealing secret documents and the spying operation/conspiracy they are involved in.


No, the answer for the soldiers who stole this data and harmed their fellows and hurt our war effort is simple.

a court-martial, conviction, and execution.

as for the underlying data, I have only three quotes:

The only thing worse than a battle won is a battle lost."
- Wellington, after Waterloo

Everything in war is very simple, but in battle, even the most simple things are very difficult
- Clausewitz

Shit happens
- unknown infantryman

edutcher said...

Sarge, I'm willing to bet a lot of that material was handed over by civilians. If, as the Gray Lady says, this material came out of Congressional reports, all manner of good little small c communists might have seen it and passed it along.

hombre said...

Given the timing and the Democrats election problems, why do we assume this is a "leak" in the ordinary sense? Why not a "plant?"

David Baker said...

The documents prove that Iran was all in from the beginning in Iraq. And that Bush ultimately opted for the pussy-foot strategy in response.

Maybe Bush did the best he could, but it wasn't near good enough. Especially when he pulled up lame in Baghdad - which proved disastrous in the end.

Now look, we're at war with Iran, but no official dare say it much less act on it. Instead we launch olive flowers and fluff talkers. And sacrifice American soldiers on the alter of the Supreme Ayatollah.

Doug Wright said...

I retract my previous comments on this article.

In its place, the following: "Our country will pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq immediately. Hereafter, we shall destroy any country that tries to harm us or who tries to harm either Iraq or Afghanistan or Israel using missiles or other such stand off types of weaponry as we feel is necessary, in quantities we feel are sufficient."

Cheers.

jr565 said...

Hey one positive of the Wikileaks is it show that we ontinued to find Chemical weapons and WMD's throughout the years, despite the certainty that none such weapons existed.
And that some of them might have been moved to Iran, with iran's aid (not to mention earlier allegations that stuff had been moved to Syria).
I know I know it's not stockpiles. But when we have close to 9 months in a lead up to a war, when Iraq was essentially told ahead of time that we were on the verge of invading them (thanks dude), what do you think happened?
Everything that wasn't nailed down was either moved or destroyed. And actually this could have been the case simply because the inspectors were coming in YET AGAIN. And the stuff we're finding now, is simply the crap they didn't even realize they still had. Someone parked the jeep with the chemical weapons under a tarp and forgot all about it when the rest of the crap was moved, just like we found bomb parts buried in the guy who was Iraq's chief bomb makers back yard (he wrote a book about it)

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/wikileaks-show-wmd-hunt-continued-in-iraq-with-surprising-results/

As I said earlier on. There are only three posibilities for Iraq acting like it had WMD's. Why it felt it needed to put itself through such a brutal sanction regime when it never had weapons, or why the un had to keep passing resolutions against Iraq's non compliance is a mystery if Iraq had no reason to not comply. But again. the three reasons are:
1) They simply moved the stuff or destroyed the stuff that had been degraded. Or buried stuff that they assumed wouldnt' be found and we're locating it in drips and drabs (that which hasnt' been moved out of the country that is).
2) The scientists were told to continue making waeaons and they simply couldn't but, fearing for their lives led Sadaam on and told him they were making weapons. Why they couldn't make weapons where they previously could is a bit of a stretch, but whatever.
3) Sadaam neeeded to present to the world the face of him as a dictator that was strong and to do so needed to show the world that he had WMD's. This might explain why his men thought they could rely on WMD's to fight against us as we invaded, but if he had to put on a ruse to pretend he was powerful, wouldn't we believe he was so? Otherwise the ruse wouldnt' work. You can't on one hand project strength to your enemies while the secuirty counsel is dismantling your lie and saying no they don't have any weapons, because then of course Iraq's enemies reading the news would know the same thing.

But to sum it up, Iraq had weapons and moved them or destroyed them, tried to get weapons but couldn't or pretended to have waeapons to project strenght. Doesn't all of those rationales still point to the idea that we expected they had WMD's and needed to be disarmed. Even the 3rd, that iraq was just pretending would still need to be in place if we ever ended containment (as Iraq would still need to show it was strong to its neighbors) so would at the very least pretend to rebuild their programs again. (which would make us agains suspect they had wmd's). But if there were no containment, why would Iraq need to pretend? As Duelfler said containment was in free fall and Iraq maintained the programs and could be reoutfitted in months because of the huge amount of money raised by oil for food. Does anyone think that Iraq wouldn't have NEEDED to continue to pursue WMD's?

Moose said...

Fighting an all-out war (say WWII in France post invasion) was a completely different proposition than maintaining an occupation (post Iraq gov't overthrow).

The atrocities committed by the newly freed French against the collaborators were numerous and bloody. These were, however, considered a normal cost of war and indeed a justified retribution for the excesses committed against the French population by the occupying Germans. The allies for the most part turned a blind eye to that.

Then you can discuss the crimes committed against the German civilians by the invading Russians when they overran Germany. You could characterize that as “leave no woman unraped”.
The thing is, as I pointed out to my brother, we as a country are good at waging war. We can kill quite efficiently and expediently. However when we pause to occupy and “nation build”, we stumble. Which we did over and over in the last 2 centuries (pacify, civilize, nationalize – anything but kill).

What we had in Iraq was an intensely documented war, waged by a country ill-equipped to deal with the blowback of a typical large scale invasion and overthrow of a deeply entrenched and well funded government, consisting of a population of ruthless robber barons.

Iraq had no other outcome than this. I’d like to see someone postulate a *realistic* alternative. Not the unicorns and skittles strategy of sanctions.

holdfast said...

Time to pick up Assange, give him to our nastiest, dirtiest ally (the Egyptians?) to sweat, get the names of his informants and then two in the chest and one in the head.

If we were really at war this wouldn't event be a question.

PJ said...

I'm thinking this was meant to synergize with "TERRORISTS WIN AS EVIDENCE SUPPRESSED DUE TO BUSH TORTURE REGIME!" which was planned as a much bigger deal than it turned out to be and was probably the whole point of the "civilian trials" move. By itself it doesn't seem like much, but I guess we'll know in a couple of weeks.

jr565 said...

holdfast wrote:
Time to pick up Assange, give him to our nastiest, dirtiest ally (the Egyptians?) to sweat, get the names of his informants and then two in the chest and one in the head.

If we were really at war this wouldn't event be a question.

My guess. the informant is a liberal.

Revenant said...

The documents don't appear to contain much in the way of actual news.

jr565 said...

Hey, one positive is that this new Wiki dump puts in doubt the bogus Lancet study that suggested we caused 650,000 to a million civilian casualties. Leaving aside the WE (as opposed to insurgents), it looks like the numbers were elevated by AT LEAST 600% in the Lancet Study.
The number was closer to 100 thousand. And that's over the course of 6 years. Not to minimze those casualties, of course, but the idea that we had killed a million Iraqis was always ludicrous. Its nice to have Assange put a lie to those numbers. And of those 100,000 how many were caused by us versus insurgents trying to subjugate those Iraqis in their neighborhoods, or blew them up in car bombs. How many would have been killed under Sadaam and the strict sanction regime that was set up if we had done nothing?
Further, in the report it mentions that a large number of those casualties were in fact killed by the insurgency - 31,780 by car bombs and 34,814 by sectarian violence (ie murders).


http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/count_down/

Assange should still be hung from his balls for leaking this stuff, but again,sometime you can make lemonade out of lemons. And the fact that Assange was the one to repudiate the Lancet numbers makes it even more likely that those numbers were wrong to begin with. Because why would he try to minimize causalties?