I wonder if the jerk that turned over more than 90,000 classified documents to Wikileaks looks in the mirror each morning with a smile, thinking, “I’m a super-patriot”. Does he wonder if he’s caused the death of anyone? Does he even have that level of sophistication? Or does he myopically chant the mantra of the greater good, understanding he’s the root cause of some innocent’s violent end, but believes that person is a patriot as well for his/her sacrifice. I know the head of Wikileaks believes that way. Well, maybe not as an American patriot, but a “global” one, since he’s Australian, and his primary intent is to sabotage all efforts in Afghanistan.
In his mind, and apparently in the minds of the NY Times and others, the release of top secret documents spanning five years of the Afghanistan conflict – most of which are after-action reviews of individual missions written by junior officers and non-commissioned officers – unequivocally show that both President Bush and President Obama have reported Afghanistan optimistically.
Gasp. Earth shattering and well worth the breach to national security.
Do you think the average soldier who made it off the beach at Normandy would have described his actions as a “great crusade”? Or as a meat grinder where very few survived?
Does that make General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, a liar as well because he did use that phrase? Is he simply another “American Deceiver” because he downplayed the danger and played up the success we were striving for? Should he have said, “Men, let’s face some facts. Most of you are going to be slaughtered tomorrow. Those that actually make it off the beach are most likely going to be maimed or die in the hedgerows. Aw, hell, what’s the use? We’re all going to die and lose this war.”
The soldier on the ground will always experience actions in combat that are obscene, wearying, terrifying, and, taken in isolation, utterly frustrating. The sad truth is that there are no revelations in the documents that are worth the damage the release will ultimately cause. And I don’t mean renewed diplomatic tensions with our partners, such as Pakistan. I mean very real damage, as in dead people.
News organizations will say I’m being hysterical, and that the documents describe past actions, and couldn’t possibly jeopardize any future operations. Some Americans, not having seen what I have seen, may agree, but leaving aside the very real leaks of trusted sources who are aiding the allied effort and who most likely are now having their beheading videotaped, I’ll give you three simple ways this leak will cause deaths.
1.) The documents are ground-truth descriptions of more than five years of combat actions. A treasure trove of tactics, techniques and procedures from almost every fighting force in theater. It’s like having the coach of the opposing football team sit and review game tapes with you, describing his every weakness or strength. Hell, it’s like handing over your play book just before the coin toss. It will take very little effort for the Taliban – or China, North Korea, or anyone else – to break down the documents and isolate our weaknesses at the tactical and operational level. If you don’t think that will cause deaths, you haven’t studied history. Unlike our enemies.
2.) In my opinion, one of the greatest strategic defeats in United States history was the Abu Ghraib prison debacle. Fanatics all over the world took the Newsweek story and subsequent ones, all complete with the requisite voyeuristic photos, and turned it into a call for Jihad. Yes, I consider that release to be treasonous as well, because the Army was already pursuing an investigation and the same courts-martial would have occurred without journalistic intervention. I saw first hand the death and destruction it wrought. Naïve suicide bombers twisted by propaganda fed to them by fanatic imams, all using Abu Ghraib as a kernel of truth to build a fountain of lies. It will take little effort to twist the current documents into something completely unrecognizable. A veritable propaganda bonanza, whereby Al Qaeda and the Taliban can “prove” that we are out to solely “destroy Islam”. Given the unsophisticated audience, the reworked documents will have all the trappings of truth, and all the impact that Al Qaeda desires, complete with another generation of jihadists going to war over a lie. Which, in case you didn’t follow Iraq, will result in death. Given Iraq’s history, they won’t primarily be American ones. But they won’t be Australian either, so Wikileaks can sleep easy.
3.) One of the prime reasons that 9/11 happened in the first place was because our own intelligence agencies were not talking to each other. They were, in the lexicon, “stove-piped”. Outside of very real inter-agency rivalries, one of the reasons for the stove-piping was that each agency didn’t trust the other with the information. Sources and methods had to be protected, and thus the information wasn’t passed. There is no doubt that this release will set us back, possibly pre-9/11. Suppose Israel has information related to an attack on America in the near future. Rest assured, they’re going to think long and hard before they pass that information. Their national security will come first, and our inability to protect information will come into play. Even our own agencies will reconsider. Say the CIA has information related to an infiltration of Al Qaeda operatives across the illegal immigrant pipeline on our southern border. The correct answer would be to pass that information to the plethora of National Guard troops now deployed, but I can hear a case officer right now: “Don’t do it. You can’t trust the military. It’ll end up on Wikileaks. Better for us to handle it internally.” Maybe the CIA will handle it internally, and maybe they won’t. It’s your life on the line, so what’s the big deal? If you were in World Trade Center One or Two on September 11, 2001, it would be a big deal indeed.
Wikileaks is unlike any other “journalist” enterprise, in that they don’t evaluate any of the information, but post it as-is. While I decry news organizations for releasing information, the truth of the matter is that they usually take a hard look at the repercussions. The Washington Post just released a huge story on “Top Secret America”, but in the reporting they went out of their way to limit any damage, going so far as to misrepresent the actual location of companies working in the intelligence world on their interactive website. Such reporting is necessary in a democracy, but only when it’s headed up by people who truly have the nation’s best interests at heart. Without it we would never have had Watergate, or the Pentagon Papers. Wikileaks is unlike any of that. They post with a purely political agenda from a foreign entity with absolutely no journalistic purpose other than the fact that the information is classified and can harm American interests.
Luckily, Wikileaks will only survive at the willingness of traitors within our own government. Yes, I said traitor with all that implies. I’ve read the comments on a large number of web-pages describing the “whistle-blower” as a patriot, but find the notion naïve. Would those same people call him a patriot if, instead of Wikileaks, he had passed that information directly to the Taliban, with the sole purpose of killing Americans? What if he’d stolen the classified information and given it to Al Qaeda, saying, “Here’s a ton of documents you can use for propaganda in your fight against the Far Enemy”? Would he be a patriot? How about if he’d skipped them all together and sold over 90,000 Top Secret documents to the Chinese, or North Korea? Would the average American call him a traitor?
Guess what: That traitorous bastard just gave it to all four.
What do you think about the Wikileaks representative comparing this to the release of the Pentagon Papers? This is a totally different situation in my opinion. The pentagon Papers were deliberately hidden from the public because the Government was misrepresenting the war. This is just tactical level reporting, and no misrepresentation is evident.
It’s nothing more than a shallow attempt to give themselves a facade of legitimacy. As you state, the two are completely separate and distinct. It’s like a whore saying she’s the same as a nun because they both wear black at night. Wikileaks also compared the release to the opening of the East German STASI secret police archives after the wall fell, and have stated they would be poring over the documents looking for “war crimes”, so it’s not too hard to see their agenda.
My Gawd, son. I’m shocked. You can actually put a noun, verb and a couple of adjectives together without alternatiing them with those little four letter words that once dominated your vocabulary only a short time ago.
I saw Gonzo today and he filled me in on the latest with you. Wish you all the best.