Sunday, July 25, 2010

Afghanistan gets its 'Pentagon Papers'

History doesn't repeat itself - at best it sometimes rhymes-Mark Twain
Bradley Manning is going to prison. Probably for years, but like Daniel Ellsberg, he will do so knowing he personally contributed to the truth coming out and maybe even a war shortened.

It is important not to undersell how much of a bombshell the massive data dump that Wikileaks clearly spent the last month or so preparing for is. Several media outlets were given early access to the info on condition they waited a pre-arranged period of time and the outlets and Wikileaks were all releasing everything at once. The kind of thing a paranoid person like Julian Assange who doesn't trust anyone would arrange.

If nothing else, any question of whether Wikileaks are media players is now resolved. These media outlets accepted the information and the conditions demanded to release this devastating portrait of a war gone wrong. The administration's claim that they were afraid Wikileaks would release diplomatic cables and embarrass allies is now revealed as a sign that they were thinking too small.

The coalition has actively suppressed the information that the Taliban were using heat-seeking missiles - possibly because it's well know that this is the weapon that allowed the Mujaheddin to drive the Soviets out of the country. That secret is now blown. Optimistic Pentagon PR and a compliant press has kept just how bad the war in Afghanistan is and how its being getting worse every year. That badly kept secret is also now blown. Spectacularly

Can we expect some more historical rhyming in the coming years? Maybe a final airlift scene from the American compound in Kabul à la the fall of Saigon?

UPDATE: The shorter response from the White House:
'The leaked information is putting our troops in danger, but it is also too old to be relevant to the current situation in Afghanistan.'
This is the very definition of cognitive dissonance.

UPDATE 2: A week later and the Washington Post makes the Ellsberg comparison.

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