Bradley Manning’s Gift

Leaked documents spill the Afghan beans

by , July 26, 2010

They said the huge cache of classified documents – including 250,000 diplomatic messages passed from US embassies around the world to Washington – was a fantasy, “boasting” by Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst who gave Wikileaks that video of US soldiers laughing and shouting “good shot!” as they mowed down Iraqi civilians. The “hi tech” media, especially Wired magazine, did everything they could do discredit and smear him, including spreading rumors about his alleged sexuality. Now, with the release of over 91,000 internal US government communications, intelligence analyses and incident reports via Wikileaks, the motive behind the determined effort to smear Manning and shut down Wikileaks is all too apparent.

The Guardian provides a helpful interactive map, in which you click on a location and read the “incident report.” Of course, you’re reading a selection of what the Guardian editors consider important, but it looks to me like their news judgment isn’t bad at all, because the first one I clicked on was an intelligence report detailing meetings of the Taliban with Osama bin Laden in Quetta, Pakistan, and in villages on the border with Afghanistan. So, bin Laden is not only alive, but they know where he is. I guess when Hillary was hectoring the Pakistanis about the whereabouts of bin Laden, the subtext was: “If we know, then you must know, too!”

A good number of the incident reports are those that detail civilian casualties, which don’t seem to have been reported by our own “embedded journalists”: the title of this one, “Five in car, including toddler, machine-gunned by patrol,” is typical of what the reader has in store. Here’s another: “Special forces wound two, kill six, including young girl, plus donkey and chickens.” There are hundreds of such reports, detailing slaughters both horrifying (“56 civilians killed in NATO bombing”) and pathetic (“Practice shell kills child and 10 sheep, injures shepherd”).

What’s particularly bad, from the perspective of the Obama administration officials charged with selling this war to the American people, is the dramatic portrayal of the sheer chaos enveloping our military effort, such as this one, entitled “Border police high on opium’ in shoot-out.” Oh, and by the way, the Taliban is apparently armed with portable heat-seeking missiles – a fact the administration has been covering up.

Like all raw intelligence, however, I would take some of these “revelations” with a very large grain of salt, such as one report that says a top bin Laden adviser flew to North Korea to buy weapons. And there are several reports of the Pakistani army setting up suicide attacks on US forces – alongside tales of cooperation between the two militaries.

What we are getting from these logs – and we have just begun to mine this rich lode of information – is a truer picture of the war in Afghanistan than our government, and our “mainstream” media, have been willing to give us. Now that our eyes are being opened to the cover-up of countless civilian casualties, the truth about our “allies,” and the mystery behind the continued ability of bin Laden to “elude” us, let us decide if this is truly a just war, a war worth fighting – and going bankrupt over. And I mean moral bankruptcy as well as financial.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

I apologize for the brevity of this column – I had prepared a much longer one on another topic – but the release of the Afghan logs was late in the day on Sunday, after I had filed. That longer column will have to wait for another day. The importance of Bradley Manning’s gift to the American people cannot be overestimated – and there is probably more coming – like those 250,000 US diplomatic messages (i.e., the history of American shenanigans abroad for the past few years, at least). It will take time to analyze all this material, and present it to our readers, but that is my task in the coming days, and a job the staff of Antiwar.com staff is taking up with alacrity.

The release of the logs also brings into focus the Manning case, and its importance – really, at this point, its centrality – to all those opposed to our foreign policy of global intervention. Bradley is sitting in a jail in Kuwait, right now, being interrogated and, who knows, perhaps even tortured, within an inch of his life. This is intolerable. He is a hero, not a traitor: he is giving us the truth about what we’re doing in Afghanistan, and around the world. We should thank him for this priceless gift by working tirelessly to free him.

Enveloped in a cloak of secrecy, our rulers get away with murder – literally – committing their crimes in the dark, until someone like Pfc. Manning shines a light on the truth. Now is the time for the American people to take up that cry, and declare: Not one more dime, not one more life!

Hands off Wikileaks! Free Bradley Manning!

Read more by Justin Raimondo