Largest leak in US military history reveals Afghan war details



American, British and German military planners are scrambling to contain the political impact of a massive cache of classified reports from Afghanistan, which has been leaked by an anti-secrecy activist group. It has now become known that, several weeks ago, the group handed over a total of 91,731 classified incident and intelligence reports from the US-led occupation force in Afghanistan to American newspaper The New York Times, British broadsheet The Guardian, and German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. All three outlets agreed to examine the material, abiding by Wikileaks’ condition that they would wait until Sunday, July 25, to release it. All three news media published news of the leak almost simultaneously on Sunday night, (see here, here and here), and posted several of the files, which provide an unprecedented six-year archive (from 2004 to 2009) of day-to-day US-led military operations in Afghanistan. This unprecedented disclosure is believed to represent the largest public leak of classified material in US military history. Among noteworthy revelations, the leaked files describe hundreds of previously unreported killings of civilians by coalition military forces, such as incidents of civilian busses machine-gunned by US and French troops, and even an apparent revenge attack by Polish soldiers on an Afghan wedding party, which resulted in the death of several civilians, including a pregnant woman. On the strategic level, the leaked files reveal a conspiracy by US military planners to conceal the acquisition by the Taliban of hand-carried heat-guided surface-to-air missiles. They also disclose the activities of special army and navy operations units, including the US-commanded Task Force 373, whose members appear to be involved in dozens of extrajudicial targeted killings of suspected Taliban operatives. On the intelligence level, the leaked reports reveal that the State Information Agency (KHAD), Afghanistan’s mail intelligence directorate, operates as a “virtual subsidiary” of the CIA, and that the US spy agency funded 100% of KHAD’s operational budget from 2001 until at least 2008. More importantly, several files included in the massive Wikileaks cache show that US military planners are aware that Pakistani intelligence agencies routinely send officers to confer “in secret strategy sessions” directly with Taliban leaders fighting against US and coalition troops. The White House condemned the publication of the leaked reports but has refused comment on their contents.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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