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TODAY’S QUESTION: Has the reality of the war in Afghanistan been distorted?

Monday, July 26, 2010 | 2:29 p.m. CDT

On Sunday, whistleblower website WikiLeaks released classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents about the war in Afghanistan.

According to The New York Times, the reports span from January 2004 to December 2009. More than 90,000 documents were released, and The New York Times describes them as “a daily diary of an American-led force often starved for resources and attention as it struggled against an insurgency that grew larger, better coordinated and more deadly each year.”

The reports suggest questions about the loyalty of the Afghan police force and army and the allegiance of Pakistan’s military and its intelligence agency. The reports also indicate the Taliban has been using heat-seeking missiles to attack aircrafts, the drone aircrafts used by the U.S. military are not as efficient as suggested, secret units have stepped up their efforts even while sometimes killing civilians and the CIA has not only expanded paramilitary operations within Afghanistan, but from 2001 to 2008 it also paid the budget for Afghanistan’s spy agency.

The New York Times reports that, while the documents do not contradict official statements regarding efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S. military is guilty of making misleading public statements. The article also says White House officials deny that the administration misled the public.

CNN reports that National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones called the release of the documents “irresponsible,” adding that the U.S. condemns the release of the classified information for individual safety and national security reasons. He also said the leak will not impact partnerships with Afghanistan or Pakistan.

The reports do not include any 2010 documents, so they do not address the new war strategies, including increased numbers of troops, a stronger focus on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and a new counterinsurgency strategy.

In a news conference on Monday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents indicate war crimes, and that “the real story of this material is that it's war, it's one damn thing after another, it's the continuous small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, armed forces ... the maimed people ... this is the story of the war since 2004."

The Washington Post reports that both the Pentagon and CIA consider WikiLeaks a national security threat.

Has the reality of the war in Afghanistan been distorted?


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