Afghanistan War Logs: Massive Leak of Secret Files Exposes Truth of Occupation
by Nick Davies and David Leigh
A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating
portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces
have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks
have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are
fuelling the insurgency.
The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and
intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers'
website Wikileaks in one of the
biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available
to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give
a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so
far cost the lives of more than 320 British and more than 1,000 US troops.
Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's "surge"
strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US naval personnel
captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.
The war logs also detail:
* How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for
"kill or capture" without trial.
* How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly
* How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and
kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
* How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of
their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians
to date. . . .
[The Moslems had staged a bitter and uninterrupted warfare against the might
of Spain for a period of 377 years. It is doubtful if this record has been
equalled in the whole bloody history of military aggression.--Vic Hurley,
Swish of the Kris," Cacho Hermanos (1985), 1st ed 1936]
[History is about to take a monumental turn in the rugged, desolate
hills and dales of Afghanistan where the world's sole superpower leads an
alliance facing defeat at the hands of the nameless resistance fighters of
al-Qaeda and the Taliban.--Muhammad Abdullah Gul, "Afghanistan - paths to peace," Al Jazeera, July 19, 2010]
[The combat zone is not merely thousands of miles away from the United
States, it can be accessed only by crossing other countries: Pakistan, Iran,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, or Tajikistan. . . .
It costs $400 to put one gallon of gas on the ground in certain places in
Afghanistan. In 2009, according to Pentagon estimates, allied forces were
consuming over half a million gallons of gasoline per day, a figure that
nearly doubled before the new "surge" troops began reaching the country.
During the Vietnam war the Pentagon calculated that every soldier in-country
represented $7,000 in the war budget. For Afghanistan that figure is
$1,000,000.--John Prados, "In Afghanistan, the Handwriting Is on
the Wall," huffingtonpost.com, Otober 11, 2010]
[The prospect of a negotiated peace is dismissed almost outright.
"All this talk of a political settlement with Karzai... it is all tricks and
propaganda," he says. "The Taliban will not negotiate with anyone until all
foreign troops have left." His men are genuinely perplexed by General
Petraeus's assertion that Nato's purpose in Afghanistan is to prevent the
re-establishment of al-Qa'ida. "There were some foreign fighters in Chak for
a while last year," Mullah Naim recalls, "Arabs, Chechens, Pakistanis. But
they were fighting under the Taliban, obeying our orders. They were nothing
to do with al-Qa'ida. There are no al-Qa'ida fighters in Afghanistan any
more. I have fought in the south and in the east as well as here. In
seven years of operations I have not seen a single al-Qa'ida fighter. Not
one."--James Fergusson, "Exclusive: Afghanistan - behind enemy
lines," Independent, November 14, 2010]
[The Associated Press covered US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry's
announcement that a $511 million contract had been awarded to Caddell
Construction, one of America's "largest construction and engineering
groups", for a massive expansion of the US Embassy in Kabul. According to
the ambassador, that embassy is already "the largest ... in the world with
more than 1,100 brave and dedicated civilians ... from 16 agencies and
working next to their military counterparts in 30 provinces," and yet it
seems it's still not large enough.--Tom Engelhardt, "Kabul gets
its own stimulus package," atimes.com, November 18, 2010]
[The AfPak war costs roughly US $7 billion a month - money that Washington
needs to borrow from Beijing. Afghanistan in itself costs $65 billion a year
- not counting NATO and humanitarian aid. Afghanistan's gross domestic
product is only $22 billion. So Washington is spending three times the
wealth of a whole country just to occupy it. Money for nothing. Properly
invested, by this time Afghanistan would be the new Singapore.--Pepe
Escobar, "Have (infinite) war, will travel," atimes.com, November 18,
["The Taliban have no problem with the Afghan government. We have no problem
with Karzai or the Afghans. The problem lies with the Americans," he said. .
"The Americans have one right only, and that is their right to be assured
that Afghanistan will not be used against them and that is something the
Taliban should give.
"Apart from that they have no rights, they have no right to tell us about
democracy and human rights. That's an Afghan issue and it will be decided by
the Afghans."--Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, "Talking to the Taliban about life after occupation,"
Guardian, November 26, 2010
[But staying is not worth years more of warfare, thousands more dead
Americans, and hundreds of billions more wasted dollars.--Doug Bandow, "What I Saw in Afghanistan," American
Conservative, December 2010]
[The most prominent of those tactics was a large-scale demolition of homes
that has left widespread bitterness among the civilians--Gareth Porter, "Kandahar
gains came with 'brutal' tactics," atimes.com, December 21, 2010]
[ . . . the heart of the matter is that if and when intra-Afghan peace talks
begin stemming from a regional initiative by Afghanistan, Pakistan and
Turkey (and, perhaps, grudging Iranian acquiescence), the entire US position
will cave in and the Obama administration will find itself in an absurd and
untenable position of adamantly insisting on pursuing a war which neither
the Afghan people nor the regional powers want.--M K Bhadrakumar, "US bends to
Pakistan's wish," atimes.com, January 11, 2011]
[The Congressional Research Service estimates that total Afghan war funding
in fiscal year 2011 will hit $119 billion, up from $19 billion in 2006 --
and all that in a country with an annual gross domestic product of less than
$12 billion.--Dan Froomkin, "Norquist Decries Lack Of Conservative Debate
On Afghanistan," huffingtonpost.com, January 12, 2011]
[The central justification of the U.S.-NATO war against the Afghan Taliban -
that the Taliban would allow al-Qaeda to return to Afghanistan - has been
challenged by new historical evidence of offers by the Taliban leadership to
reconcile with the Hamid Karzai government after the fall of the Taliban
government in late 2001.--Gareth Porter, "Evidence of 2002 Taliban
Offer Damages Myth of al-Qaeda Ties," ipsnews.net, February 8, 2011]
[The disgusting and heartbreaking photos published last week in the German
media, and more recently in Rolling Stone magazine, are finally bringing the grisly truth
about the war in Afghanistan to a wider public. All the PR about this war
being about democracy and human rights melts into thin air with the pictures
of US soldiers posing with the dead and mutilated bodies of innocent Afghan
civilians.--Malalai Joya, "Kill teams in Afghanistan: the
truth," Guardian, March 30, 2011]