The War Logs: Reaction to Disclosure of Military Documents on Afghan Warhttp://atwar.blogs.nytimes.
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
The At War blog will be providing coverage of the reaction to the release of an archive of classified military documents described below that paints a grim portrait of the war in Afghanistan. The New York Times had access to the documents and published a series of reports that are gathered here.
6:07 p.m. |White House Responds to Disclosure
The White House released the following statement, condemning the disclosure of classified information:
Statement of National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones on Wikileaks
The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents – the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.
The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years. This shift in strategy addressed challenges in Afghanistan that were the subject of an exhaustive policy review last fall. We know that serious challenges lie ahead, but if Afghanistan is permitted to slide backwards, we will again face a threat from violent extremist groups like al Qaeda who will have more space to plot and train. That is why we are now focused on breaking the Taliban’s momentum and building Afghan capacity so that the Afghan government can begin to assume responsibility for its future. The United States remains committed to a strong, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan.
Since 2009, the United States and Pakistan have deepened our important bilateral partnership. Counter-terrorism cooperation has led to significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership. The Pakistani military has gone on the offensive in Swat and South Waziristan, at great cost to the Pakistani military and people. The United States and Pakistan have also commenced a Strategic Dialogue, which has expanded cooperation on issues ranging from security to economic development. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also improved their bilateral ties, most recently through the completion of a Transit-Trade Agreement. Yet the Pakistani government – and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services – must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups. The balance must shift decisively against al Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups, while supporting the aspirations of the Pakistani people.
As our colleagues report, a six-year archive of classified military documents to be made public online Sunday by an organization called WikiLeaks offers a picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respect more grim than the official portrayal.
The New York Times, The Guardian newspaper in London and the German magazine Der Spiegel were given access to the records, which illustrate why, after the United Sates has spent almost $300 billion on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban are stronger than at any time since 2001.
The latest posting from WikiLeaks is its first publication of classified military information since its release in April of a video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.
Some of the findings in The Times’s analysis of the trove of documents released Sunday include:
* Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service guides the Afghan insurgency that fights American troops, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion in U.S. aid.
* The C.I.A.’s paramilitary operations are expanding in Afghanistan.
* The Taliban has used portable, heat-seeking missiles against Western aircraft — weapons that helped defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.
In a note to readers, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, describes the process of piecing together the documents and deciding what to publish.