by Declan McCullagh and Steven Musil
July 25, 2010
Wikileaks, the document-leaking organization that has previously released
internal U.S. military videos, on Sunday disclosed more than 75,000
confidential files related to the war in Afghanistan.
The group gave the documents in advance to The New York Times, Germany's Der
Spiegel, and the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, which independently confirmed
The Guardian called the disclosure a "devastating
portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan," saying it reveals how the
U.S.-led coalition has killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents,
Taliban attacks have risen, and NATO commanders worry that neighboring
Pakistan and Iran are aiding the insurgency.
About 76,900 of the files - which the group calls the "Afghan War Diary" -
appeared on Wikileaks.org at around 4 p.m. PDT. Wikileaks says it has
delayed the release of an additional 15,000 files to allow names and other
sensitive information to be removed.
The U.K. public service broadcaster Channel 4
performed its own analysis of
the dispatches from individual military units, which cover the war from 2004
through the end of 2009, and concluded that 15,506 enemy deaths were
At least 4,232 civilians were killed, and 1,138 NATO troops were
The full impact of the files may not become apparent for days, or even
months, as researchers, journalists, or anyone with an Internet connection
and a modicum of curiosity takes the opportunity to pore over the data.
Uncompressed, the files total about 100 megabytes, which is about 20 times
the size of the complete works of William Shakespeare.
Spiegel Online special report dubbed the documents a set of "explosive
The Times disclosed that it been given the material "about a month"
ago and that it has "not linked to the archives of raw material," even
its coverage included the domain name Wikileaks.org in the first
paragraph - posing little obstacle to anyone interested in perusing the raw
Reaction in Washington political circles is already beginning.
The Times posted a White House memo to reporters
sent Sunday evening, without naming which
Obama aide wrote it, seeking to
downplay the disclosure as not surprising, and saying that,
"Wikileaks is not an objective news outlet
but rather an organization that opposes U.S. policy in Afghanistan."
And Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat
who heads the Foreign Relations Committee, said the release
demonstrates that "calibrations" to the U.S. policy toward Afghanistan were
The documents revealed a greater amount of violence in Afghanistan than had
previously been reported by the military or the media, Julian Assange, the
organization's co-founder, told the Times.
"It shows not only the severe incidents but
the general squalor of war, from the death of individual children to
major operations that kill hundreds," he told the newspaper. (Wikileaks
has not revealed the source of the files.)
One of the more intriguing references in the
data relates to
Task Force 373, which appears to have been instructed to
kill its targets without arrest or trial.
One report of its activities in pursuit of a
suspected Al Qaeda leader said there was an "initial assessment of 7 x NC
KIA (children)," meaning seven children killed in action.
"The original mission was aborted and TF 373
broke contact and returned to base. Follow-up Report: 7 x ANP KIA, 4 x
Translated, that means that the
were shooting at and killed seven Afghan police officers, which the Defense
Department neglected to disclose in its
In a statement, White House national security adviser James Jones criticized
the release of the documents, saying the disclosure
could put American lives
and national security at risk:
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.
A video (below) leaked earlier this year that Wikileaks
Murder" shows a U.S. military helicopter in Iraq destroying a
vehicle that was preparing to rush a wounded journalist to a hospital.
Collateral Murder - Wikileaks - Iraq
April 03, 2010
obtained and decrypted this previously unreleased video
from a US Apache
helicopter in 2007.
It shows Reuters
journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and
several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a
public square in Eastern Baghdad.
They are apparently
assumed to be insurgents.
After the initial
shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children
in a minivan
arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the
They are fired upon
statement on this incident initially listed all adults
and claimed the US
military did not know how the deaths occurred.
this video with transcripts and a package of
documents on April 5th 2010 on
The Apache pilots appeared to mistake a news
crew, who were holding cameras, for armed insurgents.
Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning, the serviceman who allegedly
provided the videos to Wikileaks, has been charged with
classified information and could face a significant prison sentence.
Map based on Wikileaks data,
showing civilian deaths in red,
was created by the U.K.