WikiLeaks exposes occupiers’ war crimes in Afghanistan

July 28, 2010

On Sunday, the WikiLeaks website posted 91,731 American military documents on the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan, covering the period from January 2004 to December 2009. The release was timed to coincide with articles on these revelations in the New York Times, the British Guardian and the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, all of which had received the documents several weeks ago.

The documents make clear that the occupation of Afghanistan is a filthy imperialist war. Popular resistance and protest demonstrations are drowned in blood, U.S. death squads operate at will under a media blackout, and Washington and NATO collaborate with a narrow elite of corrupt warlords and Afghan officers, the World Socialist Web Site reported.
The documents were released as the Afghan government confirmed that NATO rocket fire last week killed more than 50 civilians, largely women and children, in the Sangin district of Helmand Province. The attack was one of the worst since the May 2009 Gerani air strike, in neighboring Farah province, which killed 140 civilians, including 93 children and 28 women.
The WikiLeaks documents have provided a detailed and searing indictment of a criminal colonial war that the Obama administration has made its own.
In its sheer volume -- 200,000 pages -- the so-called Afghan War Diary makes an incontrovertible case that for nearly nine years the U.S. military has conducted a campaign of terror and deadly violence against the Afghan people.
Consisting of battlefield reports written by U.S. soldiers and officers, the documents record the deaths of civilians resulting from air strikes on their homes and the killing of Afghans on motorcycles and in cars and buses by trigger-happy troops manning roadblocks.
They lift the veil on the operations of Task Force 373, a secret “black” unit comprised of special operations troops charged with hunting down and killing alleged leaders of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The unit worked off a list of at least 2,000 individuals who were sentenced to death by the Pentagon and the CIA without being charged, much less tried, for any offense. In the course of kicking down doors and calling in air strikes against those it targeted, the unit has managed to kill numerous innocent men, women and children.
Also exposed is the growing use of Reaper and Predator drones, unmanned aircraft that attack their victims from 50,000 feet, wreaking death and destruction on defenseless civilians without warning.
The documents likewise expose the systematic cover-up of atrocities committed by the U.S. military. In a number of cases, civilian casualties listed in the reports were never made public. In others, the reports list civilians killed by U.S. fire as insurgents, the World Socialist Web Site wrote in its perspective column.
This murderous character of the war, and the systematic lying by the military command, were brought home forcefully the day after the WikiLeaks release with the report of one of the worst massacres in nine years of war. The government of President Hamid Karzai publicly condemned a U.S.-NATO rocket attack on civilians in Helmand Province last Friday in which as many as 52 people were killed, including entire families, most of them women and children. While various news agencies managed to photograph the corpses and speak to residents of the area who had buried their families or driven the wounded to a local hospital, a spokesman for the U.S.-led occupation forces said that there was “no evidence of civilian casualties.”
Julien Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, told a press conference in London Monday that “thousands” of similar incidents revealed in the documents constituted war crimes that should be investigated and prosecuted.
Just as importantly, the documents expose the real view of the military on the ground toward the Karzai puppet regime which they are propping up. They reveal instances of grotesque corruption and sadistic violence by a collection of warlords, drug dealers and killers who constitute the pillars of the Afghan state and are hated by the Afghan people.
The Obama White House has responded to the leak by vowing to continue the Afghanistan war and issuing threatening statements about how the exposure of classified material placed the lives of troops at risk and endangered “national security.”
Keeping this material secret was designed not to protect American soldiers, but rather to conceal the reality of the carnage in Afghanistan from the American people, who are growing increasingly hostile towards this, America’s longest war.
Comparisons are being made widely between the WikiLeaks revelations and the Pentagon Papers, which nearly 40 years ago exposed the lies underlying the American intervention in Vietnam and the criminality of the U.S. war there.
The differences, however, are perhaps even more striking. At that time, when Daniel Ellsberg leaked confidential documents, members of the U.S. Senate were prepared to defy the government and place them into the record, while the New York Times aggressively pursued the story, fighting court injunctions to publish the material.
Today, there is no significant figure in the Senate or the Democratic Party prepared to do anything similar. As for the media, there is little or no expression of revulsion or shock over the documents’ revelations of staggering levels of U.S. violence against the Afghan population. The central focus of most coverage has been the legality of leaking these reports, not their chilling content.
For its part, the Times published its story only after urging WikiLeaks to engage in self-censorship and clearing it with the White House. The newspaper’s main conclusion is that the leaked documents demonstrate the need to intensify the war in Afghanistan and spread it more aggressively into Pakistan. It has sought to spin the documents as evidence of a “hamstrung war” in which the U.S. military has been subjected to too many restrictions while denied sufficient resources. The Times advances this line in the face evidence detailing a staggering degree of brutality in Afghanistan