A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter flies near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 22, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.) http://www.army.mil by The U.S. Military
Classified information on the war in Afghanistan has been released by three major media sources in the world--the New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel. Nearly 92,000 documents were provided to the three sources by Wikileaks, and have been published in the form of "war logs."
The documents illuminate the following disturbing realities: a US-assassination squad in Afghanistan operates with a "kill-and-capture list," drones used by the US are prone to system failures, computer glitches and human error, Pakistan actively arms the Taliban even as the US works to keep the country an ally, CIA has expanded its paramilitary operations, intelligence agents are awash in data they don't know what to do with (a conclusion that the Washington Post's "Top Secret America" digital journalism project probably demonstrates as well), how killings of civilians by forces are going unreported, how the US has covered up certain Taliban activity, and how Iran is likely aiding the Taliban.
Task Force 373
Der Spiegel characterizes the US-assasination squad as "the Secret Hunters." The squad, known as Task Force 373 to the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, is a "'black' unit of forces" that has been hunting "down targets for death or detention without trial." The targets come from a list--the joint priorities effects list (JPEL)--a list of more than 2,000 senior figures who are believed to be drug barons, bomb makers or part of the Taliban or al-Qaida. Forces set out to "seize" targets on these lists for "internment" but in many cases the targets are killed instead.
The force includes "U.S. elite soldiers" from the "Navy Seals and members of the Delta Force." They receive their orders "directly from the Pentagon and are independent of the chain of command of the international ISAF Afghanistan security forces." The decision to arrest or kill targets is often up those hunting the targets down.
The existence of an assassination squad is likely not that surprising to those who remember it was revealed in 2009 that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered "a highly classified CIA operation hidden from Congress because it pushed the limits of legality by planning to assassinate al-Qaida operatives in friendly countries without the knowledge of their governments."
Documents indicate Pakistan, a US ally, have "directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders." The intelligence files suggest Pakistan's spy agency ISI has been supplying, arming, and training insurgents in Afghanistan since 2004.
The Obama Administration provides $1 billion of military aid to Pakistan. There is significant doubt about about much of the information concerning ISI. The recorded allegation of a plot against Hamid Karzai is sourced to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), which is Afghanistan's premier spy agency and an agency with a history of hostility toward the ISI. However, the documents do indicate the ISI is engaged in some level of collusion with the Taliban.
Also illuminated is the reality that US forces are getting into battles on the Pakistan border and in Pakistan. US troops have been "disregarding Pakistani sovereignty to fire on Taliban fighters" being sheltered by Pakistanis in the country's tribal belt.(This, of course, provides much credence to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich's assertion last week that the US is acting in "violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution introduced after the Vietnam War that only allows the president to send US armed forces into military operations abroad if Congress approves the decision or if the United States is under a serious threat or attack.")
Civilian Deaths at Hands of Secret CIA Paramilitaries
The existence of CIA paramilitaries isn't much of a secret especially to Der Spiegel, which reported on America's use of CIA paramilitaries in Iraq\. However, the paramiliaries' role in civilian deaths has likely gone unreported due to the nature of the paramilitary forces.
Around 144 entries in the war logs indicate so-called "blue on white" events involving assaults on Afghans resulting in hundreds of casualties. The logs indicate civilian casualties come from the shooting of individual innocents or air strikes.
The Guardian's assessment is that "the logs demonstrate how much of the contemporaneous US internal reporting of air strikes is simply false." The source notes this in conjunction with the reality that "US and allied commanders frequently deny allegations of mass civilian casualties, claiming they are Taliban propaganda or ploys to get compensation, which are contradicted by facts known to the military."
US Coverup of Fatal Taliban Missile Strike