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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/6/10

Wikileaks is "Old News?" I Didn't Know This Stuff.

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Notwithstanding the administration's proclamation that the 90,000 classified documents posted by Wikileaks contain "nothing new," you sure could have fooled me. When I want to know the truth I try as hard as possible to find a major non-American news source. For your first scratch beneath the surface I recommend the UK Guardian series. I think it's just a little better than the NY Times one.

For example, the story about a soldier raking a bus with machine gun fire is something I didn't know:

"Patrolling on foot, a Kentucky-based squad from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, known as "Red Currahee", decided to flag down the approaching bus, so their patrol could cross the road. Before sunrise, a soldier stepped out on to Afghanistan's main highway and raised both hands in the air.

When the bus failed to slow travelers are often wary of being flagged down in Afghanistan's bandit lands a trooper raked it with machine-gun fire. They killed four passengers and wounded 11 others."

Sure, "sh*t happens" in war, but what comes through when you download the entire Wikileaks file is the sheer frequency of "sh*t happening." One days' logs could take dozens of clicks to go through. Shoot 'em ups, screw ups, Humvees in after day, incident upon incident, you start wondering how there is anyone left to populate a war zone. It's amazing.

How they have created a nice Taliban/Al Qaeda University courtesy of the US taxpayer is another good one. At Bagram thousands of prisoners are kept in communal cages inside huge, empty aircraft hangars, mixing in common criminals with Taliban, who find a fertile recruiting ground. Some have been there for years without trial or charges, basically forgotten. Needless to say, many who did not go in Taliban come out one. How nice of us to put all the disaffected, angry young men with no purpose in life in one place. Could we make a recruiter's job any easier?

Then there is the helicopter which got shot down by a heat-seeking missile but the news release got doctored because the Pentagon decided it didn't want us to know the Taliban had them. Anyone who has seen "Charlie Wilson's War" knows that's what turned the tide against the Russians. When you look at the AP report at the time it says:

"A U.S. military official, who insisted on speaking anonymously because the crash was still under investigation, said initial reports suggested the helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade."

It was a flat-out lie. The Wikileaks incident report says:

"Flipper 75 (CH-47D) was engaged and struck with a Missile at 41S PR 919 727 shortly after crossing over the Helmand River. Suspected POO site is 41S PR 92801 71833. A/C was traveling at approx. 70-80 Knots, 200-250ft AGL on an easterly heading when it was hit from the rear. The missile struck the aircraft in the left engine. The impact of the missile projected the aft end of the aircraft up as it burst into flames followed immediately by a nose dive into the crash site with no survivors."

Seven NATO servicemen, including 5 Americans, died. Which brings us to the real impact of the Wikileaks documents, in my humble opinion. Each individual incident may not in itself be the deal-breaker. It's that nagging in the back of your head: "if they lied about this, what else are they lying about?"

Then there is the story of Task Force 373, which:

"confronted Taliban fighters in a village called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from which the fighters had been firing.

The final outcome, listed tersely at the end of the leaked log: 12 US wounded, two teenage girls and a 10-year-old boy wounded, one girl killed, one woman killed, four civilian men killed, one donkey killed, one dog killed, several chickens killed, no enemy killed, no enemy wounded, no enemy detained.

The coalition put out a statement claiming falsely to have killed several militants and making no mention of any dead civilians...the dead civilians came from one family, one of whom had been found with his hands tied behind his back, suggesting that the Taliban were unwelcome intruders in their home..."

Translation: the family was not harboring Taliban; the Taliban had the family hostage when TF 373 dropped bombs on the compound.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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