Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We've Been Here Before

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Who among us remembers the Pentagon Papers? This was a top-secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam from right after World War II until the mid-1960s. The New York Times got hold of them and began publishing excerpts in 1971. What this document showed was the depth of the duplicity that had been and was still being practiced by the government to conceal the fact that early on in the war, it was determined that it could not be won. The hero of that hour who made sure that the document got out to the public was Daniel Ellsberg.*

A similar hero, as yet unnamed, has been responsible for leaking 92,000 documents on our present war in Afghanistan. These documents, and apparently there are yet hundreds of thousands more, have been put on the Net via Wikileaks simultaneously with articles in the New York Times, The Guardian, and the German magazine Der Spiegel. What these are telling us is that Pakistan, our erstwhile ally in the war, has been working with the Taliban to kill American troops. They are also documenting a lot more killing of civilians by US troops. In general, this vast collection of mostly boots-on-the-ground reports verifies that the war in Afghanistan is not being won and probably cannot be won.

What's the most disturbing about this document dump is that it is essentially causing a huge collective yawn in the mainstream media. As in: oh, the war in Afghanistan is not going swimmingly? Tell us something we don't know. But as one writer asked, "Am I alone in thinking that the fact that this document dump has prompted so many in the media to simply admit that the war in Afghanistan is not going well is an extraordinary development in itself?"

Oh, no. You're not alone, sir.

*Ellsberg was brought to trial under the espionage act, but when it came to light that the Nixon administration had carried out a systematic campaign to discredit him--raiding his psychiatrist's office for files, tapping his phone--the judge dismissed all the charges.
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