WikiLeaks and embarrassment in Afghanistan

In the coming days we’re sure to be subjected to complaints and hand-wringing over the publication of these classified reports from our glorious War in/on Afghanistan by WikiLeaks. Keep in mind that the complainers are mostly interested in protecting themselves and their powerful friends from embarrassment. Embarrassments like this:

Among the ninety-one thousand or so documents from the Afghan war released by WikiLeaks Sunday is an incident report dated November 22, 2009, submitted by a unit called Task Force Pegasus. It describes how a convoy was stopped on a road in southern Afghanistan at an illegal checkpoint manned by what appeared to be a hundred insurgents, “middle-age males with approx 75 x AK-47’s and 15 x PKM’s.” What could be scarier than that?

Maybe what the soldiers found out next: these weren’t “insurgents” at all, at least not in the die-hard jihadi sense that the American public might understand the term. The gunmen were quite willing to let the convoy through, if the soldiers just forked over a two- or three-thousand-dollar bribe; and they were in the pay of a local warlord, Matiullah Khan, who was himself in the pay, ultimately, of the American public. According to a Times report this June (six months after the incident with Task Force Pegasus), Matiullah earns millions of dollars from NATO, supposedly to keep that road clear for convoys and help with American special-forces missions. Matiullah is also suspected of (and has denied) earning money “facilitating the movement of drugs along the highway.”

That is good to know. The Obama Administration has already expressed dismay that WikiLeaks publicized the documents, but a leak informing us that our tax dollars may be being used as seed money for a protection racket associated with a narcotics-trafficking enterprise is a good leak to have.

As citizens of a “democracy” we have a right to know how the war is going. How else are we to make an informed decision with respect to supporting it?

Stupid question… I know…

One Comment

  1. Ian

    I’d still like to know where WikiLeaks got the information in the first place.