Last night WikiLeaks dumped 91,000 classified U.S. military documents detailing our current Quagmire in the Graveyard of Empires. Most of the documents, which were reviewed in advance by the Times, are low-level field reports detailing the daily grind in Afghanistan, where officers, unsurprisingly, complain of "poorly equipped Afghan forces and corrupt Afghan government officials." Other documents suggest that Pakistan's spy service, ISI, is helping Afghan insurgents attack U.S. forces.
This is hardly news, and one U.S. official tells the Washington Post, "There is not a lot new here for those who have been following developments closely." But this being 2010, there is, thankfully, a Lady Gaga angle to make this newsy.
It seems the private who allegedly downloaded the huge trove of secret data from military computers in Iraq exploited a loophole that permitted the use of compact disks on secure computers. External hard drive ports were disabled, but Pfc. Bradley E. Manning allegedly spent six months downloading documents onto a CD that he disguised in a Lady Gaga CD case. The Times reports, "He was able to avoid detection not because he kept a poker face, they said, but apparently because he hummed and lip-synched to Lady Gaga songs to make it appear that he was using the classified computer’s CD player to listen to music." Whether you think Manning's a patriot or a traitor, surely we can all agree that he was willing to sacrifice for his cause.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—who was supposed to attend a hacker conference at the Hotel Pennsylvania earlier this month but backed out after federal agents were spotted there—tells CNN, "It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions—U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity, and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups."
A spokesperson for the Afghan government issued a statement saying, "There should be serious action taken against the ISI, who has a direct connection with the terrorists. These reports show that the U.S. was already aware of the ISI connection with the al Qaeda terrorist network. The United States is overdue on the ISI issue and now the United States should answer."
"The key thing to bear in mind is that the administration is not naive about Pakistan," an Obama administration official insists to the Washington Post. "The problem with the Pakistanis is that the more you threaten them, the more they become entrenched and don't see a path forward with you." Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its "help" in "combating" the militants.