Bogus Afghan "Review" Shows Need for Journalism on Classified Information
Thursday 16 December 2010
On Thursday, the Obama administration announced the results of its promised "review" of
But the collective assessment of 16
Many experts inside and outside of the US government believe that if it persists, the unwillingness of Pakistan to stop providing support and sanctuary for members of the Afghan Taliban will be fatal to current US strategy. And many experts inside and outside of the US government believe that there is no reason to expect that the unwillingness of Pakistan to stop providing support and sanctuary for members of the Afghan Taliban will not persist, because Pakistan's policy is based on deeply held beliefs about Pakistan's core national security interests, and how they see those core interests as threatened by what they perceive to be the pro-
For example, as the Guardian reported, in one of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in September 2009 that
"there is no chance that
And, Tthe Guardian
The army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, had been "utterly frank" about the consequences of a pro-India government coming to power in Kabul, noted a 2009 briefing in advance of his visit to Washington. "The Pakistani establishment will dramatically increase support for Taliban groups in
So, this conclusion of the intelligence agencies about
And the reason that we know that the collective assessments of the 16 US intelligence agencies give a very different picture than the "progress" story that the administration is presenting to the public today is that news outlets such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times have reported on the National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) for Afghanistan and Pakistan, <strong>even though the NIEs are classified.
Two new assessments by the
The classified intelligence reports contend that large swaths of
The reports, the subject of a recent closed hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee, also say
Key members of Congress are watching the Obama strategy warily. "Our political and diplomatic efforts are not in line with our military efforts," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who is under consideration as the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee." It may be time to consider a smaller troop footprint."
Speaker-designate John Boehner announced yesterday that
The New York Times reported
As President Obama prepares to release a review of American strategy in
The findings in the reports, called National Intelligence Estimates, represent the consensus view of the
The White House review comes as some members of Mr. Obama's party are losing patience with the war. "You're not going to get to the point where the Taliban are gone and the border is perfectly controlled," said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr. Smith said there would be increasing pressure from the political left on Mr. Obama to end the war, and he predicted that Democrats in Congress would resist continuing to spend $100 billion annually on
Note that The
A White House review of President Obama's year-old Afghan war strategy concluded that it is "showing progress" against al-Qaeda and in Afghanistan and Pakistan but that "the challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable," according to a summary document released early Thursday.
The overview of the long-awaited report contained no specifics or data to back up its conclusions. The actual assessment document is classified and will not be made public, according to an administration official who said that interested members of Congress would be briefed on it in January.
This example shows why we need journalism on classified information, including WikiLeaks. If the assessment of the 16 intelligence agencies is different from the White House/Pentagon review, the public need to know that in order to have an informed opinion.
We know that the majority of Americans already believe the war in
Sixty percent of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting, according to a new
As Think Progress notes, "the same poll shows that while Americans want Obama's primary focus to be on the economy, their second priority is to bring the troops home from
We know that many
The Taliban's leadership has indicated its willingness to negotiate, and it is in our interests to talk to them.
The experts ask President Obama to "sanction and support a direct dialogue and negotiation with the Afghan Taliban leadership residing in
The Red Cross says
But there is a fundamental difference between knowing that an outside expert thinks something and knowing that a
That's why we need journalism on classified information. That's why we need whistleblowers like former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who revealed not only that the Iraq-Niger uranium story was false, but that Bush administration officials knew it to be dubious at the time that they used it as a key public argument for going to war with Iraq.
And that's why we need WikiLeaks. As former FBI agent Coleen Rowley has suggested, if WikiLeaks had been around in 2001, government whistleblowers would have had an outlet for their concerns about government inaction in the face of what they believed was an impending terrorist attack, and perhaps the events of 9/11 could have been prevented, a suggestion recently echoed by Representative Jim McDermott.
Rep. McDermott continued
"The American people have the right to know. The most important of our freedoms is free speech. The First Amendment is what makes a democracy work. If the public doen't know what's going on, then they can't vote intelligently and when the government wants to hide stuff, then the people are cut off from information."
Vietnam War whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg - who is getting arrested at the White House today in protest of the current wars - suggests that if we had a whistleblower like Bradley Manning before the Iraq war, the war could have been prevented
This is a key reason that the attacks on WikiLeaks are so outrageous. As Human Rights Watch notes, if the
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has a letter in support of WikiLeaks here.
You can tell President Obama here that he should keep the promise of a significant drawdown of US forces from
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.
Robert Naiman is senior policy analyst at Just Foreign Policy.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs