Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Closer Look at the Wiki Leak Documents

An analysis of the recent release by Wikileaks of 76,908 reports regarding U.S. operations in Afghanistan, dating from 2004 to 2010, tell little that wasn’t already known, but provide details on operations and statistics, which were previously unknown and unavailable.

Civilian casualties and corruption in the Afghan government have been among the largest topics surrounding the reports, yet the actual content is much different from the hype.

The Epoch Times sorted through the top 45 documents rated by severity.

When sorted by level of severity, the reports show that the overwhelming number of civilian casualties and injuries were caused by the Taliban and other insurgents. Also, all reports of contact with insurgent forces show what appear as large victories for U.S. troops, with limited civilian casualties.

Of these 45 documents, 20 covered insurgent bombings and terrorist attacks that killed 435 civilians and injured another 937. Most of the attacks appeared to specifically target civilians, as only eight friendly troops were killed, and five, wounded.

Of the 45 most severe reports, 22 were on contact with insurgent forces. A total of 1,536 insurgents were killed, and another 114 were wounded; of the friendly troops engaged, 11 were killed and 31 wounded. In all, 10 civilians were killed, and 11 were wounded.

One other document was on a riot in Jalalabad City in 2005 which left 37 civilians dead and 10 wounded. According to the report, more than 250 people took to the streets, throwing stones, setting tires on fire, and vandalizing buildings. Gunshots were reported, and exits to city streets were blocked by fires. It is not reported how the civilians were killed, or injured.

The last two documents, rated by severity, were natural disasters. An avalanche or mudslide in 2007 killed 67 civilians, and an earthquake in 2009 killed 19, and injured 51.

A collection of 2,271 reports, filed under escalation of force, includes smaller incidents. According to the first 50 reports, 11 civilians were killed, and 28 were injured. Also, three insurgents were killed, and two were injured. Another 30 of the 50 reports had no cases of any killings or injuries.

Troops involved in the incidents were not limited to those from the United States, and included the ISAF, Afghan police, SAF, and others. The majority of incidents involved civilians charging with vehicles at patrols, or through checkpoints. The most severe case of the 50 took place when Afghan police fired on civilians who were throwing rocks, injuring eight and killing one.

One of the issues noted in the Wikileaks reports was on the Afghan police force charging tolls; another involved issues of extortion. There were only five documents in this category, of which one involved only a small group of Afghan police, and dated back to 2007. Included in the other cases were men posing as government employees, and a Taliban member demanding payment for safe passage.

Among the other reports, documents filed under the assassinations, kidnappings, muggings, and murders categories were acts perpetrated by insurgents, or were regular crimes.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a July 26 briefing, “Based on what we've seen, I don't think that what is being reported hasn’t in many ways been publicly discussed either by you all or by representatives of the U.S. government for quite some time. We have certainly known about safe havens in Pakistan; we have been concerned about civilian casualties for quite some time—and on both of those aspects we've taken steps to make improvements.”

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