Monday, July 26, 2010

"Julian Assange is a clown"?

It's not my quote, but there's much about this that smacks of a pub-grab.

My feelings about Wikileaks is mixed. I sympathize with whistleblowers...always, but leaking National Security Information makes me nervous.

Still, I find it interesting that in light of the Wikileaks 91,000 page Afghanistan thing, the I-hate-the-Afghanistan-War-Crowd (populated by people who somehow listened to President Obama talk about ratcheting up the Afghan War in virtually every Foreign Policy speech, yet still did not hear him) cheered the release. (A cross-board summary can be found here.)

More telling, the professional Military Reporters (at least the ones I read) haven't so much as reacted, as they have...yawned.

Andrew Sullivan, no Afghan War lover, also said that not much was learned, while spending the day trumpeting the Wikileak stuff.

Thomas Ricks:

A huge leak of U.S. reports and this is all they get? I know of more stuff leaked at one good dinner on background. I mean, when Mother Jones yawns, that's an indication that you might not have the Pentagon Papers on your hands. If anything, the thousands of documents remind me of what it is like to be a reporter: Lots of different people telling you different things. It takes awhile to learn how to distinguish the junk from the gold.

You know how Robert DeNiro used to shout once in every film, "You got nothin' on me, nothin'"? (I think it was in his contract.) This data dump reminded me of that.

Fred Kaplan:

Some of the conclusions to be drawn from these files: Afghan civilians are sometimes killed. Many Afghan officials and police chiefs are corrupt and incompetent. Certain portions of Pakistan's military and intelligence service have nefarious ties to the Taliban.

If any of this startles you, then welcome to the world of reading newspapers. Today's must be the first one you've read.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has likened these documents to the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret history of the Vietnam War that Daniel Ellsberg leaked in 1972. The comparison is preposterous.

Adam Weinstein (Mother Jones):

Here's a cliche for you: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And here's a fact: A little knowledge is precisely what Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks cohorts have given us in the "Afghan War Diary." The intimation by Assange (and the media outlets he cherry-picked to preview the data) is that these are the Pentagon Papers of the Afghan war. Certainly there are a few eyebrow-raising details in the bunch, as Mark Mazzetti, Chris Chivers & Co. at the New York Times point out. But in truth, there's not much there. I know, because I've seen many of these reports before—at least, thousands of similar ones from Iraq, when I was a contractor there last year.

And finally, the whole Abu Muqawama post from the Center for a New American Security:

Here are the things I have learned thus far from the documents released via Wikileaks:

1. Elements within Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) support the Taliban.

2. The United States integrates direct action special operations into its counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan, targeting insurgent leaders through capture/kill missions.

3. Civilians have died in Afghanistan, often as the result of coalition combat operations.

I'm going to bed, but if I were to stay up late reading more, here is what I suspect I would discover:

1. "Afghanistan" has four syllables.

2. LeBron is going to the Heat.

3. D'Angelo Barksdale didn't actually commit suicide in prison. Stringer Bell had him killed.

4. Although a document dated 17 October 2004 claims the Red Sox were down 3-0 in a seven-game series with the Yankees, they actually went on to win 4-3.

5. Liberace was gay.

6. The Pathan remains wily.

7. Julian Assange is a clown.