1971 – Daniel Ellsberg provides the New York Times (back when it had a spine and a corporate conscience) with a DOD study (1945 through 1968), proving that the US had repeatedly and routinely lied to the US public about its actions and policies in South East Asia
2010 – Wikileaks provides 91,000 documents from the DOD (2001 through 2010), showing that the US goverment had repeatedly and routinely lied to the US public about its actions and policies in Afghanistan
COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!
“Those of us who finally saw through the Vietnam war saw through this war, and all the actions that were necessary to end the Vietnam war will be necessary here. I think the American people will get us out of this (war).”
“Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until the bombs are falling in Iran. Don’t wait until people are dying. Go to the press and reveal.”
FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY
Sometimes the past reveals much about our present. If only we open our eyes, and take notice.
If you haven’t seen it by now, there was a document dump of immense proportions and importance. 91,000 documents related to our invasion, occupation, and war crimes in Afghanistan were provided to several papers and released for general viewing by Wikileaks. (Please note that the US intel agencies tried to shut down Wikileaks by legal, and quite probably, not so legal means in 2008).
They describe actual combat and losses, compared to the glossy PR spin that we’ve been fed by the Bush, and unfortunately, by the Obama administrations. Who knew that the Taliban and Al Qaida had surface to air heat seeking missiles, and were using them against our airforce? Who knew just how many innocents we had killed, only to have a disengaged media ignore it, allowing the Pentagon to perfect its cover ups? Who knew that our policies were utter failures, and that we have no chance for success in Afghanistan? Who knew the Pakistan’s intelligence forces were actively supporting Afghan insurgents against us?
To answer these and other pesky questions, let’s do the time warp again:
For those too young, and for those who may have forgotten this nasty time in our history, the Pentagon initiated a detailed study of its policies in Viet Nam, dating back to the end of WWII. These documents proved that no less than four presidents actively lied to the American public about the nature, scope, techniques, cost, and reasons for our invasion and occupation of Viet Nam.
To say that they caused a firestorm would be like saying that the Atlantic Pond was wet.
The US DOD and DOJ scrambled to keep this information from being released by the Times, and later by the WaPo. Luckily, Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) made several thousand pages part of the public record in Congress, insuring that the debate would continue, regardless of what the Supreme Court did. William Rehnquist, Assistant AG, spearheaded the legal campaign against the newspapers and Ellsberg. He won an injunction against the Times, precluding any publication of the Papers. See, New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713).
Surprisingly, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, held the the injunctions constituted an unconstitutional prior restraint. The majority agreed that the government failed to meet its burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction.
The resulting publication of the Pentagon Papers permanently sullied the reputations of several presidents, especially Lyndon Johnson, and showed just how the Pentagon (along with four administrations) had deliberately lied to congress and to the American public. It had an immediate impact on our occupation of Viet Nam, and eventually led to our leaving the country, our military defeated, our country dispirited, torn, and at odds with itself. Even today, some call Ellsberg a criminal, while others call him a hero.
Unless you lived through that era, you really cannot understand the impact the Papers had. People stopped believing everything the government said. Here was clear proof of deliberate lies, misdeeds, and possible crimes. For many, it was a shocking experience, one that they never got over.
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Wikileaks is an operation dedicated to gathering improper government secrets and making them public. It was getting so good at this task, that our Intel Agencies tried hard to shut it down in 2008. Attacks on its servers, legal actions, and probably many things that we won’t ever learn, were our government’s policy. Unfortunately, it is likely that the Obama Administration continues these Bush policies, just as it has continued and expanded Bush’s Afghan occupation. According to Wikipedia, in the first year (2007) that it operated, Wikileaks had published or made available more than 1,200,000 documents from the US, Germany, China, UK, and other countries.
To give you an idea of how this current document dump of 91,000 DOD documents is piquing people’s interest, Wikileaks’ servers have been repeatedly swamped today, unable to provide responses or access to its site.
Several papers, including Der Spiegel and The Guardian (London) have started reviewing and publishing the “Afghan Papers.” Already, we have learned of war crimes, horrific losses among Afghan civilians, and deceit being actively practiced against the American Public.
Predictably, the White House has acted exactly like the Nixon White House before it, claiming that the release of these documents puts US troops at risk.
The Wikileaks founder responded,
“We are familiar with groups whose abuse we expose attempting to criticise the messenger to distract from the power of the message.”
“We don’t see any difference in the White House’s response to this case to the other groups that we have exposed. We have tried hard to make sure that this material does not put innocents at harm. All the material is over seven months old so is of no current operational consequence, even though it may be of very significant investigative consequence.”
He added that the documents had clear evidence of thousands of war crimes.
The truth is often ugly and painful. The more painful it is, the more governments try to cover it up. Such is the case here. OUr country is involved in unbelievably expensive, wrong-headed, and ultimately unworkable nation building in a place that other world powers tried and repeatedly failed to nation build.
Afghanistan used to be a semi-modern country. It had a functioning parliament, three branches of government, and somewhat free elections. Then, after we goaded the Soviets sufficiently, the USSR invaded, attempted to change the country into something more soviet. The natives were restless, and after the US spent hundreds of millions arming, training, and providing intel to what we now know as the Taliban, they sent the USSR packing, with their tails between their legs.
History seems to be repeating itself.