In last night’s puppet show, the topic of Afghanistan emerged only briefly but sufficiently long for both candidates to pledge ongoing war until the ‘job is done’. Courtesy of Wikileaks, we now have a much greater idea of what exactly that job is.
The whistleblower site has begun releasing a trove of new documents containing an almost blow-by-blow account of the Afghan conflict. Here’s what the Guardian says:
Behind the military jargon, the war logs are littered with accounts of civilian tragedies. The 144 entries in the logs recording some of these so-called “blue on white” events, cover a wide spectrum of day-by-day assaults on Afghans, with hundreds of casualties.
They range from the shootings of individual innocents to the often massive loss of life from air strikes, which eventually led President Hamid Karzai to protest publicly that the US was treating Afghan lives as “cheap”. When civilian family members are actually killed in Afghanistan, their relatives do, in fairness, get greater solatia payments than cans of beans and Hershey bars. The logs refer to sums paid of 100,000 Afghani per corpse, equivalent to about £1,500.
US and allied commanders frequently deny allegations of mass civilian casualties, claiming they are Taliban propaganda or ploys to get compensation, which are contradicted by facts known to the military.
But the logs demonstrate how much of the contemporaneous US internal reporting of air strikes is simply false.
There’s a ton of new material and it’s going to take a while for it all to shake out. One thing’s clear, however: if the digital revolution facilitates the kind of on-message media spin evidenced at the leaders’ debate, it also facilitates the remarkable revelations offered by Wikileaks. In other words, there’s no technological excuse for the shoddy journalism we’re so often served up.