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Posts Tagged ‘US Department of State’

WikiLeaks and beyond

August 1, 2010 5 comments

You’d have to have been utterly uninformed if you didn’t notice the storm created by WikiLeaks over the past week in connection with the leaking of some 92,000 classified documents pertaining, among others also to the war in Afghanistan, what the United States terms as the war on terror! Almost everyone in the American administration seems to have an opinion on this, while calling for a systematic effort to comb the intelligence community in a desperate attempt to seal the leak, which is feared to have wider and longstanding implications, so much so as threatening the lives of many American people and their allies, while also seriously compromising their interests at home and beyond!

Come to think of it, founder Julian Assange and team, of WikiLeaks, have not been working really hard to obtain this so called tonnage of information, most of which are already in public domain and knowledge, far from the absolutely classified or top secret types anyone would expect. While the media lapped up the story, publicizing it to no ends and thereby creating a sensation that would perhaps be equivalent to a high-profile assassination, experts are yet to be surprised by this episode, which has now come to be recognized as a fiasco, one that has most certainly been a deliberate inside effort, well-timed to achieve a certain set objective, more so, at the connivance of the American administration and the intelligence community itself! Sharing the beliefs of many experts, several officials within the United States government are also of the opinion that the disclosure by WikiLeaks was a well planned process, aided by none other than senior functionaries within the intelligence community of America, at the insistence of, of course, the top brass of the American administration. Wayne Madsen, formerly with the US Navy and the US National Security Agency (NSA), now a popular blogger, investigative journalist, author and columnist, is known to have told a friend that the disclosure by WikiLeaks is a controlled leak process aided and used by the United States Government run entirely through intelligence networks.

Having spent a great deal of time glossing over the WikiLeaks website, in the past few days, I find that the information so mentioned or offered as part of the leak discloses nothing so significant or shocking, and is certainly not something not already known before. The packet deal consists very little apart from America’s knowledge of Pakistan’s ISI and it’s complicity with various outlawed factions in aiding state sponsored terrorism and the likes, nuances pertaining to the war on terror, notes on NATO operations, and field reports that have been systematically fed into a central repository over a period of time for collation and analysis!

It is widely believed that the source behind the WikiLeaks story is PFC Bradley Manning, a former US Army Intelligence Analyst, detained for allegedly “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source.” Manning is also believed to have said that diplomatic documents, in his possession, expose “almost criminal political back dealings” and that they explain “how the first world exploits the third, in detail.” Stating that he hoped the release of matter within his possession would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms,” he reportedly wrote, “everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed.” While WikiLeaks has itself condemned actions initiated against Manning, it has so far refused to confirm or deny Manning as having been a source in the recently conducted disclosure, stating that it has a policy not to name it’s sources citing strict measures of confidence! In a twist following the initial refusal to confirm or deny it’s believed source, WikiLeaks founder and presently it’s editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange claimed that neither he nor his organization had any knowledge of the identity of the person who sent them the classified material, stating that the website itself was created in order to hide the source of it’s data from those who receive it.

This is however not the first time that WikiLeaks has come up with matters of disclosures that it claimed will stun the world, exposing the many cover ups being systematically undertaken by government and administrative officials. Ranging from Standard Operating Procedures of Guantanamo Bay to the membership list of the ultra-right wing British National Party, confidential reports of the United Nations, secret Congressional Research Service reports, intercepts pertaining to the 9/11 incident, reports related to dumping of toxic waste materials in Africa, Oil scandals in Peru and several other interesting material, the leaks of documents pertaining to the American war on terror in Afghanistan is among the many such instances, with the exception of it’s sensitivity considering how high this probably came from! These reports, ranging from the period of 2004 until 2009, detail incidents including friendly fire and civilian casualties, as a result of the various operations conducted within Afghanistan. Also, among the documents leaked are reports that American officials in Afghanistan strongly suspected Pakistan’s actions supporting Taliban militants while on the other hand, accepting huge amounts of American aid. Although publicly known, it is believed that these documents could fuel growing doubts within the US Congress about President Obama’s strategy on the war on terror and it’s effectiveness as American death toll continues to rise.

Interestingly, while the White House, along with senior government bodies in the United States has repeatedly termed this episode as an action constituting the breach of federal law, there has been no talk of any actions against WikiLeaks itself, while only an appeal not to publish any more sensitive material that maybe available in it’s custody! When asked if WikiLeaks could face criminal action, Pentagon officials have simply stated in what appears to be an evasive answer that “historically the leakers have been the ones targeted for criminal prosecution and not those who merely publish the information.” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said “I don’t know what’s going to happen here. This is a whole new world that we are entering into where an organization without any editorial judgment, beholden to nobody, is soliciting classified information from people all over the world and then publishing it, I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer but people are going to have to make judgments about whether there are legal ramifications for soliciting a criminal act.”

In the aftermath of what is being seen as a sensational episode of disclosure, the US President will face a very tough task of convincing the congress to continue funding the war on terror. These disclosures, which have portrayed the on goings of the war on terror in a finer detail, often highlighting the failure of the administration in containing the many threats associated to the exercise, have come at a very crucial time. Because of undying difficulties on the ground and increasing casualty rates, a raging debate over the continued American presence in Afghanistan has begun much earlier than expected. It is believed that within the administration, more and more officials are turning skeptics and privately questioning the American policy towards the war on terror. Elsewhere within the US Congress, leaders are preparing to hold a vote on a very important bill related to financing the war on terror amidst fears that the leaks could incite opposition on the administration’s policies from even within the Democrats. Also geared to be chaired is a Senate panel aimed to hold a hearing on President Obama’s choice to head the military’s central command, Gen James Mattis, who will oversee military operations in Afghanistan. It is widely believed that the documents, released by WikiLeaks, will make it harder for President Obama as he strives to garner public and Congressional support until the end of the year, when he has scheduled a review of the war effort.

So given all of these complications already present and soon escalating, one wonders why there should have been an administrative level complicity in the disclosures made by WikiLeaks, for there seems to be no valid reason why the administration would endanger it’s own position in front of the American people and the Congress! Logically, there cannot be an answer to this unless it is a well concerted plan of the current US administration aimed to facilitate a withdrawal from Afghanistan! Maybe the government conveniently authorized this leak and aided it at the highest possible levels well aware of the furore it would create and therefore pave way for it’s exit from Afghanistan with the least possible political damage while stating the obvious that the war is intensifying in a manner that even the most efficiently coordinated efforts will pale in the face of escalating terror and continuance in such a situation will only drain American resources, lives and cost! An already edgy and driven Congress will be ‘made to understand’ the facts without ever the need for any elaborate explanations and testifying, all thanks to such a grand scale of leaks! With the international media spending such a considerable amount of time and effort in scrutinizing the war on terror in extensive detail, the task of the administration has lessened even more to a comfortable level of being able to convince the world of how unfruitful the pursuit of freedom or peace in Afghanistan can be! And for the general public, overwhelmed by the frantic pace of reporting by news channels over this so called sensationally humongous leak, I doubt if many would even understand that this mass cache of documents mean anything to the point of being able to be understood.

Therefore, how convenient and cooperative an effort by WikiLeaks and the Government of the United States!

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Pak lets JUD chief Saeed walk away!

While the Obama administration in the United States may call the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed disturbing, it was very expected of Pakistan, which, in this case, is known for what it does second best – reneging on its promises without any concrete reasons whatsoever, the first being careful and systematic orchestration of state sponsored acts of terror.

Pakistan has for a long time now, with the aid of its intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence, aided radical elements such as the Taliban and a dozen or more others that have been founded on the Kashmir / Anti-India agenda. The elected government, following its predecessor’s alignment with the United States on the War on Terror, maintains that Taliban style radical elements are a severe threat to itself more than any other sovereign. However, the inside story is hideously contradictory!

Several branches from within the Pakistan Army and the ISI continue to regularly collaborate with fundamental elements not only in the perpetration of violence but also in the drug trade which has flourished across the North western Frontier Province (NFWP), thanks to Afghanistan’s vast poppy expanses! It is interesting to note that despite the War on Terror, the United States is yet to announce a concrete program on the War on Drugs in the Af-Pak region, one that is a stark departure from its current policies in the Latin American region.

Knowing very well that the recently concluded Indian elections have ushered in a different climate in the country, and that the heat surrounding the 26/11 incident has died down across the political corridors in New Delhi, Pakistan has now chosen to honor what seems to be a premeditated promise to release elements detained as part of the Mumbai attacks episode. This proves beyond doubt that Pakistan had no intention to collaborate with Indian in bringing the criminals to justice. Merely coming under pressure from India and the United States, it did a sham act of detaining the JUD leader until such time that the nuances of the Mumbai incident would be forgotten. And when the opportune moment presented itself, the government of Pakistan let Saeed go, stating that the case against him was too weak to mandate his arrest. This despite India repeatedly providing unquestionable evidence to Pakistan which clearly indicates that key LeT personnel such as Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a close aide of Saeed, were in direct contact with the Mumbai attackers! Saeed’s statement denying Ajmal Amir Kasab’s links with the JUD is blatantly untrue and is most likely the echo of what the Pakistan interior ministry has told him to throw at the press during the time of his release!

One can therefore conclude beyond doubt that Pakistan not only desires to abstain from cooperating with India in investigating the Mumbai attacks, but has also clearly been the perpetrator of the attacks itself! What else could explain the negligent attitude towards the evidence submitted and now the release of the man who was acknowledged to be the mastermind behind the attacks?

The American Government can do little but issue statements of exclamation at this act, especially considering the prevailing warm bonhomie between the US State Department and the machinery in Pakistan which thrives because of an anti-India agenda. Besides, the United States, by virtue of accepting Pakistan as a ‘committed’ partner in the war on Terror, can do little to persuade the latter to aid India in the Mumbai investigation and many many others!

As a show of support, the US Administration continues to shower Pakistan with huge financial aides meant to augment the Anti-Terror campaign, while being fully aware that a large chunk of these goodies are systematically diverted to a long list of recipients proximate to the ISI.

The perpetually hawkish State Department and its anti-India stance is very well known, as has been witnessed for a few decades now! Richard Holbrooke can do a lot of nay saying in the media concerning this episode, but that does not change the situation in the ground which involves the complicity of the ISI and several other radical factions in their devious agenda of perpetrating terror in the NWFP region, making it, easily, one of the most dangerous places on Earth!