The muckraking Web site Wikileaks is proving to be a thorn in the side of the United States' war efforts. First, it exposed video of a U.S. attack on
civilians in Iraq. Now, leaked documents claim American forces have killed nearly 200 civilians in Afghanistan.
The site claims it has obtained some 90,000 classified documents that reportedly say troops have killed 195 civilians and injured 174 others. Many of them were innocent drivers or motorcyclists who were shot after being wrongly suspected of being suicide bombers.
In other previously undisclosed incidents, troops machine-gunned a bus, killing or wounding 15 civilians, as well as several drone attacks commanded remotely from Nevada, half a world away from the war itself.
The deaths of 2,000 additional civilians cannot be blamed on U.S. troops -- they were victims of roadside bombs planted by the Taliban.
The documents also suggest the U.S. could be even funding the insurgence against itself. America gives Pakistan $1 billion a year to help fight the Taliban. The documents claim members of Pakistani forces have met Taliban leaders to organize resistance against U.S. forces and even kill U.S.-backed Afghan leaders.
The White House reacted angrily to the leak, issuing a statement from National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones:
"The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents – the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.
"The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years. This shift in strategy addressed challenges in Afghanistan that were the subject of an exhaustive policy review last fall. We know that serious challenges lie ahead, but if Afghanistan is permitted to slide backwards, we will again face a threat from violent extremist groups like al Qaeda who will have more space to plot and train. That is why we are now focused on breaking the Taliban’s momentum and building Afghan capacity so that the Afghan government can begin to assume responsibility for its future. The United States remains committed to a strong, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan."Since 2009, the United States and Pakistan have deepened our important bilateral partnership. Counter-terrorism cooperation has led to significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership. The Pakistani military has gone on the offensive in Swat and South Waziristan, at great cost to the Pakistani military and people. The United States and Pakistan have also commenced a Strategic Dialogue, which has expanded cooperation on issues ranging from security to economic development. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also improved their bilateral ties, most recently through the completion of a Transit-Trade Agreement. Yet the Pakistani government – and Pakistan’s military and intelligence services – must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups. The balance must shift decisively against al Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups, while supporting the aspirations of the Pakistani people."