It will be most interesting to see how many Democrats — who claim to find Daniel Ellsberg heroic and the Pentagon Papers leak to be unambiguously justified — follow the White House’s lead in that regard. Ellsberg’s leak — though primarily exposing the amoral duplicity of a Democratic administration — occurred when there was a Republican in the White House. This latest leak, by contrast, indicts a war which a Democratic President has embraced as his own, and documents similar manipulation of public opinion and suppression of the truth well into 2009. It’s not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted, that media “coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published,” rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it. What position Democratic officials and administration supporters take in the inevitable debate over WikiLeaks remains to be seen (by shrewdly leaking these materials to 3 major newspapers, which themselves then published many of the most incriminating documents, WikiLeaks provided itself with some cover).
Note how obviously lame is the White House’s prime tactic thus far for dismissing the importance of the leak: that the documents only go through December, 2009, the month when Obama ordered his “surge,” as though that timeline leaves these documents without any current relevance. The Pentagon Papers only went up through 1968 and were not released until 3 years later (in 1971), yet having the public behold the dishonesty about the war had a significant effect on public opinion, as well as the willingness of Americans to trust future government pronouncements. At the very least, it’s difficult to imagine this leak not having the same effect. Then again, since — unlike Vietnam — only a tiny portion of war supporters actually bears any direct burden from the war (themselves or close family members fighting it), it’s possible that the public will remain largely apathetic even knowing what they will now know. It’s relatively easy to support and/or acquiesce to a war when neither you nor your loved ones are risking their lives to fight it.
It’s hardly a shock that the war in Afghanistan is going far worse than political officials have been publicly claiming. Aside from the fact that lying about war is what war leaders do almost intrinsically — that’s part of what makes war so degrading to democratic values — there have been numerous official documents that have recently emerged or leaked out that explicitly state that the war is going worse than ever and is all but unwinnable…………..
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