By Ray Fleming

YESTERDAY'S simultaneous publication in newspapers in the United States and Europe of secret US military logs on the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009 is the biggest leak of such information in the history of Intelligence.

For several weeks analysts on the New York Times, The Guardian and /Die Spiegel have been sifting though the mass of data contained in 92'000 documents in preparation for yesterday's publication.

In a leading article The Guardian spoke of the contrast between the picture shown by the logs of a “messy and confused” conflict and the image conveyed by the “tidied-up and sanitised war” of official communiques and, even, by media reports by journalists embedded with the military. A quick reading of some of the logs suggests that The Guardian was being restrained: they give an insight into a war in which many more civilians have been killed than has ever been reported and in which a constant state of suspicion and distrust existed between Afghan and Nato forces, while Pakistan was believed to be harbouring Taliban militants. There was more “friendly fire” than admitted and US forces, as well as British, were short of essential equipment.

The release of these logs can be compared with the 1971 secret Pentagon Papers on US activities in Vietnam beween 1945-1971 whose publication had a profound effect on the Vietnam War. I consider the implications for the Afghanistan War of yesterday's war logs in my Looking Around article in this paper today.


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