Monday, July 26, 2010



The leakage of nearly 90,000 documents relating to the Afghan war for the period between January 2004 and December 2009 by Wikileaks, a US web site which disseminates secret information of public interest received from whistleblowers after verifying the authenticity of the secret information, could damage the chances of re-election of President Barack Obama in the presidential elections of 2012.

2. The documents cover a period of six years--- five years of the presidency of Mr.George Bush and one year of Mr.Obama. The reaction of the officials of the Obama Administration to the leakage went through three phases. In the first phase, they tried to prevent the secret documents from being brought into the public domain. In the second phase, they grudgingly admitted the seriousness of the facts as disclosed in the leaked documents and sought to absolve the Obama Administration of responsibility for the state of affairs in Afghanistan as revealed in these documents by highlighting the fact that most of these documents related to the period when Mr.Bush was the President. Only now it has dawned upon them that about 20 per cent of the leaked documents relate to the period since January 2009 when Mr.Obama took over as the President. Even if the vast majority of the documents cover five years of the presidency of Mr.Bush, there will be a legitimate assumption under the law that officials of the Obama Administration---if not Mr.Obama himself--- must have been aware of all this.

3. Yet, the Obama Administration did not take into account this disturbing state of affairs in Afghanistan while formulating its new Af-Pak strategy. This strategy had two aspects. The first was a surge in US troops sent to Afghanistan in an attempt to weaken, if not defeat, the Taliban by the middle of 2011. The second was to integrate Pakistan into this strategy in order to seek its co-operation in the military operations against the Taliban and in restoring stability in Afghanistan.

4. As part of this attempt to integrate Pakistan into this strategy, military and economic assistance amounting to US $ 7.5 billion over a five-year period for Pakistan was got approved by the Congress under the Kerry-Lugar Bill. As the Congress was discussing and approving the Bill, the officials of the Obama Administration were aware of the continuing collusion of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with the Taliban and the ISI's attempts to de-stabilise the Hamid Karzai Government. They were also aware of the role of the Taliban in the bomb explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008, in which 58 persons were killed.

5. Despite the availability in the records of the Administration of all this information regarding the deception played by Pakistan on the US, the officials of the Administration persuaded the Congress to pass the Bill. From the comments made by Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, regarding the leaks it is apparent that he has been disturbed by the disclosures regarding Pakistan's collusion with the Taliban made in the leaked documents. The British Broadcasting Corporation has quoted him as saying: "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

6. Mr.Kerry and other members of the Congress who voted increased economic and military assistance for Pakistan might have been unaware of the full details of what Kr.Kerry described as "the reality of America's policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan." But Mr.Obama and his advisers in the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon cannot claim that they too were unaware.

7. What role did the ISI's collusion with the Taliban play in the increasing fatalities suffered by the US troops in Afghanistan? How could the Obama Administration have decided to step up military and economic assistance to Pakistan despite being aware of the "reality" of the ISI's role in helping the Taliban in its operations against the US and NATO troops. Previously, it used to be believed that the ISI was using terrorist organisations only to kill Indian nationals and target Indian interests. The leaked documents clearly indicate that the ISI had been knowingly helping the Taliban, another terrorist organisation, against the troops of the US-led NATO forces and the Afghan Security Forces.

8. Even if the Obama Administration did not want to act against Pakistan for killing Indians, one would have expected it to act against Pakistan for contributing to the deaths of US soldiers by assisting the Taliban. In spite of having and knowing all these details about the ISI-Taliban collusion, the Obama Administration chose not to act. That is the shocking "reality of America's policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan."

9.As these facts are widely discussed in the US, the credibility of Mr.Obama could be dented and his chances for re-election as the President damaged.

10.The second implication of the Wikileaks should be of concern to the intelligence and security agencies of all countries of the world, including India. That is how did a junior US military analyst posted in Baghdad come to have access to two highly-classified data bases of the US---- one of the Pentagon relating to military developments and the other probably of the US State Department relating to diplomatic developments. He seems to have transferred to compact discs the contents of nearly 200,000 documents from these two data bases. Only 90,000 of these documents relating to military developments in Afghanistan have been disseminated by Wikileaks so far. The contents of the remaining---many of which probably relate to diplomatic developments---- have not been disseminated so far. One does not know why.

11. The action of the junior US analyst in managing to have access to these data-bases and transferring their contents to his CDs shows how insecure the so-called secure data-bases are and how one could break into them. Instead of harassing and prosecuting the analyst, the US agencies should enter into a plea bargain with him by promising no action if he told them how he did this so that the US security agencies could plug the loopholes in their cyber security. ( 27-7-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


Even if the US wants to leave Afghanistan in a hurry, it won't be able to.Afghanistan is not Vietnam. Al Qaeda is not Vietcong.Once the US decided to quit Vietnam,. Vietcong was happy & didn't chase them. It focussed on developing Vietnam. Al Qaeda and its jihadi hordes will chase them and keep killing more.Al Qaeda is a good terrorist organisation.It is not a good insurgent organisation. It cannot fight a guerilla warfare on the ground.If the Americans want to leave Afghanistan and live in peace in their homeland, their troops should enter North Waziristan, destroy Al Qaeda to the last Arab and Salafi and then leave.In Vietnam, the US fought a wrong war.In Afghanistan, it is fighting a right war the wrong way, B.Raman



According to Wikipedia, a 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, was arrested by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010. Manning was detained without charge in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

2. To quote the Wikipedia: "In early July, he was faced with two charges of misconduct: "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system" and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source". The maximum jail sentence is 52 years. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom has said that "as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial ... A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case".

3. It added: "Manning allegedly told journalist and former hacker Adrian Lamo via instant messenging that he had leaked the "Collateral Murder" video (of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike), in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Lamo handed the instant messenger chat logs to U.S. investigators, who began searching for evidence to determine whether Manning's apparent statements to Lamo were true. The "Collateral Murder" video showed an attack by a U.S. helicopter crew on a group of men presumed to be insurgents. Two children were wounded, and several men were killed, including the father of the children and two men who were later identified as Reuters employees. Manning reportedly said that the diplomatic documents expose "almost criminal political back dealings" and that they explain "how the first world exploits the third, in detail". He said that he hoped the release of the videos and documents would lead to "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms". Manning reportedly wrote, "everywhere there’s a U.S. post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed." However, Wikileaks said "allegations that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect".

4.On June 17, 2010, Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst working for the Rand Corporation during the Vietnam war, who had similarly leaked on grounds of conscience a large number of Pentagon papers about the Vietnam war, was interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales on the Democracy Now! TV and Radio show regarding the parallels between his actions and those of Bradley Manning.Ellsberg said that he feared for Manning and another person by name Julian Assange, as he feared for himself after the initial publication of the Pentagon Papers. He called them "two new heroes of mine".

5. Though Wikileaks, the whistleblowers' web site, may not admit it, there are strong grounds for suspecting that Bradley Manning must have been the source of the nearly 90,000 classified documents, mainly relating to the war in Afghanistan, which were uploaded by Wikileaks on its web site on July 25. It had allegedly made many of them available in advance to the "New York Times", the "Guardian" of the UK and "Der Spiegal" of Germany.

6.Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is close to President Barack Obama, has been quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as saying that the leak came at a "critical stage" for US policy in the region. He added: "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

7.How long will the US cover up the misdeeds of Pakistan against India in order to protect American lives and interests? How long will India keep silent on the US cover-up of Pakistani misdeeds in the long-term interests of the developing strategic relations between India and the US? For an Indian, these are the two questions which assume even greater importance than in the past as a result of the leakage. The leaked documents confirm three facts which were already known---firstly, the role of Pakistan in training and arming the Taliban; secondly, the role of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Taliban in organising a car bomb explosion through a suicide bomber outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7,2008, and thirdly, the attempts of the ISI to use the Taliban to have the Hamid Karzai Government in Afghanistan destabilised. Fifty-eight persons, including India's Defence attache Brigadier R D Mehta and Counsellor Venkateswara Rao, were killed when the suicide bomber targeted the Embassy during the morning rush hour.

8.The leaked documents also show that the Taliban has shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles which it had been using against NATO planes and helicopters. During the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had trained the Afghan Mujahideen in the use of Stinger missiles against Soviet aircraft. It had issued a large stock of these missiles to the ISI for being given to the Afghan Mujahideen. The ISI issued some to the Mujahideen, gave some to Iran and one to North Korea for re-engineering purposes and kept some for use by the Pakistan Army against India. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the CIA asked the ISI to buy back the unused Stinger missiles from the Afghan Mujahideen and return them to the CIA. The ISI evaded doing so. On coming to office in January 1993, President Bill Clinton forced Mr.Nawaz Sharif, the then Pakistani Prime Minister, to sack Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the then Director-General of the ISI, and some other senior officers who had avoided returning the unused Stinger missiles. Till Mr.Nawaz sacked them. Mr.Clinton had placed Pakistan on a so-called list of suspected State-sponsors of terrorism. In 1994, when the Taliban was formed by the ISI, some of the unused Stinger missiles were given to it. The leaked documents only mention in passing that the Taliban has shoulder-fired missiles without mentioning all these details as to how the Stinger missiles reached the Taliban.

9. This is one of many such instances of the ISI training and arming the Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and other terrorist organisations for using them to advance its strategic agenda in Afghanistan and India. It has been brazenly doing this because of its confidence that the US would not take any punitive action against it and that the Indian leadership and bureaucracy would not have the courage to act against it----either on the diplomatic or military front or through appropriate covert actions. The ISI did have some fears when Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao were Prime Ministers, but thereafter it lost all fears because of a succession of soft Prime Ministers we have had.

10. Will the revelations about Pakistan and the ISI in the documents leaked to Wikileaks lead at long last to Pakistan and its ISI being subjected to punitive action. I have serious doubts. After some strong statements, the US will hush up the matter once again and the Govt. of India will avoid pressing the US to act against Pakistan. It is a great national shame. ( 26-7-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India,
New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )