Friday, July 30, 2010

One Picture Is Worth 90,000 "Secret Documents" Published By WikiLeaks.

Aisha is an 18-year-old Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off by a Taliban butcher for the "crime" of running away from the beatings she routinely suffered at the hands of her husband's family. Aisha's picture appears on the cover of Time magazine this week, provoking controversy.

Lost in all the self-serving and cowardly Code Pinkish yesbuttery and the handwringing about the propriety of a major magazine running a photograph so shocking - can we not at least stop for a moment to notice that Aisha, in the full flower of womanhood, is unspeakably beautiful in spite of her disfigurement? - is the fact that she wants the world to see her face. By her own account, she wants the world to see what the Taliban's resurgence means to Afghan women, and to see the obvious implications of the "negotiated" solution to the Afghan struggle that is so de rigueur in bourgeois-left circles in the rich countries of the world.

In her essay on the struggle of Afghan women, Time magazine's Aryn Baker reports the question Aisha raises: Talk that the Afghan government is considering some kind of political accommodation with the Taliban frightens her. "They are the people that did this to me," she says, touching her damaged face. "How can we reconcile with them?"

What is especially striking about this event is that for once, an Afghan opinion, and that of an Afghan woman, no less, has actually appeared not only as the focus of an article about Afghanistan in a major English-language periodical, but on its cover.

Remarkably, and fortuitously, the Afghan journalist Josh Shahryar, who cut his teeth as a writer for the Kabul Weekly (whose brave editor, Fahim Dashty, is a dear friend of ours), has just now managed to find a place for this essay in the Huffington Post. He writes:

I keep yearning for a day when I can turn on the TV, switch to CNN, FOX, MSNBC or CBS and see a discussion about Afghans where they actually question an Afghan. Day after day I wait, but in vain. I run through articles published about my country in the Washington Post and the New York Times to see opinion pieces written by Afghans -- but almost never see one.

. . . At a time when your media was supposed to tell you that your blood and sacrifice has indeed helped Afghanistan and that we are thankful to you, they told you otherwise. We don't like you -- they say -- and don't want your help. We are ungrateful devoted murderers who are just dying to kill you -- they warn. Our picture has been so skewed that you won't even recognize us if we walked amongst you. I won't be surprised if you think that we have fangs and blood dripping from our mouths and are just waiting to bite your jugular. This is who we are to you.

It is comforting to know that Aisha is now in a secure location in Afghanistan, with armed guards watching over her, thanks to Women for Afghan Women. Aisha will soon visit America for reconstructive surgery at the Grossman Burn Foundation. Time magazine is pitching in to help her.

Not so fortunate, in the matter of the concurrent media hubbub arising from WikiLeaks' recent sticking-it-to-the-man document dump, are the uncounted ordinary Afghans whose exposure to reprisals and terror has been so disgracefully overlooked in all the crawthumping about the implications for "our" security interests and "our" troops in the WikiLeaks affair. Once again, a round of applause to the self-congratulating WikiLeaks archgeek Julian Assange.

The Times reports that after just two hours of combing through the WikiLeaks documents it was able to find the names of dozens of Afghans said to have provided detailed intelligence to US forces - Afghans the Taliban and Al-Qaeda should be expected to be targeting in the war zone by now.

"If I were a Taliban operative with access to a computer — and lots of them have access to computers — I’d start searching the WikiLeaks data for incident reports near my area of operation to see if I recognized anyone," writes Joshua Foust. "And then I’d kill whomever I could identify. Those deaths would be directly attributable to WikiLeaks."

In conversation with Spencer Ackerman, Foust reports that, against WikiLeaks' claims of diligence, he found several identities of Afghans disclosed by the WikiLeaks documents - unredacted, full names, where they live, and so on - and those identities are now available to Taliban butchers. "I found myself shocked that WikiLeaks would be that cavalier with Afghan lives."

I am not shocked, I regret to say. But I am as disgusted as my comrade Brian Platt is - read his post here and if you have a shred of decency in you, you will be disgusted by the WikiLeaks' operation, too. And by the way, if you think anything really "new" was revealed by the vandals at WikiLeaks, here's another article by Josh Shahryar. It appeared in the Kabul Weekly, five years ago.


Blogger Aymenn Jawad said...

You are quite wrong, Terry.

Wikileaks has done us, and the cause of human rights in Afghanistan, a great service by leaking those documents.

Thanks to Wikileaks, there is much more public awareness of the role of Pakistan's double game behind the Taliban insurgency (true, informed observers were aware of this anyway), and accordingly the nitwits in the US Senate, and other Western politicians, are now discussing how to engage the Pakistani military and intelligence on this issue. It's great news: we are now much closer to being able to weaken and isolate the Islamist militants. The fact is, they cannot be defeated by stationing foreign troops in Afghanistan.

You raise the issue of Wikileaks possibly endangering Afghan lives. In fact, the probability is very low. The documents are 'Secret', not 'Top Secret', and are all historical in nature. The Taliban is monitoring nearly all of the 'collaborators' named anyway. It's not as if it hasn't bothered to track them down until now.

By the way, nice try at invoking the old 'human rights' argument behnd keeping troops in Afghanistan, but no sensible person buys that propaganda anymore. The fact is, propping up Karzai's corrupt regime that committed blatant electoral fraud makes a mockery of human rights and counter-narcotics only drives Taliban recruitment, as well as in part the presence of foreign troops in Pashtun areas that only provokes local Pashtuns to take up arms.

Oh, and if it's endangering the lives of Afghan civilians that concerns you, why not express outrage over the NATO airstrikes, drone attacks, and hit squads, which,whilst not intentionally harming civilians (and indeed NATO et al. make efforts to avoid civilian casualties, and the Taliban uses human shields etc.), do endanger civilians and ACHIEVE NOTHING. If anything, the presence of foreign troops only fuels the localized insurgency and results in more civilian deaths whilst the Taliban gains strength.

Julian Assange is a true warrior for freedom and human rights. Hopefully we're now going to see the end of Pakistani 'strategic depth' and a safe withdrawal, and none of this useless strategy being employed at present, all as a result of his wonderful action.

Meanwhile, I'd like to introduce you to a new hero of mine: US Army SPC Bradley Manning, the prime suspect behind the leaks (

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry, d'you know Aymenn?

12:43 PM  
Blogger dmurrell said...

Terry, I like your comment about the "mainstream" media never interviewing an Afghan. I follow the media closely -- and I have never seen or read an interview of an Afghan expatriate, who supports the war effort, asking about why he or she left Afghanistan.

There was one anti-war expatriate writer (I forgot her name) travelling the country -- and CBC News and the Globe and Mail gave her extensive coverage. But that was because both media oppose the war -- and want the Taliban to take over.
-- David Murrell

1:40 PM  
Blogger Khalid said...

Aymenn is avoiding the issue of names being disclosed by the left-fascists goons at Wikileaks that will result in murder.

The anti-democracy leftards are now demanding that Afghanistan to be handed over to the Talibans so they can continue butchering women, apostates, and seculars.

No wonder "leftwing" has such an awful connotation in the west.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Aymenn Jawad said...

I didn't avoid the issue of Afghan names, Khalid, read again the paragraph that begins 'You raise the issue of Wikileaks...'. Read what I write more diligently, habibi.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Alec: All I know about Aymenn Jawad is that he is an Iraqi student in Wales, "affiliated with Middle East Forum," and our comrade Tarek Fatah has been annoyed by him enough to ban him from his site. You can judge for yourself by googling him, but from what I can gather he dismisses everyone who does not conform to his line as "wrong," and his line on Afghanistan appears to be that we're not slobbering on certain Pakistani slippers assiduously enough. Or something. Google him and judge for yourself.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Aymenn Jawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You should mind your manners, Jawad.

"I would love to debate you and your comrades Lauryn Oates and Brian Platt in real life nonetheless."

Not only are you annoying and insulting, you have far too high an opinion of yourself.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Aymenn Jawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Jawad alleges that he has "a cordial relationship with Mr. Fatah." That was the only thing that wasn't either insulting, stupid, or just plain bullshit (although come to think of it that might be bullshit too) in his last comment.

Until he learns some manners, he's banned from here.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Moko 2.0 said...

It blows my mind how naive people are and how dismissive they can be regarding the lives of these Afghan informants and the consequences to our soldiers. On the one hand they weep on ANZAC Day - here in Aus and NZ - but then they stand and applaud this Assange fella. How does that make sense?.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Ill-mannered, loutish. Deleted.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh. Don't get me started on that Wikileaks incident. Aymenn is quite wrong about the Taliban knowing everyone our HUMINT assets talk to. We are quite good at conducting those operations secretly. Documents marked "Secret" aren't "a matter of historic record", not until they get released to the public record in about fifty to seventy-five years. There are very, very good reasons those documents aren't publically-available.

They ask me, "How can you go to another country and tell those people how to live?"
I say to 'em, "We don't tell them how to live, we give them the chance to choose." Afghanis, Iraqis, it doesn't matter. Nobody deserves to live under the rule of tyrants like the Taliban. When I was in Iraq in '08-'09, the locals loved us. Sure, we knocked down power lines from time to time thanks to the MRAP being huge, but that was about the worst we did. They knew far better than your average American that we fight to keep them safe and free to live their lives as they choose. Of course, I'm the kind of guy who honestly believes in things like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This belief was only strengthened after seeing firsthand what the alternative could be.

And dismissing the human rights argument... well, that simply shows the true colors.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Bravo Zulu, Steven.

6:36 PM  
Blogger said...

Another reason to approve of the cover - the Taliban don't seem to approve! More here:

1:51 PM  

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