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July 26, 2010


I think the online left tends to think that what is commonplace here is commonplace everywhere, and to take the occasional, hesitant NYT story that mentions, say, possible Pakistan interference in Afghanistan as confirmation of a widespread understanding.

I'm always surprised when other people are surprised. But I think for a lot of people, reading a "maybe this, maybe that" story based on anonymous sources has no lasting effect. It takes sources and documents to make something impossible to ignore.

Well, the volume in this comments section has obviously been cranked up to deafening levels, so that's encouraging.

Eric: I think your analysis is dead-on correct, which makes it hard to comment on.

The Yglesias and Carpenter pieces miss the forest for the trees. While the leaked documents may not reveal much never-before-reported material, they are a new independent and primary source of information which is nearly impossible to dismiss. Additionally, the press could use this leak and these documents to present a fact-based overview of the war onin Afghanistan.

While I (or Carpenter or Yglesias or Serwer) find reports from "human rights researchers and former detainees" persuasive, many people could dismiss them as hippies and criminals. Internal documents are a different type of evidence; they don't tell the whole story but they are strong in their own way and can support or refute other claims.

The people of the U.S. have often been presented with a patchwork of claims and counterclaims about the war. The press has repeated false claims from Pentagon spokespeople and has presented those claims as fact; they have not done much to emphasize the later corrections to these claims (i.e. Airstrike kill dozens of militants vs. Airstrike kills dozens of farmers, women, & lchildren or Taliban murders 2 pregnant women vs. U.S. Special Forces murder 2 pregnant women & cover it up . Most USians don't have a good grasp of what the military is doing and has done to the people of Afghanistan.

I'm not so naive as to think that the US people and press can't ignore this information -- the status quo is the most likely outcome. But this is also the best opportunity for the USian public (and press) to become better-informed about this war.

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