Wikileaks Releases Secret Report on Military Equipment
By CHANNING JOSEPH,
The government transparency Web site Wikileaks.org has unveiled secret military documents detailing the complete equipment register for all units managed by the American Army in Afghanistan.
The confidential records -- which Wikileaks said were probably given to the site by an unnamed government official -- list most of the equipment held in that country as of last April by American and coalition forces, and possibly even the CIA. According to the site's staff, who also remain anonymous, the authenticity of the material has been confirmed by military sources.
"The leaked documents help us to understand how war money is being spent and the nature of operations in Afghanistan," the site's administrators wrote on a Wikileaks page devoted to commentary and analysis of the documents. "They provide a completely objective window into the functioning of various U.S. units from psy-ops (psychological operations) to Kabul headquarters."
Asked to comment on the fact that confidential military records had been put on the Internet, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington of the Department of Defense press office told The New York Sun simply: "We were unaware of the Web site posting."
Wikileaks was founded to provide a way for ordinary citizens and government officials to shed light on corruption by anonymously leaking secret documents to the public. Though the Internet site has not yet made its official debut, this is the second time in just a few days that it has released a leaked document to the press. The first instance involved a report related to a $3 billion Kenyan government corruption case, which has been subsequently covered in international news outlets, including a front-page story in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
"Wikileaks has not yet publicly ‘launched,'" the site's staff wrote in a press release sent by e-mail. "However, we feel we would be remiss in our obligations to our source to sit on this material any longer."
The newly released Afghanistan documents indicate that the America is using two types of chemical weapons in that country, including 72 M7 grenade dischargers -- gas grenade launchers -- and eight FN303s, "which can fire pepper-spray impregnated projectiles," according to the unsigned Wikileaks article. It was not immediately clear whether these weapons were illegal.
In addition, Wikileaks wrote: "Half of all equipment purchases have been diverted to dealing with homemade mobile phone and radio bombs. Not since the U.S. 1945-1951 nuclear buildup has there been such a decisive shift in military purchasing priorities."
The site administrators are encouraging visitors to examine the documents in even greater detail and to post their comments.
"There is much more to be found in this [equipment] list: huge numbers of vehicles, trucks, security equipment, radio equipment, detailed in some cases right down to the level of screws and washers," Wikileaks wrote. "This list, in fact, is a perfect example of the sort of leaked document that would benefit from a global analysis: Everyone can examine it, make comments, discuss ... the various units, what their items are, and what they do, and come to conclusions about their strategic, political, and human rights significance."
The Wikileaks article on the leak is available here: https://wikileaks.org/wiki/US_Military_Equipment_in_Afghanistan