PHOTO: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael L. Casteel PHOTO: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael L. Casteel

Documents Show Frightening Reality of the Afghanistan War

By AMANDA VENDER

The website WikiLeaks has released over 76,000 secret documents about U.S. military actions in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. The documents paint a bad picture of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks will not say how it got the papers, but they must have come from a whistleblower inside the U.S. military who wanted people to know what is going on in Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks shared the documents with three major newspapers, The New York Times, the Guardian of London and the German Der Spiegel, and each newspaper released its own
report on these documents on July 25.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, explained why WikiLeaks published the documents. “It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abusers,” he told the Guardian. “It will show the true nature of this war and then the public from Afghanistan and other nations can see what’s really going on and take steps to address the problems.”

The U.S. military is angry about the release of the papers. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones said they “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”

What the papers show:

• U.S. soldiers and allies have killed hundreds of civilians (people not in the military) including children in Afghanistan;
• There is a secret U.S.-led military squad that hunts down people to kill them without a trial;
• The neighboring country, Pakistan, which receives money from the United States, has a spy agency that plans attacks on U.S. troops.

Why is there a war in Afghanistan?

The war was started by former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Bush blamed Osama bin Laden for these attacks and demanded that the Afghan government turn Bin Laden over to the United States. Afghanistan refused.

When President Obama took office, he continued the war saying that the goal is “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

Many people doubt the official reasons given for this war and believe that it is part of the U.S. government’s strategy to control the oil and gas pipelines in this region of the world. Mike Ferner, President of the organization Veterans for Peace, told IndyKids, “The real reason all along has been to have our military control a region that is very important as far as oil and minerals go.”

GLOSSARY

Whistleblower: a person who has information about wrongdoing, usually by a government or corporation, and lets the world know about it

Al Qaeda: a fringe Islamic group that wishes to establish a conservative form of the Islamic religion around the world and overthrow non-Islamic governments