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What the WikiLeaks Documents Really Reveal

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
July 26, 2010
The Daily Beast

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What do the secret documents released by WikiLeaks tell us about U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan? It has to be said right off that they don't tell us anything important we didn't already know. There have been “informed” stories for years detailing how Pakistani military intelligence has been providing arms, money, and intelligence to the Afghan Taliban, who in turn have been killing American soldiers.

So, why are these leaked military and intelligence documents now threatening to shake the very foundations of U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan? Because it's now much more difficult to deny or dodge the truths that we've all been well aware of.

Government officials can always deflect news stories simply by crossing their fingers and waiting for the story to sink in a haze of oil spills and Lindsay Lohan extravaganzas. Now, however, “proof” is there in the black-and-white of secret U.S. documents, compliments of anti-war WikiLeaks. Even if one does not believe that the information contained in every one of these reports is accurate (some do sound rather bizarre), and even if little in the reports can be corroborated independently, the very volume of the “secret” material is overwhelming and plausible—and yes, seductively “secret.”

This leaves the Obama administration with three tales it can tell, most of which it is already shoveling.

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