Whatever you think of Wikileaks
, the group's release of 92,000 military intelligence documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan is generating extensive attention
and media coverage
. As the public digests the revelations
about the war that is now nearly a decade old, could the coverage
change public opinion? As the White House is keen to point out, the
leaked documents are only as recent as 2004 to 2009 and do not cover the
period after President Obama's war-policy review and new strategy
implementation. But could the leak and subsequent reaction change
- The Case That they Won't The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe and Peter Finn, in a story headlined "WikiLeaks disclosures unlikely to change course of Afghanistan war,"
write, "In the near term, the Obama administration seems intent on
casting the voluminous leak as old news and ignoring it. The Pentagon
similarly played down the need for safeguards to prevent future leaks of
classified material. ... The same dismissive attitude dominated the
national security think tanks in Washington where analysts closely
follow the war. By Monday afternoon, most of these experts had given up
on searching through the huge WikiLeaks database for new information."
- Sen. Kerry Thinks They Should The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports
that Democratic Senator John Kerry "sent a signal Sunday night that the
Wikileaks disclosure of 92,000 classified documents on the Afghan war
could have political consequences for the president. ... He didn't hint
at any softening in support for the war, but some phrases are likely to
set off alarm bells at the White House -- in particular 'serious
questions about the reality' and 'make the calibrations needed to get
the policy right.' At the least, Kerry seemed to be suggesting he will
hold hearings on the documents and what they mean. But he also appears
to be signaling that the White House needs to demonstrate -- if only
politically -- that it has taken steps to address any shortcomings in
the war effort suggested in the documents."
- Could Damage Key Political Support for War The New York Times' Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper
write, "The disclosures, with their detailed account of a war faring
even more poorly than two administrations had portrayed, landed at a
crucial moment. Because of difficulties on the ground and mounting
casualties in the war, the debate over the American presence in
Afghanistan has begun earlier than expected. Inside the administration,
more officials are privately questioning the policy. In Congress, House
leaders were rushing to hold a vote on a critical war-financing bill as
early as Tuesday, fearing that the disclosures could stoke Democratic
opposition to the measure. ... Administration officials acknowledged
that the documents, released on the Internet by an organization called
WikiLeaks, will make it harder for Mr. Obama as he tries to hang on to
public and Congressional support until the end of the year, when he has
scheduled a review of the war effort."
Ultimately, It's All About War's Ongoing Performance Foreign Policy's Dov Zakheim writes, "At the end of the day, the WikiLeaks papers will change few opinions. Those who
want us out of Afghanistan will cite them ad nauseum; those who recognize the
stakes for what they are -- the need to preclude that country from once again
serving as a breeding ground for al Qaeda and their copycats -- will give them
short shrift. What matters more is whether General Petraeus can affect the
turnaround that made him a war hero in Iraq. If he does, the WikiLeaks papers
will make good grist for historians' footnotes, and nothing more."
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