Andrew Exum, fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wants you to look away, look away from the nearly one hundred thousand internal documents recently exposed by Wikileaks. In a NYT OpEd yesterday, Exum yawns; this bores him. It is nothing new to such as I, he says; I am an expert. I have read every single one of these files, there is nothing new here. After all, I am the expert, such an expert, that I know what you don’t know. And so, even though this may seem like a really big deal to you, I can assure you that what you are seeing is nothing new to people like me and my buddies at CNAS, some of which now occupy high level positions in the Obama Defense Department. You may not know this at all, but there is nothing new here. Not as far as I’m concerned, and you’d better believe that’s all that matters.
Indeed, those in the know, like Exum, may have seen this all before. But the rest of you may not know any of it, because people like Exum’s former boss, Michele Flournoy, who became Obama’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in February 2009, have been helping to keep those things their own personal secret for years.
For example, in the same day’s paper the NYT reports “Afghans Say Attack Killed 52 Civilians; NATO differs“.
Afghan officials said Monday that 52 people were killed in southern Afghanistan on Friday when a rocket fired by coalition forces slammed into a house where women and children had taken shelter from fighting between NATO troops and militants. But American officials disputed the account.
That’s what American officials do. They consistently dispute such accounts, leaving the American public confused and disinformed and unsure what it is they know or don’t know. In April of this year, for example, Afghan officials exposed a blatant US military attempt to cover up the killings of Afghan civilians earlier in the year.
At first, the American-led military command in Kabul said that the two men who died were ”insurgents” who had ”engaged” — in other words, shot at — the forces at the scene. The initial account also said that the troops then stumbled onto the bodies of three women ”tied up, gagged and killed” and hidden in a room. [NYT, April 6, 2010]
Military officials later suggested that the women — who among them had 16 children — had all been stabbed to death or had died by other means before the raid, implying that their own relatives may have killed them.
But the military later said the men were innocent civilians shot after they went outside, armed, to investigate the presence of the forces conducting the raid. Then on Sunday night they admitted that the women were also killed during the raid.
The same military officials [and their civilian megaphones like CNAS and Exum] now trying to convince you that there is nothing new here, have been repeatedly caught trying to hide the true extent of US killings of civilian Afghans. For years, they tried to cover up these crimes, minimize their impact or blame them on the victims. It should be pretty obvious why they want you to think that none of these revelations are new and why they want you to move along. They’ve been trying to get you to ignore these atrocities for years and lying about them won’t work now. All they can do is stifle a yawn and hope that it’s contagious.