Video: Leaked war docs provide details, no bombshells
Transcript of: Leaked war docs provide details, no bombshells
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: There has been a massive leak. There are so many pages of military secrets now public, the Pentagon hasn't even read all of them. Ninety-one thousand documents have been released on the Internet by the whistle-blower Web site wikileaks.org, and they have more. Some of the documents ripped the cover off the US-led war effort in Afghanistan . They tell a story that some veterans of
the region know full well: more civilian deaths than are ever reported, unexplained American deaths, questionable battlefield tactics, and a mission just not going that well. This comes just as the US, of course, is gearing up this new push in the conflict. We have two reports to start off with tonight. First, our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski . Jim , good evening.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI reporting: Good evening, Brian . This massive leak provides incredible detail and insight into the US war in Afghanistan . Day by day, battle by battle, it's a tough look at the worst of the war. The staggering mountain of documents, nearly 92,000, covers a six-year stretch of the war ending last December when the US war effort was failing and the Taliban was on the rise. The secret documents were released by the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange .
Mr. JULIAN ASSANGE: The real story of this material is that it's war. It's one damn thing after another. It is the continuous small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Many of the documents tear the cover off Pakistan 's alleged secret support for the Taliban . The US has long complained to Pakistan that its intelligence service , the ISI , was working with the Taliban ; but today's release provides shocking and specific new details. Even as Pakistan accepted billions in US aid , the documents suggest ISI officials conspired with Taliban leaders to plan attacks against American forces in Afghanistan . Former ISI chief Hamid Gul was reportedly deeply involved in the Taliban operation. In an NBC interview today he fired back.
Mr. HAMID GUL: I deny it vehemently, outrightly. I think it is mischievous. It is fictitious, and it is fabricated.
MIKLASZEWSKI: At the White House today, press secretary Robert Gibbs called the allegations old news, and insisted Pakistan has stepped up its efforts to eliminate safe havens and drive out the Taliban .
Mr. ROBERT GIBBS: I am not going to stand here on July the 26th and tell you that all is well. I will tell you that we have made progress in moving this relationship forward.
MIKLASZEWSKI: The documents do show serious concerns among US military commanders. They repeatedly complain about lack of resources, unreliable Afghan soldiers and a corrupt Afghan government . Some cases suggest possible military cover -ups. In May 2007 documents show the Taliban shot down a US helicopter with a shoulder-fired heat-seeking missile, killing seven soldiers.
Flipper 75 engaged and struck with a Missile
MIKLASZEWSKI: But American commanders concealed that fact. Today US military officials tell NBC News that it was an Iranian-made heat-seeker that brought down the chopper. There are concerns, however, that this massive breakdown in security, revealing sources of battlefield intelligence, puts US forces and their allies at greater risk.
General BARRY McCAFFREY, Retired (NBC News Military Analyst): Will we see friendly human intelligence sources murdered by the Taliban in Pakistan or Afghanistan ? Will we lose access to intelligence that we use to protect our soldiers?
MIKLASZEWSKI: The White House and Pentagon argue that since most of these documents were written, the president signed off on a new strategy, and more American forces are headed to Afghanistan , providing a better chance for success. But given the history in Afghanistan , nobody's making any promises.
Brian: Jim Miklaszewski starting us off at the Pentagon . Jim , thanks.