World News Brief, Tuesday July 27

Afghanistan war log revelations – more civilian deaths, Iran and Pakistan aiding Taliban, increasing use of remote-controlled drones; US and South Korea begin military exercises despite threats; Khmer Rouge jailer jailed; BP set to announce new CEO; and more

Top of the Agenda: Leaked Records on Afghanistan Posted

Some ninety thousand leaked US military records posted online by Wikileaks (WashPost) amount to a "blow-by-blow" account of six years of the Afghanistan War, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against the Taliban. The records, which were offered to the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel, offer a grimmer picture of the war than officially portrayed (NYT) and illustrate why the Taliban is stronger than at any time since 2001. Some of the reports' key findings (Telegraph) include the increasing use of Reaper drones controlled by joystick from Nevada and the fact that Iran provides money, arms, and safe haven to Taliban insurgents.

Responding to the records' allegations that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence has been covertly supporting the Taliban, the White House called the situation "unacceptable" (Guardian) and said militant safe havens in Pakistan are "intolerable"; it also called the leaks a threat to security (Daily News). Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, called the leaks irresponsible (Sify).


The Wikileaks reports are unverifiable and could be false information by Afghan intelligence, cautions the Guardian in this editorial, but they suggest a chaotic situation in Afghanistan and that a war being fought "for the hearts and minds of Afghans cannot be won like this."

The Wikileaks revelations underscore why the U.S. needs to reconsider its current AfPak policy, writes CFR's Leslie Gelb.


Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, considers itself a "media insurgency" (New Yorker), collecting from whistleblowers, and publishing documents and images that governments and other institutions see as confidential.

Wikileaks latest reports (WashPost) and the decision to transfer them to three news organizations reflects the growing strength of the nonprofit site, founded three years ago to fight what it considers excessive secrecy.


PACIFIC RIM: US, South Korea Naval Exercises Start

Four days of US-South Korea military exercises (CSM) off South Korea's east coast started yesterday without incident, despite North Korean threats of "powerful nuclear deterrents." Some South Korean critics of President Lee Myung-bak, many of them from the opposition, dispute international findings that the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine (LAT).

CAMBODIA: Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, who admitted overseeing the torture and execution of thousands of Cambodians, was found guilty of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal (BBC). Judges deducted sixteen years from the thirty-five-year prison sentence, angering many in Cambodia and raising questions about the efficacy of the tribunal.

While much of Cambodia still holds onto memories of Khmer Rouge atrocities, few seem to notice that the current government of Prime Minister Hun Sen is destroying the nation, notes this article in Foreign Affairs.



- BP: Hayward Out, Dudley In?
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This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on