The UN vs. Obama vs. Maliki vs. Greenwald vs. Wired

December 28, 2010

The UN vs. Obama vs. Maliki vs. Greenwald vs. Wired

On the same day the New York Times reported—based on interviews with NATO and U.S. officials—that militant fighters in Afghanistan had been "blunted" by allied commando raids, the Wall Street Journal featured an article claiming the opposite, based on UN assessment maps from October: the security situation has deteriorated since the American troop surge. The maps reportedly show no improvement in southern Afghan districts and a worsening situation in the North from March 2010 to October.

A number of bloggers immediately seized on the Journal story as evidence that the Obama administration's Afghanistan strategy review was much too rosy in its claim that progress is being made (if unevenly and slowly).'s Jason Elliot calls it "a big deal." But BlackFive's Uncle Jimbo points out that military progress and a "worsening security situation for civilians" and nongovernmental organizations isn't necessarily antithetical. As soldiers actively engage the enemy "of course the over all danger for anyone in that area is going to go up." (Although he still finds a way to somehow blame the president for "cut & run.")

On Iraq, the Journal is reporting that the situation is not so much "cut & run" as "get out!" In an interview with the newspaper, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said U.S. troops must be out by the end of 2011—all of them. And it's not up for debate. Maliki also downplayed American fears that Iraq is slipping into Iran's orbit (he notes that the Iranians are just as paranoid about the U.S.-Iraq relationship) and said the bands of militias that have previously clashed with government forces (like Moktada al-Sadr's Promised Day Brigades) have been "co-opted" into the political process. And Gerald Seib notes that Vice President Joe Biden is also bully about the situation in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the main event in the cyber arena is Glenn Greenwald versus In his customarily verbose-firebrand style, Greenwald unleashes a broadside against Wired's senior editor Kevin Poulsen for sitting on evidence related to—crucial to, according to the polemicist—the case against alleged WikiLeaker U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning. Poulsen (himself a former "black hat cracker," according to Wikipedia) is apparently friends with the whistleblower in the case, former elite hacker Adrian Lamo, through whom he obtained the chat logs in which Manning is supposed to have confessed to leaking the trove of documents to Julian Assange & Co.

However, Greenwald says, has only published 25 percent of the logs, keeping the rest from the public when it could clear up lingering questions about many of Lamo's as-yet-unverifiable claims regarding Manning. Greenwald accuses Poulsen of "actively blinding journalists and others who have been attempting to learn what Manning did and did not do." Wired has tweeted that it will respond to the allegations some time today. Stay tuned.

And if you're really into the inside baseball of the entire saga, you can comb FireDogLake's breakdown—complete with color coding!—of the chat logs based on who's published what (so far,, the Washington Post and the blog BoingBoing). In addition, Marcy Wheeler engages in a close reading of part of the chat that she finds fishy. Others agree that there is some cause for worry because news outlets have been relying on Lamo's partially documented assertions, which some say has led to "blatantly misleading coverage" of the case. John Cole wonders if Wired is worried that the Pentagon will come after its heralded defense blog, Danger Room, if the tech magazine releases anything that could contradict the official narrative.