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  (Source: Flickr)

Taliban gunmen mudered a tribal elder, who they believed was revealed as a U.S. "spy" by Wikileaks documents.  (Source: Sky News)

Wikileaks founder and convicted computer criminal Julian Assange  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Over 70 other tribal elders receive death threats, U.S. Congressman calls on death penalty for leaker Manning

It's been a nightmarish last few months for U.S. Military officials.  First they discovered that a young soldier serving in Iraq had acted as a spy passing documents to the site Wikileaks.  Then they endured Wikileaks release of 90,000 U.S. Military documents -- many of them classified -- detailing their operations in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, a radical Islamic militia in Afghanistan, announced its gratitude to Wikileaks for the release and vowed to hunt down those revealed in the documents to be collaborating with the U.S.  It appears that they have now made good on that threat.

Khalifa Abdullah, a tribal elder, was removed from his home in Monar village, in Kandahar province’s embattled Arghandab district, by gunmen.  He was then executed.

At the same time, 70 other tribal elders received death threats warning them that the Taliban had obtained reason to believe they were collaborating with the U.S.  One such threat is signed by Abdul Rauf Khadim, a senior Taliban official who was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.  When the Cuban prison was partially shut down by President Obama Khadim was transferred to Afghan custody in Kabul, where he subsequently escaped.

The note reads:
We have made a decision for your death. You have five days to leave Afghan soil. If you don’t, you don’t have the right to complain.
NewsWeek first reported on the murder.  They report that the Taliban believes the documents showed it U.S. sources, including the murder victim, Abdullah -- whether or not they truly do.

Wikileaks
founder and convicted Australian computer criminal Julian Assange claimed in a TIME interview that the leak was justified in the name of transparency.  He assured that no one would be harmed by the leak, stating:
We feel confident. The material is seven months old; we reviewed it extensively. We held back 15,000 documents that we felt needed further review because the type of classifications they had. We've been publishing for four years a range of material that has caused the changing of constitutions and the removal of governments, but there's never been a case that we are aware of that has resulted in the personal injury of anyone.
In related news, U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has called on the U.S. Military to pursue the death penalty in the Manning case.  He says Manning's actions constitute treason in a time of war and thus should be punishable by death.  His statements came in an interview, which is preserved here in an audio recording.

We spoke with key government witness Adrian Lamo, who turned Manning in, about Rogers' remarks.  He tells us he doubts the U.S. government would pursue the death penalty given that they didn't in the case of Robert Hanssen, a former FBI agent-turned-Russian spy.  Lamo states, "The damage done by Bradley Manning doesn't begin to approximate the damage Robert Hanssen did."

Hanssen received a life sentence, which he is currently serving.

If the government were to pursue such a sentence, though, Lamo says he would refuse to testify.

He states,"I elected to turn Manning in, in the hopes of saving lives.  I'm not going to participate in a process that's going to take a life.  There should be no other blood spilled by Wikileaks."

He concludes, "Under any other circumstances I will testify in the case.  [But] my concern for human life comes first."


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RE: Link between murder and wikileaks?
By NullSubroutine on 8/3/2010 4:16:36 PM , Rating: 5
Counter-point, the Taliban are merely playing (violent) politics, these tribal leaders are only being targeted because it sends a message to the perceived weakness of the United States. They could in fact have nothing to do with the US and be sided with Taliban for all anyone knows, but that isn't the point. The point is fear and intimidation, even if you sacrifice one of your own, it puts all the other sheep in line, or at least makes them think twice.

The elder could have been targeted for other reasons, but claiming his name is on this list is only politically expedient for the Taliban to put doubt in the minds of others.

Here is the best example I can come up with. Let's say that there is a public list of sex-offenders, someone on that list gets murdered. Even if the sex offender was killed during a story robbery, it can be claimed he died because he was on the list. This sends a clear message to other sex offenders on the list, regardless of the validity, it also makes the point he would have died irregardless, even if he was not on the list.


RE: Link between murder and wikileaks?
By DougF on 8/3/10, Rating: 0
By NullSubroutine on 8/3/2010 9:34:40 PM , Rating: 5
I think we both have too much time on our hands.


By clovell on 8/4/2010 11:29:28 AM , Rating: 2
And that may be, at this point, what's happening. The Taliban are playing this up while the story is fresh.

Make no mistake, these guys are intelligent killers, and they have the means to translate these documents and turn them into actionable intelligence. They will glean targets from this, and they will move against those targets.

Their tactic now is fear, because it's the best hand they have. In a couple weeks, their hand will be better for vengeance.


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