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EDITORIAL: A troubling picture of the Afghan war

The 92,000 leaked, classified documents revealed this weekend provide a startling, almost real-time view of the war in Afghanistan that is more troubled than the public had been allowed to know.

The accounts of previously unreported casualties, Pakistani intelligence aiding insurgents, and Afghan police in league with arms smugglers, bandits and blackmailers will make questions about the conduct of the war much tougher for President Barack Obama to answer. And the leaks risk undermining the war effort.

The documents, from 2004 to 2009, don't directly contradict official accounts. But they chronicle the civilian deaths mistakenly caused by pilotless drones, how uniforms and trucks that the United States provided to Afghan troops and police were instead used by insurgents, and how heat-seeking missiles given to a previous generation of Afghan fighters to battle the Russians have been turned against U.S. troops.

The classified information was obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization which seeks to hold goverments more accountable for their decisions. The detail-rich cache of communications comes, not surprisingly, as the administration plans to press for a more aggressive approach to the nation's longest war.

The details, however, will help the public see how hard this war will be to win and might help determine if it's worth the fight. hN


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