Leaked Docs Expose Failings in Afghanistan

More than 90,000 documents, most of them secret, show how the U.S. has been losing the leak of some 91,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan one day at a time.
More than 90,000 documents, most of them secret, show how the U.S. has been losing the war in Afghanistan one day at a time.

"The real story of this material is that it's war," Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, which posted the documents on the web. "It is one damn thing after another."

Assange hopes researchers will mine the documents for a real picture of the war, including whether U.S. troops committed war crimes, reports told CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

David Martin: WikiLeaks Vs. the Pentagon Papers

This new trove of documents covers six years of war in Afghanistan through the kind of reports, both accurate and inaccurate, every commander receives at his morning briefing.

More on the WikiLeaks release:

Hotsheet: WH Tries to Kill the Messenger
WikiLeaks Founder: Many More Documents to Come
WikiLeaks: Evidence of War Crimes in Afghan Docs
Afghan Gov't "Shocked" by Leak of War Documents
Pakistani Officials: WikiLeaks Claims "Outrageous"

For instance, this report of the first use of a heat-seeking, surface to air missile against an American aircraft, a weapon that would cripple U.S. air power if the Taliban ever got them in large numbers.

The Pentagon says it will be take days, if not weeks, to determine the damage done by the massive leak of classified material.

Bruce Reidel, who directed a review of the Afghan war at the start of the Obama administration, says the sight of so many secret documents on the web is likely to discourage Afghans from risking their lives to help the U.S.

Special Report: Afghanistan

"Intelligence collection in Afghanistan has been hard from the get go," Reidel said. "This makes the challenge of winning the war even harder than it was."

But most of the reports document what is already well known.

For years, the U.S. has not had enough troops in Afghanistan, resulting in remote outposts in need of help from being overrun.

The Afghan government has been corrupt and inefficient.

According to the report, "The general view of the Afghans is that the current government is worse than the Taliban."

American air strikes and commando raids have killed too many civilians. One of the reports describes a raid that was intended to take out a high ranking Al Qaeda operative but ended up killing seven children.

Washington Unplugged: Wikileaks Paint Grim Afghan Picture

The assumption, is that this was done by 22-year-old private first-class Bradley Manning, who was charged with releasing classified information earlier this month. He has been charged with downloading a classified video of a helicopter gunship killing civilians in Baghdad.

That video subsequently showed up in WikiLeaks.

There's more to come. WikiLeaks claims it is readying another 15,000 documents for release.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.