The first-hand accounts are the military's own raw data on the war, including numbers killed, casualties, threat reports and the like, according to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.org, which published the material Sunday.It's smart of him to do this. With these raw document available to everyone, there's well more of a chance of finding a real story here than our media would bother to report. Then again, which single news organization has the resources to crunch through 90,000 documents in a 24-hour news cycle world?
"It is the total history of the Afghan war from 2004 to 2010, with some important exceptions -- U.S. Special Forces, CIA activity and most of the activity of other non-U.S. groups," Assange said.
CNN has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents. The Department of Defense will not comment on them until the Pentagon has had a chance to look at them, a Defense official told CNN.
Assange declined to tell CNN where he got the documents. He claims the documents reveal the "squalor" of war, uncovering how many relatively small incidents have added up to huge numbers of dead civilians.
There really are two stories here, however. How did Julian Assange get his hands on this much unfiltered Pentagon data is one story, and what the data shows about out failure in prosecuting this war is the other. Both have tremendous consequences to the way wars are run in the 21st century, and the way America is run in the internet age.
What will all this data reveal? Whoever crunches these docs will be able to make their own conclusions. I'm very interested to hear much more from the people who cover the crossroads of war and new media technology and what they have to say: Spencer Ackerman, Bill Roggio, and Jeff Huber for starters.