Quit Calling the War Logs the New Pentagon Papers

daniel ellsberg pentagon papers.jpg
Some news outlets have suggested that the War Logs -- the 92,000 confidential documents recently leaked to three major newspapers by the stateless curtain-lifters at WikiLeaks -- are the new Pentagon Papers. Like here, and here and here. These people are wrong. Here's why.

The War Logs only represent those secret conversations occurring at the lowest level of the military apparatus. Word from the field, from the grunts, for a time span covering five years.

Not insignificant info, for sure. But nothing like what former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (pictured above) managed to provide New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan in 1971, after years of covert Xeroxing.

The Pentagon Papers represented an entire history of U.S. intervention in Vietnam, spanning the decades between the end of World War II up to the Nixon presidency. As Ellsberg says himself:

The Pentagon Papers dealt with more years. From 1944--World War II--through 1968. You had a vast time span. It was an archive of much of the war itself. It was for most of the war and covered the French-IndoChina war. The Pentagon Paper's revelations were of the highest level of decision-making. Decision-making by the president, the secretary of state, secretaries of defense, heads of the CIA, commanding generals. The highest level--and those were the most exciting revelations--the extent to which the government had deliberately deceived the American public about events in Vietnam or deluded themselves.
Or, to analogize this difference in kind, reading the War Logs is like reading a transcript of a film junket: you get to hear about what it was like to make the movie from the actors themselves. Whereas the Pentagon Papers was like having a cassette tape running in the conference room while the studio execs -- the real decision makers -- were hashing out who got DVD points and who didn't, and how to spin things if the movie tanked at the box office.

Except, ya know, WITH WAR.

Anyway, quit making the comparison. It just doesn't fit.

 
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