Hushed Talks of IED Changes After WikiLeaks

     FT. MEADE, Md. (CN) – How enemy tactics changed after WikiLeaks posted battlefield reports form Iraq and Afghanistan will be the focus of secret testimony from a military analyst the court qualified Wednesday.
     Though the witness did not even say in open court whether or to what extent this actually occurred, attack statistics are a matter of public record.
     Compiling Pentagon data earlier this year, USA Today reported that makeshift bomb attacks in Afghanistan hit a record high in 2011 with 3,542 injuries and 196 deaths.
     The numbers were still high, however, a year earlier in the immediate aftermath of the leaks, with 101 fewer injuries but 73 more deaths. The number of attacks dropped 8 percent in 2012 when there were just 1,744 injuries and 104 deaths, according to the article.
     Overall, these numbers reflect a steady decline in the number of U.S. fatalities resulting from such attacks in the aftermath of the leaks. Though injuries rose slightly in 2011, they dropped by nearly half a year later.
     The hundreds of thousands of leaked battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan that Pfc. Bradley Manning released are known as the war logs.
     Manning had told WikiLeaks that he was sending them “possibly one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”
     Though Manning has described the files as low-sensitivity “historical data,” prosecutors claim that al-Qaida could have used them as a “playbook.” Agents presumed to be Navy Seals found the Afghanistan files in bulk in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabod, Pakistan.
     In military parlance, the documents are known as “significant action” reports, or SigActs, and catalogue attacks by or against U.S. forces.
     On Wednesday, the court preparing to sentence Manning for his disclosures qualified a military analyst to testify about how the leaks led to changes in enemy tactics, techniques and procedures, also known as TTPs.
     In military parlance, the documents are known as “significant action” reports, or SigActs, and catalogue attacks by or against U.S. forces.
     After the publication of the war logs, U.S. Central Command tasked James McCarl to head a team evaluating how the releases would impact attacks by improvised explosive device.
     IED attacks “are the No. 1 casualty producer in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” McCarl, a division chief within the Joint IED Defeat Organization, testified Wednesday.
     He estimated that between 700 and 1,000 IEDs explode elsewhere around the globe every month, particularly in Africa and Latin America.
     McCarl said that he used a “Red Team” analysis pioneered by retired four-star Gen. Peter Shoomaker, in which U.S. intelligence would role-play how an adversary could use information against them.
     He explained: “The Red Team asks, ‘If we were the threat, and we had this, how would we react?'”
     Since studying “every single message” of the more than 110,000 documents proved unmanageable, his analysts ferreted out a subset of 2,000 to study their “key ideas, McCarl said.
     The report then categorized the perceived risks as “high, medium and low,” McCarl added.
     Testimony then moved into a classified session.
     In his closing arguments, Manning’s lead defense attorney David Coombs ridiculed the government’s “Chicken Little” claim of harm as undermined by its own inaction to the publication of the documents. A secret defense witness testifying from the Center for Army Lessons Learned, or CALL, said the military made no ground changes in Iraq and Afghanistan once WikiLeaks published the “war logs.”
     Coombs argued that this does not jibe with allegations that Manning revealed the U.S. Army’s “playbook” to terrorists.
     Wednesday afternoon, former Navy linguist Adam Pearson took the stand to discuss his review of extremist websites in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures. He commented on the “pure propaganda” that he saw on jihadist websites.
     “They’re so bad that when stories of Abu Ghraib came out, some fervent jihadists downplayed it because it wasn’t as bad what they were telling people, which is that Americans drink baby blood and use the organs of Palestinians to sell to Jewish people in New York,” he said.
     He said that some of those propaganda sites also contained instructions on how to build explosives.
     Shortly after that remark, proceedings returned to close session for the final time that day.

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