Leaking troop movement?
September 27, 2001 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Leaking troop movement? This new report says the U.S. has had special forces troops inside Afghanistan for two weeks now. I understand "everything" is leaked in Washington, but shouldn't there be something sacred about the locations of troops?
posted by owillis (30 comments total)
Telling us that special forces are in Afghanistan is leaking troop movements? I thought the article was going to give town names or something. Come on, man. I think the Afghanis might have been on the alert for this kind of thing anyway, even if they didn't read it in USAToday.
posted by Doug at 10:21 PM on September 27, 2001

Way to go, Oliver. Now everyone knows.
posted by websavvy at 10:25 PM on September 27, 2001

Oliver, the news was PRINTED in Peshwar. USA Today is only relaying what is printed in the local media.
their arrival here 2 weeks ago and subsequent movement into Afghanistan have been reported by English- and Urdu-language newspapers here
If you want to ban American media outlets from reprinting second-hand news of troop movement, you might as well also ask that they not report the death count from Afganistan. You may also ask that US media refrain from reprinting any news of any biological warfare that news papers in Pakistan or Afghanistan might print.

Your best hope maybe to release the copyright lawyers on to American media so that they stop lifting stories off of the Pakistan-Afghanistan news papers.
posted by tamim at 10:25 PM on September 27, 2001

Actually my problem was with this part: "but they're having difficulty locating him and are asking other nations for additional intelligence help, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials have confirmed privately"

Pakistani official - I dunno. But "senior U.S. official?" Needs to keep his damn mouth shut.
posted by owillis at 10:38 PM on September 27, 2001

they're having difficulty locating him and are asking other nations for additional intelligence help
I have this image from the movie Three Kinks: Four uniformed Americans are walking around and asking local Afghans for direction. Kinda funny, in a weird sort of way.

Oliver, there are many "senior U.S. officials" on the ground in Pakistan now. Many are from the State Dept. and CIA. CBS News last night even reported about a secret meeting between five Americans and three Afghanis in an hotel in a border town. If they do not ask for directions or help, they'd be like your standard issue guys driving around in circles, lost, but wont stop to ask for help.
posted by tamim at 10:53 PM on September 27, 2001

I think there's a fair amount of FUD going on right now. this may be a *disinformation* leak. stay put....
posted by rebeccablood at 11:08 PM on September 27, 2001

Well, if its disinfo - I'm all for it right now with regard to military movement. The media is so focused on getting "the scoop" they don't think about the endangered lives.

I'll never forget the Seals(?) landing in Kuwait under cover of darkness only to be greeted with flashing cameras from the media, waiting for them...
posted by owillis at 11:19 PM on September 27, 2001

Ever consider that it's disinfomation intended to 'spook' Osama & Company into coming out of hiding and moving about (thus making him easier to track/find)? We've been told that disinformation would be a part of the 'anti-terror' tactics employed.
posted by SenshiNeko at 11:21 PM on September 27, 2001

owillis, you're probably thinking instead of the UN deployment to Somalia, done by the US Marines, which was not technically into hostile territory -- though the canonical example was actually Grenada (there was some quote that got in all the papers about the flash distracting a soldier until he realized it wasn't enemy fire), and there was plenty of video of our daytime deployment to Beirut (Marines again), surrounded by hundreds of small craft. The Gulf War was different, since the deployment was to secure air bases in Saudi Arabia, and there couldn't have been any Western photographers on the beach in Kuwait -- so I'm sure your memory is faulty.

A SEAL deployment would not use landing craft nor come up on a well-used beachhead.

The right likes to use this as an example of the dopey "liberal" media, when there's no evidence that the people doing it are Americans or even Westerners. What's to stop a Pakistani up on a hill overlooking an air base from talking to the papers about what he sees? America no longer has a monopoly on video cameras. It's not World War II anymore.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on September 27, 2001

ObL is in Kentucky.
posted by pracowity at 11:44 PM on September 27, 2001

There was an NYTimes piece on Tuesday on the Delta Force that talked about people who seem to have recently up and left the town of Southern Pines, North Carolina, suggesting that their mysterious absence, combined with the likelihood that there are Delta Force members in that area (Southern Pines is near Fort Bragg), is evidence that the Delta Force has been sent to Afghanistan, and that they are them.

So, I wonder, doesn't anyone who reads the NYTimes now have a way of tracking down these people (assuming they live to come home again)? Isn't that, like, bad?
posted by mattpfeff at 12:00 AM on September 28, 2001

I'd have to agree with those that see this as a possible misinformation campaign. Nothing is "leaked". The media is just being used as a weapon in this "new" type of warfare.
posted by awcole72 at 12:07 AM on September 28, 2001

I remember during the gulf war, the U.S. kept 'leaking' information about amphibious troops, so the Iraqi's would think the invasion would come from the sea. The Iraqi's mobilized their forces along the sea and the Saudi border and the Americans just went around and attacked from the northwest.

Wouldn't surprise me if they were trying the same thing with the Pakistani press.
posted by bobo123 at 12:35 AM on September 28, 2001

But wait evrybody! If it really is a disinformation ploy, aren't we giving the game away? We shouldn't even be talking about this!

I think that the U.S. military and intelligence forces are a little more media savvy than they're being given credit for here.
posted by Anchovy at 4:12 AM on September 28, 2001

Some British papers reported this a number of days ago. Do you think the Taliban might read British papers and now know?
posted by Postroad at 4:28 AM on September 28, 2001

Oliver, what you're remembering was the Marine landing in Somalia. I thought they should have fired on the guys with the lights.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:58 AM on September 28, 2001

Anchovy, the point of disinformation is confusion; we're helping that here quite nicely (grin).
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:58 AM on September 28, 2001

The media is so focused on getting "the scoop" they don't think about the endangered lives.

If a story is being reported in Pakistan, what's the safety concern in keeping it from the American people? (Besides, the participation of a "senior U.S. official" makes me suspect this is something the government wants people to know.)
posted by rcade at 5:18 AM on September 28, 2001

I remember those strange images from the Mogadishu landings, the bewildered marines bleached with camera lights. But that was a Pentagon-instigated photo op that got out of hand:

All week the Pentagon had encouraged press coverage of the Marine landing. Reporters were told when the landing would take place, and some network correspondents were quietly advised where the marines would arrive so that they could set up their cameras. [...] But having finally secured an elusive spotlight, the marines discovered that they had too much of a good thing.
-- http://www.bard.edu/hrp/keenan/livefrom.htm

I call Headquarters back on the Tripoli. "Vader this is Sharkman. Seventy-five press personnel are right on the proposed Mickey Mouse Site. Should we still keep it primary, over."

A ten second pause. "Sharkman this is Vader. Affirmative, over."

The Pentagon wants to show us off.

Ted Koppel is waiting for us on the beach as we speak. I know this because we watched him on television yesterday announcing our forthcoming arrival. "The operation is expected to begin tomorrow at midnight with the arrival of elite Navy and Marine reconnaissance units that will pave the way for a larger follow-on force."

We're not exactly following Sun Tsu's advice on surprise here.
-- http://www.sharkmansix.com/sharkmansix/articles/sharkman_chapter.htm

posted by nikzhowz at 5:20 AM on September 28, 2001

> Leaking troop movement?

That's what they get for drinking the water there.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on September 28, 2001

Crap. Meant to delete the second pullquote before posting, it's from a novel. Ignore, please.
posted by nikzhowz at 5:26 AM on September 28, 2001

If Pak papers report U.S. special ops units are already in Afghanistan, you know Osama or his allies, the Taliban and their supporters read that too.

So the choice facing the U.S. media becomes:

1. Pass the report along to their U.S. audiences after asking authorities to confirm or deny


2. Not, leaving their U.S. readers in the dark

Choice 2 would make the U.S. citizens the only people involved to remain ignorant of the report.

Which would you choose?
posted by sacre_bleu at 7:02 AM on September 28, 2001

It's doubtful that special forces have been "searching" for Osama for 2 weeks. Special forces usually know their target, where it is, and execute quickly. This report from USA Today is ridiculous.
posted by kboyer at 7:22 AM on September 28, 2001


That was really funny. Now I have to wash the Mountain Dew out of my nose. Thanks.
posted by dfowler at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2001

I've always wondered about the phrase "senior U.S. official." There can't be *that* many of them, can there? Somewhere along the line, a junior U.S. official, maybe a little self-conscious about their rank, puffs up their title a bit to the gum-chewing newsie who's looking for the scoop. It has to have happened... or why don't we see quotes attributed to "mid-level U.S. official," "newly hired, still gets lost in the building U.S. official," and "has a nice tie and could pass for a U.S. official?"
posted by poseur at 9:25 AM on September 28, 2001

CNN has picked up on the special forces inside Afghanistan topic. I happen to agree that there is some news not fit to print. If CNN and USA Today are looking for stories to pull in readers, tell us what Condit is currently up to. Talk about the Teflon Don.
posted by Stretch at 9:32 AM on September 28, 2001

The US government has officially confirmed it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:57 AM on September 28, 2001

hmmmmmm.....for all we know special forces could be under Saddam Hussein's dinner table right now.......besides there are units around here that nobody knows about-and nobody talks about-and frankly we don't know if they have deployed or not. or if they have, where they were sent.....

In other words, what we hear on the telly and what is actually going on may or may not have any correllation.
The military spouses may know when this is all over-but none of us will know right now.
posted by bunnyfire at 8:50 PM on September 28, 2001

I had a leaking troop movement once. Some pennicillin fixed it right up, though.
posted by kindall at 11:06 PM on September 28, 2001

MSNBC is reporting that 5 US troops have been arrested by the Afghanistan gov't...
posted by owillis at 12:14 AM on September 29, 2001

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