Echo company got into a gunfight last Aug. 25 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. You’ll learn that by reading the report found in WikiLeaks’ database of Afghan war documents released on Sunday night. You’ll learn that, after a chase, the Marines killed one insurgent. You’ll learn that the insurgents supposedly fled and that the troops decided to stay the night in the area in case the militants returned.
What you won’t learn is that a Marine sniper team sparked the shoot-out with a surprise assault on the insurgents; that every member of that team was nearly killed in the battle; or that the incident would kick off a three-day siege in which the Taliban nearly surrounded the Echo company squad.
You also won’t learn that, in the midst of this battle, British and Afghan troops waged a more gentle counterinsurgency nearby, as they sat cross-legged under shady patches of farmland and talked with village elders. I know this because I was there with Echo company, reporting for Wired magazine.
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This is what opaque, unaccountable, monarchic rule looks like. The way this was done is not a way that gives any transparency. If you’re another senior prince or another senior businessman, you don’t know what you can do to avoid a similar fate.