A Marine from Echo company, on patrol in the farmlands near Mian Poshteh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
A Marine from Echo company, on patrol in the farmlands near Mian Poshteh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Noah Shachtman
As an embedded reporter, Noah Shachtman witnessed one of the battles described in classified documents released on WikiLeaks. While he was patrol with the Marines of Echo company in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, a firefight broke out.
Shachtman says the report about that conflict doesn't reflect the reality of events on the ground.
For example, he tells NPR's Tony Cox, "the WikiLeaked document mentions a bomb being dropped and that enemy fire was then suppressed." In fact, he says, "the enemy fire was suppressed for all of 17 minutes, and then the fighting started all over again."
But Shachtman doesn't think the omissions are intentional. "I think these are really short, really fast, really compressed reports given from a junior officer to a more senior officer."
Based on the discrepancies between what he experienced and what he found in the report, he explains how he thinks readers should interpret the 92,000 documents.
"You can read them almost like interoffice memos," says Shachtman. "And we all know interoffice memos don't necessarily tell us what happens a the office."