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Examine Canada in Wikileaks Files

Calling readers to download and report

by Gray Barnham

Examine Canada in Wikileaks Files

On July 25th, 91,000 secret US reports on the Afghan War were released to the public by the web site Wikileaks. It was one of the largest leak of documents in history. It has been named the Afghan War Logs and covers events between 2004 and the beginning of 2010. Even on the first day that the documents were released journalists were pumping out articles on the many revelations stored in the reports. With so many reports there are still thousands untold stories in the reports.

We are publishing an excerpt of the reports that includes all references to Canada*. We hope readers will down load the file and help in revealing some of the untold stories that relate to Canada.

The files affable for download at are missive and hard to process. The Original .csv file has 76,911 rows, More than many spreadsheet programs can handle. However in order to help explore the Canadian angel of the story we are publishing a smaller document, that includes every every reference to Canada, Canadian, and CDN.

The attached file has 465 rows and is saved as an .xls file. NOTE: the current version of the file needs some tidying, but is published here now. This post will be updated when a more tidy version of the file is compiled.

You can download the file here


So far the most controversial log to mention Canadians, involves an incident that was recorded as friendly fire by  Afghan War Logs, but that was publicly reported as a Taliban attack.  Detail are below. 

However another Canadian angle that is worth examining is the Afghan Detainee Affair. Although only two of the "Detainee Operations" give mention of Canada, reading through the 1208 such logs would give a sense of how Detainee operations work, which could be compared to the publicly stated versions.

If anyone has ideas for other possible was to use the logs to look at Canadian operations in Afghanistan, please feel free to leave them in the comments.


The Killing Train Already has some great coverage of the Afghan War logs. Check it out here:



Here is a brief finding aid:

Although the spreadsheet is often hard to read once you have found a file that interests you, you can find the date of the incident, usually in column "B",  and then try finding it in another format on this page: .  The easiest way to find it is to browse by date, which narrows down you search by month, however you still need to go through the pages to find the right event.

Some logs can also be found using Google. For example if you grab the string of numbers after the colon in column "A"  (the report key) you can search for that string and it may come up in google. For example one controversial document refers to four Canadian soldiers being Wounded in Action, even though the Canadian Government previously claimed that the soldiers were killed by the Taliban. It's report key is "C7D0AA09-3145-40A7-8B29-F49B5B659501"  If you search for it in Google seven results come up, including this page from the Guardian: 

CBC also has an online Database with 1967 of the reports uploaded. It can be searched here:


If you are having trouble decoding all the acronyms, the Guardian has a great glossary of terms available here:


[This post will be updated soon with a better version of the file, and a more complete finding aid]

[If you have comments for suggestions for how to improve this post please add them in the comments]

*The file includes every reference to Canada, Canadian, and CDN. There may be other references to Canada since there are clearly references to NATO (CAN) in some of the reports, however since can is a common set of letters it was not included

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Topics: Peace/War
684 words


Group analysis

Justin Podur in Toronto has been doing some computer-aided analysis over the past few days. I like the idea of crowd-sourcing the analysis. If we want to do that though, maybe we should use some kind of collaborative software, like a Wiki? It'd only make sense if there were a critical mass of people interested in this work.

If there is interest lets colaborate

If there is interest I would love to start a wiki, or some other sort of collaboration. How many people out there are interested?

If there are media coop readers/writers into doing data analysis there are other data sets out there like the recently released  "two databases compiled by prominent scientist Dr. Kevin Timoney, one with more than 6,500 incidents, regarding tar sands operations that raise serious concerns about how the Alberta government allows oil companies to operate in this province."

I am just learning how to find stories in databases like these, if others are interested in collaborating in this sort of journalism, I would love to collaborate. 

Not ideal, but a start

This is not ideal, of course, however, the CBC has created a searchable database for the Wikileaks files pertaining to Canada. See:

dl link is dead. is someone

dl link is dead. is someone messing around with your server? the pigs are sometimes more clever than we think. any way of sending the file over by e-mail?


I have repasted the link, and it seems to be working. I have also added some other information to the article. Still haven't figured out how to tidy the data. (I was using GREP to grab lines from the original .csv file, but it seems something goes wrong when I do this.)

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