Whence Wikileaks?

November 30, 2010 | By | 21 Replies More

At Democracy Now, Amy Goodman presents a fascinating discussion regarding the most recent of a series of leaks by Wikileaks. But first, her summary of the leaks:

Among the findings, Arab leaders are privately urging the United States to conduct air strikes on Iran; in particular, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on U.S. to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program, reportedly calling on American officials to “cut off the head of the snake”. Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, also said they support a U.S. attack. The cables also highlight Israel’s anxiety to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly; it’s readiness to ‘go it alone’ against Iran, and its attempts to influence American policy. The cables also name Saudi donors as the biggest financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al-Qaeda. The cables also provide a detailed account of an agreement between Washington and Yemen to cover up the use of U.S. warplanes to bomb targets in Yemen. One cable records that during a meeting in January with General David Petraeus, the Yemeni president Abdallah Saleh said, “We will continue saying these are our bombs, not yours.” Among the biggest revelations is how the U.S. uses its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network. U.S. diplomats are asked to obtain information from the foreign dignitaries they meet including frequent flier numbers, credit card details, and even DNA material. The United Nations is also a target of the espionage with one cable listing the information-gathering priorities to American staff at the UN headquarters in New York. The roughly half a dozen cables from 2008 and 2009 detailing the more aggressive intelligence collection were signed by Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. The New York Times says the directives, quote: “Appear to blur the traditional boundaries between statesmen and spies.” The cables also reveal that U.S. officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in an operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was abducted and held for months in Afghanistan. The cables also document suspicion of corruption in the Afghan government. One cable alleges that Afghan vice president Zia Massoud was carrying fifty two million dollars in cash when stopped during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Only 220 cables were published by WikiLeaks on it’s website on Sunday with hundreds of thousands more to come. The Obama administration has been warning allies about the expected leaks since last week. A statement from the White House on Sunday said, “We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.” It also said the disclosure of the cables could, “deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.”

I approve of these leaks by Wikileaks. We the People supposedly run this country, but we are kept totally in ignorance regarding many of our nation’s foreign policy adventures. Our mainstream media should be gathering this sort of information by aggressively reporting by doing investigative reporting, and by reporting when our government fails to be forthright. But they have failed miserably. This is thus what it has now come to: massive dumps of “unauthorized” information that embarrasses our government and should embarrass our government. But instead of seeing our mainstream media praise Wikileaks, we continue to see scurrilous attacks on Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Glenn Greenwald understands why:

Focusing on the tabloid aspects of Assange’s personal life can have no effect — and no purpose — other than to distract public attention away from the heinous revelations about this war and America’s role in it, and to cripple WikiLeaks’ ability to secure and disseminate future leaks.

It’s not hard to see why The New York Times, CNN and so many other establishment media outlets are eager to do that. Serving the Government’s interests, siding with government and military officials, and attacking government critics is what they do. That’s their role. That’s what makes them the “establishment media.” Beyond that, the last thing they want is renewed recognition of what an evil travesty the attack on Iraq was, given the vital role they know they played in helping to bring it about and sustain it for all those years (that’s the same reason establishment journalists, almost by consensus, opposed any investigations into the Bush crimes they ignored, when they weren’t cheering them on). And by serving as the 2010 version of the White House Plumbers — acting as attack dogs against the Pentagon’s enemies — they undoubtedly buy themselves large amounts of good will with those in power, always their overarching goal. It is indeed quite significant and revealing that the John Ehrlichmans and Henry Kissingers of today are found at America’s largest media outlets. Thanks to them, the White House doesn’t even need to employ its own smear artists.

Our federal government and our mainstream media could put Wikileaks out of business in a heartbeat if only they could stop being such liars and manipulators of information. Our government and most of our popular media seem to be under the impression that their sole purposes for existing are to maintain power and make money. This is the perfect storm for the creation of an organization like Wikileaks, because there are many of us who have strong hunches about what is going on out there in the real world and we want to see virtually all of that information made public.

George Carlin exactly expresses my sentiments tonight:

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Category: Communication, Media, Orwellian, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (21)

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  1. Maybe I'm just cynical, but why is any of this a surprise? Embassies have always been centers for spying activity, deals have always been made between leaders, this kind of activity is NORMAL. What, do people really think this crap only happens in James Bond movies or John Le Carre novels? Then there is the implicit assumption that it's just us doing it. One of the benefits of these is to show that it's The Game all states play and that, really, we're not even the most venal and savage at it.

    I think it's great that this material has come out. This is the sort of stuff historians get to go over usually 50 to 100 years after the events and they publish their book and people go "Oh, my, weren't they terrible back then!" and then seem not to make the connection that this never ended. I think this is very useful for people of all political stripes to see how things actually transpire, so those who pretend we're just always pure and wonderful will know better and those who think we're always despicable will also know better. The naivete of both sides of historical questions has always amused and bemused me.

    The only thing that I regret here is that, in actuality, all the wrong people will get hurt. Again.

  2. Jim Razinha says:

    I've had mixed feelings on this for some time. On the one hand, having served in the military and carried a secret clearance, I understand there are some things the public should not know. It is naive to think otherwise. We are not a democracy, rather a democratic republic, and the People do not govern or manage the governing. That cannot ever happen even in the tiniest of municipalities.

    On the other hand, I agree with Mark (and the gentleman I heard on NPR today) – this will be treasure trove for historians.

    But I come back to the way in which this information was obtained. Whether PFC Bradley Manning or other perpetrator(s), the act of stealing the documents was criminal and must be prosecuted as such. If, as I have heard, this latest set is relatively benign and more of an embarrassing admission and not a compromise of national security, then the greater crime (beyond the theft) of releasing the information may be less than the treason I first thought. Yes, I use the word: treason. If it was Manning, regardless of the impact, his act should be regarded and prosecuted as such. He is not a hero. Moreover, he is a disgrace to the uniform.

    I guess my feelings aren't as mixed as I thought.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's the source of my exasperation. If our federal government insists that it will listen in on my phone calls, read my email, and who knows WHAT else with no probable cause, then fair is fair. It's time for We the People to have the opportunity to look at Uncle Sam's underwear. It's not pretty, is it? We see idealistic war-mongers driving our foreign policy. We see a constant stream of lies and material omissions.

    Don't our elected officials think that we are old enough to be responsible for joining in a national debate about how to handle foreign affairs? There is no reason most of this information should be secret. It is patronizing to hold back most of this information. And much of hold-back is dangerous to our democracy. Why lie to us about the massive carnage we are causing with our needless wars? Why keep us from knowing that American tax dollars are being funneled into the bank accounts of scumbags we are propping up? Why lie to us that our wars are successful when they are not?

    Bottom line: You spy on me, I get to spy on you by reading Wikileaks. It's time for us to hear one hell of a lot more truth from our government. It's time for our government officials to quit their destructive warmongering. It's time for them to quit being so arrogant. It's time to quit pretending that we live in a black and white world in order to feed our military-industrial complex.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky today. Here are a few excerpts:

    AMY GOODMAN: Noam, so you have Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, and eighteen other aide groups calling on Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade of Gaza. And you have in the WikiLeaks release a U.S. diplomatic cable- provided to The Guardian by WikiLeaks- laying out, "National human intelligence collection directive: Asking U.S. personnel to obtain details of travel plans such as routes and vehicles used by Palestinian Authority leaders and Hamas members." The cable demands, "Biographical, financial, by metric information on key PA and Hamas leaders and representatives to include the Young Guard inside Gaza, the West Bank, and outside," it says.

    NOAM CHOMSKY: That should not come as much of a surprise. Contrary to the image that is portrayed here, the United States is not an honest broker. It is a participant, a direct and crucial participant, in Israeli crimes, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. The attack in Gaza was a clear case in point: they used American weapons, the U.S. blocked cease-fire efforts, they gave diplomatic support. The same is true of the daily ongoing crimes in the West Bank, and we should not forget that. Actually, in Area C- the area of the West Bank that Israel controls- conditions for Palestinians have been reported by Save The Children to be worse than in Gaza. Again, this all takes place on the basis of crucial, decisive, U.S., military, diplomatic, economic support; and also ideological support- meaning, distorting the situation, as is done again dramatically in the cables.

    The siege itself is simply criminal. It is not only blocking desperately needed aid from coming in, it also drives Palestinians away from the border. Gaza is a small place, heavily and densely overcrowded. And Israeli fire and attacks drive Palestinians away from the Arab land on the border, and also drive fisherman in from Gaza into territorial waters. They compelled by Israeli gunboats- all illegal, of course- to fish right near the shore where fishing is almost impossible because Israel has destroyed the power systems and sewage systems and the contamination is terrible. This is just a stranglehold to punish people for being there and for insisting on voting the wrong way. Israel decided, "We don’t want this anymore. Let’s just get rid of them."

    We should also remember, the U.S./Israeli policy- since Oslo, since the early 1990’s- has been to separate Gaza from the West Bank. That is in straight violation of the Oslo agreements, but it has been carried out systematically, and it has a big effect.

    . . .

    Perhaps the most dramatic revelation, or mention, is the bitter hatred of democracy that is revealed both by the U.S. Government – Hillary Clinton, others – and also by the diplomatic service.

    To tell the world– well, they’re talking to each other- to pretend to each other that the Arab world regards Iran as the major threat and wants the U.S. to bomb Iran, is extremely revealing, when they know that approximately 80% of Arab opinion regards the U.S. and Israel as the major threat, 10% regard Iran as the major threat, and a majority, 57%, think the region would be better off with Iranian nuclear weapons as a kind of deterrent. That is does not even enter. All that enters is what they claim has been said by Arab dictators – brutal Arab dictators. That is what counts.

    How representative this is of what they say, we don’t know, because we do not know what the filtering is. But that’s a minor point. But the major point is that the population is irrelevant. All that matters is the opinions of the dictators that we support. If they were to back us, that is the Arab world. That is a very revealing picture of the mentality of U.S. political leadership and, presumably, the lead opinion, judging by the commentary that’s appeared here, that’s the way it has been presented in the press as well. It does not matter with the Arabs believe.

    . . .

  5. Jim Razinha says:

    I hope to be clear on this: all things being equal, I favor disclosure. But the world does not, nor do our allies (or at least our "not enemies"…for now) thus much as it is a mistake to try to judge the world by our standards, it is also a mistake to try to be the only one disclosing everything. We will lose more than we already have.

    The arrogance of the administrations for the past (fill in the blank – you can probably go back to the beginning) years is stunning. Some less so than others. "With us or against us"? That didn't work out too well. Reagan wasn't much different than Woodrow Wilson in his disdain for a particular region of the world. Why did Bush the First get us into Kuwait? Hmmm, was it our "allies" the Saudis? ranked repeatedly among the most oppressive nations in the world? What does the contents of these documents show to disprove the presumption of arrogance? Nothing.

    Black and white? That's pretty much what the years 2001-2009 were, and that's pretty much what Glenn Beck and friends paint everything as (though they vacillate within their comfort zone a lot; when the Elephants do something, it's good; when the Donkeys do it, it's bad). The definitions of black and white change with each power shift, but gray does not get people reelected.

    I do agree with much of the discussion in this thread, am appalled time and again at our foreign policy and decisions, am dumbfounded as to why we choose to prop certain dictatorships but turn our backs on the atrocities committed by others.

    But I am supremely disturbed by the acts of the military member who … allegedly … stole the documents. I try to operate in a continuum of balancing reason with reality, but the act and the consequences of the act are black and white.

    To me.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: I do understand that Manning is subject to severe punishment. I assume that he knew that this was the price that he was going to pay in order to pry open the dysfunctional inner-workings of our government.

      Although I have not displayed it at all, I do admit that I feel some ambivalence based on his clear violations of the law. On the other hand, I assume that he assumed that he would be saying goodbye to freedom for the remainder of his life when he loaded gigabytes of information onto that "Lady Gaga" disk. He knew what he was doing, and though it was a blatant violation of law, his motives were not malicious (I'm not suggesting that non-malicious motives always make conduct acceptable). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/01/us-le… In his own words:

      (2:21:32 pm) Manning: its sad

      (2:22:47 pm) Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious

      (2:23:25 pm) Manning: i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?

      (2:23:36 pm) Lamo: why didn't you?

      (2:23:58 pm) Manning: because it's public data

      (2:24:15 pm) Lamo: i mean, the cables

      (2:24:46 pm) Manning: it belongs in the public domain

      (2:25:15 pm) Manning: information should be free

      (2:25:39 pm) Manning: it belongs in the public domain

      (2:26:18 pm) Manning: because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Is Wikileaks a "terrorist organization," as suggested by a growing chorus of conservatives? As Slate explains, the label doesn't fit well. http://img.slate.com/id/2276310

  7. Jim Razinha says:

    Wikileaks is not a terrorist organization (back to the "conservative" black and white redefinition). It is a media outlet that has established itself as a conveyor of information, however obtained. All media outlets seek to scoop the others, sometimes rushing to press, or broadcast without factchecking. Wikileaks simply puts the stuff out there unqualified.

    I think they need to use discretion, but that won't happen. But discretion is relative.

  8. I agree that Manning should be punished. But I have a problem with double standards. If we're going to court martial him for treason, we should haul Ollie North back and do the same. He violated his military oath as if not more egregiously and for many he's a hero.

    As to the information should be free argument, it is now becoming clear that a good deal of what is disclosed in these documents has already been written about in the media. But of course, paying attention to that is both enormously time-consuming and subject to the filtering problems of a skeptical public.

    These kinds of revelations are not important so much for telling us what's happening—for anyone with eyes and ears, it's obvious—but why. The 800 lb. ogre in the room is motive, without which many governmental decisions appear capricious and boneheaded. For instance, I still see no real discussion in the media about Israel's intransigence over the Palestinian issue because of water rights. When you look at where the water is and who controls it, a lot of what Israel does begins to make perfect sense. Odious sense, yes, but sense.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    At Slate, Jack Shafer expresses why he loves Wikileaks:

    "We shouldn't be surprised by the recurrence of scandals, but, of course, we always are. Why is that? Is it because when scandal rips up the turf, revealing the vile creepy-crawlies thrashing and scurrying about, we're glad when authority intervenes to quickly tamp the grass back down and re-establish our pastoral innocence with bland assurances that the grubby malfeasants are mere outliers and one-offs who will be punished? Is it because our schooling has left us hopelessly naïve about how the world works? Or do we just fail to pay attention? Information conduits like Julian Assange shock us out of that complacency."

    http://www.slate.com/id/2276312/

  10. Erich Vieth says:

    Wikileaks struggles to keep it's website alive. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40486718/ns/us_news-w

    Amy Goodman has been presenting excellent information about Wikileaks all week. In yesterday's show, Goodman featured an intense debate involving Glenn Greenwald of Salon Steven Aftergood, the long-time transparency advocate with Federation for American Scientists and Secrecy News, and a vociferous critic of WikiLeaks.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald

  11. Just an observation. On Morning Edition today (NPR) a commentator (I forget who) remarked that the current batch of documents released are showing largely that American diplomats have been—wait for it!—telling the truth. The candor and personal assessments revealed in the documents are new, but the essential elements of the situations are consistent with what has been said publicly for some time.

    Occasionally, hearing about how bad we are gets old, because it makes it appear that we are somehow worse than anyone else and/or that we never do anything to which we will admit. Even without corroboration like this, there is too much of that to be credible, and it is pleasant to see—occasionally—that we are not all duplicity and subterfuge.

  12. Erich Vieth says:

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    That's what I think of when I read the following:

    "Talking about WikiLeaks on Facebook or Twitter could endanger your job prospects, a State Department official warned students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs this week. An email from SIPA's Office of Career Services went out Tuesday afternoon with a caution from the official, an alumnus of the school. Students who will be applying for jobs in the federal government could jeopardize their prospects by posting links to WikiLeaks online, or even by discussing the leaked documents on social networking sites, the official was quoted as saying."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/04/state-de

  13. Erich Vieth says:

    At The Atlantic, David Samuels characterizes the spate of government and media attacks on Julian Assange as shameful. He offers numbers substantiating that our government is largely a government run in secret. Consider, also, that the recently disclosed Wikileaks documents merely scratch the surface. What ELSE don't we know about the way that OUR government functions?

    From my vantage point is seems that our leaders have the emotional maturity of children, not adults, and that they've created a cushy club where they trade secrets, exclude the People who are supposedly in charge, but understand the World almost entirely in terms of the propaganda pumped out by government officials and corporations–by the way, the Gulf of Mexico is perfectly OK nowadays, right?. That's what happens when the media industry is bleeding news reporters at a ghastly rate, and where the is almost no investigative reporting being done (See here http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/10/10/john-… ). Anyone who has the urge to turn over stones and report what is really going on is now a witness to what is about to happen to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. And even prior to this coordinated attack by the powers that be, we have already seen that the news sources on which most people rely have turned to crap (Have you read your city's daily paper lately, or have you watched the local news lately?). Here's what an excerpt of the David Samuels article at The Atlantic:

    The importance of Assange's efforts to human rights workers in the field were recognized last year by Amnesty International, which gave him its Media Award for the Wikileaks investigation The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances, which documented the killing and disappearance of 500 young men in Kenya by the police, with the apparent connivance of the country's political leadership. Yet the difficulties of documenting official murder in Kenya pale next to the task of penetrating the secret world that threatens to swallow up informed public discourse in this country about America's wars. The 250,000 cables that Wikileaks published this month represent only a drop in the bucket that holds the estimated 16 million documents that are classified top secret by the federal government every year. According to a three-part investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin published earlier this year in The Washington Post, an estimated 854,000 people now hold top secret clearance – more than 1.5 times the population of Washington, D.C. "The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive," the Post concluded, "that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."

    The result of this classification mania is the division of the public into two distinct groups: those who are privy to the actual conduct of American policy, but are forbidden to write or talk about it, and the uninformed public, which becomes easy prey for the official lies exposed in the Wikileaks documents: The failure of American counterinsurgency programs in Afghanistan, the involvement of China and North Korea in the Iranian nuclear program, the likely failure of attempts to separate Syria from Iran, the involvement of Iran in destabilizing Iraq, the anti-Western orientation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and other tenets of American foreign policy under both Bush and Obama.

    It is a fact of the current media landscape that the chilling effect of threatened legal action routinely stops reporters and editors from pursuing stories that might serve the public interest – and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying. Every honest reporter and editor in America knows that the fact that most news organizations are broke, combined with the increasing threat of aggressive legal action by deep-pocketed entities, private and public, has made it much harder for good reporters to do their jobs, and ripped a hole in the delicate fabric that holds our democracy together.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/

    And now they are coming to take over the Internet, to make sure that it is a monopoly-laden land of amusements rather than a haven for hard-edged journalism. http://dangerousintersection.org/2010/12/03/obama

  14. Erich Vieth says:

    Today, the U.K. Guardian released a new interview with Julian Assange:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/

  15. Erich Vieth says:

    From Democracy Now, we learn more about the senselessness of our Afghanistan "mission":

    The cables [recently released by Wikileaks] also provide new evidence that U.S. allies in Europe strongly doubt the war in Afghanistan. In a memo from last year, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy is quoted suggesting European troops are only in Afghanistan to please the U.S. government. Van Rompuy says, "Europe is doing it and will go along out of deference to the United States, but not out of deference to Afghanistan." He continues, "No one believes in Afghanistan any more. But we will give it 2010 to see results. If it doesn’t work, that will be because it is the last chance." The disclosure comes just days after President Obama made a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In an address to a crowd of troops, Obama said the United States has made progress in its war goals.

    President Obama: "You are protecting your country. You’re achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission. We said we were going to break the Taliban’s momentum, and that’s what you’re doing. You’re going on the offense, tired of playing defense, targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their strongholds. Today we can be proud that there are fewer areas under Taliban control, and more Afghans have a chance to build a more hopeful future."

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/6/headlines#2

  16. Erich Vieth says:

    From Jemima Khan, of Th U.K. Guardian:

    "WikiLeaks has revealed that we have been told a great many lies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that there has been little accountability. How are the recent revelations regarding America's secret war in Yemen not in the public interest? Don't American citizens have the right to know that, contrary to official denials, they have paid for cruise missile attacks on Yemen, which have accidentally killed 200 civilians?

    I have a personal interest in the revelations about Pakistan, which highlight what many of us have long feared: that contrary to assurances from Pakistan's leaders, the US is fully ensconced, with bases and special forces, that there have been unreported civilian deaths and that the unwinnable war in Afghanistan is spilling over the border into its weak, corrupt and nuclear neighbour. The best justification governments can find to shut down information is that lives are at risk. In fact, lives have been at risk as a result of the silences and lies revealed in these leaks. Exposés have always been initiated by leaks. As Assange himself has said: 'If journalism is good, it's controversial.'"

    http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-s

  17. Erich Vieth says:

    This is a bit of a segue, but do you know what our government thinks about doing to "fix" media outlets with which it disagrees? Bombing them.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2010

  18. Erich Vieth says:

    FYI – Wikileaks has its own page at Facebook, followed by 1.4 million people.

    http://www.facebook.com/wikileaks?ref=ts&v=info

  19. Erich Vieth says:

    Julian Assange discusses potential war crimes in Afghanistan with Amy Goodman. What has been revealved so far by the released cables?

    As an example, in the material, there’s a Polish My Lai. Polish troops were hit by an IED and the next day went to the closest village, which I guess they felt had supported the IED attack, and shelled the village. Similarly, we see something like Task Force 373, a special forces assassination squad so secretive that it changes its military code name every six months, working its way down the JPEL, Joint Priority Effects List, kill or capture list, usually a kill list. And we have seen events where it has performed secret missile strikes on a house, from within close proximity, and ended up killing at least seven children, and a number of other instances. The report itself about that says at the beginning that the information about 373 being involved in that event, together with the use of the HIMARS missile system, this ground-to-ground missile attack, is to be kept secret even from other people in the coalition of forces which equal ISAF, I-S-A-F.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/31/julian_ass

    There is a massive amount of work yet to be done reviewing the released material, and Assange has invited the public, as well as people who were involved in the events to review the material and help connect the dots:

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel you have accomplished what you wanted to with the release of these documents?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: Not yet. We’ve made a good initial forray: 14 pages in The Guardian on Monday, 17 pages in Der Spiegel, front page of the _New York Times, together with underlying support. But altogether, the journalistic coalition that we put around this material to try and bring it out to the public and get impact for it has read about 2,000 of these reports in detail. There’s 91,000 reports. We really need the public, other journalists and especially former soldiers to go through this material and say, "Look, this connects to that," or "I was there. Let me tell you what really happened. Let me tell you the rest of the detail." And over the next few days, we’ll be putting up easier- and easier-to-use search interfaces, the same ones that our journalistic teams use to extract this data. Already if you go to war diaries—wardiary.wikileaks.org, you’ll see several different ways of browsing through this. You can look through some 200 different categories that the U.S. military applied to these reports. As an example, there’s 2,200 escalation of force events self-described by the U.S. military.

    You have to be careful when reading the material. Reports that are made by military units that were involved in an attack or a counterattack are often biased, just like we know that when a police officer is involved in a shooting and creates the report about that shooting, the facts are likely to be distorted or twisted. Similarly, when a military unit is involved in killing someone who turns out to be a civilian, we see lots of exculpatory language or hiding of facts. And where we know an additional sort of public record or a full investigation has occurred, as an example Kunduz, the bombing that occurred in 2005 which especially the German press investigated in great detail, we can go back and see the initial report that the troops filed about what they did, and we see, instead of civilian kills, no mentions of civilians at all. Instead of over a hundred people killed, we just see 56. And we can see that in report after report. So the sort of corrupt reporting starts on the ground and then moves its way up through the Pentagon and the press relations people and is then put into a politically sort of digestible form.

    But what you don’t see straightaway is a sort of contradiction by the base material and what is put out in public, although we are starting to see that in different events. But because this internal military reporting specifies where an event happened, which units were involved and when, and were done sort of on the same day, why there is simple cover-ups. They cannot be complex cover-ups in this material. So, by joining together several of these reports together with the public record, we’ve been able to discover the material of the sort of civilian casualty cover-ups or the involvement with the ISI.

  20. Erich Vieth says:

    Bill Moyers on Wikileaks:

    That's why, on balance, I count WikiLeaks a plus for democracy. Whatever side you take on the controversy, whether or not you think this information should be disclosed, all parties – those who want it released and those who don't – acknowledge that information matters. Partly because I grew up in the south and partly because of my experience in the Johnson White House, I'm on the side of disclosure, even when it hurts. The truth about slavery had been driven from the pulpits, newsrooms and classrooms during the antebellum days; it took a bloody civil war to drive the truth home. At the Johnson White House, we circled the wagons and grew intolerant of news that didn't conform to our hopes, expectations and strategies for Vietnam, with terrible, tragic results for Americans and Vietnamese, north and south. I say: "Never again!"

    http://www.truth-out.org/bill-moyers-facts-still-

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