Obama justice and the lies about Wikileaks

December 8, 2010 | By | 20 Replies More

Glenn Greenwald has been working around the clock to shed meaningful light on the media claims, many of them lies, regarding Wikileaks. Here’s Greenwald’s comment on the biggest and most common lie one hears these days:

Anyone listening to most media accounts would believe that WikiLeaks has indiscriminately published all 250,000 of the diplomatic cables it possesses, and Gitlin — in the course of denouncing Julian Assange — bolsters this falsehood:  “Wikileaks’s huge data dump, including the names of agents and recent diplomatic cables, is indiscriminate” and Assange is “fighting for a world of total transparency.”  The reality is the exact opposite — literally — of what Gitlin told TNR readers.  WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has.  Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them

Greenwald also exposes a corrupt frame being pushed by the media – that Wikileaks is perpetrating a massive injustice. This has it upside-down, according to Greenwald:

To recap “Obama justice”: if you create an illegal worldwide torture regime, illegally spy on Americans without warrants, abduct people with no legal authority, or invade and destroy another country based on false claims, then you are fully protected. But if you expose any of the evils secretly perpetrated as part of those lawless actions — by publishing the truth about what was done — then you are an Evil Criminal who deserves the harshest possible prosecution.

You’ll find a hot list of media lies exposed by Glenn Greenwald here.  And you’ll find much more at this same link.   See also, the video interview of Greenwald by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

What are the government attacks on Wikileaks really about?   Greenwald argues that these attacks on WikiLeaks constitute “a literal war over who controls the Internet and the purposes to which it can be used.”   Western governments have made it clear that citizens cannot freely band together to launch honest and blistering criticism against their government.  Without even being accused of any crime, western governments, led by the United States, have used extra-judicial means to take Wikipedia off the Internet. And see here. You can sense the government end game in your bones: The Internet will be for sports and entertainment, not for free-wheeling citizen journalism. In short, the U.S. government will use its massive power to make sure that the Internet becomes just like most newspapers and radio and television stations. Don’t you dare tell citizens that we are pumping out an unrelenting stream of lies! Don’t you dare tell them that we are killing twice twice as many civilians as we are admitting! Don’t tell them that we are spilling blood and treasure to prop up corrupt leaders. Go back to your sports events, soap operas and so-called reality shows!

Greenwald also points out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media:

Journalists cheering for the prosecution of Assange are laying the foundation for the criminalization of their own profession, or at least of the few who actually do investigative journalism.  There is simply no coherent way to argue that what WikiLeaks did with these cables is criminal, but what the NYT, the Guardian and other papers did is not.

In conclusion, Greenwald mentions that the U.S. Department of State is purportedly preparing to celebrates “World Press Freedom Day.



Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, ignorance, Politics, Propaganda, Secrecy, snake oil

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 (20)

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  1. Miles McCullough says:

    Very scary. The fascists have learned how to use a strong military to cow other countries into submission without upsetting the apple cart at home by pretending it's for security, distracting the public with domestic issues come election season, and perfecting a system of legal bribery through private campaign donations and limited choice. When did security become shorthand for economic interest instead of physical protection btw? And speaking of fascism, the grammar nazi in me wants you to proofread your posts moar xD

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Miles: I try to be my own grammar nazi, but I do need to do better. I'm burning the candle on both ends far too often, and proofreading too often takes a far backseat to getting information out. I'll take another look . . .

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Greenwald points out a most disturbing trend in western society: Hypocrisy driving a sociopathic paranoia of the truth and transparency among our leaders.

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:

    I'm completely disenchanted with our system: it's stuffed to the gills with fraud and corruption. When these instances get exposed, those who tell the truth and shine light in the darkness are accused of treason and calls for extrajudicial assassination begin.

    The sheer hypocrisy of it all boggles my mind. Thanks for pointing out that the U.S. will be hosting "World Press Freedom Day". Why not? If Barack Obama can be a Nobel Peace Prize winner while simultaneously prosecuting multiple wars, why shouldn't the U.S. host World Press Freedom Day even as they are doing everything in their power to crush said press freedom? Even the State Department spokesman is aware of the hypocrisy, check out the transcript (State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley is speaking):

    Anyway, just to start off, the United States is pleased to announce that we’ll host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day in 2011 from May 1 to May 3 here in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with a mandate to promote freedom of expression, and its corollary, freedom of the press. T<span style="font-weight: bold;">he theme for this commemoration will be 21</span><sup style="font-weight: bold;">st</sup><span style="font-weight: bold;"> Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. Obviously, we decided upon this before the latest round of news.</span> The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. <span style="font-weight: bold;">There certainly is an irony here</span>. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to the exercise of freedom of – for the right of freedom of expression. At the same time, <span style="font-weight: bold;">we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor or silence individuals and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.</span>

    Sometimes I cannot tell if I am reading a real news story, or a devastating piece of satire from The Onion. It's laughable in the context of the Wikileaks fiasco to claim that we have some "enduring commitment to … press freedom and free flow of information in this digital age."

    And it would be one thing if these leaks had actually damaged anyone, or led to the loss of a life, as the administration and its apologists relentlessly claim will happen. <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/10/17/wikileaks?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+salon%2Fgreenwald+%28Glenn+Greenwald%29&quot; rel="nofollow">Glenn Greenwald has pointed out repeatedly that that has not happened, as U.S. officials admit. Rather, the leaks provide more information as to the sickening corruption and rampant lawlessness involved in the U.S. war effort(s).

    For example, see the recently released cable urging suppression of the news story about <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/wikileaks-reveals-that-mi_n_793816.html&quot; rel="nofollow">U.S. military contractor Dyncorp hiring or providing child prostitutes in Afghanistan. Dyncorp books some $2 billion in annual revenues, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DynCorp&quot; rel="nofollow">96% of which come from U.S. government contracts. They've been <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DynCorp#Involvement_in_child_sex_slave_traffic&quot; rel="nofollow">involved in child prostitution and child sexual slavery since the days of our military involvement in Bosnia, but so what? There is also substantial evidence that they have been <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DynCorp#Abuses_in_Iraq&quot; rel="nofollow">bilking the U.S. out of money in Iraq, to the tune of millions of dollars. But again, so what? The collective American response is a yawn. American military contractors seem to have a blank check to do whatever they want– see Blackwater/Xe. Fraud is OK, child prostitution and slavery is OK.

    What do we stand for anymore? I mean REALLY stand for? We talk a lot about freedoms, truth, justice, human rights, but we don't mean any of it. I'm so disgusted. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

  4. Miles McCullough says:

    America stands for the economic interest of corporate America, same as always. The internet is just beginning to make exposure of this a lot easier.

  5. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Well, here we go:

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the man behind the publication of more than a 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, could soon be facing spying charges in the U.S. related to the Espionage Act, Assange’s lawyer said today.

    Justice Department officials declined to comment on the possible coming charges, but earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the release of the documents had put the United States at risk and said he authorized a criminal investigation into Assange.

    “The lives of people who work for the American people has been put at risk; the American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that are, I believe, arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can,” Holder said Tuesday. “We have a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature. I authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable, as they — as they should be.

    But the hypocrisy is immediately apparent, as this is the same Holder who refuses to hold those who tortured accountable. In fact, one of the Wikileaks’ revelations is that the Obama White House conspired with the GOP to block torture prosecutions!! He’s refused to hold those accountable who destroyed videotapes of torture interrogations. He’s refused to hold Wall Street accountable for their financial crimes and looting. He’s got no problem with assassinating American citizens without a trial. Despite Obama’s campaign promises to the contrary, he’s refused to respect state law and is aggressively prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries. He’s assisted in the gutting of habeas corpus in furtherance of torture. But this is where he hypocritically, arbitrarily, and self-servingly has decided to advocate the “rule of law”. Spare me.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Brynn: No one has ever suggested that the leaked documents are not authentic. Therefore, it appears that our government needs to protect us from the truth. Apparently truth is a dangerous thing. Who knows how we might change the way we run our country if we were better informed?

      And yes, Holder has it all upside down. He, Barack Obama and the rest of the Administration are retchingly obeisant to a tiny group of money-drenched power-mongering people and organizations who keep money and power flowing their way thanks to the veil of secrecy and thanks to the corporate media bullhorn they control. All of this is being done at the expense of We The People.

      I can guarantee that Holder and his clever attorneys are spending many creative hours trying to figure out how to twist federal criminal laws and the First Amendment such that Julian Assange can be locked up as a terrorist criminal. I can just imagine him talking to his staff: "How do we best construe "freedom of speech" to mean "lack of freedom of speech?"

      The prosecution of Assange is a slippery slope. If successful, throwing Assange will shut down all meaningful investigative journalism regarding the massive corruption of our government. That means that the relatively few big news organizations that do investigative journalism will be gagged. That means that you and I would need to think thrice before posting primary content of a whistle-blower who bases his/her story of the ever-increasing amount of information that our federal government has self-servingly decreed to be "secret." Or if we do break a whistle-blower's story, we will need to make certain that we are prepared to spend many thousands of dollars to defend ourselves in court. Not free speech at its best.

      Have you seen that The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence has awarded Julian Assange its annual award?

      The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence profession exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.


      And note that Ron Paul is not afraid to speak up in defense of the goals of Wikileaks, even though he has not openly supported Wikileaks. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/10/ron-paul

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    This is outrageous. The Air Force is blocking access to sites (such as the New York Times and Britain's Guardian) that have published Wikileaks cables. Fascinating, that our government is working so hard to protect people from information that appears to be true.

    It makes you wonder. If I were a reporter for the NYT, I would absolutely assume that the federal government is reading all of my email and monitoring all of my phone calls. What the hell is probable cause these days?


  7. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Erich: does that mean that you are currently operating under the assumption that the federal government is not reading your emails and monitoring your phone calls? How naive of you, if that's the case. Given the number of disparate issues you are involved in, as well as your willingness to speak out, I'd say it's more than likely the case that you are under some form of surveillance.

    Here are some of the groups that we now know are under surveillance, justified by using the ubiquitous label of "terrorism":

    Non-violent anti-war demonstrators

    -Those who oppose natural gas drilling and "fracking" based on environmental concerns.

    -Those who exercise their first-amendment rights of free speech or freedom of assembly. Those who take photographs in public (Erich- your interest in photography is suspicious!)

    -Users of credit cards, store loyalty cards, etc…

    -Users of the internet– including (but not limited to) Facebook, Google, Twitter, blogs, Youtube, Amazon, etc… (see here, here, or here for details.

    AT&T telephone customers

    -Literally every single person for whom a wiretapping request is submitted. Not a single wiretapping request was turned down in 2009.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Brynn: I'm an open book, as you've noted. I would imagine that I am the type of person the federal government would want to watch because it is now a paranoid and war-mongering government that doesn't even pretend that the Power of governing should flow uphill from the people. But then again, there are millions of people out there much like me (though many of them are not as outspoken). How many of us outspoken sorts do "they" have time to monitor? I figure they write off most of us as harmless ranters. Where they will intervene is when we start successfully gathering massive of people into some sort of coordinated whole that threatens the big corrupt party that has been going on in Washington DC. That would be hard to do, even though this website averages 6,000 visitors per day, it is nothing like the potential (and largely unused) power of the mass media. When the NYT publishes Wikileaks cables, the federal government gets really paranoid and shuts down access for government personnel and starts dropping hints that releasing this information is criminal. How's that for an incentive to self-gag if you are the NYT or one of its reporters? How willing are you to go to prison for many years, depriving yourself of seeing your family and friends, in order to let the world know that our corrupt government is really and truly corrupt?

      Ironic that you suggest that I'm probably spied on, since we are quite similar in the types of ideas we express.

  8. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Erich: good points, but I think you're wrong to limit it to the mainstream media. As you point out above, if what Wikileaks has done is criminal, then so is what the New York Times and others have done. It wouldn't take much of stretch in Patriot-Act America to criminalize any dissemination of these cables or future leaks– whether that's done by Wikileaks, the New York Times, or a blog. Purely in the interests of "national security", of course.

    Orwell said "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." Revolutionary acts are rarely met with favor by the powers-that-be. I don't know how willing any of us would be to "publish" (online or otherwise), given those kinds of constraints. How willing would YOU be to let the world know how corrupt our government really is?

    It's not ironic for me to suggest that at all– you'll notice I didn't exempt myself from being spied on either. In America today, I wouldn't exempt anyone. Those who speak out merit a larger dossier, that's all.

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    And now we hear that Bradley Manning, who has not been convicted of any crime is being tortured at the Marine brig in Quantico. He is being kept in solitary confinement with no access to a pillow or sheets, no exercise, forced to sit in a small box except when he is allowed to take a shower. If anyone questions my use of the word "torture," suggest a more accurate characterization of how Manning is being treated.

    This is the military's way of saying "Don't you dare reveal true information about the crap our country is doing."


  10. Rick Massey says:

    Erich: You are right. This doesn't bode well for any of us. It's also scary that while they have said they don't believe Manning is a suicide risk they are treating him as though he were on a suicide watch. While we don't know how many, we do know there have been multiple deaths under "enhanced interrogation" since this gulag mentality shifted into high gear.

    Brynn: I took a look at your posts on this subject. I completely understand your frustration. All of us who get it are experiencing the feeling of despair that things have already gone too far. But you will never know how many are encouraged when they see someone like you point out and document what they know in their gut is right.

  11. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Representative-elect Allen West is calling for censorship (and punishment?– notice the "aiding and abetting" language) of news agencies that publish material Wikileaks has provided. From the Huffington Post:

    Regardless of whether you think it causes any harm, the fact that here is an individual that is not an American citizen first and foremost, for whatever reason gotten his hands on classified American material and put it out there in the public domain. And I think that we also should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled him to do this and also supported him and applauding him for the efforts. So that's kind of aiding and abetting of a serious crime.

  12. Brynn Jacobs says:


    Thanks for your kind words. You are exactly right though– I'm feeling awfully pessimistic, "frustrated", and "despairing", to borrow a few of your words.


    I'm sure you've seen this, but Glenn Greenwald speculates today that the reason they are treating Manning that way is to "encourage" him to testify that Assange conspired with him to get the cables. Otherwise, there is no legal leg for the government to use to attack Wikileaks.

    Whatever else is true, the DOJ seems intent on pressuring Manning to incriminate Assange. It would be bizarre indeed to make a deal with the leaking government employee in order to incriminate the non-government-employee who merely published the classified information. But that may very well at least partially explain (though obviously not remotely justify) why the Government is holding Manning under such repressive conditions: in order to "induce" him to say what they need him to say in order to indict WikiLeaks and Assange.

    However, in typically devastating Greenwald style, he points out that even if Assange encouraged or aided Manning in providing the cables, that is still not materially different from what any other journalist does when trying to get a reluctant source to provide documentation.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Brynn: I had sent Rick a private note earlier today thanking him for his kind words to you. As you know, and as you and I have discussed before, I have periodically seen myself pulled far down as a result of pulling off the veil of government abuses of power. I don't know whether it's any consolation, but there are, indeed, many of us out there who do feel some relief to at least hear someone else clearly voicing our concerns. What's really frustrating is that this latest year's worth of events and revelations has included the following:

      A) Obama is spineless

      B) Media Reform isn't going anywhere but in reverse, even regarding net neutrality;

      C) Campaign finance reform is rocketing in reverse, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.

      What does that leave one with as far as avenues for change? It's all quite frustrating. And what they are doing to Brad Manning is hideous–he hasn't even been convicted of any crime and they are punishing him. There is no doubt in my mind that they are trying to broadcast that they will make one's life miserable if one dares to embarrass the U.S. government, even if the method of embarrassment is to use true information.

      Glenn Greenwald's insights are so often dead-on, and this is no exception. Can you imagine the weight on the back of young Manning. Given examples 1, 2, and 3 above, what other recourse is there other than stark disclosure of fraud and corruption by our government? Manning felt morally compelled to do what he could so that the government would be forced to clean up its act, and now we see that we actually have raging war between our government and the Fourth Estate. It was always a struggle and a dance, but now the stakes have gone way up. It is now de facto illegal to do quality journalism. It all makes me think of China or fill-in-the-blank with your favorite totalitarian state.

      It also makes me think that the U.S. government essentially laughs at journalists big and small, thinking that they have roped off all meaningful avenues for social change. They laugh as we rant in little corners, full well knowing that they have cowed most of the media, and that they have scared the shit out of any future Mannings. They've basically locked our country into a permanent state of war-mongering, which guarantees politicians careers in drumming up nightmares, while soaking up huge contributions from big corporations, many of which now thrive on government money, especially Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and the prison-industrial complex.

      Despite the ominous developments, I have been trying to remind myself to focus on the many little things around me that bring me joy, such as my children, trying to get exercise, playing some music, and laughing at some of the silly stuff I post at this site. In fact, I'm convinced that it's dangerous to focus too much on the big bad stuff, even assuming that it's all true. Hence, my early post on Iris Chang. http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/06/11/exerc

      I risk sounding patronizing, but please do take some time for a brisk walk, a visit with a good friend and a tasty meal. Do what I say that I do, but I actually need to do more of too.

      Back in undergrad I took a Nietzsche course with a philosophy professor I much admired. I once asked him why he didn't commit suicide (one of those questions that philosophers sometimes ask each other). He said that he'd stick around as long as life stayed interesting, and that life was interesting.

      Fair enough. And if anything, life is interesting these days.

      Oh, and here's a glimmer of hope from today's news: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/16/white-ho

  13. Erich,

    A better reason for not committing suicide—killing yourself means They win. Don't let the bastards get you down.

  14. Brynn Jacobs says:


    Thanks, and I appreciate these islands of sanity in a world that's otherwise gone mad. Winter has hit the midwest, and that's probably not helping my dour mood. The hustle and bustle of holidays means that I don't always get time to recharge my introvert batteries, which probably just compounds the problem.

    Thanks for the link to your post on Iris Chang, I hadn't read that before and it does strike a chord with me. Sometimes I suppose I just get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of corruption, misery, and abuse that goes on, much of it in our names.

    When that happens, I try to do as you suggest and take some time for the simple and direct pleasures in life- good food, good friends, and one of my favorites: a news fast. Soon, I'll be doing my best to avoid any news for a week or two. No internet news, no newspapers, no current events. I'm always amazed how much better things look after avoiding the news for a while. Cheers, and thanks for the comments and discussion– I do appreciate it all.

  15. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald, being interviewed by Amy Goodman:

    he’s been held for seven months without being convicted of any crime. And the conditions that I recently discovered he’s being held in are really quite disturbing. And this has been true for the entire seven-month duration of his detention. He is in solitary confinement, and he’s not only in solitary confinement, which means that he’s in a cell alone, but he’s there for 23 out of 24 hours every day. He is released for one hour a day only. So, 23 out of the 24 hours a day he sits alone. He is barred from even doing things like exercising inside of his cell. He’s constantly supervised and monitored, and if he does that, he’s told immediately to stop. There are very strict rules about what he’s even allowed to do inside the cell. Beyond that, he’s being denied just the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, such as a pillow and sheets, and has been denied that without explanation for the entire duration of his visit, as well. And there is a lot of literature and a lot of psychological studies, and even studies done by the U.S. military, that show that prolonged solitary confinement, which is something that the United States does almost more than any other country in the Western world, of the type to which Manning is subjected, can have a very long-term psychological damage, including driving people to insanity and the like. It clearly is cruel and unusual; it’s arguably a form of torture. And given that Manning has never been convicted of anything, unlike the convicts at supermaxes to whom this treatment is normally applied, it’s particularly egregious.


  16. Erich Vieth says:

    More valuable information from Wikileaks:

    Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general to pressure him to drop a $6 billion lawsuit over fraudulent drug tests on Nigerian children. Researchers did not obtain signed consent forms, and medical personnel said Pfizer did not tell parents their children were getting the experimental drug. Eleven children died, and others suffered disabling injuries including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech.


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