At Democracy Now, Daniel Ellsberg states that war crimes can be viewed in the Iraq helicopter video that was leaked to Wikileaks.
No question in my mind, as I looked at that, that the specific leaked pictures in there of helicopter gunners hunting down and shooting an unarmed man in civilian clothes, clearly wounded, in an area where a squad of American soldiers was about to appear, as the helicopter gunners knew, to take custody of anyone remaining living, that shooting was murder. It was a war crime. Not all killing in war is murder, but a lot of it is. And this was.
According to Ellsberg, who many have credited with helping to bring an end to the Vietnam war, the alleged leaker of that video should not be sitting in prison:
The Time magazine cover gives protester, an anonymous protester, as “Person of the Year,” but it is possible to put a face and a name to that picture of “Person of the Year.” And the American face I would put on that is Private Bradley Manning. The fact is that he is credited by President Obama and the Justice Department, or the Army, actually, with having given WikiLeaks that helicopter picture and other evidence of atrocities and war crimes—and torture, specifically—in Iraq, including in the Obama administration. That, in other words, led to the Tunisian uprising, the occupation in Tunis Square, which has been renamed by—for another face that could go on that picture, Mohamed Bouazizi, who, after the WikiLeaks exposures of corruption, in Tunis, himself, Bouazizi, burned himself alive just one year ago tomorrow, Saturday, December 17th, in protest. And the combination of the WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning exposures in Tunis and the exemplification of that by Mohamed Bouazizi led to the protests, the nonviolent protests, that drove Ben Ali out of power, our ally there who we supported up ’til that moment, and in turn sparked the uprising in Egypt, in Tahrir Square occupation, which immediately stimulated the Occupy Wall Street and the other occupations in the Middle East and elsewhere. So, “Person of the Year,” one of those persons of the year is now sitting in a courthouse in Leavenworth. He deserves the recognition that he’s just gotten in Time. Julian Assange, who published that, another person of the year, I would say, who’s gotten a number of journalistic awards, very much deserve our gratitude. And I hope they will have the effect in liberating us from the lawlessness that we have seen and the corruption—the corruption—that we have seen in this country in the last 10 years and more, which has been no less than that of Tunis and Egypt.
This segment also contains some pathetic spinning of the truth by Adrian Lamo, who turned in Bradley Manning. See, for example, this exchange:
AMY GOODMAN: When the Wired chat transcripts were finally all released in Wired magazine, the transcripts that you said were transcripts of your chat with Bradley Manning, you repeatedly swore that Manning was telling you these things in confidence, as a journalist and a minister. At one point, you said again, “this is not for print.” Why did you then break that assurance that you gave to Bradley Manning?
ADRIAN LAMO: I believe that that is a fallacious interpretation of my words. I offered him the protection of both journalistic shield and clergical protection. And he did not affirmatively accept either. In fact, at one point he said to me, “I am not your source.” So, he did not bring those factors into play.
Wikileaks continues to drop bombshells, even as Julian Assange finds himself on trial. Unfortunately, the news about Assange is overshadowing some of the latest, and most devastating, leaks. Namely, that Saudi Arabia has probably been overstating their reserves– no big surprise to those of us who have been studying peak oil. But where we only had speculation and circumstantial evidence before, now we have confirmation in the form of statements from credible Saudi Arabian authorities.
The first cable deals with a meeting with Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, former Executive Vice President for Exploration and Production at the state-owned Saudi Aramco. It’s almost comical as al-Husseini goes to great lengths to insist that the theory of Peak Oil is wrong, even as he describes it occurring within the kingdom. For example, the cable says:
He stated that the IEA’s expectation that Saudi Arabia and the Middle East will lead the market in reaching global output levels of over 100 million barrels/day is unrealistic, and it is incumbent upon political leaders to begin understanding and preparing for this “inconvenient truth.” Al-Husseini was clear to add that he does not view himself as part of the “peak oil camp,” and does not agree with analysts such as Matthew Simmons. He considers himself optimistic about the future of energy, but pragmatic with regards to what resources are available and what level of production is possible.
On Monday, Rudolph Elmer is said to have turned over to Wikileaks names of US, UK and Asian celebrities, lawmakers and business-folks who may or may not have been trying to avoid paying taxes.
Apparently, the data are confusing even to those used to dealing with such, so release won’t be soon. Still, it will be interesting to see who is in the Heidi Fleiss Black Book of off-shore accounts. Most particularly if there are any prominent (and current) US lawmakers.
Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who is involved in a Kafkaesque ordeal, made the following statement on December 16, 2010:
It’s rather amazing how this interviewer doesn’t want to understand the situation. Maybe she would get it if she had been accused of a terrible crime by the corporate news media, and her name had been smeared across the Internet despite the fact that the prosecutor never actually brought any charges or produced evidence of any crime. Maybe then she would get it. The interviewer also can’t seem to wrap her head around the fact that Assange is likely being smeared by those countries and corporations that are being embarrassed by his devastating leaks of authentic documents.
This is nothing short of Kafkaesque.
Ron Paul gave a brief speech in the House Thursday, December 9th about Wikileaks. You can watch the YouTube embedded in this post, or read Paul’s remarks here.
Paul ended his remarks with the following nine questions:
1. Do the American people deserve to know the truth regarding the ongoing war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
2. Could a larger question be: how can an Army Private gain access to so much secret material?
3. Why is the hostility mostly directed at Assange, the publisher, and not our government’s failure to protect classified information?
4. Are we getting our money’s worth from the $80 billion per year we spend on our intelligence agencies?
5. Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths; lying us into war, or WikiLeaks’ revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
6. If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information, that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the First Amendment and the independence of the internet?
7. Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?
8. Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in the time of a declared war—which is treason—and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death, and corruption?
9. Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it’s wrong?
Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised: “Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.”
“Turn yourself in, Julian Assange.” (Headline in Slate, Dec. 6, 2010)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to British authorities December 7th, 2010.
“Turn yourselves in, Federal Employees.” (Headline in next week’s news?)
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo to agency heads December 3rd, which may result in an order forbidding Federal employees from downloading or viewing Wikileaks documents.
How a government responds to the illegal release of its classified documents is predictable. How an individual struggles over whether to release classified documents is anything but predictable. Christopher Hitchens wrote the following about his own experiences in relation to Britain’s Official Secrets Act.
A democratically elected British Parliament had enacted an Official Secrets Act, which I could be held to have broken. Would I bravely submit to prosecution for my principles? (I was later threatened with imprisonment for another breach of this repressive law, and it was one of the reasons I decided to emigrate to a country that had a First Amendment.)
The 1980s BBC sitcom Yes Minister laid bare the inner workings of the British government through the twin prisms of English humor and focused insight. “Jobs for the Boys,” an episode that mentioned the Official Secrets Act, began by revealing Sir Humphrey Appleby’s need to cover-up a scandal surrounding some of his past financial misdealing. Sir Humphrey was the supremely self-serving, Permanent Secretary to the Department of Administrative Affairs (DAA).
[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.
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.
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: