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Why WikiLeaks Must Be Protected

Politics / US Politics Aug 19, 2010 - 05:10 AM GMT

By: Submissions

Politics

John Pilger writes: On 26 July, Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. Wikileaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing for both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times are a fraction.


There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is "hunted down" and "rendered." In Washington, I interviewed a senior Defense Department official and asked, "Can you give a guarantee that the editors of Wikileaks and the editor in chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?" He replied, "It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything." He referred me to the "ongoing criminal investigation" of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to "fatally marginalize" Wikileaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.

On 31 July, the American celebrity reporter Christiane Amanapour interviewed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the ABC network. She invited Gates to describe to her viewers his "anger" at Wikileaks. She echoed the Pentagon line that "this leak has blood on its hands," thereby cueing Gates to find Wikileaks "guilty" of "moral culpability." Such hypocrisy coming from a regime drenched in the blood of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq – as its own files make clear – is apparently not for journalistic inquiry. This is hardly surprising now that a new and fearless form of public accountability, which Wikileaks represents, threatens not only the war-makers but their apologists.

Their current propaganda is that Wikileaks is "irresponsible." Earlier this year, before it released the cockpit video of an American Apache gunship killing 19 civilians in Iraq, including journalists and children, Wikileaks sent people to Baghdad to find the families of the victims in order to prepare them. Prior to the release of last month’s Afghan War Logs, Wikileaks wrote to the White House asking that it identify names that might draw reprisals. There was no reply. More than 15,000 files were withheld and these, says Assange, will not be released until they have been scrutinized "line by line" so that names of those at risk can be deleted.

The pressure on Assange himself seems unrelenting. In his homeland, Australia, the shadow foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has said that if her right-wing coalition wins the general election on 21 August, "appropriate action" will be taken "if an Australian citizen has deliberately undertake an activity that could put at risk the lives of Australian forces in Afghanistan or undermine our operations in any way." The Australian role in Afghanistan, effectively mercenary in the service of Washington, has produced two striking results: the massacre of five children in a village in Oruzgan province and the overwhelming disapproval of the majority of Australians.

Last May, following the release of the Apache footage, Assange had his Australian passport temporarily confiscated when he returned home. The Labor government in Canberra denies it has received requests from Washington to detain him and spy on the Wikileaks network. The Cameron government also denies this. They would, wouldn’t they? Assange, who came to London last month to work on exposing the war logs, has had to leave Britain hastily for, as puts it, "safer climes."

On 16 August, the Guardian, citing Daniel Ellsberg, described the great Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu as "the preeminent hero of the nuclear age." Vanunu, who alerted the world to Israel’s secret nuclear weapons, was kidnapped by the Israelis and incarcerated for 18 years after he was left unprotected by the London Sunday Times, which had published the documents he supplied. In 1983, another heroic whistleblower, Sarah Tisdall, a Foreign Office clerical officer, sent documents to the Guardian that disclosed how the Thatcher government planned to spin the arrival of American cruise missiles in Britain. The Guardian complied with a court order to hand over the documents, and Tisdall went to prison.

In one sense, the Wikileaks revelations shame the dominant section of journalism devoted merely to taking down what cynical and malign power tells it. This is state stenography, not journalism. Look on the Wikileaks site and read a Ministry of Defense document that describes the "threat" of real journalism. And so it should be a threat. Having published skillfully the Wikileaks exposé of a fraudulent war, the Guardian should now give its most powerful and unreserved editorial support to the protection of Julian Assange and his colleagues, whose truth-telling is as important as any in my lifetime.

I like Julian Assange’s dust-dry wit. When I asked him if it was more difficult to publish secret information in Britain, he replied, "When we look at Official Secrets Act labeled documents we see that they state it is offense to retain the information and an offense to destroy the information. So the only possible outcome we have is to publish the information."

www.johnpilger.com

© 2010 Copyright John Pilger - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

Are you kidding?
19 Aug 10, 20:25
19 civilians?

19 civilians? They were carrying weapons... No, I don't mean the cameras that you inevitably assume I am referring to. Go and secure the UNEDITED version and watch the entire thing. Several of the men are carrying weapons.

It seems that there journalists embedded in a unit of Iraqi insurgents, who were armed and operating within blocks of a US-led operation. It's truly terrible that civilians were killed, but to characterize it as "Collateral *Murder*" is nonsensical. Be objective. Go back and watch the entire unedited footage yourself.

Also, while I applaud wikileaks' efforts to prepare the Iraqi families of those related to the people killed in the aforementioned video, they did not exhibit the same care when people's LIVES were at stake, rather than their feelings.

It is now well known that the Taliban have publicly confirmed that they have gone to work finding the names, homes and other identifying characteristics of those brave men and women who took a stand against terrorism in their own country by trying to aid anti-Taliban forces. Their leaked identities *are right now* being used to hunt them down and murder them.

Wikileaks *claims* to have contacted the White House regarding those files prior to their release. Everyone at the White House denies this, and I'd be interested to see the details regarding Wikileaks' claim; eg, was it only made in the aftermath of the popular outcry that put lives in jeopardy? Furthermore, even if they had contacted the White House, if they truly did not receive a reply, that in NO WAY mitigates the responsibility they have to preventing harm that would directly result from their release of the materials.

To quote spider man, "With great power comes great responsibility." In this context, irresponsibility is equivalent to death.


SaulRosenberg
19 Aug 10, 23:13
Previous post approved by DoD

Mission Accomplished, eh?


Paul
20 Aug 10, 16:37
are you kidding

Sorry Captain America. You lost. Again.


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