Saturday, December 11, 2010
By John Pilger
December 10, 2010 "The Guardian" -- In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a "war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media". What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where "the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences". Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. "We had a secret weapon," he boasted. "We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media."
Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual". In echoing the west's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war", they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.
At Chicksands in Bedfordshire, the Ministry of Defence's psychological warfare (Psyops) establishment, media trainers devote themselves to the task, immersed in a jargon world of "information dominance", "asymmetric threats" and "cyberthreats". They share premises with those who teach the interrogation methods that have led to a public inquiry into British military torture in Iraq. Disinformation and the barbarity of colonial war have much in common.
Of course, only the jargon is new. In the opening sequence of my film, The War You Don't See, there is reference to a pre-WikiLeaks private conversation in December 1917 between David Lloyd George, Britain's prime minister during much of the first world war, and CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian. "If people really knew the truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."
In the wake of this "war to end all wars", Edward Bernays, a confidante of President Woodrow Wilson, coined the term "public relations" as a euphemism for propaganda "which was given a bad name in the war". In his book, Propaganda (1928), Bernays described PR as "an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country" thanks to "the intelligent manipulation of the masses". This was achieved by "false realities" and their adoption by the media. (One of Bernays's early successes was persuading women to smoke in public. By associating smoking with women's liberation, he achieved headlines that lauded cigarettes as "torches of freedom".)
I began to understand this as a young reporter during the American war in Vietnam. During my first assignment, I saw the results of the bombing of two villages and the use of Napalm B, which continues to burn beneath the skin; many of the victims were children; trees were festooned with body parts. The lament that "these unavoidable tragedies happen in wars" did not explain why virtually the entire population of South Vietnam was at grave risk from the forces of their declared "ally", the United States. PR terms like "pacification" and "collateral damage" became our currency. Almost no reporter used the word "invasion". "Involvement" and later "quagmire" became staples of a news vocabulary that recognised the killing of civilians merely as tragic mistakes and seldom questioned the good intentions of the invaders.
On the walls of the Saigon bureaus of major American news organisations were often displayed horrific photographs that were never published and rarely sent because it was said they were would "sensationalise" the war by upsetting readers and viewers and therefore were not "objective". The My Lai massacre in 1968 was not reported from Vietnam, even though a number of reporters knew about it (and other atrocities like it), but by a freelance in the US, Seymour Hersh. The cover of Newsweek magazine called it an "American tragedy", implying that the invaders were the victims: a purging theme enthusiastically taken up by Hollywood in movies such as The Deer Hunter and Platoon. The war was flawed and tragic, but the cause was essentially noble. Moreover, it was "lost" thanks to the irresponsibility of a hostile, uncensored media.
Although the opposite of the truth, such false realties became the "lessons" learned by the makers of present-day wars and by much of the media. Following Vietnam, "embedding" journalists became central to war policy on both sides of the Atlantic. With honourable exceptions, this succeeded, especially in the US. In March 2003, some 700 embedded reporters and camera crews accompanied the invading American forces in Iraq. Watch their excited reports, and it is the liberation of Europe all over again. The Iraqi people are distant, fleeting bit players; John Wayne had risen again.
A statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down in Baghdad on 9 April 2003. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP The apogee was the victorious entry into Baghdad, and the TV pictures of crowds cheering the felling of a statue of Saddam Hussein. Behind this façade, an American Psyops team successfully manipulated what an ignored US army report describes as a "media circus [with] almost as many reporters as Iraqis". Rageh Omaar, who was there for the BBC, reported on the main evening news: "People have come out welcoming [the Americans], holding up V-signs. This is an image taking place across the whole of the Iraqi capital." In fact, across most of Iraq, largely unreported, the bloody conquest and destruction of a whole society was well under way.
In The War You Don't See, Omaar speaks with admirable frankness. "I didn't really do my job properly," he says. "I'd hold my hand up and say that one didn't press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough." He describes how British military propaganda successfully manipulated coverage of the fall of Basra, which BBC News 24 reported as having fallen "17 times". This coverage, he says, was "a giant echo chamber".
The sheer magnitude of Iraqi suffering in the onslaught had little place in the news. Standing outside 10 Downing St, on the night of the invasion, Andrew Marr, then the BBC's political editor, declared, "[Tony Blair] said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating, and on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right . . ." I asked Marr for an interview, but received no reply. In studies of the television coverage by the University of Wales, Cardiff, and Media Tenor, the BBC's coverage was found to reflect overwhelmingly the government line and that reports of civilian suffering were relegated. Media Tenor places the BBC and America's CBS at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they allotted to opposition to the invasion. "I am perfectly open to the accusation that we were hoodwinked," said Jeremy Paxman, talking about Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction to a group of students last year. "Clearly we were." As a highly paid professional broadcaster, he omitted to say why he was hoodwinked.
Dan Rather, who was the CBS news anchor for 24 years, was less reticent. "There was a fear in every newsroom in America," he told me, "a fear of losing your job . . . the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise." Rather says war has made "stenographers out of us" and that had journalists questioned the deceptions that led to the Iraq war, instead of amplifying them, the invasion would not have happened. This is a view now shared by a number of senior journalists I interviewed in the US.
In Britain, David Rose, whose Observer articles played a major part in falsely linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida and 9/11, gave me a courageous interview in which he said, "I can make no excuses . . . What happened [in Iraq] was a crime, a crime on a very large scale . . ."
"Does that make journalists accomplices?" I asked him.
"Yes . . . unwitting perhaps, but yes."
What is the value of journalists speaking like this? The answer is provided by the great reporter James Cameron, whose brave and revealing filmed report, made with Malcolm Aird, of the bombing of civilians in North Vietnam was banned by the BBC. "If we who are meant to find out what the bastards are up to, if we don't report what we find, if we don't speak up," he told me, "who's going to stop the whole bloody business happening again?"
Cameron could not have imagined a modern phenomenon such as WikiLeaks but he would have surely approved. In the current avalanche of official documents, especially those that describe the secret machinations that lead to war – such as the American mania over Iran – the failure of journalism is rarely noted. And perhaps the reason Julian Assange seems to excite such hostility among journalists serving a variety of "lobbies", those whom George Bush's press spokesman once called "complicit enablers", is that WikiLeaks and its truth-telling shames them. Why has the public had to wait for WikiLeaks to find out how great power really operates? As a leaked 2,000-page Ministry of Defence document reveals, the most effective journalists are those who are regarded in places of power not as embedded or clubbable, but as a "threat". This is the threat of real democracy, whose "currency", said Thomas Jefferson, is "free flowing information".
In my film, I asked Assange how WikiLeaks dealt with the draconian secrecy laws for which Britain is famous. "Well," he said, "when we look at the Official Secrets Act labelled documents, we see a statement that it is an offence to retain the information and it is an offence to destroy the information, so the only possible outcome is that we have to publish the information." These are extraordinary times.
Gareth Porter, Investigative Journalist and Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst discuss Wikileaks
--Gareth Porter says the United States practices "coercive diplomacy" and does not want it to be disclosed to the public.
--Ray McGovern argues that Julian Assange and Wikileaks are the real deal. The documents show at the very least that the United States is no longer interested in the rule of law.
What’s Behind the War on WikiLeaks
By Ray McGovern
December 10, 2010 "Information Clearing House" --WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in.
How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda):
"What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic… After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …
"So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. … The American people should be outraged that [their] government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies."
Odd, isn’t it, that it takes a Pravda commentator to drive home the point that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history.
Some bloodthirsty U.S. politicians even are calling for the murder of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, while some in the U.S. news media favor only prosecuting him and his leakers, while insisting that "responsible" journalists should be protected.
In this view, severe punishment should be reserved for people with access to the government’s dark secrets who out of conscience decide to share that information with the people, a prospect that some pundits find objectionable.
"The government has to get better at keeping secrets," wrote the Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen. "Muzzle the leakers – but not the press."
The corporate-and-government-dominated media appears apprehensive over the challenge that WikiLeaks presents. Perhaps deep down they know, as Dickens put it, "There is nothing so strong … as the simple truth."
As part of the attempt to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange, much of the media commentary over the weekend portrayed Assange’s exposure of classified materials as very different from – and far less laudable than – what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
As a chapter of distant history – and a point of some First Amendment pride for U.S. journalists – the Pentagon Papers case and Ellsberg can now be safely defended. Not the same for WikiLeaks and Assange who today are facing a relentless assault, organized by the U.S. government and its many powerful allies.
But Ellsberg for one strongly rejects the mantra "Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad." He continues:
"That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."
As often is the case amid the pressures of the moment, it is easier for pundits and politicians to go with the flow rather than swim against the current. So they find it convenient to treat the motivations behind the WikiLeaks disclosures as reckless or self-interested. But that’s not what the evidence shows.
WikiLeaks’s reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, "I was actively involved in something that I was completely against."
Rather than simply look the other way, Manning wrote: "I want people to see the truth … because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public," adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates and reform.
There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different.
Though mothers are not the most impartial observers, what Assange’s mother told an Australian newspaper had the ring of truth. "Living by what you believe in and standing up for something is a good thing," she said. "He sees what he is doing as a good thing in the world, fighting baddies, if you like."
That may sound a bit quixotic, but Assange and his associates appear the opposite of benighted. Still, with the Pentagon PR man Geoff Morrell and even Attorney General Eric Holder making thinly disguised threats of extrajudicial steps, it is not totally farfetched to worry about Assange’s personal safely. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)
Again, the media is the key. No one said it better than Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who just before he was assassinated 25 years ago, warned, "The corruption of the press is part of our sad reality, and it reveals the complicity of the oligarchy."
Sadly, that is also true of the media situation in America today.
The big question is not whether Americans can "handle the truth." We believe they can. The challenge is to make the truth available to them in a straightforward way so they can draw their own conclusions — an uphill battle given the dominance of the mainstream media, much of which has joined in the hateful campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.
So far, the question of whether an informed American public could put the country back on an honorable course has been an academic one rather than experience-based, because Americans have had very little access to the truth.
Now, however, with the WikiLeaks disclosures, they do. Indeed, the classified messages from the Army and the State Department released by WikiLeaks are, quite literally, "ground truth."
How to inform American citizens? As a step in that direction, on Oct. 23, we "Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence" (see below) presented our annual award for integrity to Julian Assange.
In contrast to Richard Cohen’s disdain for people inside government who are driven by conscience to reveal crucial information to the public, Assange accepted the honor "on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance."
In presenting the award, we noted that many around the world are deeply indebted to truth-tellers like WikiLeaks and its sources.
A footnote: Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a group of former CIA colleagues and other admirers of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams. We try to hold up his example as a model for those who aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. (For more details, click here.)
Sam did speak truth to power on Vietnam, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a truth-teller exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences. Previous recipients include:
-Coleen Rowley of the FBI
-Katharine Gun of British Intelligence
-Sibel Edmonds of the FBI
-Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan
-Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army
-Frank Grevil, Maj., Danish Army Intelligence
-Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.)
-Julian Assange, WikiLeaks
Reprinted with permission from ConsortiumNews
December 08, 2010 "WSWS" -- Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was jailed in Britain Tuesday on charges that are nothing more than a pretext for an act of political repression dictated by the US government.
The aim of this judicial travesty is, in the first instance, to punish Assange for having made public secret cables exposing crimes and conspiracies carried out by US officials.
Second, by throwing Assange into London’s Wandsworth prison, the US and British authorities hope not only to silence WikiLeaks but also to intimidate anyone else from daring to lift the lid on government secrets and lies.
It is almost certain that the ultimate goal of the shoddy legal frame-up is to have Assange extradited to the United States to be tried as a spy or even as an accomplice of terrorism.
Given the unprecedented and shameful public outcry by leading American politicians and media figures for Assange to be declared an “enemy combatant” or “terrorist” and “taken out” or “assassinated,” not only would his ability to get a fair trial in the US be excluded, but his very survival would be in doubt.
Those leading the campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks are representatives of a government and a ruling establishment that is responsible for decades of criminality carried out behind the backs of the American people—from stolen elections, to illegal wars of aggression, to torture and other acts of international terror.
This is a country that was dragged into a war in Iraq that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives based upon outright lies—reported as fact by an obedient and complicit media—about “weapons of mass destruction” and nonexistent terrorist ties.
This and other crimes have been either concealed or justified by means of propaganda, the invocation of state secrets or outright lying to the public. This is what makes those attacking WikiLeaks hate and fear its work, and what makes this work so vitally necessary.
Last April, the WikiLeaks site made public the “Collateral Murder” videotape, documenting a 2007 massacre in Baghdad carried out by an attack helicopter in which 15 Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists, were killed. Private First Class Bradley Manning was arrested soon after, charged with leaking the video and other documents. He is presently being held in a prison cell in Quantico, Virginia.
This was followed by the release of some 391,000 Afghanistan battlefield reports last July, documenting killings of civilians that had been covered up by the Pentagon, including the mowing down of unarmed demonstrators and assassinations by Special Forces death squads. Then in October, WikiLeaks made available 400,000 battlefield reports from Iraq, documenting more carnage against civilians and the complicity of the US military in horrific forms of torture against Iraqi detainees.
These documents laid bare to the public information that the government had systematically suppressed, with the assistance of a self-censoring media for which being “embedded” has become a permanent state of affairs. They provide ample evidence of war crimes carried out by both the Bush and Obama administrations.
The diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks began releasing last month—with less than 1,000 out of 250,000 thus far published—have already uncovered similar evidence of crimes and conspiracies, from the confirmation of a US missile strike that killed over 50 Yemeni civilians last December, to pressure campaigns to halt prosecutions of US officials for illegal kidnappings and torture, to instructions to US diplomats to gather personal intelligence—including DNA samples—on United Nations and foreign government officials.
Those now baying for Assange’s blood, calling his actions “criminal,” are responsible for real crimes whose victims number in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Not only the Republican right, but “liberal” Democrats have joined in this campaign. Among them is California’s Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, who called in a column published by the Wall Street Journal Tuesday for the prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Feinstein charges Assange—a citizen of Australia—with being indifferent to “national security” and “our vital national interests,” interests that she, as a US senator, a multimillionaire and the wife of a wealthy Pentagon contractor, holds especially dear.
“Mr. Assange claims to be a journalist and would no doubt rely on the First Amendment to defend his actions,” she writes. “But he is no journalist: He is an agitator intent on damaging our government, whose policies he happens to disagree with, regardless of who gets hurt.”
Dismissing claims that WikiLeaks is covered by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech, Feinstein continues, “Just as the First Amendment is not a license to yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, it is also not a license to jeopardize national security.”
The Espionage Act invoked by Feinstein has a long and reactionary history, used to jail the legendary workers’ leader Eugene V. Debs in 1918 along with thousands of members of the Industrial Workers of the World and other working class militants.
The senator articulates the same kind of police-state, lynch-mob spirit that animated that wave of repression. According to the Orwellian logic of the current vendetta, an “agitator” who exposes the crimes of a government engaged in armed aggression and torture is a criminal. And the right to free speech can be suspended by the mere invocation of “national security.”
This will not end with Assange and WikiLeaks. A frontal assault on core democratic rights is being prepared by a ruling elite that lives in fear of the people, concealing its actions and aims because it knows that the policies of social reaction at home and war abroad enjoy no popular support.
The attack on WikiLeaks has been aided and abetted by the cowardly media and by corporations ranging from Amazon to MasterCard, Visa and PayPal, all of which swung into line at the first sign of government intimidation, joining in the campaign to silence the Internet organization and cut off its funding.
Success in this act of state repression would set the stage for a more far-ranging drive to suppress freedom of the Internet as a whole, shut down other web sites that oppose the policies of the US government, and impose an even tighter veil of secrecy over the operations of the CIA, the Pentagon and the White House.
The financial aristocracy and its political representatives feel an urgent need to impose a stranglehold on the flow of information. They know that the crisis of their economic system and their attempts to impose its full weight on the backs of the working class, both at home and abroad, are creating the conditions for an eruption of class struggles. Depriving such a movement of free information and political perspective is seen as vital by the ruling elite.
This is what makes the launching of an international campaign in defense of WikiLeaks a life-and-death question for working people in every country. Mass protests and movements of solidarity must be organized to demand the immediate release of Julian Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning (editor's bold emphasis throughout) and an end to the campaign of intimidation and repression against WikiLeaks.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 10:42 AM
LONDON - Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks Web site whose release of sensitive U.S. documents on the Internet has generated outrage and embarrassment in official circles, was denied bail Tuesday after he was arrested by British police on a Swedish warrant for alleged sex crimes.
During an afternoon court appearance, British Judge Howard Riddle told Assange there were "substantial grounds" to believe that he would not show up for further proceedings. The judge ordered Assange held pending an extradition hearing.
When Assange was asked whether he understood that he could consent to extradition to Sweden, he told Riddle, "I understand that, and I do not consent."
Assange, accompanied by his lawyer, arrived at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London on Tuesday afternoon after turning himself in to Scotland Yard at 9:30 a.m. local time. A scrum of reporters, mixed with supporters holding placards, jammed the street outside. Assange's lawyers requested that he be freed on bail pending the result of the extradition proceedings, which could potentially take weeks.
Assange has said he intends to fight extradition to Sweden, where he is being sought for questioning related to allegations of sexual assault against two women. Assange and his supporters have denied the accusations, calling them part of an elaborate plot to silence WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks officials, in a Twitter message, said the arrest would not hinder further dissemination of sensitive documents.
"Today's actions against our editor-in-chief Julian Assange won't affect our operations: we will release more cables tonight as normal," the message said.
Since publication of the latest round of documents began last week, pressure has mounted on Assange, who was being sought internationally on an Interpol warrant, and on WikiLeaks itself, which is in a global battle to keep its financial and distribution system intact.
Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, had been in hiding for weeks. In a video statement to the BBC, Assange's attorney, Mark Stephens, said Scotland Yard notified him late Monday that a valid Swedish arrest warrant had been delivered to British authorities and that Stockholm was seeking his extradition. Under European law, extradition between two European Union members - such as Britain and Sweden - is a faster, less legally complicated process, making any bid to overturn the extradition request difficult.
Stephens told the BBC, "It's about time we got to the end of the day and we got some truth, justice and rule of law. Julian Assange has been the one in hot pursuit to vindicate himself to clear his good name."
His arrest comes as U.S. officials continue to investigate whether Assange can be charged in the United States for crimes related to the WikiLeaks release of sensitive documents. U.S. officials expressed outrage Monday after WikiLeaks released a State Department cable that listed sites worldwide whose "loss" could "critically impact" the health, communications, economy or security of the United States. In addition to listing dams, bridges and mines, the cable identified specific factories that are key producers of vaccines and weapons parts.
The release of the list "is really irresponsible. It is tantamount to giving a group like al-Qaeda a targeting list," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
In a warning to Swedish and U.S. authorities, however, Stephens said this weekend that his client was prepared to retaliate if charged. He said Assange might release the secret code - with a 256-bit encryption key - of a massive file quietly distributed this summer that contains thousands of unredacted documents.
The allegations against Assange in Sweden stem from a trip he took there in August, during which he had brief relationships with two women, engaging in what he has since described as consensual sex.
Both women, according to Swedish authorities, have conceded that sex with Assange started as consensual but allege that it later became nonconsensual. If convicted on the most serious charges against him, Assange faces up to four years in prison.
Monday, December 6, 2010
By Stephen C. Webster
The Raw Story
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 -- 12:09 pm
Reacting to Raw Story exclusive, Horton tells Fox that Americans 'oughtta be really upset'
By declaring they'd wage a war against Iran by themselves, the nation of Israel is effectively "blackmailing" the United States into combat operations, according to a radio host who appeared on Fox Business Monday night.
Scott Horton, the Los Angeles radio host behind Antiwar.com, told Fox Business host Judge Napolitano that revelations contained within the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables revealed Israel's aggressive strategy for regime change in Iran.
These revelations were first detailed in an exclusive investigative feature published Monday by Raw Story.
"I think what emerges most [from the leaks] is the arrogance of the American empire and the people who run it, whether it's the previous administration or this one," Horton said. "The way they look down on everyone in the world, it's certainly not the attitude you'd expect from a humble, commercial republic."
"There are some really outrageous things in these documents, " he continued. "Things that oughtta get the American people really upset. For example, the Israelis are shown to push, continually, to get the United States into a war with Iran. There's one State Department document from August of 2007, where Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, is telling Assistant Secretary of State [R. Nicholas] Burns that even though the CIA's assessment of Iran's nuclear program and our's, that is Israel's, are different -- and, we have our deadline. If you don't go ahead and attack, we will."
"That's really blackmail, right there. Of course, if the United States wanted to start a war with Iran, they could at least do it their way, but if Israel starts a war with Iran, America will be involved no matter what. We'll just -- he's basically threatening to drag us in, kicking and screaming."
"Of course, we have thousands of troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have the fleet in the Persian Gulf that are greatly at risk in any real war with Iran."
Horton also noted that criticism of WikiLeaks -- saying they've endangered lives by releasing this information -- is transparently disingenuous.
"Secretary of Defense Gates admitted in a letter to Senator Levin that no one has died -- there's no evidence that there's any blood on WikiLeaks' hands. There's blood on the hands of the American Pentagon and the American State Department that are waging these wars around the world. It's not the truth that hurts, Judge. It's what the truth is about, the real story: that's what hurts them. They're not worried about blood. They're worried about pink slips."
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appeared on Napolitano's Fox show before. In the same episode, the host jeered Rep. Peter King, who recently called for the US to designate WikiLeaks a "foreign terrorist organization."
"They’re mad at Wikileaks?" Napolitano asked, appearing on Shepard Smith's Fox News show, Studio B. "That it’s a terrorist organization? What the hell? Come on."
David Edwards contributed to this report.
The Digest HERE...
October 18, 2010
WOODWARD UPDATE: THE POST AND THE GENERALS
Bob Woodward’s affect is that of a human tape recorder. He claims that he is no more than a passive chronicler of events. Yet he has played a significant role in the unfolding history he reports, from Watergate on down to the leak of General McChrystal’s memo pushing for increased troop strength in Afghanistan. (See my earlier post, Obama’s Wars: the Real Story Bob Woodward Won’t Tell).
Well, here he goes again. Woodward’s new book has caused yet another event: the forced resignation of his inside source and patron, General James Jones, who had been Obama’s National Security Adviser. Jones had taken Woodward with him to Afghanistan on the trip to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, the commander in that theatre. Later on, McChrystal’s secret memo, essentially warning that the president, like LBJ in another era, had no choice but to massively escalate, appeared in a Woodward article.
McChrystal ended up being forced out of his position for critical remarks about Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden. Now, Jones, whose perspective is amply represented in Woodward’s book, has himself been ousted.
Why doesn’t Woodward report on how this power struggle between Obama and the military is being influenced by his own reporting-and explain why these generals are willing to keep dealing with him if the result is that they themselves are jettisoned? Why would they do so unless their criticisms of Obama are themselves sanctioned as part of an organized effort to push Obama — something deemed so important that powerful military figures have to fall on their swords? (If you think McChrystal’s remarks to Rolling Stone that “got him in trouble” were accidental-read these comments from the editor of that piece to Charlie Rose on how McChrystal and his team knew they were speaking on the record.)
ERIC BATES: This is not the interview where somebody forgot the
reporter laid down his notebook and it was an off-the-cuff comment. These were comments over a period of days and weeks, oftentimes repeated, in a culture there that was clearly like this. They began within five hours of our reporter arriving. Within five hours of arriving in Paris, they were referring to Joe Biden as Joe “Bite me,” saying those kinds of things openly in front –
CHARLIE ROSE: And never saying to your reporter “This is off the record. You cannot print this, I’m being open with you to give you a sense of the tone.”
ERIC BATES: Absolutely not.
CHARLIE ROSE: “But do not under any circumstances print this.”
ERIC BATES: Absolutely not. They were very specific in interviews when they wanted something not attributed to them or when something was only for background and couldn’t be repeated at all. It was very clear they knew the ground rules as well as journalists do, and we abided and respected their wishes.
It is not like McChrystal suffered inordinately. As noted in the blog post General McChrystal’s New Job: Dig a Bit, Please, a wealthy individual immediately created a nice place for the general at Yale. It’s a sure bet that Jones, too, will land on his feet, with a nice military pension, a platform for his views — and perhaps some lucrative earning opportunities in the vast private military contracting sector with such a financial stake in America’s perpetual role in foreign hostilities.
Woodward continues on his book’s victory lap, but you rarely if ever see major media figures pressing him as to his central role in this shadow play.
Meanwhile, Woodward’s paper, the Washington Post, which has benefited tremendously from Woodward’s celebrity ever since Watergate, downplays Woodward’s precise role in all of this.
“Jones made clear that he intended to serve no more than two years. But several administration officials said Friday that his departure was accelerated by the publication of Bob Woodward’s book titled “ Obama’s Wars,” which portrayed Jones as a deeply unhappy figure often on the edge of important policy decisions.”
So, according to this, Jones was unhappy at being marginalized, and therefore left of his own volition. What the Post does not do is address the close relationship between Jones and Woodward, and how that itself would have angered Obama (again, see the blog post below for more on that.)
The New York Times, with no stake in Woodward though a dedicated reticence to openly explore the nature of his work, notes that
Hastening General Jones’s departure, two administration officials said, were the quotes attributed to the general in Mr. Woodward’s book, in which he complained about being shut out of White House political debates by Mr. Obama’s political advisers.
“They were very quotable lines,” a senior White House official said Friday.
The Times was even firmer on this point in another, earlier, iteration by David Sanger, the co-author of the piece containing the above passage. In the earlier piece, he styled it thusly:
General Jones’s departure had been long rumored, and he had previously indicated to his staff that he intended to leave by the end of the year. But the schedule was accelerated, and in recent weeks White House staff members had been increasingly critical of General Jones for statements that he apparently made to Bob Woodward, the author of “Obama’s Wars,” an account of the internal decision making on policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
None of this in the Post. Meanwhile, Woodward’s own past service in the military before becoming a reporter, certainly never appears in Post articles — though we definitely deserve more study of his role in top secret capacities and as briefing officer for some of the most powerful figures in the Navy and Nixon White House prior to his apparently obtaining an unusual early release from service. We also need to know more about the fact that his reporting, even while portraying military leaders as disgruntled toward civilian leaders, almost always has the effect of strengthening the hand of the military. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout) We can hardly expect the Post to issue a disclaimer on the work of its own star. But this points to a broader and chronic problem at the Post — the failure to acknowledge its own role on the Washington scene, and how many events there are orchestrated with the media audience in mind.
So who’s using whom? It’s a situation that benefits multiple parties — the newspaper, Woodward, and the generals. Whether it benefits the public is something else entirely.
Russ Baker is certainly not the first researcher to intimate that Bob Woodard is a US intelligence agent/cut-out/contract agent etc. It would go a long way to explaining his extremely unusual access to the upper echelon of the Defense/Intelligence establishment. Given the known control the CIA exerts over the media, what better way to propagate and control the desired message?
--Dr. J. P. Hubert
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News
The WikiLeaks website is struggling to stay online just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure.
The U.S. State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government employees not to read the cables, even at home.
"These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States," said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. We host a debate between Steven Aftergood, a transparency advocate who has become a leading critic of WikiLeaks, and Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and legal blogger for Salon.com.
JUAN GONZALEZ: WikiLeaks is under attack. The whistelblowing group’s website has effectively been killed just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure. Wikileaks.org went offline this morning for the third time this week in what the Guardian newspaper is calling "the biggest threat to its online presence yet."
A California-based internet hosting provider called EveryDNS dropped WikiLeaks last night, late last night. The company says it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers from being affected by the intense cyber attacks targeted at WikiLeaks.
This morning, WikiLeaks—and the massive trove of secret diplomatic cables it has been publishing since Sunday—was only accessible online through a string of digits known as a DNS address.
Earlier this week, Joe Lieberman, the chair of the Senate committee on Homeland Security, called for any organization helping to sustain WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them.
Meanwhile, the State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government workers not to read the cables, even at home.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told The Guardian the developments are an example of the, quote, "privatization of state censorship." Assange said, quote, "These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States."
AMY GOODMAN: Just what is WikiLeaks’ mission? On its website, the group says, quote, "WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public." The website goes on, "We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices," unquote.
But not all transparency advocates support what WikiLeaks is doing. Today we’ll host a debate. Steven Aftergood is one of the most prominent critics of WikiLeaks and one of the most prominent transparency advocates. He’s the director of the government secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists. He runs the Secrecy News project, which routinely posts non-public documents. He is joining us from Washington, D.C. We’re also joined by Glenn Greenwald. He’s a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com who’s supportive of WikiLeaks. He’s joining us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Why don’t we begin with Steven Aftergood? You have been a fierce proponent of transparency, yet you are a critic of WikiLeaks. Why?
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: I’m all for the exposure of corruption, including classified corruption. And to the extent that WikiLeaks has done that, I support its actions. The problem is, it has done a lot more than that, much of which is problematic. It has invaded personal privacy. It has published libelous material. It has violated intellectual property rights. And above all, it has launched a sweeping attack not simply on corruption, but on secrecy itself. And I think that’s both a strategic and a tactical error. It’s a strategic error because some secrecy is perfectly legitimate and desirable. It’s a tactical error because it has unleashed a furious response from the U.S. government and other governments that I fear is likely to harm the interests of a lot of other people besides WikiLeaks who are concerned with open government.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And when you say—when you list some of the main errors that the organization has made, could you give some examples of what to you are most troubling, when you talk about the invasion of privacy rights and other—and the others that you’ve listed?
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: Last year, WikiLeaks published a thousand-page raw police investigative file from Belgium, investigating a case of child abuse and murder. And as one would expect, the police file included lots of unsubstantiated allegations that later turned out to be false. But by publishing the raw allegations in their original state, WikiLeaks brought embarrassment and disgrace to people who were in fact innocent. It got to the point where the Belgium government was looking into the possibility of blocking access to WikiLeaks, not as an act of censorship, but as an act of protection against libel.
WikiLeaks has also published what I think is probably the only actual blueprint of a nuclear fission device that has been made available online. It’s not an artist’s concept, but it’s an actual blueprint of a real nuclear weapon that they posted online. I think from a proliferation point of view, that was a terrible mistake.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we want to bring you in before the break with a response.
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. Well, it’s interesting because we led off the segment with you, Amy, detailing a whole variety of repressive actions that are being taken against WikiLeaks. And one of the reasons for that is because people like Steven Aftergood have volunteered themselves and thrust themselves into the spotlight to stand up and say, "I’m a transparency advocate, but I think that what WikiLeaks is doing in so many instances is terrible."
If you look at the overall record of WikiLeaks—and let me just stipulate right upfront that WikiLeaks is a four-year-old organization, four years old. They’re operating completely unchartered territory. Have they made some mistakes and taken some missteps? Absolutely. They’re an imperfect organization. But on the whole, the amount of corruption and injustice in the world that WikiLeaks is exposing, not only in the United States, but around the world, in Peru, in Australia, in Kenya and in West Africa and in Iceland, much—incidents that are not very well known in the United States, but where WikiLeaks single-handedly uncovered very pervasive and systematic improprieties that would not have otherwise been uncovered, on top of all of the grave crimes committed by the United States. There is nobody close to that organization in terms of shining light of what the world’s most powerful factions are doing and in subverting the secrecy regime that is used to spawn all sorts of evils.
And I think the big difference between myself and Steven Aftergood is it is true that WikiLeaks is somewhat of a severe response, but that’s because the problem that we’re confronting is quite severe, as well, this pervasive secrecy regime that the world’s powerful factions use to perpetrate all kinds of wrongdoing. And the types of solutions that Mr. Aftergood has been pursuing in his career, while commendable and nice and achieving very isolated successes here and there, is basically the equivalent of putting little nicks and scratches on an enormous monster. And WikiLeaks is really one of the very few, if not the only group, effectively putting fear into the hearts of the world’s most powerful and corrupt people, and that’s why they deserve, I think, enthusiastic support from anyone who truly believes in transparency, notwithstanding what might be valid, though relatively trivial, criticisms that Mr. Aftergood and a couple of others have been voicing.
AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] to break, and then we’re going to come back to this discussion. We’ve just gotten word from a tweet that the WikiLeaks website is now being hosted in Switzerland, again taken down over the last hours. We are seeing here the WikiLeaks tweet says, "WikiLeaks moves to Switzerland, "http://wikileaks.ch">http://wikileaks.ch." We’ll bring you the latest as we go through this broadcast. We’re speaking with Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com and Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Back with them in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com—he’s joining us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil—and Steven Aftergood, the Federation of American Scientists, joining us from Washington, D.C., debating WikiLeaks and the trove of cables they’ve released. It ultimately will be the largest trove of U.S. diplomatic cables ever leaked in U.S. history, following the largest trove of government documents ever released in the Iraq war cables, close to 400,000 of those documents. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Steven Aftergood, I’d like to get your response to Glenn Greenwald just before our break and this issue of the fundamental challenge that he believes they are providing to elites all around the world.
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: You know, maybe he’s right, but I don’t think so. I think their theory of political action is extremely primitive. It’s basically throw a lot of stuff out there, and then good things will happen to good people and bad things will happen to bad people. They made a tremendous splash with their Apache helicopter video, showing the killing of people in Baghdad in 2007. But did it lead to a change in the rules of engagement that would prevent a similar event from happening in the future? No. Did it lead to compensation for or reparations for the people who were wounded there? No. It made a big splash, and then we went on to the next big splash. And, you know, again, I could easily be wrong; I often am. Maybe WikiLeaks is going to lead to an avalanche of openness and good government. My concern, though, is the opposite, that it’s going to lead to a new clampdown, new restrictions, more secrecy.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, your response?
GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, I find that standard that he just articulated to be unbelievable and absurd. The idea that WikiLeaks hasn’t single-handedly reformed the United States military’s rule of engagement, and that’s supposed to be some sort of criticism of what it does? I mean, Mr. Aftergood created a big splash back in June after Wikileaks released the Afghanistan war documents, and he made that same argument in response to something I had written when I praised Wikileaks, and he said, "Well, how many wars have WikiLeaks stopped?" How many wars has Mr. Aftergood stopped? How many rules of engagement has he caused to be changed? I mean, it’s not WikiLeaks’s fault or its responsibility that when they show grave injustices to the American people that the citizenry is either indifferent towards those injustices or apathetic towards them. WikiLeaks is devoted to shedding light on what these injustices are, and it’s then our responsibility to go about and do something about them.
Again, they’re a four-year-old organization. And they have led to all sorts of important reforms. I mean, in Iceland, WikiLeaks was basically the single-handed cause of a new law that is designed to protect whistleblowing and whistleblowing sites like WikiLeaks beyond anything else that exists in the world. Their exposure of corruption on the part of a Iceland’s biggest banks, that led to the financial meltdown, led to investigations and prosecutions. The same thing happened to exposure of injustices and corruption on the part of oil magnates in Peru. They exposed the Australian government’s efforts to target websites to be shut down under a program designed to target child pornography, when in reality the sites that were targeted were political sites. And in Spain this week, the headlines are dominated by documents that WikiLeaks released that you, Amy, covered two days ago with Harper’s Scott Horton about the fact of the Spanish government’s succumb to pressure by the American State Department not to investigate the torture of its own citizens and the death of a Spanish photojournalist in Iraq, because WikiLeaks exposed that. And so you see all over the world, in just a short history of four years, immense amounts of reforms and greater awareness of what political and financial elites are doing around the world. I think he’s imposing on them an absurd and unreasonable standard that he, himself, and essentially nobody else is able to meet, either.
AMY GOODMAN: Steven Aftergood, how would you—what would you say the difference is between WikiLeaks and your own newsletter, Secrecy News?
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: I mean, there are several obvious differences in scope and scale and distribution. From my point of view, WikiLeaks is poorly focused in order to achieve its objective. And let me say, of course, I supported the release of the Apache helicopter video. I started out by saying that I favor the unauthorized disclosure of classified information that reveals corruption. It’s very hard, evidently, to say both good and bad things about WikiLeaks. People want you to say only one or the other.
But yesterday, Der Spiegel reported that a member, an official from the Free Democratic Party, had been relieved of his duties after he was identified as one of the persons who provided documents to the U.S. government in one of the WikiLeaks cables. Does that advance the public interest? WikiLeaks might call that a victory for open government, but I think it’s regrettable. I think if it’s multiplied dozens or hundreds of thousands of times over, it does real damage to the conduct of American diplomacy and to the national interest. So, just on principle, I oppose that kind of cavalier approach to disclosure.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Glenn Greenwald, your response?
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. Well, actually, WikiLeaks does not have a cavalier or indiscriminate approach to disclosure, contrary to accusations often made against it. They’ve certainly made mistakes in the past. I criticize them, for instance, for exercising insufficient care in redacting the names of various Afghan citizens who cooperated with the United States military. They accepted responsibility for that, and in subsequent releases, including in the Iraq document disclosures, they were very careful about redacting those names. And in the current diplomatic cable disclosure, thus far on their website, the only documents that have been posted were cables that were already published by their newspaper partners such as The Guardian and the New York Times and Der Spiegel, which included the redactions that those newspapers applied to those documents to protect the names of various people who are innocent and otherwise might be harmed in an inadvertent way. So they are constantly increasing their safeguards and their scrutiny. They’re perfecting their procedures. They acknowledge the responsibility that they have.
But what they—what I think is the crucial point is, is that, again, I mean, you know, what I hear from him speaking, it’s sort of like if you had a surgeon who had a cancer patient riddled with tumors and was removing huge tumors, this complaint, "Well, there was an ingrown toenail that he left and didn’t extract that very well." And just the more—no matter what you say, they just keep focusing on those relatively trivial flaws. I think that, you know, in order to criticize WikiLeaks—and it’s legitimate to do so—if you don’t think that their approach to bringing transparency and subverting the secrecy regime is an effective one or a commendable or noble one, you’re obligated to say what the alternative is, not in some fantasy world, but in the real world. And I don’t see one.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Glenn, I’d like to ask you, because the focus of so much of this is in killing the messenger and not dealing with the messages that are being released here. First of all, the comment on just the fact that as the internet and computerization of information has grown, it has made it easier for folks to download troves of information about an institution or a government, so that our societies have not dealt with this other side of the internet and computerization. And also, if this information was so secret, why did the government do such an amateurish job of protecting supposedly vital information that a—supposedly a PFC, as they suspect, downloaded so much of this critical information about Afghanistan, Iraq and even diplomatic cables?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think that’s really—that last point is one of the critical issues, which is, the reality is that of all the hundreds of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of pages that WikiLeaks has released just in the last six months alone, a tiny portion of it is even interesting, let alone legitimately secret. And that underscores one of the real problems, is that the secrecy regime that we’re talking about is just—is not just a little bit excessive on the margins. What it means is that the government, the United States government, and all of its permanent national security state institutions reflexively do virtually everything behind a shield of secrecy. Essentially, the presumption is that whatever the government does in our name is secret, when the presumption is supposed to be the opposite. And you see that as clearly as you possibly can in these leaks, how much innocuous information is simply marked and stamped "secret."
And the reason that there’s not many safeguards placed on it is because what WikiLeaks is releasing—and I think this is so important—is that, you know, despite how much corruption and wrongdoing and impropriety and criminality it has revealed, this is really the lowest level of secrecy that the United States government has. The truly awful things exist on a far higher level of secrecy, at the top-secret level or even above. And it is true that if the United States government’s claim is correct, that what WikiLeaks has done has jeopardized so much that’s good and important in the world, a lot of the blame lies with the United States and the government and the military for not having safeguarded it more securely.
And the first question that you asked is, I think, critical, too, which is, we can debate WikiLeaks all we want, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, because the technology that exists is inevitably going to subvert these institutions’ secrecy regimes. It’s too easy to take massive amounts of secret and dump it on the internet. You know longer need the New York Times or the network news to agree. And I think that what we’re talking about is inevitable, whether people like Steven Aftergood or Joe Lieberman or others like it or not.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to get Steven Aftergood’s response, but first, here on Democracy Now!, we’ve conducted three extensive interviews with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The archives of the interview are on our website. But I wanted to play for you part of what he told us in July on government transparency.
JULIAN ASSANGE: We have clearly stated motives, but they are not antiwar motives. We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. And that is our sort of modus operandi behind our whole organization, is to get out suppressed information into the public, where the press and the public and our nation’s politics can work on it to produce better outcomes.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Julian Assange on Democracy Now! Yesterday, NBC News highlighted Democracy Now!’s interview yesterday with his attorney. And we are linking to all of this on our website. She says that Julian Assange is not in hiding from the authorities—they are contacting him through his lawyers—but in hiding from harm, that this character assassination, the possibility that could lead to an actual real one. Steven Aftergood, your response to what Assange said and Glenn Greenwald before that?
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: Well, I actually agree with everything that Assange said in that statement. What I don’t agree with is that it’s an accurate characterization of what WikiLeaks has done.
Glenn Greenwald had a lot to say. Let me just mention a couple of things. I don’t believe that it’s a choice between the WikiLeaks approach and giving up. This year, for the first time, the United States declassified and disclosed the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal. This year, for the first time, the U.S. government issued its first unclassified Nuclear Posture Review Report, the basic statement of nuclear weapons employment policy. This year, for the first time, the U.S. government disclosed the total intelligence budget, including both its civilian and military components. There is an alternative mechanism for progress. In today’s paper, there’s a story about ACLU having uncovered reports of violations of the Freedom—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments. So it’s really not a question of WikiLeaks or nothing. It’s a question of a smart, well-targeted approach or a—you know, a reckless shotgun approach.
My concern about where we—you know, going forward, I basically have two agenda items. In the security review process, I want to try and inject the idea, as Glenn Greenwald said, that overclassification is a problem here and that as we fix the other security measures, we also need to focus on fixing the classification system, reducing the scope of classification sharply. The other agenda item, which WikiLeaks has made more difficult, is to prevent a rewriting of the Espionage Act statutes in order to make them more versatile and useful against both those who disclose classified information and those who publish such information. That is now building up steam, and I think we’re likely to see efforts in that direction in the next Congress.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, let me just say, I mean, you know, I have respect for the work that Steven Aftergood and other transparency activists do in Washington, working within the Congress and other American political institutions to try and bring about incremental reform. I think he’s well intentioned. I think we probably share the same values. The problem is that I just don’t think that his perspective is, A, realistic or, B, sufficiently urgent. I don’t think it’s realistic that the Congress of the United States, now dominated by the Republican Party in the House of Representatives and an extremely conservative Democratic Party in the Senate and led by an administration, the Obama administration, that has actually increased secrecy weapons, including the state secrecy privilege and other forms of immunity designed to shield high-level executive power wrongdoing and lawbreaking from all forms of accountability or judicial review, I think it’s incredibly unrealistic to take an optimistic view that that political system, dominated by those factions, is somehow on the verge of starting to bring about meaningful increases in transparency.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to—
GLENN GREENWALD: And I think it’s insufficiently—go ahead, I’m sorry.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt, because I want to get to some memos that we’ve been getting from around the country that are very important and interesting. University students are being warned about WikiLeaks. An email from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, that we read in headlines, reads—I want to do it again—quote, "Hi students,
"We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.
"The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.
"Regards, Office of Career Services."
That’s the email to Columbia University students at the School of International and Public Affairs.
Now, I want to go on to another memo. Democracy Now! has obtained the text of a memo that’s been sent to employees at USAID. This is to thousands of employees, about reading the recently released WikiLeaks documents, and it comes from the Department of State. They have also warned their own employees. This memo reads, quote, "Any classified information that may have been unlawfully disclosed and released on the Wikileaks web site was not 'declassified' by an appopriate authority and therefore requires continued classification and protection as such from government personnel... Accessing the Wikileaks web site from any computer may be viewed as a violation of the SF-312 agreement... Any discussions concerning the legitimacy of any documents or whether or not they are classified must be conducted within controlled access areas (overseas) or within restricted areas (USAID/Washington)... The documents should not be viewed, downloaded, or stored on your USAID unclassified network computer or home computer; they should not be printed or retransmitted in any fashion."
That was the memo that went out to thousands of employees at USAID. The State Department has warned all their employees, you are not to access WikiLeaks, not only at the State Department, which they’ve blocked, by the way, WikiLeaks, but even on your home computers. Even if you’ve written a cable yourself, one of these cables that are in the trove of the documents, you cannot put your name in to see if that is one of the cables that has been released. This warning is going out throughout not only the government, as we see, but to prospective employees all over the country, even on their home computers. Steven Aftergood, your response?
STEVEN AFTERGOOD: It’s obviously insane. I mean, if they’re not allowed to read the cables on WikiLeaks, they shouldn’t be allowed to read the cables on the New York Times or other sites. It’s obviously ridiculous. You know, this whole "cablegate" was intended as a provocation. Bradley Manning said it would give thousands of diplomats heart attacks. The system has been provoked. It is—you know, it is outrageous. It’s kind of disgusting. The question is, is it good politics? I don’t think so.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Glenn Greenwald, your final response?
GLENN GREENWALD: I think that that response is not one caused by WikiLeaks. I think that response is reflective of what our government is and the egos that prevails. And it’s every bit as severe as it was before WikiLeaks existed. And it’s WikiLeaks that is devoted to subverting it. And I think those memos, those disgustingly repressive and authoritarian memos, and the mindset in them, shows why WikiLeaks is so needed.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to leave it there, and we want to thank Glenn Greenwald, speaking to us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, a legal blogger at Salon.com, and Steven Aftergood of the Federation for American Scientists, for engaging in this debate.