Those who won’t listen, will feel. With the mainstream media and Pentagon-generated negative publicity of Wikileaks nearing its fourth week, it should be apparent what is rendered absent: any apology from the U.S. military for the civilians it has killed in Afghanistan and Iraq; any discussion of military responsibility for engaging informers whose lives it jeopardized; or any broader discussion of the sheer brutality of U.S. violence against civilians, regularized, institutionalized, and in a just world punishable as war crimes. Given how routine is the dismissal of the majority of citizens of NATO countries who are opposed to the war in Afghanistan, how governments are determined to pursue a war without just cause and without popular support (defending democracy abroad, they say, yet ignoring it at home, as we see), it became absolutely essential that some group, some persons, some network should come forward and do anything possible to shove a stick into the eye of the Pentagon. It was much deserved and long overdue. One is reminded of a televised encounter between Tony Blair and a handful of constituents on the BBC sometime in early 2003, just as Britain was witnessing the biggest street demonstrations in its history, a populace outraged at the naked aggression about to take place against Iraq. Blair was asked how he could go to war when all polls, not to mention that massive throngs in the street–the voters–demanded that he did not do so. “That is a decision for me to make,” was what I recall him answering–and it was a decision that even his legal advisers told him would constitute a crime under international law, the greatest crime of them all in fact. Blair walks free, and he is even a special envoy, rehabilitated much like Barack Obama rehabilitated another war criminal, George W. Bush, sending him to Haiti with Bill Clinton (whose shirt is a useful napkin for Bush to wipe his hands clean after shaking the hands of Haitians). Yet, we are told that Julian Assange is the problem, he should be punished, the story should be all about him, and how Wikileaks “broke the law.”
As far as the Wikileaks story goes, we see the sheer impotence of the Pentagon in doing anything more than suggesting threats, or asserting danger to U.S. troops without as yet demonstrating any. Sweden, in the meantime, has emerged as another Wikileaks “safe haven,” with a party in parliament offering to host its website, and a local paper hiring Julian Assange as a columnist, effectively routing what Fox News had triumphantly declared to be an insufficient lack of Swedish legal protection for Wikileaks.
In the meantime, what one commentator has called a “dogpile” has been taking place, with Amnesty International, other human rights NGOs, Reporters Without Borders, and one wannabe secrecy site/false front choosing to make public statements critical of Wikileaks. We then saw most of them then backing away and issuing near retractions.
I have had my own differences of opinion with some of Wikileaks’ methodology, but like others, I wonder what on earth could lead anyone in the Pentagon, or Fox News (Pentagon Media Department), to even jokingly suggest that we would then be silent or even support any action taken against Wikileaks.
These are some of the more important recent reports and debates we have been tracking concerning Wikileaks from the past week. In addition, various organizations and websites have been created to support the person accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning–and those are listed as well. Finally, I am happy to note that my “War on Wikileaks” article last week in CounterPunch has been translated into Spanish and appears on Spain’s Rebelión, then becoming the basis for a lengthy article in the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.
Sweden as Safe Haven for Wikileaks
Pirate Party to host WikiLeaks servers – The Local
18 August 2010, Sweden
The Swedish Pirate Party confirmed on Tuesday that it has agreed to host a number of new servers located in the country by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. “The Pirate Party will provide bandwidth and hosting to WikiLeaks free of charge as part of its political mission,” the party said in a statement. “We welcome the help provided by the Pirate Party,” Assange was quoted as saying in the statement. “Our organisations share many values and I am looking forward to future ways we can help each other improve the world.”The Swedish Pirate Party, created in 2006 to campaign for more freedom on the Internet, scored a breakthrough in the 2009 European elections by taking 7.1 percent of the vote in the Scandinavian country.
Swedish Pirate Party Agrees to Host WikiLeaks Servers
17 August 2010, Jared Moya
“The contribution of WikiLeaks is tremendously important to the entire world,” says Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Pirate Party, in a statement. “We desire to contribute to any effort that increases transparency and accountability of power in the world.” The Pirate Party will begin providing free bandwidth to the site much as it has already done for Swedish BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay. “This is one of our signatures,” adds Falkvinge. “We don’t just talk. We act. Using our own resources and time, we help change the world rather than pass the buck, commission reports, and avoid responsibility like other politicians.” “We hope that the new Parliament will give serious consideration to further strengthening Sweden’s press protection legislation,” says Assange. “Western democracies are not always as free as one might think, and freedom of the press needs constant vigilance. In particular, we would welcome Sweden copying Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative, something that the Pirate Party also desires.” The Pirate Party, for its part, knows that by hosting WikiLeaks servers the threshold for the confiscation is much, much higher. “If the servers are placed at an ordinary web hotel the threshold is of course already high when it comes to making a raid and removing them,” says Anna Troberg (PP), deputy leader of the Pirate Party. “But the political price for touching the servers of a political party is even higher. So we can offer them some added protection, of which they are in great need.” Some have also argued that WikiLeaks lacks the publishing certificate needed for full press freedom protection in Sweden. Now that The Pirate Party is hosting WikiLeaks the matter is no longer of concern.
DailyTech – Wikileaks Chief to Write Monthly Column in Top Swedish Online Tabloid
15 August 2010, Jason Mick
If one picked a tabloid to write for, they’d be hard pressed to find one more storied than Aftonbladet. The publication was founded in 1830 by Lars Johan Hierta. In its early days it was banned and renamed 26 times by Sweden’s king before he finally gave up and consented to its publication. The publication was among the first tabloids worldwide to jump online, making the transition in 1994. It is consistently ranked among the top five Swedish websites in traffic, along with Swedish-founded torrent-giant The Pirate Bay. There’s a couple of potential reasons why Assange might pick to write for Aftonbladet other than merely a love for tabloid journalism. Wikileaks operates a number of servers in Sweden and is currently seeking a license to get full journalistic protections. An official column in Aftonbladet could help its case.
Swedes Protect WikiLeaks, Hire Assange as Columnist
14 August 2010
Aftonbladet Interview Transcript
Army Analyst Linked to WikiLeaks Hailed as Antiwar Hero | CommonDreams.org
16 August 2010, Michael W. Savage
For antiwar campaigners from Seattle to Iceland, a new name has become a byword for anti-establishment heroism: Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning. Manning has become an instant folk hero to thousands of grass-roots activists around the world….In the logs, Manning said he had seen “incredible things, awful things” in classified government files. It’s “important that it gets out . . . I feel, for some bizarre reason,” he said. Phillip Bailey, an Italian IT specialist living in Croatia, set up a Facebook page to support Manning after he learned of the case. In less than a week, the page had more than 6,000 members. “When I read [Manning] had been arrested, I knew I had to do something to help the guy,” Bailey said. “For me, he has done something really incredible. He did something brave, with a big risk.” Like Bailey, Mike Gogulski, a U.S. citizen living in Slovakia, has never met Manning. He has, nevertheless, set up the Bradley Manning Support Network, a Web site devoted to the cause. “The story grabbed me,” Gogulski said. “It seems to be a new kind of cause. You’ve got a charismatic young whistleblower being linked to what I’ve heard called the story of the decade.” Although most of those who contact the Web site are in the United States, Gogulski said he has also received calls from Spain, Germany, Canada, Australia, Italy and Britain. The group co-coordinating Gogulski’s campaign, Courage to Resist, has developed a line of Manning memorabilia, replete with images of the boyish-looking private. There are “Save Bradley Manning!” badges, posters and T-shirts. The products’ tagline: “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.” Jeff Patterson, head of Courage to Resist, said the group has set an initial goal of $50,000 to support Manning’s defense and has already raised $33,000. The campaign extends beyond the Internet. More than 100 supporters gathered at a hastily organized rally Sunday in Quantico, where Manning is being held at the Marine Corps base. Another took place Thursday night in Oklahoma City, the capital of his home state. Plans are being drawn up for an international day of solidarity. “It is like the story of the boy who cried out that the emperor was wearing no clothes,” said Gerry Condon, president of Seattle’s branch of Veterans for Peace and a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “He’s really becoming a focus that could help revive what has been a somewhat weakened antiwar movement.” Daniel Ellsberg, who was imprisoned for leaking the top-secret Pentagon Papers in 1971, said he felt “great identification” with Manning. “He’s a hero to me,” he said. “I haven’t seen someone make an unauthorized disclosure on this scale, that would lead to serious charges, for 40 years. It seems he believed, as I did, the stakes involved justified that kind of risk.”
Free Bradley Manning
Wikileaks Losing Support from its….Supporters?
Reporters Sans Frontières – “Criticism of Wikileaks is not a call for censorship or support for the war”
17 August 2010
We reaffirm our support for Wikileaks, its work and its founding principles. It is thanks in large part to Wikileaks that the world has seen the failures of the wars waged by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also thanks to Wikileaks that we have seen how the US army deliberately targeted a Reuters crew in Baghdad in July 2007. The video of this tragedy has been posted on our website ever since it was leaked. The controversy has resulted in a real threat to the website of closure in the United States and targeted persecution of its contributors. The US authorities would be very mistaken if they tried to use our criticism as support for a decision to silence Wikileaks. The Obama administration made a serious mistake when it broke its promise to reveal the human, moral and financial cost of the “war against terror” launched by President George W. Bush. Wikileaks has rightly defied this blockade on access to information.
Reporters Sans Frontières – Open letter to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: ‘‘A bad precedent for the Internet’s future”
12 August 2010
But revealing the identity of hundreds of people who collaborated with the coalition in Afghanistan is highly dangerous. It would not be hard for the Taliban and other armed groups to use these documents to draw up a list of people for targeting in deadly revenge attacks….Nonetheless, indiscriminately publishing 92,000 classified reports reflects a real problem of methodology and, therefore, of credibility. Journalistic work involves the selection of information. The argument with which you defend yourself, namely that Wikileaks is not made up of journalists, is not convincing. Wikileaks is an information outlet and, as such, is subject to the same rules of publishing responsibility as any other media.
Probing war crimes in Afghanistan « RAWA News
15 August 2010, IRIN
The leaked US/NATO war documents, however, point to possible war crimes committed by pro-government forces, according to the founder and director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange….Immediately after the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a 10 August report on civilian casualties, the UK-based Amnesty International said the Taliban must be prosecuted for war crimes. “The Taliban and other insurgents are becoming far bolder in their systematic killing of civilians. Targeting of civilians is a war crime, plain and simple” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said in a press release….The leaked US/NATO war documents, however, point to possible war crimes committed by pro-government forces, according to the founder and director of Wikileaks, Julian Assange.
FOXNews.com – WikiLeaks Next Document Dump Losing Support
13 August 2010, Justin Fishel
WASHINGTON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is threatening to release a second set of classified Pentagon documents related to the Afghan war, but fallout from his first document dump has left him with virtually no support. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday accused Assange of seeking more attention for himself and said if Assange chooses to release these documents he’s simply helping the enemy….Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who took questions from sailors in San Diego late Thursday, said if WikiLeaks goes through with this again it will have direct consequences on the battlefield….Nevertheless, the administration is not the only voice calling for Assange to use restraint. A new Fox News opinion dynamics poll shows two thirds of Americans believe WikiLeaks should be condemned for leaking military secrets. Sixty one percent of those polled consider it an act of treason. Even Reporters Without Borders, an organization that fights for international press freedom, sent Assange a letter saying it regrets the “incredible irresponsibility” shown by releasing the initial 77,000 secret war documents. Clothilde Le Coz, a spokesman for Reporters with Borders, told Fox News on Friday “we supported WikiLeaks on many cases and on many things before, but this is going way too far and we can’t support that.” Le Coz said not only does Assange demonstrate a lack of sympathy for the sources and lives he’s putting in danger, but he may give cause for international governments to control content on the Internet.
Wikileaks: Giving Leaks a Bad Name | Secrecy News
16 August 2010, Steven Aftergood
One initial response to Wikileaks’ clumsy disclosure has been to bolster public support of the classification system, which was presumably not the intended result. Sixty-seven percent of respondents polled endorsed the view that “When media outlets release secret government documents relating to the War in Afghanistan [they are] hurting national security,” according to a July 30-31 poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Groups Ask Wikileaks To Censor Civilians’ Names
10 August 2010, Huffington Post
Why WikiLeaks Won’t Stop the War — In These Times
03 August 2010, Noam Chomsky
The War Logs, however valuable, may contribute to the unfortunate and prevailing doctrine that wars are wrong only if they aren’t successful—rather like the Nazis felt after Stalingrad….Democratic societies rely not on force but on propaganda, engineering consent by “necessary illusion” and “emotionally potent oversimplication,” to quote Obama’s favorite philosopher, Reinhold Niebuhr. The battle to control the internal enemy, then, remains highly pertinent—indeed, the future of the war in Afghanistan may hinge on it.
Wikileaks double dares Pentagon hawks • The Register
‘More explosive’ documents just weeks away
16 August 2010, Dan Goodin
“This organization will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group,” Assange told reporters this weekend while in Stockholm. “We proceed cautiously and safely with this material.”
Cyberwar Against Wikileaks? Good Luck With That | Threat Level | Wired.com
13 August 2010, Kevin Poulsen
…a previous U.S.-based effort to wipe WikiLeaks off the internet did not go well. In 2008, federal judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco ordered the WikiLeaks.org domain name seized as part of a lawsuit filed by Julius Baer Bank and Trust, a Swiss bank that suffered a leak of some of its internal documents. Two weeks later the judge admitted he’d acted hastily, and he had the site restored. “There are serious questions of prior restraint, possible violations of the First Amendment,” he said. Even while the order was in effect, WikiLeaks lived on: supporters and free speech advocates distributed the internet IP address of the site, so it could be reached directly. Mirrors of the site were unaffected by the court order, and a copy of the entire WikiLeaks archive of leaked documents circulated freely on the Pirate Bay.
WikiLeaks says it won’t be threatened by Pentagon
14 August 2010, Keith Moore, AP
WikiLeaks will publish its remaining 15,000 Afghan war documents within a month, despite warnings from the U.S. government, the organization’s founder said Saturday. The Pentagon has said that secret information will be even more damaging to security and risk more lives than WikiLeaks’ initial release of some 76,000 war documents. “This organization will not be threatened by the Pentagon or any other group,” Julian Assange told reporters in Stockholm. “We proceed cautiously and safely with this material.” In an interview with The Associated Press, he said that if U.S. defense officials want to be seen as promoting democracy then they “must protect what the United States’ founders considered to be their central value, which is freedom of the press.”…”There are no easy choices for our organization,” Assange said. “We have a duty to the people most directly affected by this material, the people of Afghanistan and the course of this war which is killing hundreds every week. We have a duty to the broader historical record and its accuracy and its integrity. And we have a duty to our sources to try and protect them where we can.”…Assange told the AP that while no country has taken steps to shut down WikiLeaks, some have been gathering intelligence on the organization. “There has been extensive surveillance in Australia, there has been surveillance in the United Kingdom, there has been the detainment of one of our volunteers who entered the United States a week and a half ago. But he was released after four hours,” Assange said. He didn’t give details of that incident.
WikiLeaks preparing to release more Afghan files
13 August 2010, Raphael G. Satter and Anne Flaherty, AP
The Pentagon says it believes it has identified the additional 15,000 classified documents, and said Thursday that their exposure would be even more damaging to the military than what has already been published. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell described the prospective publication as the “height of irresponsibility.” “It would compound a mistake that has already put far too many lives at risk,” he said….Taliban spokesmen have said they would use the material to try to hunt down people who’ve been cooperating with what the Taliban considers a foreign invader. That has aroused the concern of several human rights group operating in Afghanistan — as well as Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which on Thursday accused Wikileaks of recklessness. Jean-Francois Julliard, the group’s secretary-general, said that WikiLeaks showed “incredible irresponsibility” when posting the documents online. “WikiLeaks has in the past played a useful role by making information available … that exposed serious violations of human rights and civil liberties which the Bush administration committed in the name of its war against terror,” Julliard said in an open letter to Assange posted to his group’s website. “But revealing the identity of hundreds of people who collaborated with the coalition in Afghanistan is highly dangerous.” WikiLeaks, through its account on micro-blogging website Twitter, dismissed the letter as “some idiot statement, based on a bunch of quotes we never made.”…Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan dismissed WikiLeaks’ claims that they were reviewing the documents and removing information that could harm civilians. “They don’t have the expertise to determine what might be too sensitive to publish,” he said. As for when the Pentagon expected WikiLeaks to release the documents, Lapan said: “WikiLeaks is about as predictable as North Korea.”
The Associated Press: Australia working with US on WikiLeaks files
13 August 2010, Rod McGuirk, AP
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia is working with the United States to investigate WikiLeak’s publication of thousands of secret Afghan war documents but has not been asked to act against the website’s Australian founder, the foreign minister said Thursday. Australia, which has some 1,550 troops in Afghanistan, launched its own investigation last month into whether the posting online of some 77,000 classified military documents had compromised the national interest or put soldiers in danger. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith was asked by The Associated Press at a public function Thursday whether Australia had been approached by Washington about pursuing possible criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, or about putting restrictions on his travel. “I have not had representations made to me about the matters you refer to,” Smith said. “But quite clearly we’re working closely with the United States on these matters,” Smith said, citing Australia’s Defense Department and the Pentagon as the agencies working together. “These are very serious matters for concern.” Of Assange, Smith said, “I’ve had no applications or request to me in respect of the individual Australian citizen’s passport to whom you refer.” Internet news site The Daily Beast earlier this week cited unnamed American officials saying the U.S. government had asked Britain, Australia, Germany and other allies to consider criminal charges against Assange over the Afghan documents.
WikiLeaks in Baghdad | The Nation
29 July 2010, Sarah Lazare and Ryan Harvey
The three former soldiers say they support the decision to leak these videos to the public. “Avoiding talking about what’s going on is going to make us continue making the same mistakes and not learning our lesson,” insists Stieber. About the most recent WikiLeaks revelations, Stieber says, “People all over the world have been confronted once again with the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” adding that the latest release “confirms what veterans like Ethan, Ray and I, and so many other veteran witnesses, have been talking about.”
Wikileaks Viewed Differently in the Middle East
29 July 2010
Middle East writers and analysts interpret Wikileak disclosures as the “shock and awe” of a war that has been sanitized by the western press. In the Middle East, however the leaks are viewed as far more than the fog of war. They corroborate the daily experiences of civilians in the war zone and point to the need for US troops to abandon Afghanistan. Zaka Syed writes that the Wikileaks disclosures “paint a picture” that is worse than anyone could have imagined, “including the blissfully clueless Americans.” Zakaria comments that, “For ordinary Americans, the Wiki leaks controversy could be the much-awaited wake-up call that would force them to pay attention…” Evan Hill (Aljazeera, July 30, 2010) concludes that “Afghanistan, the reports seem to show, is a place where the citizens themselves have lost much of the ability to shape the events of their own lives.”
The Unrepentant Ones: Pentagon Propaganda
AFP: Petraeus denounces ‘reprehensible’ Wikileaks
16 August 2010, AFP
WASHINGTON — The top US military commander in Afghanistan on Sunday blasted as “reprehensible” the release of Afghan war documents, saying that US partners named in them have been put at risk. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Petraeus said he was not sure what might be in the unreleased documents, but said the files released so far have contained information that compromised people working with the international forces.”As we have looked through it more and more, there are source names and in some cases there are actual names of individuals with whom we have partnered in difficult missions in difficult places. “And obviously, that is very reprehensible.”
FOXNews.com – WikiLeaks Founder Describes Possibility of Casualties as Acceptable Risk
16 August 2010
Any U.S. and allied casualties that result from the publication of classified Afghan war documents would be an acceptable risk, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange suggested Monday, saying “such information is also likely to save a great many lives.”…Assange expressed concern that the U.S. government could force Twitter, where WikiLeaks has a following, to ban his group and said WikiLeaks reportedly has already been placed on a “financial blacklist” in Australia.
WikiLeaks shouldn’t chill info sharing, ex-CIA chief says – Page 1 – Government
04 August 2010, Jaikumar Vijayan
The recent publication of classified military documents on the whistleblower site WikLeaks should not be allowed to chill information sharing that’s been going on within the military and intelligence communities, the former director of the CIA said Tuesday. In an interview, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who led both the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), expressed concern over the potential for knee-jerk restrictions on data sharing in response to the incident. “Senior leadership in the country will have to guard against over-reaction,” Hayden cautioned. “Clearly, we need to be careful. We have to pay more attention to security,” he said. According to Hayden, the incident highlights the risks associated with information sharing that has been going on within the military for sometime. Networks such as the Department of Defense’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet, which Manning is alleged to have accessed, are designed to pass along important information as quickly and efficiently as possible. “You can’t be hierarchical. Information has to be accessible at the node and be available and retrievable in a way as to allow our nodes to be as agile as our enemy,” Hayden said. “We are an information-based military.”…”The worst thing that can happen is an over-reactive policy that locks down and completely stovepipes the intelligence community’s efforts,” Rodriguez said. “It would reverse the success and advancements of information sharing.”
Leaks undermine Afghan support for NATO: UK | Top News | Reuters
05 August 2010
LONDON (Reuters) – A leak of thousands of classified U.S. military documents has damaged the ability of foreign forces to gain the support of Afghans against the Taliban, a British military spokesman said on Thursday. Major-General Gordon Messenger told reporters the leak last month by whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks had not given Taliban insurgents a tactical advantage, but the documents’ disclosure of Afghan contacts could deter further cooperation. “I think the damage that I would highlight is to the Afghans that were named. We rely upon very, very many Afghans who are prepared to nail their colors to the legitimate Afghanistan, and do so sometimes with much courage,” Messenger said. “If we do anything that undermines that trust, that expression of loyalty, then I think that is going to have an impact,” he added.
WikiLeaks risked agents’ lives, U.S. intelligence officials say
28 July 2010, Alex Spillius, Daily Telegraph
The lives of informants and double agents have been placed at risk by the publishing of tens of thousands of secret military documents, U.S. intelligence officials say. Col. Dave Lapan, a U.S. Defence Department spokesman, said the military might need weeks to review all the records to determine “the potential damage to the lives of our service members and coalition partners.”…Robert Riegle, a former senior intelligence officer, said: “It’s possible that someone could get killed in the next few days.”
Following Wikileaks Scandal, National Guard Announces ‘Social Media Guidelines’
14 August 2010, EricMack on Aug 14th, 2010
…there’s also this passage in the official press release that would seem to be aimed directly at would be WikiLeakers:
Posting internal documents or information that the National Guard has not officially released to the public is prohibited, including memos, e-mails, meeting notes, message traffic, white papers, public affairs guidance, pre-decisional materials, investigatory information and proprietary information.
Guard members are also not allowed to release National Guard e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or fax numbers not already authorized for public release.
No Big Deal?
Less Than Meets The Eye to Latest WikiLeaks Threat – Newsweek
13 August 2010
In fact, according to people close to the controversy, the 15,000 Afghan War field reports in question were already made available to the three news organizations, which were free to make journalistic use of anything in the entire archive of 92,000 classified documents to which WikiLeaks had given them access. A second person familiar with WikiLeaks’ media dealings confirms that all three news organizations were given the whole collection of 92,000 documents, including the 15,000 that Assange left out when WikiLeaks posted the other 76,000. According to this source, the Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel used their own judgment as to what they would publish, and the three organizations believe they’re finished with the material now. All the same, the source adds, it’s conceivable that the organizations might look again if and when WikiLeaks posts the remaining documents.