You can read a PDF of the original here, in case you find the text that follows too crazy to believe. Keep in mind that these are the people prosecuting a war in Afghanistan, and look at the sense of realism and logic that they possess. Stanley Kubrick could not have done a better job if he had fabricated such a letter for Dr. Strangelove, Part 2.
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
1600 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON D. C 20301 1600
AUG 16 2010
Timothy J. Matusheski, Esq.
P.O. Box 15758
Hattiesburg, MS 39404
Dear Mr. Matusheski:
I understand that you represent yourself to be an attorney for WikiLeaks and that you, on behalf of that organization, sought a conversation with someone in the United States Government to discuss “harm minimization” with respect to some 15,000 U.S. Government classified documents that WikiLeaks is holding and is threatening to make public. In response, I was prepared to speak with you yesterday at 10:00am EDT and convey the position of the Department of Defense. Despite your agreement to be available by telephone yesterday morning, we could not reach you at that time.
The position of the Department of Defense is clear, and it should be conveyed to your client in no uncertain terms:
WikiLeaks is holding the property of the U.S. Government, including classified documents and sensitive national security information that has not been authorized for release. Further, it is the view of the Department of Defense that WikiLeaks obtained this material in circumstances that constitute a violation of United States law, and that as long as WikiLeaks holds this material, the violation of the law is ongoing.
The Secretary of Defense has made clear the damage to our national security by the public release by WikiLeaks of some 76,000 classified documents several weeks ago, and the threat to the lives of coalition forces in Afghanistan and to the lives of local Afghan nationals as a result. As the Secretary has also stated, we know from various sources that our enemies are accessing the WikiLeaks website for the purpose of exploiting WikiLeaks’ illegal and irresponsible actions, to pursue their own terrorist aims.
The threatened release of additional classified documents by WikiLeaks will add to the damage. Among other sensitive items, we believe the classified documents contain, like the first batch of released documents, the names of Afghan nationals who are assisting coalition forces in our efforts to bring about peace and stability in that portion of the world.
Thus, the Department of Defense will not negotiate some “minimized” or “sanitized” version of a release by WikiLeaks of additional U.S. Government classified documents. The Department demands that nothing further be released by WikiLeaks, that all of the U.S. Government classified documents that WikiLeaks has obtained be returned immediately, and that WikiLeaks remove and destroy all of these records from its databases.
Jeh Charles Johnson
- Pentagon Refuses WikiLeaks’ Offer to Help Review Classified War Documents (politicsdaily.com)
- Pentagon says no to ‘sanitized’ WikiLeaks release (alternet.org)
- Pentagon Rebuffs WikiLeaks’ Request for Help (blogs.wsj.com)
- Correspondence From The Pentagon To Wikileaks Surfaces, Confirming They Have Talked (mediaite.com)
- Pentagon denies WikiLeaks talks about documents (sfgate.com)
- WikiLeaks says Pentagon offers Afghan files help (cbc.ca)
12 thoughts on “The Pentagon’s Letter to Wikileaks”
As the government of the United States of America has ceized after the invasion the whole archives of the State of Iraq, a great deal of it were classified, transfered it to the USA and as I have heard lately, some of it was made available at some university for any one who would like to have a look or study or exploit it in some way or another, I would like to paraphrase the second paragraph of Mr.
Charles Johnson as follows:
(The position of the Iraqi People is clear, and it should be conveyed to your client in no uncertain terms:
The US government is holding the property of the Iraqi People, including classified documents and sensitive national security information that has not been authorized for release. Further, it is the view of the Iraqi People that US government obtained this material in circumstances that constitute a violation of United States law and the international law, and that as long as US government holds this material, the violation of the law is ongoing.)
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That letter – you can’t make this stuff up.
WikiLeaks is not subject to U.S. law, so the sword-waggling by the Department of Defense is a lot of hot air.
What about the violations of U.S. and international law by the U.S. itself?
Let’s see – there’s
-kidnapping, torture and holding people without charge in black sites and “extrajudicial” areas like Guantánamo,
-authorization of assassination of non-citizens anywhere in the world and recently of U.S. citizens who are merelysuspected of something, i.e. execution without charges or a trial
-wars of aggression and pre-emptive wars (wars of suspicion?)
-unauthorized wire tapping and other spying, e.g. emails and library records
-destruction of records, including almost all CIA torture tapes
-billions of dollars of taxpayers money unaccounted for
and on, and on, and on.
If the U.S. used locals to help them, then they should have protected their names and activities. I don’t suppose it’s any secret among Afghans as to who’s helping the occupying forces. In other wars at other times, they’d be known as collaborators.
And finally, it’s the activities of the U.S. and NATO forces and U.S. foreign policy that have put their soldiers and Afghan civilians in danger and threatened their own security.
The guys at the Department of Justice have to get out more – or is it stay in more? Do they have any idea how the internet works at all? All the stuff is out there and it’s not coming back.
You are an UNAMERICAN idiot.
Hey, American Idiot, not everyone in the world is American. Haven’t you figured that out yet? The person you’re insulting happens to be Canadian, so you’re almost right: he is non-American. But you’re still an idiot, and it seems you have to be one to so loudly proclaim yourself “American.” Thanks.
These morons have brothers harassing the pirate bay. Here is an example of how they are dealt with :
Many more “legal threats” (lol) and responses of the same kind here :
By the way, you know that my use of a few clips from “Saw” occasioned a complaint from Lionsgate Films over copyright infringement–when I must have used a grand total of 3 minutes of their 103 minute film? YouTube was about to pull it down, I launched a counterclaim, and it remains up but cannot be embedded from YouTube itself (bizarre, pointless).
Ishtar and CM, thanks for the great points you made here. Just a couple of little responses for now.
Ishtar — I have been waiting for someone to raise the parallels between this Wikileaks event and the one we so vigorously discussed and debated here: “Worried about Iraqis writing their own history? Then let’s violate international law, again.” I was certain that someone would show up to call us hypocrites, for praising Wikileaks, yet denouncing the theft of Iraqi documents. I was preparing to discuss the many differences between the two–and the many commonalities. I have been critical of the ethics of Wikileaks in not redacting the names of Afghan civilian informants, but I have not said anything about legality. Maybe this will come up if someone else wants to debate this.
CM, this reminds me: it is now up to the Pentagon to do everything possible to ensure the safety of those named in the documents. The Pentagon says it has a dedicated a team of about 100 persons to comb through the documents for all references and hints of Afghan civilian collaborators. It has refused–as we see above–to do anything to help Wikileaks in the redaction process. That means it is taking full responsibility for those named. I hope that they are quietly, and quickly, rounding up those named and preparing an airlift to the U.S., because clearly those individuals will not be safe as long as they remain in Afghanistan. Like it or not, the U.S. just bought itself a new refugee population. Those Afghans may themselves not want to relocate to the U.S., not all of them anyway, especially as ordinary Americans will likely not know who they are, what they did, and why they are in the U.S., and instead treat them as “jihadis” and “terrorists” to be disparaged, scorned, and marginalized.
That the Pentagon may not be announcing its intentions, if they are the ones I mention above, it might be to avoid a “death race” with the Taleban: where the Taleban go into overdrive killing as many of those named as quickly as possible before U.S. forces can extract them. If the Pentagon is too slow, or does nothing at all, then clearly the deaths of those Afghan civilian collaborators will be the responsibility of the Pentagon, not Wikileaks. Wikileaks did not mandate any action, and the Pentagon is fully capable of taking action.
CM, I wonder also if this letter–which reads like a joke in parts–will furnish ammunition to the many conspiracy theories that are gathering. There are those who now want to insist–with little more than superficial conjecture–that Wikileaks is a “CIA, Mossad front.” I will name names too: Alex Jones, and to some extent Cryptome’s John Young, who has resorted to making increasingly creepy allegations. To have this letter, and say the Pentagon must be joking, furnishes this bit of support (playing the devil’s advocate here): “Of course it is a joke, it is mere theater, designed to convince the gullible masses that there is some conflict between the two parties, who are engaged in pretend opposition.”
Anyway, let me stop here.
UPDATE: Here is an article I just came across that speaks to the last paragraph:
9/11 skeptics say Julian Assange is being manipulated by the CIA
About Assange being manipulated by the CIA, I would like to say this:
As you know the US government has gone to the wars on afghanistan and Iraq, ununited. There are conflicts between the Departments of State and Defense, between CIA and the Pentagon, Between CIA and FBI, etc. Each side would do everything to sabotage, takeover, or overlap the other side’s efforts. So I do not exclude the possiblity that the CIA or any other party of these conflicting clans has taken advantage of Wikileaks to implicate or expose the competing “enemy” inside the US administration.
After reading the article about the 9/11 truthers, my head is starting to hurt. The conspiracies and counter-conspiracies sound like something out of the court of Elizabeth I.
I had wondered about Bradley Manning at first, just because nobody had actually seen him after the WikiLeaks document dump. Was he put there as bait to catch the WikiLeaks crowd? They say they’re charging him for the leak of the helicopter gunship shootings in Iraq but nothing about the documents. But who knows? He remains a complete cypher.
I’m pretty sure the CIA and the Pentagon would love to discredit any whistleblower site and they certainly have the money and manpower to do it, much more so than WikiLeaks.
The problem with the conspiracy theories is that parts of them could be true. The question is, which parts? That Mossad could be involved doesn’t surprise me at all. Some of them wish that the U.S. would join with them to turn the Middle East into a wasteland, leaving Israel as the last man standing amid a sea of destruction (that’s a very mixed metaphor). Wayne Masden is one that’s convinced of an Israel connection. He’s a former intelligence guy, I think.
Didn’t the CIA (or somebody) try to hack and destroy Cryptome several times? A lot of the documents on that site don’t mean much to me because I don’t know enough about the context but some of the photographs are truly amazing. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.
As Ishtar has mentioned above, the infighting inside and between various U.S. government agencies is truly staggering. The Dept. of Justice seems to be one intent on destroying itself. The FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon are trying to poach on each other’s territory, to say nothing of all the other agencies – I’ve lost count of the number – which have sprung up since 2001.
Robert Fisk wrote an article a while back saying that every time he tried to speak about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he was invariably questioned by truthers who wanted to know what really happened. He had to say he didn’t know what had gone on in NY city – who knew what, who ignored what etc. He was just offering his perspective on the wars. Some say that the delay in releasing of information allowed the conspiracy theories to flourish, others that it took a long time to actually collect and analyze it and it was impossible to release any earlier.
Maybe the US government has just realized exactly how many informers and their families it may be responsible for and don’t have the slightest idea what to do about them, or worse, that they don’t care. Thus the “blood on the hands of WikiLeaks” statements.
If I sound confused, it’s because I am. Ever since that day nearly nine years ago, I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to put together a puzzle that has either missing pieces or pieces from other puzzles that have nothing to do with it.
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