Posts Tagged wikileaks
I was sitting in a Brooklyn court room last week, listening to police testify for prosecution of freedom fighters who protest NYPD stop-and-frisk. (Later that day charges were dropped by the judge). At the same moment, Bradley Manning was giving a first public statement on releasing documents on U.S. war crimes, including what came to be called the “Collateral Murder” video, the U.S. diplomatic cables, material on indefinite detention in Guantanamo, and Afghan War Diaries and Iraq War Log.
Manning accepted responsibility for some of the charges the US government has made, opening himself to two years prison on each of ten counts. What is most disturbing is the government’s intention to try him on June 1 for the remaining, more serious charges, and to ask for life in prison.
Monitoring my phone on breaks in the trial, we heard via Twitter that Bradley had tried the Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico, before uploading the data to Wikileaks, with the urgent intent of getting the public in the U.S. to engage in a debate about war policy, based on knowing what their government is doing. Alexa O’Brien provided a transcript of the statement Bradley Manning made in military court last week, well worth reading through.
On Collateral Murder, he said of the U.S. military on the ground and in the Apache helicopter in 2007:
Preparations to rally at Ft. Meade, Maryland, site of the trial are being made now. The Bradley Manning Support Committee reports on international support actions February 23, 2013.
They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.
While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew– as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.
What the video depicted was the truth of war. There were completely inhuman things—laughing about killing people, laughing about rolling over dead bodies with tanks. It was just abominable and reprehensible and sickening. When you watch it, it just makes you gasp to hear the language. But this is not an aberration. This is the truth of war. And that’s what we need to convey to people. What Bradley Manning did was a huge service to the world, to let people know the ugly, awful truth of war.
I have no doubt the government will continue to pile on Bradley Manning with all the force they have. That an Army private, so articulate, so clearly out for the benefit of humanity, as opposed to personal gain, could begin a mass public reaction that brought down reactionary governments in the Middle East, and expose the U.S. for its illegitimate use of military force the world over, is dangerous to them. Much more dangerous, than say, CIA torture of thousands or the destruction of whole countries.
Virtually no one is being prosecuted for those crimes; yet, Bradley Manning faces life in prison for exposing them.
Glenn Greenwald, on Democracy Now, captured a lot of what the US is doing to this person of great moral conscience:
This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overkill. The government has never been able to identify any substantial harm that has come from any of the leaks that Bradley Manning is accused of and now admits to being responsible for. Certainly nobody has died as a result of these leaks, even though the government originally said that WikiLeaks and the leaker has blood on their hands. Journalists investigated and found that there was no evidence for that. So, just the very idea that he should spend decades in prison, let alone be faced with life on parole, given what it is that he actually did and the consequences of it, is really remarkable.
But even more specifically, the theory that the government is proceeding on is one that’s really quite radical and menacing. That is, that although he never communicated with, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” which the government has said is al-Qaeda, although there’s no evidence that he intended in any way to benefit al-Qaeda—he could have sold this information, made a great deal of money, had he wanted to. All the evidence indicates that he did it for exactly the reason that he said, with the intent that he said, which was to spark reform and to bring attention to these abuse…
In the chat logs that were published over a year ago with the government informant who turned him in, he said very much the same thing while he thought he was speaking in complete confidence, to somebody who had promised him confidentiality, about what led him on this path, that he had become disillusioned first about the Iraq war when he discovered that people they were detaining weren’t really insurgents but were simply opponents of the Maliki government, and he brought it to his superiors, and they ignored him. He then looked at documents that showed extreme amounts of criminality and deceit and violence, that he could no longer in good conscience participate in concealing. It was really an act of conscience, pure conscience and heroism, that he did, knowing he was sacrificing his liberty.
The government has insulated its conduct from what are supposed to be the legitimate means of accountability and transparency—judicial proceedings, media coverage, FOIA requests—and has really erected this impenetrable wall of secrecy, using what are supposed to be the institutions designed to prevent that. That is what makes whistleblowing all the more imperative. It really is the only remaining avenue that we have to learn about what the government is doing
Speaking for thousands of us who have protested Manning’s trial, from signing petitions to civil disobedience, I think we can say with even more determination now, after hearing him, “FREE Bradley Manning!”
I can’t tell you anymore than this: The Bush regime’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on lies, was illegitimate, unjust, and immoral from the start. Barack Obama’s announcement yesterday that the “war is over” is wrong on so many levels. For those on the ground, the millions in Iraq, and the one million US military sent there, it won’t end.
The wealthiest country and military in the world leaves behind billions of dollars worth of trashed equipment, and civil and physical society in shambles.
A young soldier, Bradley Manning, formerly stationed in Iraq, will begin a court martial Friday at Ft. Meade, because the U.S. military claims he released classified information about the war to Wikileaks.
But today, the New York Times reports that 400 pages of classified documents on the interrogation of U.S. Marines about the notorious massacre of civilians in Haditha, in 2006 were
discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.
Shaun Mullen, a columnist for The Moderate Voice comments
That the true story of the 2005 massacre of 20 Iraqi civilians, including an elderly man in a wheelchair and women and children, has finally come out because an Iraqi was using transcripts of secret interviews with the Marines involved to cook dinner is a fitting coda to a nearly nine-year war that officially ended today.
Says Leon Panetta, current Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration about the war on Iraq
“the cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”
Say what? from 7 of the 8 Iraq veterans CNN interviewed who were deployed to Iraq during the war. Their one sentence pull-outs mirror everything I’ve heard over 8 years:
“I don’t think that the gravity of what we were doing ever really hit me.” Emily Trageser, Army
“We removed one corruption and replaced Saddam with officials who were just as murderous and evil.” Nicholas Panzera, Army
“I lost everything. My wife, my place to live, my friends, and the future I had once seen.” Marc Loiselle, Army
“I have never felt more proud in my life to be a part of something.” Tyler, Army, who is currently in Iraq shutting down bases.
“Although we did depose a dictator, we ruined the country in the process.” Eric Sofge, Army
“The principle excuse to invade Iraq to discover WMD was a non-starter from the get-go.” Jeffrey Tracey, biological weapons inspector
“None of us could see a reason why we were still there. And it just kept going on and on.” Jim Lewandowski, South Dakota National Guard
“I don’t know any soldiers that really have a positive view on any of it.” Spencer Alexander, Army
It’s not over, people. The U.S. is ready to send troops back to Iraq, and will keep thousands on the border of Kuwait. The ceremony is only for public consumption.
I thought Michael Moore had a good idea when he proposed naming Occupy SF after Bradley Manning. Bradley is accused by the U.S. government of leaking to Wikileaks government reports and cables on years of military operations and communications about and with other governments.
He may go before a court martial soon, although there is apparently deep disagreement between different sections of the government over what evidence to let the defense see, and what they will allow to be made public.
Michael’s point is that the “Arab Spring” beginning with the uprising in Tunisia last December, spreading across the Mid East, and continuing now in struggle against highly repressive regimes in Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen, was fueled by revelations posted by Wikileaks. MissionLocal reports
Energizing protesters, he said the origin of the Occupy movement could be traced to Tunisia and the Arab Spring. But the ultimate credit? That belonged to alleged WikiLeaks informant and U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning, whom Moore called the original Occupy instigator for his purported role in leaking thousands of U.S. government cables. Moore even proposed renaming Justin Herman Plaza to Bradley Manning Plaza in his honor.
BradleyManning.org quotes Moore as calling on people to remember the (alleged) contribution of Bradley Manning, saying it’s
“… sad, tragic and criminal that he is still in jail. Has not been charged with a crime or put on trial. Having done a very brave thing, when you draw a line from A to B to C, that we are here in this park today in part to his courage.”
It’s worth thinking about the war crimes revealed, and how putting reality before people really can bring about change in how the perceive injustice, and how they act. Isn’t this what we’ve been working on for years?
Despite the Obama administration’s announcement Friday that U.S. combat troops are finally leaving Iraq — giving rise to the popular perception that “Iraq war is over”– I ask those who are celebrating to consider: where is the joy coming from?
It’s been ten years now since Donald Rumsfeld’s brain went “9/11 = attack Iraq,” apparently minutes after the WTC was hit by airliners. From that moment, when the world’s largest military machine began planning it, through today, after over a million Iraqi deaths, this war and occupation has never been legitimate, just or moral!
Tens of millions of us who care about humanity protested to prevent the Bush regime from getting the coalition it sought to attack Iraq; much of the world was convinced the U.S. was not invading to “save” Iraqis but to advance its own imperial agenda. Our actions did contribute to this loss of legitimacy as the United States military ran into deep geopolitical difficulties in the region (remember, Bush and Cheney planned to sweep through Iraq as a gateway to dominating the rest of the region, including Iran, a strategy that has, shall we say, not gone well.)
The Nobel Peace President, who promised an end to war on Iraq, isn’t exactly blazing a peace trail. The Bush Regime set this time frame of “withdrawal” in 2011.
In fact the Obama administration, through the State Department, pursued very hard the plan to keep U.S. fighting forces in Iraq beyond this year. It was the Maliki government, which in general has been very compliant to its U.S. funders, who balked at allowing U.S. military to stay because the terms demanded by Obama included immunity from local prosecution for the troops.
Think of that: The widest sustained, imperialist government sponsored, mass war crime, destroying a whole country, displacing 4.5 million from their homes, the turning of a secular society into a bloody sectarian battlefield, was to be justified and continued only on the basis of immunity from the victimized country!
Glenn Greenwald specifically attributes the Iraqi government stand to the revelation of a cable
released by WikiLeaks in May, 2011, and, as McClatchy put it at the time, “provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.” The U.S. then lied and claimed the civilians were killed by the airstrike. Although this incident had been previously documented by the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the high-profile release of the cable by WikiLeaks generated substantial attention (and disgust) in Iraq, which made it politically unpalatable for the Iraqi government to grant the legal immunity the Obama administration was seeking. Indeed, it was widely reported at the time the cable was released that it made it much more difficult for Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain beyond the deadline under any conditions.
War crimes in 2003; war crimes never prosecuted at the hands of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and one can go on into the dozens, as War Criminals Watch does.
I am not celebrating!
More to come on the continued U.S. State Department presence of fighters; the black operations, and the hundreds of thousands of U.S. contractors staying in Iraq.
Remember, George. W. Bush, the master of creating his own reality, announced that it was over on May 1, 2003, in his famous “Mission Accomplished” speech, wearing his pseudo-airman’s costume:
“Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and the world had not seen before.”
Any commander in chief of an illegitimate occupation should be very careful what he announces.
Lost in the flurry of bills passed as Congress ended was the inclusion in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act of language that forbids any Pentagon funds being used to transport any detainee from Guantánamo to the U.S. for any reason. There’s no evidence that the Obama administration really opposed this language; they’ve accepted that detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed won’t be tried in federal courts. They’ve delineated a group of detainess for indefinite detention for the reason that they’ve been tortured, and such information, from the government’s standpoint, can’t be made public.
So still, 174 men sit in Guantánamo, including the large group of Yemenis who are caught between denunciations by the U.S. authorities of the anti-government forces in Yemen, and U.S. support for same. The hope many felt two years ago, in anticipation of an end to the Bush torture regime is dead. Yet courageous lawyers, writers, and activists still struggle for humanity to know the truth about the illegal prison Bush built in Guantánamo, and the need for the wider complex of Bush-era torture, indefinite detention, rendition, and secret prisons to really end.
Andy Worthington, who will be in the States next week to participate in protests of Guantanamo, wrote today, in Christmas at Guantánamo:
I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind readers who may be searching the Internet because they need a break from eating and drinking, or because they want to get away from their families for a while, or because the TV is so relentlessly pointless, or because they don’t celebrate Christmas, about some of the 174 men still held in Guantánamo, for whom concern is particularly appropriate right now, as, between them, the Obama administration and Congress seem to have ensured that the majority of them will be spending many more Christmases at Guantánamo…”
It’s not only that Guantánamo should have been closed, and isn’t, but that the virulent Islamophobia, the illegitimate “war on terror;” the secret renditions begun under Bill Clinton; the covering for torture by the allies in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. I thank Glenn Greenwald for pulling our attention yet again to Wikileaks, for what they revealed this year on the crimes of our government, past and current, as regards torture, rendition, and detention, in What Wikileaks Revealed to the World in 2010 – a pattern of utter suppression of peoples’ rights, outside the law.
In two weeks, we’ll be in Washington with Witness Against Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and activists who won’t let this issue go, no matter who the president, or what the promises are.
Please join us in Washington, or where you are, in making visible resistance and protest. Guantánamo, and the whole torture regime that brought it, must be ended!
Rally and “prisoner procession” to the Department of Justice, followed by non-violent direct action.
Date and Time: Tues, Jan. 11, beginning at 11 am
Location: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON — The prison at Guantanamo will enter its 10th year of operation on Tuesday, January 11. Witness Against Torture is working to make sure this second decade never begins.
Starting at 11am that morning at the White House, Witness Against Torture launches a Daily Vigil and Fast for Justice that will continue for 11 days and include demonstrations throughout Washington. The days of action will begin on January 11th with a rally of a coalition of human rights and grassroots groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, followed by a “prisoner procession” to the Department of Justice, where members of Witness Against Torture will engage in nonviolent direct action…
Glenn Greenwald interviewed Nir Rosen today, on his book Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World.
Listen to it here.
I urge people to think about the questions he’s posing here. The reasons behind “Enduring Freedom,” for the US occupying two countries, has been that the population will be “saved” and safer; and will welcome its liberation. The million + troops who’ve been deployed to those countries know that’s not true. The people themselves know it. It’s reported now that the great majority of Afghans want the U.S. to leave, according to a poll in The Washington Post last week.
That’s why I’ll be outside The White House with Veterans for Peace on Thursday, for the “largest veteran-led civil resistance action” in years.
“I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name,” said Leah Bolger, a leader of Veterans for Peace.
Veterans plan to chain themselves to the White House fence on December 16 to deliver the message, “Mr. Obama: End These Wars. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now!”
Daniel Ellsberg, a vocal defender of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and of Bradley Manning, who the U.S. military has charged with leaking documents, will speak and participate. Chris Hedges, author of Death of the Liberal Class, called on his readers to join him in going to the D.C. jail for the protest.
Julian Assange’s attorney, Mark Stephens, says that he’s learned there is a secret grand jury convened in Virginia, to consider charges against Assange, CNN reported today in Assange attorney: Secret grand jury meeting in Virginia on WikiLeaks.
Assange is being held in London on a Swedish warrant for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault there. It’s widely believed that those charges – which should be carefully investigated, as should all charges of sexual misconduct – are a cover for the Swedish government handing Assange over to the U.S. government.
“I think that the Americans are much more interested in terms of the WikiLeaks aspect of this,” Stephens told Al-Jazeera. He said it was his understanding that Swedish authorities have said that if Assange is extradited there, “they will defer their interest in him to the Americans… It does seem to me that what we have here is nothing more than a holding charge.” The United States just wants Assange detained, he said, so “ultimately they can get their mitts on him.”
Amid a worldwide surge of protest against US government-sponsored attacks on Wikileaks by private companies, and the dangerous threats to prosecute Assange, TIME magazine announced that Assange has won the readers poll as Person of the Year. In a TIME interview, Assange answers allegations:
Secrecy is important for many things but shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses, which leads us to the question of who decides and who is responsible. It shouldn’t really be that people are thinking about, Should something be secret? I would rather it be thought, ‘Who has a responsibility to keep certain things secret?’ And, ‘Who has a responsibility to bring matters to the public?’ And those responsibilities fall on different players. And it is our responsibility to bring matters to the public.
This organization in its four years of publishing history — we don’t need to speculate, it has a history — has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on. That is a record compared to the organizations that we are trying to expose who have literally been involved in the deaths of hundreds or thousands or, potentially over the course of many years, millions.
The threats to Assange have been given wide publicity in US media. Revolution in U.S. Lashes Out at Wikileaks, summarizes
Leading U.S. political figures clamored for Assange’s capture, even his execution. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said Assange is a “high tech terrorist,” and Newt Gingrich said he is an “information terrorist” who should be arrested as an “enemy combatant.” Influential right-wing columnist William Kristol asked, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy Wikileaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?” Sarah Palin, writing on her Facebook page, asked, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”
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.
Daniel Ellsberg appeared on The Colbert Report last week, disputed claims that Assange is “not a journalist” and that journalists shouldn’t report the actions of governments.
Those action of governments are What Wikileaks Reveals: Cables, Lies & Murder, writes Larry Everest:
Wikileaks’ trove of secrets offers vivid, direct, and unassailable evidence that the U.S. routinely carries out all manner of crimes across the world, from torture and rape in Afghanistan, to mass murder in Yemen, to illegal spying at UN headquarters. They show the U.S. involved in a no-holds-barred capitalist-imperialist rivalry with powers they are allied with, as well as their more direct rivals. They document how the U.S. manages a global network of brutal client regimes as key links in their empire of oppression and exploitation. And these secret cables show that the U.S. lies about all of it. This is the nightmare world the U.S. dominates, and is viciously trying to maintain.
Finally, intellectual activists in the UK made this statement, printed in The Guardian:
We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.
John Pilger, Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, Craig Murray, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas, Caryl Churchill, AL Kennedy, Celia Mitchell, Ben Griffin (former soldier), Terry Jones, Sami Ramadani, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Gentleman, Miriam Margolyes, Andy de la Tour, Katharine Hamnett, Iain Banks
There’s a longer story to be written here, but for now I’m glad to put this off because there are contemporary heroes making immediate contributions to stopping the current wars, and we are busy defending them and digging into what’s coming out every day in the leaked US cables from Wikileaks. So, today– the brief version of what happened to me 40 years ago, tomorrow…
I was an activist in my high school years, for which I got a series of awards, leading up to receiving the Young American Medal for Service of 1970, annually given by the US President. I learned of that in June, 1970, while I was at The Hague in Holland, attending the World Food Conference, as part of a rag-tag US youth delegation. We had just disrupted a US event there with an anti-Vietnam war protest, “embarrassing” the ambassador and getting us nearly booted. At first I thought the letter from The White House must be a joke, but no, the Department of Justice had called my parents, and was trying to set up a date for the family to come to Washington.
My immediate response was “hell no…I won’t go! Why would anyone take an award from a war-monger like Richard Nixon?” I was conflicted, ambivalent, and irritated to be put in that position. As the months went by, and the event kept being re-scheduled, I thought I might get to skip it. But suddenly, on December 3, 1970, me, my family and friends were flown to Washington. We were escorted into the office of the Attorney General John Mitchell where there was small talk. In shuffled J. Edgar Hoover, and the whole strange experience got very real, very quickly.
Back into the limo and up to the door of the White House, into the Blue Room with what seemed to be the entire world press corps and a million cameras. For the kids getting the awards? No, because this was the first time the press had gotten to see the (well-hated) Nixon in months. I still didn’t know what to say. Then Richard Nixon made it easy. He went on a rant about how these kids are the “good” ones, they’re not out protesting, they’re for America. I thought, with my 19-year-old brain, “Oh no, you just slandered my generation. We are about changing the world, and taking it away from people like you.”
The drill was a simple hand shake with Nixon, present the medal, pat the kid on the arm, smile for the cameras. I was the last of 4 recipients, and it was almost over, when he grabbed my hand. What came out of my mouth: “I can’t believe you’re sincere in giving this award for service, when you’re killing millions of people in Vietnam.” We weren’t miked, and I spoke quietly. Nixon, despite make-up, turned completely white, and stammered, “We’re doing the best we can.” Then he pivoted, looked at his watch, muttered something about an appointment, and walked out.
J. Edgar Hoover, standing right behind me (another factor that oddly made me more bold than I knew), patted me on the arm, and said — I swear — “that was lovely, dear.” Everywhere else in the room there was chaos. The press saw Nixon’s reaction, and some caught the word, “Vietnam.” I was interviewed for hours, the planned White House tour was cut short and we were hustled out. Being back in the day when there was no 24-hour news cycle, this was front page and main story on the networks.
The fact that someone got right to Nixon (before he was Tricky) and, however naively, confronted the leader of the “Free World” was a confirmation that the system was vulnerable. We got lots of mail, some just addressed to “Debra, Madison, Wisconsin” from people who were truly moved, and in a world hostile to the U.S., some of it was thanks from people in other countries. We also got death threats, and attention from not very undercover agents who immediately rented the hotel room next door, followed us around D.C., and later investigated my wonderful, supportive, parents.
The back story: I went to high school in Madison, Wisconsin, about a mile from the University of Wisconsin, close enough that during the students’ 1967 Dow Chemical protests against the use of napalm in Vietnam, tear gas drifted into the windows. I sought out that story, and wrote a paper at 15 against the war. Because Freedom Riders came back to the UW from the South and built an organization, Measure for Measure, to support Fannie Lou Hamer and the struggle against Jim Crow, I had a range of freedom fighter “movement” role models, including Mrs. Hamer, who stayed at our house. Because I knew them, and was in college near Chicago, I heeded the call to tour the shot-up apartment of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, the Black Panther leaders who were killed in their beds December 4, 1969 by Hoover’s FBI and Chicago police. A few months later, I was part of the largest student strike ever, in response to Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students by the National Guard at Kent State and by the state police at Jackson State.
All these experiences taught me about who had power, and who was oppressed, exploited, lynched and killed, and formed me further into someone who was “for the underdog.” I sought more, and began to shape a life focused around a different future for humanity.
Right after the Nixon experience, honestly, I was embarrassed for not having seized the moment with a brilliant speech, and for not really having risked a thing in my protest. But as a few decades have gone by, I’ve come to realize that, through an accident of history, it was good thing that I was part of puncturing the legitimacy of the Nixon presidency, as Dan Ellsberg, Vietnam veterans and student protests, and the Watergate scandal would continue to do.
In writing this, I looked up Nixon’s daily schedule for 12/3/70, and found that immediately afterward, he met with his press secretary; then called Hoover and Mitchell. There was turmoil in the Oval Office. The next day Hoover wrote Mitchell, saying essentially, “why the hell didn’t we investigate more carefully? She was from Madison! This will never happen again.”
Unfortunately, that kind of protest hasn’t happened enough since then. Cindy Sheehan, a TIME magazine Face of the Decade this week, stands out for challenging Emperor Bush, leaving him naked, and I don’t want to leave out the couple who streaked through the 2004 inaugural with anti-war messages; thousands have been arrested trying to deliver the antiwar political messages.
In the wake of four major WikiLeaks this year, all instructive as to the rules of engagement of these imperialist occupations, the basic injustice of the so-called “war on terror,” and all completely against the interests of humanity — provided you stop looking at everything through “American” eyes — there is no better time than now for mass, visible, protest against all this.
I so know the world can’t wait, and am so glad to be involved with the World Can’t Wait. This is all really needed, now!
Can you imagine the conversation in the Obama administration since the cables have been released by Wikileaks.org? Attorney General Eric Holder, who can’t find a reason to prosecute anyone for actual torture, says ominously, referring to the legal difficulties in possible U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange,
“To the extent there are gaps in our laws, we will move to close those gaps, which is not to say that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or a subject of an investigation.”
But Robert Gates, whose Pentagon has been threatening Wikileaks openly since the Afghan War Diaries release in July, said on November 30:
“I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought… Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation…Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’
The refrain from the government goes: Wikileaks is guilty of terrible crimes which “endanger national security;” they have blood on their hands…but, for damage control purposes, it’s not such a big deal when what they revealed. Yet pressure was placed on Amazon.com this week to remove Wikileaks from its servers. The site is up now, after being removed from Amazon.com’s servers Wednesday December 1.
The Department of Justice no doubt exerted pressure on Interpol to put out a warrant for Julian Assange on sexual misconduct charges from a prosecutor in Sweden that have been off and on again. Jennifer Robinson, one of Assange’s British attorneys, said the warrant from Sweden was highly unusual for the charges, and that Assange is not in hiding, but is taking care of his personal safety, given threats by people in power against him. See more today on Democracy Now.
Glenn Greenwald, on Salon.com writes about the kinds of attacks on Assange and takes them on:
“The group demanding that Julian Assange be murdered without any charges, trial or due process. There was Sarah Palin on on Twitter illiterately accusing WikiLeaks — a stateless group run by an Australian citizen — of “treason”; she thereafter took to her Facebook page to object that Julian Assange was “not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders” (she also lied by stating that he has “blood on his hands”: a claim which even the Pentagon admits is untrue). Townhall’s John Hawkins has a column this morning entitled ”5 Reasons The CIA Should Have Already Killed Julian Assange.” That Assange should be treated as a “traitor” and murdered with no due process has been strongly suggested if not outright urged by the likes of Marc Thiessen, Seth Lipsky (with Jeffrey Goldberg posting Lipsky’s column and also illiterately accusing Assange of “treason”), Jonah Goldberg, Rep. Pete King, and, today, The Wall Street Journal.
Those who demand that the U.S. Government take people’s lives with no oversight or due process as though they’re advocating changes in tax policy or mid-level personnel moves — eradicate him!, they bellow from their seats in the Colosseum — are just morally deranged barbarians. There’s just no other accurate way to put it. These are usually the same people, of course, who brand themselves “pro-life” and Crusaders for the Sanctity of Human Life and/or who deride Islamic extremists for their disregard for human life.”
In addition to the New York Times and other US mainstream media who are spinning the story of the cables in support of US domination of other countries, there are journalists analyzing the content of the cable leaks from the standpoint of justice. Scott Horton, on Democracy Now December 1, talked about what was revealed over the last years, when the U.S. strongly pressured Spain not to prosecute Bush regime officials over rendition and indefinite detention. Democracy Now summarizes:
U.S. officials were especially alarmed when prosecutors in Spain and Germany began comparing notes on their investigations into CIA extraordinary rendition flights. U.S. officials said, quote, ‘This co-ordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level.’ The investigation in Germany was in regard to the CIA abduction and rendition of German citizen Khaled El-Masri. He was wrongly abducted and flown to Afghanistan, where he was held for months without charge. When it looked like 13 CIA agents might be charged in the case, the U.S. embassy in Berlin stepped in and, according to one leaked cable, threatened, quote, that ‘issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship.’
Gareth Porter dug into the disinformation U.S. diplomats put out on Iran in Russians Refuted U.S. Claim of Iranian Missile Threat to Europe. Glen Ford takes apart US policy towards Iran in American Racism on Display in WikiLeaks Iran Cable:
Jeremy Scahill, this morning on Democracy Now, spoke to the open lies of the United States, specifically the Obama administration, in denying that the U.S. has military operations going on now in Pakistan. The cables show otherwise. Democracy Now. Scahill exposes the Pakistani government’s blatant lies to its own people, while the U.S. behind the scenes, orchestrates two drone programs in Pakistan, allegedly a sovereign country.
Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and Brad Manning – whose execution is now being demanded by Mike Huckabee — must be defended, as a really key part of our movement to end the wars and war crimes. This is just the beginning, on both sides of this battle over truth and empire.
We — all of us– need to keep digging into those cables and exposing the real crimes they cover.
I signed this statement, New Evidence Demands End to Wars, and urge you to come out to The White House on Thursday, December 16.
“Cablegate,” the huge leak of U.S. Embassy cables from 1966 to this year, began coming from Wikileaks.org Sunday. This ongoing project, building on the leaks from earlier this year about the U.S. occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan, is huge not only for the amount of information released, but for its import. I suspect we won’t know that fully until we have a chance to dig into more. Wikileaks has helpfully organized the search by country, date, and topic.
What does the leak reveal? More than just one administration’s practices; more than dirty tricks, individual opinions, “rogue” spies and diplomats, what I’ve seen already confirms a pattern, a system, of an un-checked superpower conducting “business as usual” behind secrecy, using diplomacy as yet another weapon.
Der Spiegel described it as “a political meltdown for American foreign policy” that leaves “the trust America’s partners have in the country … badly shaken.” USA Today reports Hillary Clinton
“condemned the WikiLeaks release of once-classified diplomatic documents as nothing less than an attack on the United States and its allies.”
Private individuals are entitled to privacy, despite the actions of the Bush & Obama administrations, and governments may be entitled to secrecy. But everything from “dirty tricks” ala Dick Nixon to CIA assasinations are crimes by governments, and should be exposed.
Once again, we owe a debt to Wikileaks and the source of the leaks, for providing us the basis to see behind the lies. Bradley Manning is charged with these leaks, and sits in military prison at Quantico VA, awaiting a court martial. It is up to us to defend Manning, and do good with the revelations, by acting to stop the crimes through visible, vocal, public protest, just what World Can’t Wait exists for.
But the pro-war Congress leader Peter King wants Julian Assange tried for espionage as a “terrorist.” Harold Koh, the State Department legal counsel who defends the Obama administration’s targeted assassination as compatible with international law, says the leaks will
“place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals,” and “place at risk on-going military operations.”
Nancy A. Youssef, in Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks, challenges that assertion.
“American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people’s lives in danger.But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone’s death.”
Glen Greenwald wrote earlier today on damage to civilians,
“Many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs — on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable “collateral damage” — are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks’ disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people. For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves. How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.”
The danger to civilians is in being militarily occupied, economically controlled and dominated by an unchecked superpower. Everything we can do to rouse people living in the United States to act to end these occupations is needed, now!
worldcantwait.net will be covering the ongoing revelations.
Wednesday December 1: 2pm EST/11 am PST
Live From Frontline Club, London, a webcast on Wikileaks: The U.S. Embassy Cables
Following the release this weekend of 251,287 confidential United States embassy cables, this month’s First Wednesday debate will focus on the revelations of this latest leak from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. We will be joined by: WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson; James Ball a data journalist who has been working with WikiLeaks; Nicky Hager, author and Investigative journalist; Additional panelists to be confirmed.