[THS] Intelligence Agencies Allegedly Going to Extremes to Suppress Video
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Sat Apr 3 22:10:03 CEST 2010
Intelligence Agencies Allegedly Going to Extremes to Suppress Video Confirming
Pentagon Massacre Cover-up
By Scott Thill, AlterNet
Posted on April 3, 2010, Printed on April 3, 2010
On April 5, online truth and transparency advocate WikiLeaks.org plans to release at
the National Press Club what it alleges is a video confirming a Pentagon cover-up of a
wartime massacre of civilians and journalists committed under the leadership of
General David Petraeus.
In a recent editorial that was later scrubbed, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
claimed WikiLeaks is under fire from American and international intelligence agencies
angered by his site's oversharing of the global village's dark political and financial
secrets, and that they are responding with harassment, surveillance, unnecessary
detention and worse.
"We've become used to the level of security service interest in us and have
established procedures to ignore that interest," Assange wrote in the editorial. "But
the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely
publishing due to fundraising, are excessive."
As constitutional lawyer and Salon columnist Green Greenwald wrote in a recent
column, "A volunteer, a minor, who works with WikiLeaks was detained in Iceland last
week and questioned extensively about an incriminating video WikiLeaks possesses
relating to the actions of the U.S. military. During the course of the interrogation, the
WikiLeaks volunteer was not only asked questions about the video based on non-
public knowledge about its contents (i.e., information which only the U.S. military
would have), but was also shown surveillance photos of Assange exiting a recent
WikiLeaks meeting regarding the imminent posting of documents concerning the
WikiLeaks, administered by the Sunshine Press, an Amnesty International award-
winning non-profit comprised of self-described "human rights campaigners,
investigative journalists, technologists and the general public," has been whacking
the powers-that-be's beehive since going live in 2007, and racking up as many legal
challenges and enemies as journalism scoops and truth-seeking loyalists. But with its
April 5 video, it evidently has raised the stakes.
"If anything happens to us, you know why," WikiLeaks warned on its Twitter feed. "It
is our Apr 5 film. And you know who is responsible."
But this is not the 20th century, where classified information dissemination was a
clumsy, clunky affair transmitted through bought-off print and television
"It certainly isn't surprising that entities affected by materials disclosed on WikiLeaks
would explore ways to try to stop such disclosures," Matt Zimmerman, senior staff
attorney at the digital-rights stalwart Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained to
AlterNet. "That WikiLeaks continues to operate effectively underscores the difficulty of
stopping such an operation in the age of the Internet which, from WikiLeaks' point of
view, is the entire point."
Which doesn't mean that the powers-that-be threatened by WikiLeaks' persistent
outings are going to just give up. WikiLeaks' exposure of military and financial
carnage is encouraging, especially for a media landscape populated more and more
by talk-radio shock-doctrinists like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
"I don't have any evidence that Assange or anyone associated with WikiLeaks is in
danger," Salon's Glenn Greenwald told AlterNet, after speaking with Assange. "But
the CIA and Pentagon are vastly powerful entities that operate almost entirely in the
dark. They have a long, sordid and well-documented history of targeting anyone who
they perceive to be undermining their interests, and -- as they themselves
acknowledge -- WikiLeaks qualifies. I think it would be foolish in the extreme not to
take those threats seriously."
Indeed, downplaying the severity of real threats while inflating the importance of
imagined or, worse yet, created ones has been an escalating obsession of ours in this
new, turbulent century. And our chief coping mechanism has worked to the
government's advantage, according to Greenwald's column. The official outcry over
WikiLeaks is "based in the same rationale...used by all governments to conceal
evidence of their wrongdoing: we need to suppress our activities for your own good.
WikiLeaks is devoted to subverting that mentality and, relatively speaking, has been
quite successful in doing so. For that reason, numerous governments and private
groups would like to see them destroyed."
The increasing acceptance of that disingenuous rationale has been destabilizing.
Instead of working to champion transparency in an era of increasing sociopolitical
violence and corruption, most of the global public has gone fetal in the face of such
fear. And it has lately been helped by the utopian promises of both Republican
sadists and Democratic sellouts. As a result, it has devolved into a state where the
hard truths of geopolitics and power have become too shocking to bear. Which
makes it much easier to paint WikiLeaks into a compromised corner, where it must
dodge the slings and arrows of the status quo.
"It's totally unsurprising," Greenwald told AlterNet. "Over the last decade, we
witnessed an unprecedented expansion of government secrecy and executive power,
the former of which has intensified under Obama. The 'war on terror' has convinced
huge numbers of Americans that transparency is not only unnecessary but
dangerous. That's exactly the climate that led to the abuses of the last century and
will inevitably lead to abuses whenever it is allowed to fester."
But fester it will, unless organizations like WikiLeaks are championed by those trying
to chart a more positive path toward a more transparent 21st century. It is painfully
obvious that the information contained in the site's various leaks on wartime
propaganda, rapacious finance schemes and even military atrocities aren't really
dangerous to anyone, in and of themselves. In fact, it's the opposite: Documents that
unmask the empowerment of the unfortunate few by the conniving many. The only
threats they pose are to those who profit, in one form or another, from their
suppression. If Daniel Ellsberg's leaked Pentagon Papers taught us anything, it's that
such suppression strikes at the very heart of our republic, rotting it from the inside.
"Government entities, such as the army, are of course in a better position to know
how damaging any given leak may be," said EFF's Zimmerman. "And indeed, leakers
may in fact be breaking the law by disclosing documents. WikiLeaks comes down on
the side of transparency, arguing that the benefits of widespread disclosure of
information about matters of public concern will outweigh the harm. Those who
disagree, whether private actors or those in government, will certainly continue to
find ways to discourage disclosure to WikiLeaks or shut it down altogether."
But that would be our collective loss, considering that there are a scant few places
left for us to fully probe the dimly lit corners of our empire, where bodies and
stratagems are often buried too deep for most of us to find.
"There's no question that WikiLeaks poses a major threat because virtually every
other intended check and oversight mechanism -- from Congress to the media -- has
been neutralized," Greenwald concluded. "WikiLeaks has been an amazingly
impressive success story thus far in exposing a wide array of elite corruption. That
definitely reflects the power of the Internet to harm large and powerful institutions,
and it is precisely why they have been targeted."
Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon,
XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.
© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/146275/
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