The right wing media are clucking loudly these days, competing over who can be the best sycophant to the President and the Pentagon in the latter’s frenzy over the leaks coming out of Julian Assange’s Wikileaks website. But it’s not just the right wing. Establishment Democrats are lining up to show their pro-military, patriotic fervor, only days after passing a $37 billion dollar defense supplemental to pay for more war in Afghanistan.
Following the release of tens of thousands of documents showing U.S. forces in Afghanistan involved in numerous killings of civilians, in cover-ups, and even running a Special Forces death squad "catch or kill" list, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that a planned new shield law would have a special provision to ensure it would not apply to "organizations like WikiLeaks."
Schumer joins forces with creepy finks like Adrian Lamo and his mentors at Project Vigilant (PV) in going after Wikileaks, as if they were some criminal outfit. According to an excellent analysis by Glenn Greenwald, PV leader Chet Uber "strongly pressured Lamo to inform" on PFC Brian Manning, held now at Quantico under suspicion of leaking the Afghan war documents. Uber strongly suggested to Lamo that he might be arrested for holding the documents he supposedly got from Manning if he didn’t turn them over to the feds. Lamo apparently hesitated a moment before turning definitively to the dark side. Greenwald makes a good case for seeing the actions by Uber and Project Vigilant (and their Renfield, Lamo) as a sinister example of the new privatization of the intelligence apparatus, aimed at cowing an already submissive public into total political somnolence.
It’s really beyond dispute that one has virtually no privacy from the Government. That’s not just true in theory, but in practice, as the Government seriously escalates the various ways it maintains dossiers on citizens….
Many people are indifferent to the disappearance of privacy — even with regard to government officials — because they don’t perceive any real value to it. The ways in which the loss of privacy destroys a society are somewhat abstract and difficult to articulate, though very real. A society in which people know they are constantly being monitored is one that breeds conformism and submission, and which squashes innovation, deviation, and real dissent.
Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, supply a strong antidote to this nihilistic surrender to a surveillance society. As a result, they have been attacked by the likes of Fox News and Washington Post Cheney-groupie Marc Thiessen. The latter could barely contain himself, reporting on the Pentagon’s request that Wikileaks turn over all their Afghan war logs, and calling the Pentagon’s bluster "a final warning," while fantasizing about the Pentagon launching a black ops or rendition on Assange. While the consensus is the Pentagon can’t really do much about the leaks, nothing is too desperate for the rulers of America, if they see themselves losing. It is imperative that believers in a free press, in transparency in government, in protection for whistleblowers, and for an end to the fruitless and criminal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to stand up in defense of Wikileaks.
Assange and his supporters have put themselves smack in the way of the Pentagon war machine, and the generals and admirals don’t like it one bit. The military has now ordered all personnel that they cannot visit the Wikileaks website. We should remember, too, that it was only last March that Wikileaks revealed a U.S. counterintelligence plan to stop potential whistleblowers from sending documents or videos to them. The SECRET/NOFORN document argued for actions that could "damage or destroy this center of gravity [Wikileaks] and deter others considering similar actions [leaking] from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site."
Tom Hayden has posted a petition calling for the defense of Wikileaks. The title of the petition reads, "Defend WikiLeaks – End the Secret Wars."
Here’s the text, along with a list of prominent endorsers:
We believe that WikiLeaks and those whistleblowers who declassify documents in a time of secret war should be welcomed as defenders of democracy, not demonized as criminals.
We support their First Amendment rights and welcome their continued disobedience in response to a long train of official deception.
Our government and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan have stretched the labels “national security” and “secrecy” beyond all reasonable definitions, because they wish to keep the realities of these wars hidden from the American people. “National security” is becoming the last refuge of scoundrels. Only consider –
- Our government prohibited the media from photographing the returning remains of our dead soldiers, until public pressure forced a change in policy;
- The Abu Ghraib torture scandal only came to public attention when photographs were leaked by an MP;
- The war in Pakistan is shrouded in secrecy because it violates that country’s sovereignty, results in the killing of innocent civilians, and is deeply unpopular;
- According to the new information from WikiLeaks, our Special Operations Task Force 373 operates outside the ISAF mandate to kidnap and kill targeted insurgents in a repeat of the discredited Phoenix program of the Vietnam era.
- Gen. Stanley McChrystal was forced to resign after a Rolling Stone reporter uncovered attitudes hostile to civilian authority;
- The same Rolling Stone article quoted a top official saying if the truth about these wars was known by the American people, they would be even more unpopular.
Given this context of cover-ups, whistleblowers have been a last resort in keeping democracy alive.
We understand the embarrassment of high officials when exposed, but it is Orwellian for the Pentagon to accuse the WikiLeaks of having “blood on their hands.” We are in the tenth year of a war which has claimed over 1,100 American lives, and where Afghan and Pakistan casualties are obscured deliberately. Many of America’s killed and wounded are listed as non-combat, minimizing the actual toll. WikiLeaks has been careful to delete information which might expose individuals to lethal risk. Those who really have blood on their hands are the authors of this war. We stand with those who expose them.
REV. GEORGE HUNSINGER, Princeton Theology Seminary
ED BACON, All Saints Episcopal
MEDEA BENJAMIN, Co-founder, CODEPINK
TIM CARPENTER, Progressive Democrats of America
REV. JIM CONN
ARIEL DORFMAN, Author
PETER DALE SCOTT, Author
DONALD SHRIVER, President of Union Theological Seminary in NYC [ret.]
PEGGY SHRIVER, Assistant General Secretary, National Council of Churches [ret.]
JEAN STEIN, Editor/Author
You can sign the petition by clicking here.
A defense website has also been set up for Bradley Manning, and can be accessed here.