The London Expat American Meetup Group Message Board › Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and Afghanistan - US Citizen in Guantanamo
I went to a talk by Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks two days ago here in London at a club for journalists and I can say I was mightily impressed with the guy~ equally disappointed by the calibre of "professional journalism" by some of the attendees. more on that...
Great to meet him and a fantastic talk. Very grateful for all his work with Wikileaks. We should all look into the Bradley Manning case and send something out to the expat community.
Amongst all the illuminating discussion on Wikileaks my favourite part of the night was when Julian Assange passed it back to the audience of supposed journalists and asked them how many planned to scour the information provided by Wikileaks and they all collectively (mostly) sat there in stunned silence~ as though a dog might if it were shown a card trick!
Very disappointing, and very illuminating to see how so many journalist are anxious to tow the line. So many asking how Julian Assange put troops in harms way.(!) Reminds me of something the late John Foot said to me at the founding meeting of Media Workers Against The War in 2001 about how so mush of what happens in professional journalism is self censorship.
View full video here;
Wikileaks; Whats the deal?: Wikileaks is a site/ organisation specifically designed, both technically and legally for whistleblowers in organisations to allow them to bring valuable, relevant information to the public. The site is like a normal message board, but uses advanced VPN encryption to ensure maximum announmity to its users. Wikileaks as an organisation also employs a vast legal defense team; who have yet to loss a single of its 17 court cases defending freedom of speech.
Edited by Wilber Webb on Jul 31, 2010 6:22 AM
Bradley Manning- US Citizen in Guantanamo
22 year old US intelligence officer held illegally in a Guantanamo
Bradley Manning must be charged or released and brought before a civil court within the United States.
Bradley Manning suspected source of Wikileaks documents scandal ... - 2 hours ago
Military Probe Again Targets Manning
Bradley Manning suspected source of Wikileaks documents scandal grew up in Wales following family split
The US soldier suspected of being behind the Wikileaks documents scandal grew up in Wales after moving there following his parents' divorce.
Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks suspect, grew up in Wales after his parents split up Photo: AP
Bradley Manning, 22, is currently thought to be in a military prison in Kuwait while he is investigated by the Pentagon on charges of leaking an earlier video of a Baghdad air strike to the website.
He was described by former classmates in Wales as a "trouble-making, authority-hating computer geek", according to a report by The Sun.
He attended a secondary school in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire from the age of 13 where he was an unpopular pupil but returned to America during the sixth form and went on the join the army.
More than 90,000 documents were published on the Wikileaks website this week relating to the war in Afghanistan, just days after Manning was charged with providing a film, called Collateral Murder, to the site showing a US Apache helicopter killing civilians in Baghdad.
The new documents included reports of at least 26 Afghan civilians - including 16 children - killed by British forces, as well as friendly fire incidents that claimed the lives of Afghan security personnel.
The Pentagon announced it had launched a criminal investigation into the leak, and described Manning, an army analyst, as a "person of interest".
Wikileaks has not confirmed that Manning was the source but Julian Assange, the site's founder, has said that he is prepared to provide him some assistance.
Jenna Morris, 23, a shop manager from Haverfordwest and former classmate, described Manning as "a trouble-making authority-hating computer geek" who spent most of his time at school using computers. Other classmates said he preferred his own company and had a difficult upbringing.
Manning, who was arrested in May, is expected to face a military trial overseas.
In an online chat with a computer hacker, Manning boasted that he had used blank CDs to download information.
He also claimed he had retrieved 260,000 diplomatic cables and a video of a US air strike in Afghanistan last year that killed dozens of civilians.
Experts said his job would almost certainly have given him access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which hundreds of thousands of US military personnel, civilian employees and private contractors have access to.
Is geeky soldier schooled in Wales the WikiLeek?
By ALEX WEST and RHODRI PHILLIPS
Sun Published: Today
THE main suspect in the WikiLeaks documents scandal is a "trouble-making, authority-hating computer geek" who grew up in WALES.
US army intelligence operative Bradley Manning, 22, honed his technical skills at a secondary school in Haverfordwest.
The shy but lippy loner was born in America to English parents Brian and Susan, but moved to Wales when he was 13 after they divorced.
His ex-classmates last night told how Manning was taunted at Tasker Milward school with the name the "Dr Pepper kid" - because he was always downing the fizzy drink.
Manning - who later came out as gay, to the surprise of pals - moved back to the US halfway through the sixth form and joined up.
Last week Manning was charged with leaking a video and other material to the online whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The film, called Collateral Murder, appears to show a US Apache helicopter crew killing civilians in Iraqi capital Baghdad.
In the days after Manning was charged, WikiLeaks published a staggering 90,000 top-secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.
Manning, who had top security clearance and is facing a court martial over the video offence, is now being investigated over these leaks, too.
WikiLeaks has not confirmed that Manning is their source. But it is believed the website - led by Australian editor-in-chief Julian Assange, 39 - is prepared to defend him.
The soldier's ex-classmates yesterday described Manning as a computer whizzkid who was not afraid to speak his mind.
Shop manager Jenna Morris, 23, who once went on holiday with him to Disney World, Florida, said: "He was a bit of a nerd and spent all his time on the computers. He was very opinionated and arrogant.
"I remember him getting a telling-off from a teacher for being lippy.Basically he was a trouble-making, authority-hating, computer geek. He got a lot of stick. His nickname was the Dr Pepper Kid because he was always drinking Dr Pepper."
Shop worker Scott Lewis, 22, said: "He kept himself to himself. He had a tough upbringing with his parents splitting up. Whether that's had anything to do with what he's meant to have done, I don't know."
Close pal James Kirkpatrick last spoke to Manning six months ago. He revealed: "He was being a bit paranoid about what we spoke about on the internet. He didn't want to speak about the Army."
Computer hacker Adrian Lamo is believed to have turned Manning in because he felt the soldier was "a threat to national security".
He claims Manning, who worked at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq, told him he had leaked Collateral Murder counts and other information.
Edited by Wilber Webb on Jul 29, 2010 3:46 PM
WikiLeaks- The most Important document Leak since "The Pentagon Papers"
WikiLeaks Q&A with Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the Pentagon Papers - 2 hours ago
Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the most significant leak in Pentagon history – the 1971 Pentagon Papers – spoke to the Monitor about how important the WikiLeaks documents are and whether WikiLeaks is the Afghanistan war's Pentagon Papers.
Daniel Ellsberg and Patricia Ellsberg, subjects of the best documentary feature, 'The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,' arrived for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on March 7. The WikiLeaks documents, Mr. Ellsberg says, 'look very familiar to me' as 'describing a war that is as thoroughly stalemated.'
Before WikiLeaks, before the Afghanistan war, before the Internet, a defense analyst named Daniel Ellsberg rocked America in 1971 when he leaked to the newspapers of the day a top-secret study of US decisionmaking in Vietnam. The documents came to be known as the “Pentagon Papers.”
Some 7,000 pages in all, the Pentagon Papers have long been considered the most important leak in Pentagon history, showing that senior Pentagon and administration officials were misleading Americans about the course of the Vietnam War. They recast perceptions of the war and and charted new legal ground, with President Nixon going to the courts in a failed attempt to try and stop The New York Times from publishing later installments.
Now, as WikiLeaks releases 91,000 classified documents about US military involvement in Afghanistan, the Pentagon Papers are once again entering the American lexicon. Are the WikiLeaks documents the most important Pentagon leak since the Pentagon Papers?
The Monitor's Gloria Goodale talked to Mr. Ellsberg, who now lives in Kensington, Calif., for his unique perspective.
On the size and nature of the leak
This is the first really large-scale, unauthorized disclosure leak since the Pentagon papers. There has been nothing like it in the 40 years in between. So, I’m glad to see that new technology being exploited here. I couldn’t have released on this scale 40 years ago. In fact, I couldn’t have done what I did do without Xerox at that time. Ten years earlier I couldn’t have put out the Pentagon Papers. But this is much larger in volume and it’s more current....
On the similarities between the Pentagon Papers and the WikiLeaks documents
[The documents] look very familiar to me. Different places and names, but they are describing a war that is as thoroughly stalemated as was the case 40 years ago and more in Vietnam.
On the differences
The Pentagon Papers were high-level, top-secret documents of decisionmaking estimates. They were alternative strategies. They were being debated, and they were presidential decisions of various kinds. It was a more revealing set of documents about the way in which the country was being deceived into continuing a hopeless war. So, you could say that the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan remain to be revealed, and I hope someone does that. And, for that matter, the Pentagon Papers of Iraq we have yet to see. But this is a very good start. The drama of such a huge volume being released is giving the public media attention and the public attention that President Nixon’s injunctions gave to the Pentagon Papers. So, I’m glad to see the press really is taking the content of these documents seriously so far and not focusing solely on the question of the leak itself or the process.
On why is it important that this kind of information gets out?
One of the most important messages or conclusions to be drawn from the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago is what they didn’t reveal, and that was: In some 7,000 pages of high-level discussions, they didn’t reveal a single compelling or even remotely realistic basis for continuing the war. Nor did they answer the question of: Why are we there? And that’s the conclusion: that there wasn’t an answer to be given. It couldn’t be inferred from a very small release of papers, say 10 pages or 20 pages. You really had to see that, year after year, nobody was coming up with or reporting any kind of success.
And the same is true with this six-year compilation to show that, year after year, the process really isn’t changing, and that the more we increased our presence in Afghanistan, the stronger the Taliban was growing. I’m sure, by the way, that this is still the case. A leak I would like to see right now is what the change in Taliban strength has been over these past seven months of President Obama’s new strategy. Don’t wait for the administration to release that because I’m sure it would be very embarrassing to the strategy. I’m sure that their official estimates of Taliban strength as of July are greater than the estimate in December when Obama initiated that strategy.
Now, why does that have to be leaked? Because that undercuts the demand by the administration for more money. It indicates that the more money we put over there, and the more troops we put over there, and the more airplane missions we fly killing civilians as reported in these reports, the stronger the Taliban gets. In effect, we are recruiting for the Taliban, and we are recruiting much faster and broader than we are killing or depleting or discouraging them. That was true in Vietnam.
But what these documents do show with all their limitations as field reports is that’s what has been happening for six years, and there is no reason for that to change. So, the money that Congress just voted yesterday [Tuesday], there is every reason to believe that that will recruit more Taliban, and we should ask ourselves: Can we afford this? Can we afford to strengthen the Taliban over there? At this vast expense, and at the cost of the lives of our soldiers and many more civilians and Afghans? That’s a rhetorical question. And yet Congress – the majority, at least – seem determined to ignore it....
On where to draw the line on protecting secrets in the interest of national security
We do have laws against revelations about communications intelligence. There were leaks of things under [President George W.] Bush that should not have been released. Things like Condoleeza Rice confirming that we did have a mole high in Osama bin Laden’s outfit – that shouldn’t have been confirmed. Sen. [Richard] Shelby [(R) of Alabama] should not have confirmed that we were listening in on bin Laden’s communications. That was covered by that law and of course, that didn’t lead to any prosecution in either of those cases. We have a law against revelation of covert, CIA-type intelligence operations. Valerie Plame, for instance – the White House should not have released that, and her role was necessarily secret as she was investigating proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that had and should have been kept secret. There was where the line should have been drawn. Those are laws that should have been obeyed. We have a law against the revelation of nuclear-weapons data, and I’ve always supported that law. For instance, when the Progressive magazine was accused under that law – of revealing how to build a hydrogen bomb – I refused to support that revelation, and, on the contrary, condemned them for doing it.... So, in general, it’s not that hard to decide what should be kept secret.
If Bradley Manning [who is charged with leaking a video of an incident in the Iraq war to WikiLeaks, and is a suspect in the new Afghanistan leaks] is quoted correctly by the person who informed on him, he said he was willing to go to prison to tell the American people the truth about things that had sickened him to learn, and that he felt were criminal in a war that he felt should be ended. When I read that, I recognized the first person I had read of in 40 years that was in the same state of mind that I was in in 1969 and '71. I expected to go to prison for the rest of my life, and I thought the risk was worth taking....
On whether he ever regretted what he did
No, I have regretted that I waited. I wish very much I had put it out before we escalated in Vietnam – that I had put it out in '64. In '69, I gave it to the Senate, and I do regret that I didn’t give it to press right away, because another year and a half was wasted waiting for them to take the political risks of holding hearings, which they initially promised and which they backed off from because of the charges they thought they would face. They would be accused of risking lives by putting out this information – as The Times was accused by Nixon, falsely, as it turned out....
When I hear these charges that it is irresponsible to have done this by [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange ... I don’t think that charge comes very well from from people who are so irresponsible as to put our troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan. The charge we hear – that his release is risking lives – is almost ludicrous....
On whether the Internet would have changed the Pentagon Papers
No, because they were published in their scale by newspapers and Beacon press, which paid a very heavy price economically for publishing them, although it survived. So they did get out. But information on this scale couldn’t have been available then. In a way, it was good that they didn’t all come out at once, because the president was tempted to enjoin them – which was unconstitutional and was rejected by the Supreme Court, but it gave the whole process a drama it wouldn’t have had otherwise. So it was good that Nixon tried to enjoin them, because it attracted the attention of the public to what the papers were saying in a way that might not have happened otherwise.
In this case, there are questions that can be raised by such a large-scale disclosure. It’s not something I would advise in general – to put out information they haven’t had the opportunity to read entirely and judge themselves as I was able to do with the Pentagon Papers. But the volume has had the effect of dramatizing those and drawing attention to what is not there to be revealed, which is: a good reason for staying [in Afghanistan]....
On what questions the WikiLeaks documents raise
Two are beginning to be asked and deserve consideration by congress. One: Is our presence not continuing to strengthen the Taliban, and has anything changed in last six months? Second: [Sen. John] Kerry [(D) of Massachusetts] seems to show some willingness to investigate the real role of Pakistan.
What really needs to be investigated is not whether Pakistan has a separate foreign policy from the US. They are a separate country and are entitled to see their interests differently from the United States. But exactly what are they doing? We know apparently they are supporting the Afghan Taliban, which they created with our encouragement, even while they have been opposing the Pakistan Taliban, which is a separate entity. They are taking credit for opposing [the Pakistan Taliban] because they threaten [Pakistan]. They are opposing the people who threaten regime change in Pakistan. We’ve been trying to encourage them as seeing Afghan Taliban as their enemy, but they don’t see them as their enemy.
So the question is: What does that say about our chances of suppressing the Afghan Taliban? With Pakistan supporting them, we will not be able to do it. The winnability of this war is zero. So what do we do then? Should we be giving Pakistan money to oppose our own efforts in Afghanistan? That isn’t too hard to answer, but it seems to be too hard for our Congress to answer. Congress should investigate. What should our policy be in light of the fact that we are at odds with our ally? It deserves investigation, and it hasn’t happened. Apparently, the leak here to the Times has stimulated new interest in investigating that in the Senate.
On whether he is optimistic about the power of raw information in a democracy
I still put my hopes in it, and in democracy – our democracy. A democracy requires this information. Unauthorized disclosures are the lifeblood of a republic. That remains true. We can’t rely only on the authorized handouts from the government any more now than we could under [British King] George III. The First Amendment was a marvelous invention, one of our best contributions to human society. And it deserves to be instituted in every country. Not many have a First Amendment, we are very lucky in that....
Published on Sunday, April 27, 2003 by the Seattle Times
Ellsberg Continues Campaign 30 Years After His Own Fight
by Anne-Marie O'Connor
HE ALTERED, perhaps ended, the Vietnam War by releasing classified information. Now Daniel Ellsberg wants others to do the same to change the course U.S. policy in the Middle East.
He leaked the Pentagon Papers. He topped the Nixon Enemies A-list. His just-released memoir has been made into a Hollywood movie. He's an icon � depending on how you see him � as hero, whistle-blower or traitor.
So what more does one of the world's most famous nonincarcerated document thieves want?
Daniel Ellsberg still wants to matter.
The silver-haired, 72-year-old former Rand policy wonk is as anti-establishment as ever. He's been arrested three times since December in protests against the war in Iraq. He says he gladly would go behind bars again if it would help dissuade the Bush administration from widening its involvement in the Middle East.
Why not? He's been arrested maybe 70 times � and jailed 50 � by his reckoning, in obeisance to his conscience. He has protested for anti-nuclear causes in recent years. And he has become a ubiquitous anti-war speaker, pingponging across the country this year calling for government officials to leak more documents � now! � while the information still has the power to temper Bush Middle East policy.
"I'm a living protest at the moment," said Ellsberg, who was driving across the heartland to a speaking engagement at Cuyahoga Community College, near Cleveland, on Wednesday. After a rousing meeting with students, he flew on to Miami for a luncheon appearance.
"I'm talking almost every day of the week," he said. "I've been doing that for six months, trying to stop this war. During the war I talked just as much, hoping to avert the use of nuclear weapons. Now I'm trying to avert the expansion of this war into Syria and Saudi Arabia."
He also has a new book, and sat on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA yesterday as the author of "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers."
"Secrets" tells the story of how he came to leak 7,000 pages of classified Pentagon documents to The New York Times in the hopes that the secrets they revealed � what went wrong in the Vietnam War � would prompt the nation to demand a withdrawal from Southeast Asia.
He will be returning to one of the few places where l'affaire Ellsberg is not deeply buried in the past tense. A few years ago, as television trucks crowded the Santa Monica courthouse for the O.J. Simpson civil trial across the street, Ellsberg happened to be in town and was invited to visit the Rand offices by a staff researcher.
A few minutes into the visit, Ellsberg said, the phone rang: It was Rand president James Thomson. Ellsberg was "not welcome" in the building. A Rand spokesman said Thomson had no recollection of the incident.
"I didn't jump out or rush out, but I left," Ellsberg said. "This is the state of anxiety at Rand, that I might endanger their aircraft contracts, years later."
It didn't entirely surprise him. After he leaked the Pentagon Papers, he said, most co-workers didn't contact him for 25 years. These were men with whom he had shared cocktails, dinners, baby pictures.
"It was as if they had all died," he said. "They treated me as if I had moved to another planet. In effect, I lost every friend I ever had."
Until then, Ellsberg had been a defense consultant at Rand, with a house in Malibu a short, spectacular drive up the coast.
Ellsberg was not a member of any movement. He had married (and later divorced) the daughter of a Marine colonel and "enjoyed" a stint in Vietnam as a Marine company commander. In 1968, he met an Indian woman who introduced him to the Ghandian philosophy of civil disobedience. Later, on his first date with his current wife, Patricia Marx, she took him to a rally against the Vietnam War.
He said he knew the rationale for the Vietnam War was a sham back in 1964, when he was a Pentagon analyst. And it burned him that right there, in his safe at Rand, was "evidence of lying by four presidents, to conceal plans and actions of mass murder," he said in his book.
"I decided I would stop concealing that myself," he wrote. "I would get it out somehow."
One night in 1969, after his colleagues had gone home, he and a former Rand employee, Tony Russo, drove to the office of a friend and ran an armload of confidential documents, a study directed by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, through a Xerox machine. Ellsberg eventually copied 7,000 pages.
The New York Times published the first of a nine-part presentation on June 13, 1971, but the 54-page series was interrupted by a federal injunction. That injunction was lifted two weeks later by a crucial Supreme Court ruling.
Ellsberg's life fell apart. He was indicted for 12 felony charges, carrying a possible total sentence of 115 years.
Not all his former colleagues abandoned him. Mort Halperin, a Rand consultant then at the Brookings Institution and now the director of the Washington office of the Open Society Institute, spent several months at the trial, recruiting witnesses and testifying that there was "nothing in (the Pentagon Papers) that would cause harm to the national security."
But, Halperin said, "people at Rand felt, with some justification, that he had done something that jeopardized Rand, and that he had betrayed a trust at the Rand Corp."
Meanwhile, Watergate burglars, at the behest of an anxious President Nixon, orchestrated a break-in at the office of his former Los Angeles psychiatrist, to see if they could come up with something damaging. Revelation of this burglary helped unravel the legal case against Ellsberg. He was acquitted on May 11, 1973.
Today, Ellsberg is encouraged that a handful of U.S. diplomats have stepped down to protest the attack on Iraq. They have accused the Bush administration of misrepresenting intelligence information, and Ellsberg has some words of advice: Leak any documents you can while the information still has the power to change history.
Had he leaked documents he had in his possession as early as 1964, he said, the Vietnam War would have been kept in check.
That is why he would like to encourage the U.S. diplomats who resigned � and anyone else � to leak documents they feel could avert America from involvement in another geopolitical quagmire they view as mistaken as Vietnam came seen to be.
"I think that's incredibly irresponsible," said Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "It may undermine American interests. It could undermine sources of intelligence. It could put agents at risk, depending on how old the information is."
WikiLeaks: For public, it confirms worst about Afghanistan
WikiLeaks documents in many respects paint a picture of a war going poorly...
On Sunday, WikiLeaks released 92,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan, giving the public to assess for themselves how the war is going and whether its worthwhile.
By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer / July 27, 2010
If no public uproar followed Sunday’s WikiLeaks release of 92,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan, it’s largely because the records were more backup than bombshell, even if some have called the documents a “trove of information.”
This means that the leak is likely to reinforce perceptions – specifically, widespread skepticism about Afghanistan and about any prospects for a good outcome there, experts say. But at the same time, they add, the WikiLeaks affair is unlikely to convince the public that the answer is to get out now.
“Americans are really frustrated with the situation in Afghanistan, and this WikiLeaks story will probably increase that frustration. But it’s not going to flip opinion because the information looks like more of what they already knew,” says Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). “The overall impression is that there’s nothing new.”
That public perception of the WikiLeaks documents was mirrored to some degree in Congress Tuesday: The House voted for a supplemental spending bill that includes $37 billion in funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Indeed, the passage of the war supplemental – the Senate had passed it earlier – was interpreted by some as a reflection of a broader public reaction to the leaked documents. That reaction goes: We already knew the war was going badly – which is why we’ve lost faith in it – but the troops shouldn’t bear the brunt of this disenchantment.
In some respects, the picture painted by the WikiLeaks documents – of a war going poorly and hampered by corrupt Afghan officials, ineffective Afghan security forces, and often duplicitous Pakistani intelligence operatives – was more of the same music for the church choir. All those challenges have already been digested by the American public, opinion analysts say, and the result has been poor public support for what is now a nine-year war.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 53 percent of Americans consider the war effort is not worth the costs. A CBS News poll found that virtually the same number – 54 percent – want a timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The CBS poll found that only a third of Americans accept keeping US troops in Afghanistan more than two additional years.
That last finding reflects to some degree President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, announced last December, calling for 30,000 additional troops – for a total US deployment of about 100,000. The strategy is expected to culminate in the first steps of a US withdrawal, beginning in the summer of 2011.
Mr. Kull of PIPA says his reading of an array of recent surveys on Afghanistan and public opinion is that while few people are happy with the war’s results, the majority don’t see a good alternative to Mr. Obama’s plan.
“Those who want to leave faster or stay longer are pretty balanced on both ends,” he says. “But people are concerned about things like leaving a safe haven for Al Qaeda, so until someone proposes an alternative that addresses those concerns, public opinion won’t flip,” Kull says. The WikiLeaks documents, he adds, which are mostly raw field reports, offer nothing in the way of an alternative.
The Obama strategy – with an emphasis on counterinsurgency doctrine that favors personnel contact with local populations – is still in its implementation phase. This is one reason that the White House took the “it’s old news” approach to the WikiLeaks documents, some say.
“I suspect the White House decided that with the midterm elections coming up, the last thing they wanted was some major reassessment of Afghanistan policy. So the best course for them was to take the approach that this [information] was largely from before their time, from before Obama’s strategy,” says Michael Desch, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana who specializes in civilian-military relations. “That, and the fact that Gen. [David] Petraeus [the new US and NATO commander in Afghanistan] has just come on board, and they want to give him the time to put things in order as much as he can.”
Obama has promised a full review of Afghanistan policy in December, a year after he announced his strategy. But once the public has taken a certain course – in this case, that the war in Afghanistan is not worth the costs – it is hard to reverse it, public-opinion analysts say.
If anything, Mr. Desch says, sees another six months of the war bringing further deterioration of public support. But, he says, it won’t be because of new disclosures of how the war is going poorly.
“I expect the trend will continue towards more and more public skepticism,” he says. “But that increase will come as a function of time and additional casualties, and not because of WikiLeaks.”
Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder fears he could be arrested - 1 day ago
Julian Assange, the Australian founder of Wikileaks, has said he has been warned by "inside sources in the White House" not to return to the US as he could be arrested.
The 39 year-old told journalists at the Frontline Club last night that US government insiders had informed him about discussions to charge him as a co-conspirator to espionage.
The discussions were later dropped.
Mr Assange says despite this he still fears he is at risk of being forcefully detained by the US government as a material witness in the prosecution of US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning.
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Mr Manning, 22, was arrested in Baghdad in May and charged earlier this month with multiple counts of mishandling and leaking classified data, after a computer hacker turned him in.
In the United States an authority has the right to detain and hold a material witness for an indefinite period to ensure they give their testimony in a criminal investigation.
The Wikileaks founder said: "Today the White House put out a private briefing to reporters about Wikileaks and me and it quoted a section from an interview with me in Der Spiegel saying that I enjoy crushing --------.
"Somehow the White House finds that offensive.
"In terms of returning to the United States I don't know. Our sources advise from inside the US government that there were thoughts of whether I could be charged as a co-conspirator to espionage, which is serious.
"That doesn't seem to be the thinking within the United States any more however there is the other possibility of being detained as a material witness and being kept either in confinement or not being allowed to leave the country until the Manning case is concluded."
He also claimed that Bradley Manning is being held in a secluded facility in Kuwait which he says is like "a second Guantanamo Bay".
He also accused the US government of doing this to "hide" Mr Manning from effective civil representation.
If convicted Bradley Manning, who is also awaiting court martial, faces a maximum of 52 years in jail.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: live Vidieo
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gives a press conference about the Afghanistan war logs at the Frontline club in London
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How WikiLeaks Could Change the Way Reporters Deal With Secrets
For the past several decades, there has been an informal understanding between the reporters who uncovered newsworthy secrets and the government intelligence agencies, which tried to keep them from public view.
We would tell senior officials what we’d learned. And they would point out any unforeseen consequences that might arise from publication, such as the death of an American informant. Ultimately, the call on what appeared rested with editors. But it was a decision informed by more than our own guesswork.
The release of more than 75,000 classified documents by WikiLeaks this week makes that arrangement seem as quaint as vinyl records and typewriters. Julian Assange, the organization’s leader and avowed opponent of the war in Afghanistan, told Amy Goodman, host of the radio program Democracy Now, that he saw no reason for reporters to take such precautions. (Update: Democracy Now is also broadcast on TV.)
“We don’t see, in the case of a story where an organization has engaged in some kind of abusive conduct and that story is being revealed, that it has a right to know the story before the public, a right to know the story before the victims, because we know that what happens in practice is that that is just extra lead time to spin the story,” Assange told Democracy Now.
The New York Times, one of three global news organizations given early access to the documents, followed its customary practice, and before it published anything approached the administration for comment. Bill Keller, the paper’s executive editor, told me in an e-mail that the White House ultimately answered three of its questions in writing. He said those statements were also provided to The Guardian of Britain and Der Spiegal of Germany, the other two publications.
According to Keller, the White House also asked The Times to pass a message to WikiLeaks requesting that it withhold from release anything “that would endanger lives.”
“We pointed out that we were doubtful of our leverage with WikiLeaks,” Keller wrote. “But we did pass the message on.”
Wikileaks has said it is reviewing an additional 15,000 documents subject to what it described as “a harm minimization process demanded by our source.” It said “these reports will be released, with occasional redactions, and eventually, in full, as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.”
Several publications pointed out Thursday that the 75,000 documents WikiLeaks has already put online makes it possible to identify Afghans who have cooperated with Western forces. The New York Times reported it had found “dozens” of instances in which informants, potential defectors and others could be unmasked.
It is entirely possible that some of these people will be killed as a result of the publication of these once-secret documents. In Iraq and Afghanistan, even the suspicion of collaboration with American forces has triggered executions.
It has always been difficult to find a balance between the demands of security and robust journalism. Senior intelligence officials were never comfortable with the notion that the press had a right to overrule their judgment of what should be kept secret. For their part, reporters worried that officials would exaggerate the dangers of publication to block embarrassing stories.
When I was a national security reporter, I agreed several times to delay publication of a story or omit certain details. Once, I delayed an article disclosing that Jordanian intelligence had planted an operative inside a Palestinian terrorist group.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post agreed to withhold certain details from a searchable database that included the locations of thousands of facilities performing top secret work. “One government body objected to certain data points on the site and explained why; we removed those items,” the Post told its readers, adding that it did not heed the complaints of another agency that “objected that the entire Web site could pose a national security risk but declined to offer specific comments.”
The ferment over WikiLeaks brings the government and journalists closer to confronting a question neither side really wants to join: Is there anything more society could do, or should do, to prevent the release of properly secret information?
Suspicions have been deepened whenever the government declassified large quantities of documents and it became clear that the “secret” stamp was frequently wielded to conceal mistakes and misconduct, not information sensitive to national security.
There have been some notable clashes between the press and government over secrecy. In 2005, The New York Times brushed aside protests from the Bush administration and revealed that the National Security Agency had been intercepting communications involving American citizens without court approval. The Bush administration argued that the program was legal and an essential weapon in the war on terrorism. Times editors pushed ahead, even after being told they would have “blood” on their hands if there were another terrorism attack against Americans. Public reaction to the Times revelation ranged from praise for uncovering the program to suggestions that Times editors be tried for treason.
Ultimately, the administration did nothing.
The issue of how the press should handle nationally significant government documents was joined in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case when the Nixon administration attempted to prevent The Times and Washington Post from continuing publication of a secret history of the Vietnam war. By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court held that such prior restraint violated the First Amendment.
But four justices raised the possibility that courts could apply a 1950 provision of the Espionage Act that, while it didn’t call for blocking publication in advance, made news organizations criminally liable for publishing secrets derived from communications intercepts or code-breaking. This law, passed at the outset of the Cold War, is routinely violated but has never been enforced. It is notable because it focuses on publication. Every other part of the Espionage Act, which originally passed in 1917, focuses on punishing the individuals who pass “information relating to the national defense,” to a “foreign government.”
It was clear to me in my years covering national security for The New York Times (1985-1990) that neither side really wanted to test the constitutionality of this statute. A significant percentage of the government’s classified documents include material derived from eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. The Bush administration could easily have charged the Times with a criminal violation in 2005 over its revelations about an NSA eavesdropping program; it chose not to do so.
The WikiLeaks episode illustrates how much has changed in just a few years. Government officials hoping to leak classified material once had to make contact with a reporter, build trust and physically carry documents out of their offices to a safe location. An editor would then study the material and decide whether it was newsworthy.
Now, the aspiring leaker need only find a way to bypass the government’s security procedures and zip an e-mail to a secure server. As the Washington Post series documents, the number of people with security clearances is exploding. Future leaks are inevitable.
It does not appear that many of the Afghanistan war documents posted this week derive from electronic intercepts. But someday soon, something will find its way on the Web that precisely fits the 1950 act. At that moment, whoever is president will face some very uncomfortable choices.
This article, by Stephen Engelberg, originally appeared on ProPublica.
A Reading List to Put the WikiLeaks War Logs in Context
This article, by Nicholas Kusnetz and Karen Weise, originally appeared on ProPublica.
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Monday morning, The New York Times, England’s The Guardian and Germany’s Der Spiegel published reports on what’s been termed the “War Logs”–nearly 92,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan made public by WikiLeaks. To put the leaked documents in context, we pulled together some of the best, past reporting on the main themes in the reports.
Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan
The documents suggest that Pakistan’s intelligence service has been aiding the Taliban and the Afghan insurgency. (See some of the documents here.) At the heart of this debate is the question Dexter Filkins posed in his Pulitzer-Prize winning coverage in late 2007: “Whose side is Pakistan really on?”
Much of the reporting on this issue centers on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Taliban warlords and Al Qaeda have a strong base. A “Frontline” documentary from 2006 looked at those groups’ presence in the Waziristan region, and how the Taliban there received assistance from the Pakistan intelligence service. Later, The New York Times’ David Rohde detailed the inner workings of the Taliban in the region in his account of his kidnapping in 2009, when he was taken over the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Further south in Pakistan, the Taliban has grown in Quetta, where, as Carlotta Gall wrote in 2007, there were signs that “Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them.”
For more analysis, in a 2008 Q&A with Harpers, the Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid explained that the roots of Pakistan’s covert support for the Taliban solidified when the U.S. focused on hunting down Al Qaeda after Sept. 11, leaving the Taliban free to develop in Pakistan. Now, the New Yorker’s Steve Coll says Pakistan’s military believes that Islamic militias could be “useful proxies to ward off a perceived existential threat from India.”
One particular member of Pakistan’s intelligence agency frequently appeared in the WikiLeaks documents. According to the documents, the agency’s former director, Hamid Gul, has strong connections with the Taliban and has been supporting the Afghan insurgency. The Washington Post’s Candace Rondeaux profiled Gul last year, when he was implicated in the bombings in Mumbai.
From the beginning of the war, press reports have drawn attention to civilian deaths resulting from U.S. and NATO strikes in Afghanistan. One Washington Post report from October 2001 noted growing concern among Afghans over errant airstrikes, saying locals were beginning to view Americans as just another in the long line of invaders that had come through the country.
Just months later, The New York Times reported that American attacks had already killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Afghan civilians. The story line was much the same in 2007, when the Times reported that civilian deaths were causing divisions within NATO and undermining support for the Afghan government. The reports range far and wide, but below is a sampling of some of the most devastating attacks in recent years.
In April 2007, Marines opened fire on unarmed civilians and killed 10 people, wounding more than 30 others. The Washington Post reported it was “one of the largest“ civilian death tolls since the war had begun.
In August 2008, the Post noted that increased reliance on airstrikes had led to more civilian deaths, including one attack that killed at least 90 innocent Afghans.
In an incident highlighted in the Times’ coverage of the WikiLeaks documents, NATO bombs targeted a couple of hijacked fuel tankers and killed more than 100 people in Kunduz Province last September. At the time, The Washington Post reported that at least a dozen of the victims were civilians. The leaked documents show the military concluded the strike had killed 56 people, none of them insurgents.
Today, the Times reported that a NATO strike in Helmand Province killed 52 people, according to Afghan officials. American military officials did not deny the report, but said it was premature to reach any conclusions.
The Times reports that the leaked documents also include details on secret commando raids, citing notable successes but also increased civilian casualties from the operations. In February of last year, the paper detailed just such a raid, in which bearded American and Afghan forces kicked open the door to one man’s house. The story recounts how Syed Mohammed was taken from his home by the commandos and interrogated for several hours before being released:
“When he returned home, Mr. Mohammed said, he went next door to his son’s house, only to find that most of his family had been killed: the son, Nurallah, and his pregnant wife and two of his sons, Abdul Basit, age 1, and Mohammed, 2. Only Mr. Mohammed’s 4-year-old grandson, Zarqawi, survived.”
A month later, the Times was reporting that the military had temporarily halted such raids after media coverage and a U.N. report that singled out the secret missions for contributing to a rising civilian death toll.
The Times says the documents show that drone aircraft have not been as “impressive” as they are typically portrayed. “Some crash or collide, forcing American troops to undertake risky retrieval missions before the Taliban can claim the drone’s weaponry,” the Times writes. The documents mention one situation of a drone that went “rogue” and eventually had to be shot down by a fighter jet before it crossed out of Afghan territory.
The drones have become an increasingly popular tool for the military. Because they’re operated off-site, in theory they reduce casualties for U.S. troops. NPR and “60 Minutes“ each went inside the Nevada headquarters of the Army’s drone operations, where pilots use remote controls to fly and monitor the drones. They use satellites and a camera mounted inside to be the eyes of the drone, which NPR said was like “seeing the world through a soda straw.”
The drones are gaining popularity not only with the Army, but with the CIA as well. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer looked at the how the CIA’s increased dependence on drones represent “a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.”