On 26 July, Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. Wikileaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing for both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times are a fraction.
There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “hunted down” and “rendered”. In Washington, I interviewed a senior Defence Department official and asked, “Can you give a guarantee that the editors of Wikileaks and the editor in chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?” He replied, “It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything”. He referred me to the “ongoing criminal investigation” of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to “fatally marginalise” Wikileaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.
On 31 July, the American celebrity reporter Christiane Amanapour interviewed Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on the ABC network. She invited Gates to describe to her viewers his “anger” at Wikileaks. She echoed the Pentagon line that “this leak has blood on its hands”, thereby cueing Gates to find Wikileaks “guilty” of “moral culpability”. Such hypocrisy coming from a regime drenched in the blood of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq – as its own files make clear – is apparently not for journalistic enquiry. This is hardly surprising now that a new and fearless form of public accountability, which Wikileaks represents, threatens not only the war-makers but their apologists.
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John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. His latest film is The War on Democracy. His most recent book is Freedom Next Time (Bantam/Random House, 2006).
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blames Pentagon ‘dirty tricks’ campaign after Sweden revokes rape arrest warrant
By Mail Foreign Service / August 22, 2010
The controversial founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks today pointed to ‘Pentagon dirty tricks’ as the likely source of false rape allegations against him. And he revealed he had been warned in the past he could be the target of a ‘sex trap’.
Julian Assange dismissed the rape and other sex abuse accusations, saying he had never had sex which was not consensual. The secretive Australian spoke out in Sweden after authorities there revoked a short-lived warrant against him on a rape claim, saying the accusation against him had no substance.
Prosecutors said however he remained under suspicion of a lesser crime of sexual molestation in a separate case, but that an arrest warrant would not be issued. Swedish papers reported yesterday that Assange, 39, was wanted for the rape of one woman, while another had accused him of ‘sexual molestation’, which usually refers to ‘inappropriate sexual contact with another adult’.
Assange’s website caused a storm last month when it posted 77,000 Afghan war documents online, many highly critical of the allied forces. The move led to claims it had put the lives of troops and security sources at risk.
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