Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why Wiki leaks

Anisa Abd el Fattah

As a result of downloading and sharing with various news outlets, highly sensitive and sometimes classified information never made public before, an organization known as Wikileaks has been catapulted onto the front pages of every major newspaper in the world. As a result, people everywhere are asking who is behind the Wikileaks operation and why Wiki is leaking.

These are good questions considering that the organization seems to have access not only to extremely sensitive US government defense files, but also diplomatic cables between embassies and secret information belonging to banks and powerful corporations. Most government and bank employees don’t have access to this type of information, which makes it clear that Wikileaks activists are not simply disgruntled government or bank employees as some might suspect, just having a good time embarrassing and frustrating the US government and major banks. It’s also pretty clear that Wikileaks is not an organization that is being energized by a desire for publicity and or notoriety, since it seems that only its founder and leader, Julian Assange is recognizable.

Questions that seek to ascertain if indeed Wikileaks is a criminal enterprise seem to have taken a backseat to a more philosophical conversation that focuses mostly on the morality of what Wikileaks does. That conversation is saturated with somewhat esoteric idealism that pits the small and anonymous Wikileaks in opposition to a government and elite behemoth that is wrapped in unnecessary secrecy. In this respect, it is the secrecy itself that is the target and the details of what is actually being leaked, and its potentially negative impact is seen as merely collateral damage in a war being fought for greater transparency. Wikileaks describes itself in such terms saying on its website:

"Wikileaks is a non profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish information of ethical, political and historical significance, while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices."

Wikileaks heads one of its various websites with a banner saying, “Keep us strong, help Wikileaks keep governments open.”

On the other side of the conversation are those who say that Wikileaks is a criminal outfit that is carrying out cyber warfare against the United States. In a USA Today article, (Wikileaks actions: An act of cyber war?) former State Department official under the Bush administration, Christian Whiton said;

“Assaulting the company electronically is something worth trying…it buys you time to go after the organization in other ways.” According to the article, Whiton believes that Wikileaks is a “foreign organization trying to impede US policy.” [1]

US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that Wikileaks is the subject of an “active and ongoing criminal investigation.” This statement is contextualized by Holder’s earlier statement, where he said, “To the extent that we can find anybody involved in the breaking of America law, who put at risk the assets and the people I have described…” [2]

Between these two opinions of Wikileaks in respect to its motives, there still lies the question of Wikileaks criminality. To most observers it is obvious that Wikileaks is not an overtly criminal operation. There does not seem to be any statute that criminalizes publishing sensitive information that has been censored to protect the names of US assets and to censor other information that might be deemed harmful to US interests. According to The New York Times and other news outlets that actually published the information, all information deemed harmful to US interests and assets was redacted.

On December 8th, 2010 National Public Radio,(NPR) aired a program called Fresh Air, which is hosted by Terry Goss. Goss interviewed the New York Time’s Washington Correspondent David Sanger. Sanger makes it clear in the interview that the New York Times acted in cooperation with the US government to insure that no Wikileaks information was released that would harm US interests in any significant way.

An online journal known as Global published a transcript of the Sanger interview. In the introduction to the transcript, Michael Chossodovsky, the sites founder and editor wrote the following observations:

"The following transcript points to the involvement of the corporate media including the New York Times in the Wikileaks project. How do we interpret this relationship? The corporate media is the source of disinformation and at the same time it is supporting "transparency" and truth in media. David E. Sanger, Washington Correspondent of the New York Times, worked closely with Wikileaks. He was involved in the distribution, editing and dissemination of the leaked documents. Sanger is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Aspen Strategy Group together with Madeleine K. Albright, Richard Hass, R Talbott, Robert.B. Zoellick (president of the World Bank), and Philip Zelikow (formerly executive director of the 9/11 Commission).

We have highlighted a number of important statements in the first part of this interview, which confirm that the NYT has not only been involved in the selection and redacting of the Wikileaks documents, it has undertaken these activities in consultation with the US government.

Unquestionably the released documents constitute an important data bank in their own right. The question is who controls and oversees the selection, distribution and editing of the released documents to the broader public. What interests are being served?"[3]

Along with those who don't feel that Wikileaks is a criminal enterprise, and that Wikileaks in fact works in cooperation with the US government, there are also those who feel that Wikileaks has been used by the Israeli government to leak information that actually facilitates Israel’s foreign policy objectives that include a US war with Iran.

In an article published by World Bulletin, (Wikileaks-The Tel Aviv Connection) author Jeff Gates wrote:

"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Con me consistently for six decades and the relationship is over, as is Israel’s credibility as a legitimate nation state. Tel Aviv knows this, but what can the Zionist state do about it? Answer: Wikileaks. Why now? Misdirection!" [4]

In Gate’s opinion, Wikileaks is possibly a Mossad operation. He said,”

"Any credible forensics would start by asking: “To what benefit?” Then look to the means, motive and opportunity plus the presence of stable nation-state intelligence inside the US. Other than Israel, who else is a credible candidate? Notice how quickly Israel’s role in the peace process vanished from the news. Now, its Iran, Iran, Iran. To whose benefit? Tel Aviv knows that the phony intelligence on Iraq leads to those skilled at waging war “by way of deception” the Mossad." [5]

Gates goes on to say: “Wikileaks are noteworthy for what’s missing: the absence of any material damaging to Israel goals. But still, Tel Aviv faces an unprecedented peril: transparency. Americans know they were duped. And Israel rightly fears that Americans will soon realize by whom.”

In the most recent development, US Senator Joseph Lieberman along with Senator Diane Feinstein, is seeking to have Wikileaks founder Julian Assange prosecuted under an antiquated and highly controversial law known as the Espionage Act. Sounding the alarm on this approach in an article published by the Huffington Post (Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Aggression Against the People of the United States, Dec.10, 2010) writer Naomi Wolf wrote,

"Presidential candidate Eugene Debs received a ten-year prison sentence in 1918 under the Espionage Act for daring to read the First Amendment in public. The roundup of ordinary citizens -- charged with the Espionage Act -- who were jailed for daring to criticize the government, was so effective in deterring others from speaking up that the Act silenced dissent in this country for a decade. In the wake of this traumatic history, it was left untouched -- until those who wish the same outcome began to try to reanimate it again starting five years ago, and once again, now. Seeing the Espionage Act rise up again is, for anyone who knows a thing about it, like seeing the end of a horror movie in which the zombie that has enslaved the village just won't die."[6]

It is no secret that for years Joseph Lieberman has sought some way to criminalize free speech in respect to a citizen’s right to criticize the government and government allies, most specifically Israel. There have also been rumors that one of the uses that Israel has for Wikileaks is to create a crisis and a cause for emergency measures to be put in place that would supposedly stop the leaks and the danger they allegedly represent to the US government and its interest requiring internet censorship. Now it seems that it might also be used to revive an ancient law, antiquated mostly due to its blatant violation of the US Constitution’s first amendment.

Also, none of us are likely to ever forget former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel’s’ remark that no crisis should ever go unexploited. In respect to the Wikileaks leaks, it seems that for whatever reason Wiki leaks, its leaks have served more than the cause of transparency.

[1] USA Today, Wikileaks actions: An act of cyberwar? http:/

[2] Jonathan M. Seidl, “AG Holder says Wikileaks under criminal investigation” stories/holder-says-wikileaks-under-criminal-investigation/

[3] PBS Interview: “The Redacting and Selection of Wikileaks documents by the Corporate Media”, cited at Global Research;

[4] http:/ .php?id=66903

[5] Ibid.