[Marxism] Wikileaks takes new approach in latest release of documents
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Mon Jul 26 06:15:30 MDT 2010
Wikileaks takes new approach in latest release of documents
By Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 26, 2010; A14
Wikileaks' decision to transfer tens of thousands of raw classified
field reports on the Afghan war to the New York Times and two European
news organizations reflects the growing strength and sophistication of
the small nonprofit Web site, founded three years ago to fight what it
considers excessive secrecy.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called the release of nearly 92,000
individual reports portraying a sputtering Afghan war effort "the
nearest analogue to the Pentagon Papers." He was referring to the secret
military documents that helped shift public opinion about the Vietnam
War after they became public in 1971.
"It provides a whole map, if you like, through time, of what has
happened during this war," said Assange, a native of Australia, in a
television interview broadcast Sunday on Britain's public-service Channel 4.
He acknowledged that some will judge harshly the Web site's airing of
classified documents, but he insisted that Wikileaks was not breaking
the law or putting troops at risk. For the first time, Wikileaks decided
unilaterally to delay the release of some documents because of the
possibility that putting them out immediately could cause harm, he said.
"We believe that the way to justice is transparency, and we are clear
that the end goal is to expose injustices in the world and try to
rectify them," Assange said.
The publication of the documents also feeds an appetite for greater
disclosure about the war, now in its ninth year.
"People want more details," said Steven Aftergood, director of the
Federation for American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. "They
want greater clarity and greater candor than they have gotten up to this
point. Wikileaks, in this case, has filled a void left by the Pentagon."
The White House responded critically to the documents' release. "The
United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information
by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans
and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," national
security adviser James Jones said in a statement.
Jones called the leaks "irresponsible" and said the White House only
learned from news organizations that the documents would be posted
online. A senior administration official said officials are reviewing
the documents to decide whether to take legal action against the site.
Assange asserted that Wikileaks does not "have a view about whether the
war should continue or stop." But he added: "We do have a view that it
should be prosecuted as humanely as possible."
Wikileaks, an amorphous network run by volunteers in more than a dozen
countries, gained global prominence this year when it posted a video of
a secret U.S. military helicopter attack in Iraq that killed civilians.
An edited, 17-minute version of the gunship-footage video appeared on
the Wikileaks site on April 5 under the heading "collateral murder," a
label that drew harsh criticism from military officials and many media
In this case, rather than conduct its own assessment of the documents,
Wikileaks selectively provided the files to the Times, the London-based
Guardian newspaper and the German magazine Der Spiegel. The three
outlets agreed to publish simultaneously, though each organization did
its own reporting and produced its own stories.
The move to let established journalistic organizations do the reporting
and analysis "may reflect a maturing of the organization and model that
they have adopted," Aftergood said.
The news organizations said they agreed they would not disclose anything
likely to put lives at risk or jeopardize military or antiterrorist
operations. The Guardian Web site noted that most of the material,
though classified "secret" at the time, "is no longer militarily
sensitive." At the request of the White House, the Times also urged
Wikileaks to withhold harmful material from its Web site.
In a statement on its Web site, Wikileaks said it delayed the release of
about 15,000 reports from the total archive "as part of a harm
minimization process demanded by our source." After further review,
Wikileaks said, "these reports will be released, with occasional
redactions, and eventually, in full, as the security situation in
Wikileaks has declined to identify the person behind the latest leak.
Assange said the names of leakers are generally unknown, even to the
Lt. Cmdr. Bill H. Speaks, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, declined
to say whether military officials are investigating if Pfc. Bradley
Manning, recently charged with leaking classified military documents,
provided this latest material to Wikileaks.
Wikileaks' methods have often overshadowed the significance of the
documents it sought to publish. Governments and corporations around the
world have sought to shut down the organization through the courts or,
in some cases, through cyber attacks on the Web site. Both the Pentagon
and CIA in internal documents have declared Wikileaks a national
Assange said he expects that Americans will respond as they did nearly
40 years ago to the Pentagon Papers.
"They will see the extensive range of abuses, and if they are
intelligent they will say, 'This will not happen again; we will put in
procedures to stop these abuses, to stop this,'" he said.
Staff writers Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.
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