WikiLeaks, the nonprofit media organization which provides an anonymous way for people to leak classified information, began releasing more than 250,000 confidential U.S. Embassy cables on Nov. 28, 2010. Each one of these documents is either a diplomatic cable sent to the United States, or a communiquÃ© from the secretary of state to U.S. bases or embassies.
Earlier this year, on April 5, the four-year-old company founded by Julian Assange exposed a U.S. military video shot in 2007 from an Apache helicopter, showing the unprovoked killing of a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters news staff. Since then WikiLeaks has made public its War Logs–”hundreds of thousands of secret reports from 2004 through 2009 from U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unlike earlier disclosures by WikiLeaks, the group is releasing only a few cables at a time to the public. Assange shared all the classified U.S. State Department material in advance with select mainstream newspapers: Le Monde in France, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany. The Guardian sent the material toThe New York Times. The five news organizations have worked together to plan the timing of their reports, select which documents to release publicly, and decide what names and details to remove or redact.
Why did Assange, the 39-year-old Australian computer hacker turned Internet activist, whose international organization has no fixed address nor central headquarters, allow the establishment media to pick and choose what to make public? The answer, according to his Web site, is: "The established partners chosen were among the few with the resources necessary to spend many weeks ahead of publication making a start on their analysis."
Indeed, it must have taken a great deal of time to examine a quarter-million confidential communications between the State Department in Washington, DC and 274 embassies in countries throughout the world. The newspapers waded through documents dating from 1966 until the end of February 2010–”minus some vital months, apparently–”and concluded that Iran’s Arab neighbors supported war. It does seem odd for WikiLeaks to have collaborated with some of the very newspapers who skewed the news that helped get us into war in Iraq.
"They are releasing the documents we selected," Le Monde‘s managing editor, Sylvie Kauffmann, said in an interview with the Associated Press, published on Dec. 3. "We are releasing only what is interesting," she said. "I couldn’t tell you the proportion, but the vast majority of these documents are of no journalistic interest." It just so happens all the interesting stuff promotes a war on Iran.
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller told readers that his paper also has suggested to WikiLeaks what information should be withheld. The Times asked U.S. government officials to weigh in on some of the documents the newspaper and its partners proposed to publish. "Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity," Keller said.
So far the WikiLeaks revelations don’t offer big surprises to informed observers, Eric Margolis, a frequent contributor to the Washington Report, acknowledges: "Note the total absence of any criticism of Israel in spite of the fact that it is so deeply involved in making U.S. Mideast policy." He and other experts agree, "It’s all Iran, all the time…But there’s something about WikiLeaks that smells nasty to me," Margolis says. "I sense the leaks have been heavily censored, or cherry-picked before the public saw them. Much seems to be missing."
The New York Times appeared to use the cables selectively to push its "pro-war position in Afghanistan and press for war against Iran," Margolis charges. "The ‘revelations’ brought cheers from the Israel lobby which has been beating the war drums against Iran."
According to an article published in the Nov. 28 edition of Haaretz, WikiLeaks documents reveal that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority and Egypt before it launched Operation Cast Lead. In June 2009 Barak told a delegation of U.S. members of Congress he’d asked whether Egypt or Fatah were willing to take over control of the Gaza Strip after Israel’s expected victory–”but "not surprisingly" Israel "received negative answers from both." Similar reports linking the PA and Egypt to Israel’s attack on Gaza had surfaced in the past, but the cable released by WikiLeaks represents the first documented proof.
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat said he attended a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several months before Israel’s attack: "We knew about the war because the Israelis were saying there was going to be a war." According to Erekat, Abbas asked Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to go to war, saying "he would not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank."
An Arabic investigative journalism Web site in Jordan, Al-Haqiqa, claims Assange received money from Israeli sources whom he promised, in a "secret, video-recorded agreement," not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests. The Israeli government found out that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, said to have originated mainly from the American embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, were removed and possibly destroyed by Assange. The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organization in the last few months over Assange’s "autocratic leadership" and "lack of transparency."
Alan Hart, with the non-profit Web site Redress Information and Analysis, points out that the information made available in the WikiLeaks cables is not new, but "confirmatory for informed journalists and politicians." The real problem, he says, is the "lack of integrity" in the mainstream media, especially in America, when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Mideast conflict. Like many commentators, Hart thought a case could be made that "the avalanche of documents being released by WikiLeaks is part and parcel of an Israeli/Mossad deception strategy. One implication being that WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange is, knowingly or not, manipulated by Zionism."
The mainstream media knowingly peddles Zionist propaganda, Hart adds, or in other cases self-censors the truth about Israeli crimes out of fear of offending Zionists. Hart now says he believes that, "The problem is not the manipulation of WikiLeaks by any foreign intelligence service but, in effect, the manipulation by key players in the mainstream media, in America especially, of the material WikiLeaks is providing."
Hart also points out that following the release of the cables, Assange has damaged his own cause by releasing details of facilities around the world which U.S. authorities regard as being vital to American national security. Now his enemies feel justified in trying to silence him–”some of them permanently.
"A dead man can’t leak stuff," said American political commentator and Fox News analyst Bob Beckel on the Fox Business show "Follow The Money" on Dec. 8. "We’ve got special ops forces. This guy’s a traitor, he’s treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States…there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a —–."
"Obama, if you’re listening today, you should take this guy out; have the CIA take him out," said Bo Dietl, a former New York City police detective, on the same show. "He’s a blackmailer, extortionist, terrorist," said Joel Mowbray, an investigative journalist who was part of the panel discussion. "If the U.S. actually wants him dead, they’re not going to go through an extradition," Mowbray added.
"We do, every night, in Afghanistan, there are special operations forces that go after the enemies of the United States. This man [Assange] is an enemy of the United States," concluded Beckel.
Assange turned himself in to police on Dec. 7, just hours after Britain received a formal warrant for his arrest from Swedish authorities. He was scheduled to remain in custody until a Dec. 14 hearing on his possible extradition to Sweden. He is wanted for questioning–”not for posting classified documents, but over dubious allegations that he sexually assaulted two women.
"Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted," Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger at Salon.com, told "Democracy Now!" on Dec. 7. "Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from the Internet…their funds have been frozen…media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and [for them] to be labeled a terrorist organization."
That hasn’t stopped WikiLeaks, however. Now that this Pandora’s Box has been opened, it doubtless will bring troubles to Iran, the United States and its allies–”to every country, that is, but Israel.