WikiLeaks Represents New Journalism
Truth is the leaking of these classified files is also an indictment of American mediaâ€™s failure. Whistleblowersâ€”and regular Americansâ€”no longer trust paragons of journalism, like the New York Times, whoâ€™ve become too cozy with power to challenge power. Thankfully, in this new media landscape, we have organizations like Wikileaks.
[Speeaking Truth To Power]
Is the release of military reports by the Wikileaks website a threat to “national security” or beneficial to true democracy?
Since the July 25 release of some 75,000 military documents, called “The Afghan War Diaries,” a fervent debate has ignited regarding the propriety of publicly releasing classified secrets, which has thrust Wikileaks squarely into the worldwide spotlight. Wikileaks published the documents on their website and furnished copies to three newspapers: Der Spiegel, of Germany, The Guardian, of England, and the New York Times.
Wikileaks is a Swedish-based international company, started in 2006, that publishes documents, often of a controversial nature, by anonymous sources. The organization, founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, and academics, is operated by Sunshine Press. Its director is the Australian-born activist, journalist Julian Assange.
The Wikileaks’ reports present a starkly different picture than the one America’s government has been painting.
It contradicts the rosy assessments of officials that the war was being won with limited civilian casualties and illustrates the Taliban insurgency is much more resilient, with the fighters better equipped, than reported. Worst of all, it shows that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) may well be aiding and abetting the Taliban.
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers exposed the lies relating to that era’s military misadventure: the Vietnam War. Ellsberg Xeroxed 7,000 high-leveled classified documents and was called, by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, “the most dangerous man in America.” The Obama Administration has labeled the Wikileaks’ disclosures “irresponsible” and the Pentagon has insinuated the documents could “potentially” cause harm in the fight against “terrorism.”
Wikileaks has maintained their organization vetted the documents before publication. Some 15, 000 reports are being withheld by Wikileaks “as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source.” 22-year-old Pfc. Bradley Manning is, apparently, being held in connection with being that “source.” Some believe he’s the supplier of those documents, along with the “Collateral Murder” video, showing the killing of 12 people in Iraq on July, 12, 2007. Reuters’ newsmen Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen were killed in that attack. Reuters had, unsuccessfully, tried for years to obtain a copy of the video.
Wikileaks hasn’t confirmed Pfc. Manning is the source. And, they insist “we never collect personal information on our sources.” However, they’ve “taken steps to arrange for his protection and legal defense.” Manning was, reportedly, turned in by hacker Adrian Lamo, who he told. According to Lamo, Manning said he obtained some 250,000 State Department cables. Pfc. Manning is facing 52 years. Wikileaks’ director, Julian Assange, is now being compared to Daniel Ellsberg as the “most dangerous man in the world” today. But Assange states “the most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war. And they need to be stopped.”
“They” do need to be stopped. Perhaps, Wikileaks is illustrating a way to do so by exposing the lies and war crimes of our leaders. The Administration and the Pentagon have decried the disclosures saying that it could endanger “national security.” Where have we heard that before? The Bush White House used this red herring excuse, repeatedly, to hide their illegal actions and war crimes from the American people. But the truth can’t be detained indefinitely. The Pentagon claims these leaks could “potentially” cost the lives of American soldiers. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, said Julian Assange may eventually have “blood on his hands.” What about the blood on the hands of America?
Though they claim the leaks were “irresponsible,” this White House said these documents reveal nothing new. Are they saying this to hide the fact our government covered up evidence Taliban fighters were in possession of lethal surface-to-air missiles? Are they trying to conceal the increased use of drone strikes, which often kill civilians?
Isn’t the government’s real fear that these leaks will expose the war crimes being perpetrated by American soldiers, similar to the November, 2005 Haditha Massacre, in Iraq, that killed 24 civilians? The Afghan Diaries contain several reports of innocent Afghans slaughtered, including women and children. It’s abundantly clear the civilian casualties—a non-story in so-called mainstream media—is much higher that most Americans are aware of.
Some are now calling for the arrest of Wikileaks director Julian Assange. According to Assange “sources advise from inside the US government that there were thoughts of whether I could be charged as a co-conspirator to espionage.” The American media has been shameful in its collusive response to the atrocities contained in the documents. Moreover, they have been less than supportive of the work of Assange. Is it because Wikileaks is doing the work American media should be in exposing the crimes of government?
Truth is the leaking of these classified files is also an indictment of American media’s failure. Whistleblowers—and regular Americans—no longer trust paragons of journalism, like the New York Times, who’ve become too cozy with power to challenge power. Thankfully, in this new media landscape, we have organizations like Wikileaks.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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