Wikileaks is just warming up and democracy should be thankful

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

An exciting time to be a journalist and citizen of the world. Wikileaks is showing the corporate media that transparency and real reporting is the only way forward, if they want to remain relevant and not tied to establishment interests:

The Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, said today that the organisation is working through a “backlog” of further secret material and was expecting a “substantial increase in submissions” from whistleblowers after one of the biggest leaks in US military history.

Speaking in London after his website published more than 92,000 classified military logs relating to the war in Afghanistan, Assange said that he hoped for an “age of the whistleblower” in which more people would come forward with information they believed should be published.

Assange said that the site, which currently operates with a small dedicated team but has a network of about 800 volunteers, had a “backlog” of more material which only “just scratched the surface”.

While he would not be drawn into commenting on the nature of the material, he said that the organisation held “several million files” that “concern every country in the world with a population over 1 million”.

He said the site had undergone a “publishing haitus” since December during a period of re-engineering. Assange suggested a clear step-up of operations and said that there were difficulties in changing from a small to large organisation while ensuring it would still be able to work in a secure way.

“My greatest fear is that we will be too successful too fast and won’t be able to do justice to the material,” he said.

He said that from past experience the organisation was expecting more material to add to the backlog. He said that after the site leaked details of one incident that killed 51 people in Afghanistan, “we received substantial increase in submissions”.

“Courage is contagious,” he added. “Sources are encouraged by the opportunities they see in front of them.”

A day at Revolution Books

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

Yesterday’s event at New York’s Revolution Books alongside writer and author Michael Ottermaninterviewed today about Iraqi casualties on NPR – was a unique opportunity to discuss Palestine and Iraq. We talked about the hidden civilian trauma, power of the US to wage war with little social cost inside the country, the power of the war and Zionist lobbies and appetite for change.

I was struck by both a frustration and determination of the crowd to not allow a strike to occur against Iran, a real fear, and to find ways to support those at the end of American and Israeli missiles.

The anti-war movement in the US is weak and Barack Obama has captured too many on the Left to remain silent or scared (because the opposition may be far worse.)

But the event yesterday at Revolutions Books showed that growing numbers of people refuse to accept the pro-war sentiments of both the Democrats and Republicans. Peace making is far more difficult.

The hidden Tamil nightmare

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

The ongoing forgotten war in Sri Lanka; forced detention, lack of work for women and disappearances.

Times buries civilian killings in Wikileaks story

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

Note the difference between the New York Times and Guardian dealing with the Wikileaks revelations over Afghanistan.

Australian Zionist head wants West Bank settlements to thrive

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

So this is how it is. A senior Jewish leader in Australia defending the illegal colonies in the West Bank.

For shame:

The elected leader of Australian Jewry blasted his Christian counterpart over an “ill-considered” resolution asking churches to boycott goods produced by West Bank Jews.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Robert Goot, in a letter last Friday to the National Council of Churches in Australia’s general secretary, the Rev. Tara Curlewis, said the resolution passed by Australia’s top ecumenical body “revived painful memories for Jews in Australia of earlier times in Europe when churches allowed themselves to be swept up in the tide of popular prejudices against the Jewish people.”

The resolution, passed during the organization’s seventh triennial forum held July 9-13, called on member churches to “consider boycotting particular goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Curlewis said in a statement that she “hoped that such actions will liberate the people from an experience of injustice to one where a just and definitive peace may be reached.”

The resolution also affirmed the right to exist for Israel and a Palestinian state within secure internationally recognized borders, and it condemned all acts of terrorism.

Goot, saying he felt “badly let down by people we have long thought of as our friends,” asked to be able to present a critique of the resolution to the executive of the National Council of Churches.

The council of churches comprises 17 groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and the Uniting Church. It was a founding partner of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews, a body founded in 2003 alongside the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

Why can’t Australians speak to refugees?

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

The Australian election arrives on 21 August and refugees remain a convenient punching bag.

Election Wire website journalist Austin G. Mackell visits Villawood detention centre in Sydney and shows the absurdity of the way in which Australia treats the handful of asylum seekers arriving by boat:

Real journalists welcome Wikileaks and don’t feel threatened by its power

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

For those wondering about the history of Wikileaks reporting, I’ve been writing about the website for years, including an interview with founder Julian Assange in 2008.

The West dances with the Pakistani devil

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

This is what happens when the world’s only super-power, with client state support (hello Australia) engage in a war with no end with partners who loathe your presence:

Former Pakistani spy agency chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul denied that he has any links to al Qaeda or Taliban insurgents and said he is willing to go to America to face any charges.

“Report of my physical involvement with al Qaeda or Taliban in planning attacks on American forces is completely baseless,” the former Inter-Services Intelligence chief said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I am not against America, but I am opposed to what the American forces are doing in Afghanistan.”

Wikileaks reveals the supposed trail of Bin Laden in Afghanistan (maybe)

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

Wired reveals yet another angle of the invaluable Wikileaks information dump:

Most of the reports catalog counterinsurgency’s basics — weapons caches found, gun battles fought, village elders chatted up. But buried in the tens of thousands of U.S. military logs dropped Sunday night by WikiLeaks are incidents that are anything but routine: a suspected chemical weapon attack by the Taliban; rumors of Al Qaeda poisoning the U.S. military food supply; a tip about Osama Bin Laden’s status.

WikiLeaks’ massive trove of field reports from Afghanistan documents many things. One is that the fog of war can lead troops down some awfully strange paths. Especially when RUMINT (mil-speak for “rumor intelligence”) becomes the guide.

Shortly after 10:30am on Valentine’s Day, 2009, a special operations unit was on a mine-clearing patrol when they were ambushed. Insurgents detonated a bomb, fired at the troops, and then fled. For five hours, the spec ops forces pursed. Finally, they called in air support. A pair of French Mirage fighter jets dropped a pair of guided bombs. The troops “engaged and destroyed” two insurgent spotters.

The commandos found a second improvised explosive, destroyed it, and continued north. They discovered a third bomb. And when they set it off, “a yellow cloud was emitted and personnel began feeling nauseous. FF [friendly forces] collected dust samples and returned to base. Currently conducting SSE [sensitive site exploitation] of clothing and equipment while awaiting decon [decontamination] teams to confirm or deny chemical attack. A total of 7x US MIL, 1x Interpreter and 1x K-9 dog reporting symptoms,” read the report from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. “Will inform if chemical attack is confirmed.”

Six hours later came a second report. “CJSOTF unit has returned to base for treatment and analysis. Initial Medical assessment is that none of the personnel are currently experiencing symptoms… CJSOTF surgeon assessed no need to MEDEVAC [medical evacuate] any personnel. The individuals have been placed on 24 hour stand down. SSE Team from KAF [Kandahar Air Field] will fly to FB Cobra on 15FEB09 to conduct testing for any residual chemicals or materials on personnel and equipment. The results of this testing will confirm or deny this event as a CBRN [chemical biological radiological nuclear] attack.”

There are no indications in the WikiLeaks database that this was confirmed as a chemical attack; I suspect it wasn’t. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen accounts fearing that al-Qaeda or the Taliban experimented with chemical weapons.

Is a journalist’s job to please or offend the White House over Wikileaks? Obvious, really

Posted: 26 Jul 2010

Wikileaks, the world’s first stateless news organisation.

And a modern dilemma for hyper-connected media companies, so used to being on the drip feed of the establishment:

The WikiLeaks report presented a unique dilemma to the three papers given advance copies of the 92,000 reports included in the Afghan war logs — the New York Times, Germany’s Der Speigel and the UK’s Guardian.

The editors couldn’t verify the source of the reports — as they would have done if their own staffers had obtained them — and they couldn’t stop WikiLeaks from posting it, whether they wrote about it or not.

So they were basically left with proving veracity through official sources and picking through the pile for the bits that seemed to be the most truthful.

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