On nous avait dit de nous attendre à des coups tordus. Nous venons de recevoir le premier. WikiLeaks
J’adore botter le cul des salauds. Julian Assange
Après tout, c’est leur faute: on fait pas la guerre avec des mômes. Soldat américain
From being in the perspective of the Apache helicopter crew, I can see where a group of men gathering, when there’s a firefight just a few blocks away, which I was involved in, and they’re carrying weapons, one of which is an RPG. … Their overall mission that day was to protect us, to provide support for us, so I can see where the initial attack on the group of men was warranted. However, personally I don’t feel that the attack on the van was warranted. I think that the people could have been deterred from doing what they were doing in the van by simply firing a few warning shots versus completely obliterating the van and its occupants. Ethan McCord
When I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there…. You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight…. Personally, I believe the first attack on the group standing by the wall was appropriate, was warranted by the rules of engagement. They did have weapons there. However, I don’t feel that the attack on the [rescue] van was necessary. Now, as far as rules of engagement, [Iraqis] are not supposed to pick up the wounded. But they could have been easily deterred from doing what they were doing by just firing simply a few warning shots in the direction…. Instead, the Apaches decided to completely obliterate everybody in the van. That’s the hard part to swallow. (…) There were plenty of times in the past where other insurgents would come by and pick up the bodies, and then we’d have no evidence or anything to what happened, so in looking at it from the Apache’s point of view, they were thinking that [someone was] picking up the weapons and bodies; when, in hindsight, clearly they were picking up the wounded man. But you’re not supposed to do that in Iraq. (…) When it was first released I don’t think it was done in the best manner that it could have been. They were stating that these people had no weapons whatsoever, that they were just carrying cameras. In the video, you can clearly see that they did have weapons … to the trained eye. You can make out in the video [someone] carrying an AK-47, swinging it down by his legs…. And as far as the way that the soldiers are speaking in the video, which is pretty callous and joking about what’s happened … that’s a coping mechanism. I’m guilty of it, too, myself. You joke about the situations and what’s happened to push away your true feelings of the matter. (…) I don’t say that Wikileaks did a bad thing, because they didn’t…. I think it is good that they’re putting this stuff out there. I don’t think that people really want to see this, though, because this is war…. It’s very disturbing. McCord
The army described this as a group that gave resistance at the time, that doesn’t seem to be happening. But there are armed men in the group, they did find a rocket propelled grenade among the group, the Reuters photographers who were regrettably killed, were not identified…You have edited this tape, and you have given it a title called ‘collateral murder.’ That’s not leaking, that’s a pure editorial. (…) I admire that you have properly manipulated the audience into an emotional state you want before something goes on the air. Stephen Colbert
It gives you a limited perspective. The video only tells you a portion of the activity that was happening that day. Just from watching that video, people cannot understand the complex battles that occurred. You are seeing only a very narrow picture of the events. (…) Our forces were engaged in combat all that day with individuals that fit the description of the men in that video. Their age, their weapons, and the fact that they were within the distance of the forces that had been engaged made it apparent these guys were potentially a threat. Capt. Jack Hanzlik (spokesman for U.S. Central Command)
It is precisely the presence of weapons, including RPGs, that goes a long distance toward explaining why cameramen for Reuters—pointing television cameras around corners in a battle zone—were readily mistaken by our gunships for insurgents. The video makes plain that in this incident, as in almost all military encounters in both Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers are up against forces that do not wear uniforms—a violation of international law precisely because it places innocent civilians in jeopardy. Responsibility for civilian deaths in such encounters rests with those who violate the rules of war. The Wikileaks videos also do not reveal the hundreds upon hundreds of cases in which American forces refrain from attacking targets precisely because civilians are in harm’s way. Gabriel Schoenfeld (Hudson Institute)
Jusqu’ici, WikiLeaks s’était fait connaître en publiant des révélations refusées parfois par des titres, disons, institutionnels. Dans le cas des Warlogs, c’est l’inverse: WikiLeaks est le fournisseur. La logique est inversée, le journalisme bientôt bouleversé. David Dufresne
Ces images troublantes ne doivent pas être visualisées ou jugées indépendamment du contexte, de ce qui se passait alors aux environs. Amnesty international
Reporters sans frontières, organisation internationale de défense de la liberté de la presse, regrette l’incroyable irresponsabilité dont vous avez fait preuve lors de la publication de votre article intitulé “Journal d’Afghanistan, 2004 – 2010”, le 25 juillet 2010 sur le site Wikileaks. Vous avez, à cette occasion, diffusé sur votre site quelque 92 000 documents mentionnant les noms de collaborateurs afghans de la coalition militaire internationale présente en Afghanistan depuis 2001. (…) En revanche, divulguer l’identité de centaines de collaborateurs de la coalition en Afghanistan est lourd de danger. Les Talibans et d’autres groupes armés peuvent établir sans difficulté, à partir de ces documents, une liste noire de personnes à abattre et mener des vengeances meurtrières. Pour vous justifier, vous avez déclaré qu’il s’agissait de “mettre fin à la guerre en Afghanistan” ou encore écrit que “des fuites ont changé le cours de l’Histoire ; qu’elles peuvent le changer au jour le jour et qu’elles peuvent nous conduire à un avenir meilleur”.(…) D’autre part, publier sans discernement quelque 92 000 documents classifiés pose un réel problème de méthodologie, et donc de crédibilité. Un travail journalistique implique une sélection de l’information. L’argument par lequel vous vous défendez, selon lequel l’équipe de Wikileaks n’est pas composée de journalistes, n’est pas convaincant. Wikileaks est un média et, à ce titre, soumis aux règles de responsabilité de publication, comme tous les autres. (…) Cependant, vous ne pouvez revendiquer le bénéfice de la protection des sources et renier au même moment votre qualité de média par opportunisme. Le précédent que vous avez créé expose encore davantage à des représailles tous ceux qui, à travers le monde, risquent leur liberté et parfois leur vie pour l’information sur Internet. Une telle imprudence met en danger vos propres sources et au-delà, l’avenir d’Internet en tant que support d’information. Jean-François Julliard (Secrétaire général de Reporters sans frontières)
Attention: des coups tordus peuvent en cacher d’autres!
A l’heure où le cofondateur et porte-parole du site internet WikiLeaks spécialisé dans la publication de documents confidentiels et notamment de dizaines de milliers de documents sensibles sur la guerre en Afghanistan, Julian Assange, semble recevoir la monnaie de sa pièce en Suède même où il s’est apparemment réfugié …
Après, on s’en souvient, avoir réussi le tour de force de s’être mis à dos tant Amnesty international que Reporters sans frontières (qui l’avaient pourtant dans un premier temps soutenu) pour son peu de cas pour la sécurité non seulement des soldats de la coalition occidentale en Afghanistan mais pour peut-être les centaines ou milliers d’Afghans (identifiés par leur nom ou leur village) qui travaillent avec elle …
Retour sur le premier fait d’arme qui, après les révélations (Scientologie, corruption au Kenya, mels de Sarah Palin, liste des adhérents du parti d’extrême-droite britannique BNP, messages texte envoyés aux Etats-Unis le 11/9, armée allemande, crise financière islandaise) avait vraiment lancé la carrière du site et aussi déjà confirmé le remarquable talent de l’ancien pirate informatique pour la publicité la plus tapageuse et l’autopromotion.
Mais surtout, comme le rappelle John Rosenthal, révélé la vraie nature de l’entreprise (mélangeant habilement les genres et les rôles de « source, relais et co-diffuseur ») , c’est-à-dire, avec très significativement l’aide des Bilderbergers attitrés de la Trilatérale de l’antiaméricanisme (pardon: de l’anti-impérialisme), les dûment de gauche Spiegel-Guardian-NYT, et soutenu comme par hasard par le champion toutes catégories de l’intox lui-même Michael Moore, une véritable campagne de propagande où à peu près tous les coups sont permis (« changer le cours de l’Histoire » et « un avenir meilleur », on vous dit!) contre la seule Amérique et ses alliés …
A savoir la publication en avril dernier d’une vidéo de l’armée américaine de juillet 2007 (lourdement éditorialisée sous ses apparences de document brut par des intertitres et un sobrissime titre : « meurtre collatéral »).
Qui oubliant commodément le contexte plus large d’une opération en cours dans une rue de toute évidence déserte où les troupes américaines essuyaient des tirs d’insurgés comme le fait que ces derniers étaient armés de lance-grenades et d’AK47, que les deux journalistes ne portaient aucune indication de leur fonction mais en revanche des zooms ressemblant étrangement à des armes et que la camionnette qui venait chercher les blessés et les armes n’avait ni croissant rouge ni aucun signe distinctif de secours d’urgence sans compter l’invisibilité de l’extérieur de la présence d’enfants …
Ne montrait en fait, vu du petit écran de l’hélicoptère et dans le feu de l’action, qu’une attaque héliportée de l’armée américaine contre un groupe d’insurgés armés d’AK47 et d’un lance-grenades, ainsi que contre une camionnette anonyme tentant d’évacuer les blessés et les armes dans un faubourg de Bagdad …
Situation probablement typique de ce qui pouvait se passer alors dans l’enfer des rues de Bagdad comme dans celles d’ailleurs des villes palestiniennes ou libanaises où, avec les louanges de tous quand il ne s’agissait que de déligitimer l’Armée israélienne, ce genre de méthodes de guérilla sale avait d’abord été mis au point …
April 5, 2010
Wikileaks, the website devoted to publishing classified documents on the Internet, made a splash today with a video claiming to show that the U.S. military « murdered » a Reuters cameraman and other Iraqi « civilians » in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. But a careful watching of the video shows that the U.S. helicopter gun crews that attacked a group of armed men in the then Mahdi Army stronghold of New Baghdad was anything but « Collateral Murder, » as Wikileaks describes the incident. There are a couple of things to note in the video. First, Wikileaks characterizes the attack as the U.S. military casually gunning down Iraqis who were innocently gathering on the streets of New Baghdad. But the video begins somewhat abruptly, with a UAV starting to track a group of Iraqi males gathering on the streets. The voice of a U.S. officer is captured in mid-sentence. It would be nice to know what happened before Wikileaks decided to begin the video. The U.S. military claimed the Iraqis were killed after a gun battle with U.S. and Iraqi security forces. It is unclear if any of that was captured on the strike footage. Here is what the U.S. military had to say about the engagement in a July 2007 press release: Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, both operating in eastern Baghdad under the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, along with their Iraqi counterparts from the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division National Police, were conducting a coordinated raid as part of a planned operation when they were attacked by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Coalition Forces returned fire and called in attack aviation reinforcement. There is nothing in that video that is inconsistent with the military’s report. What you see is the air weapons team engaging armed men. Second, note how empty the streets are in the video. The only people visible on the streets are the armed men and the accompanying Reuters cameramen. This is a very good indicator that there was a battle going on in the vicinity. Civilians smartly clear the streets during a gunfight. Third, several of the men are clearly armed with assault rifles; one appears to have an RPG. Wikileaks purposely chooses not to identify them, but instead focuses on the Reuters cameraman. Why? Fourth, there is no indication that the U.S. military weapons crew that fired on this group of armed men violated the military’s Rules of Engagement. Ironically, Wikileaks published the military’s Rules of Engagement from 2007, which you can read here. What you do see in the video is troops working to identify targets and confirm they were armed before engaging. Once the engagement began, the U.S. troops ruthlessly hunted their prey. Fifth, critics will undoubtedly be up in arms over the attack on that black van you see that moves in to evacuate the wounded; but it is not a marked ambulance, nor is such a vehicle on the « Protected Collateral Objects » listed in the Rules of Engagement. The van, which was coming to the aid of the fighters, was fair game, even if the men who exited the van weren’t armed. Sixth, Wikileaks’ claim that the U.S. military’s decision to pass the two children inside the van to the Iraqi police for treatment at an Iraqi hospital threatened their lives is unsubstantiated. We do not know the medical assessment of the two Iraqi children wounded in the airstrike. We don’t even know if the children were killed in the attack, although you can be sure that if they were Wikileaks would have touted this. (And who drives their kids into the middle of a war zone anyway?) Having been at attacks where Iraqis have been killed and wounded, I can say I understand a little about the process that is used to determine if wounded Iraqis are transported to a U.S. hospital. The person has to be considered to have a life-threatening situation or in danger of losing a vital function (eyesight, etc.). Yet, even though the threshold to transfer Iraqis to U.S. military hospitals is high, I have repeatedly seen U.S. personnel err on the side of caution and transport wounded who probably should not have been sent to a U.S. hospital. Baghdad in July 2007 was a very violent place, and the neighborhoods of Sadr City and New Baghdad were breeding grounds for the Mahdi Army and associated Iranian-backed Shia terror groups. The city was a war zone. To describe the attack you see in the video as « murder » is a sensationalist gimmick that succeeded in driving tons of media attention and traffic to Wikileaks’ website.
April 5, 2010
Wikileaks released a video today of an engagement in Baghdad in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of two journalists from Reuters in an effort to accuse the US of covering up a war crime. Calling the incident “collateral murder,” Wikileaks says that it wants to promote the safety of journalists in war zones with the release of the DoD video, but the video itself shows why the US forces fired on the group — and on the vehicle that came to their aid. Note that the video itself contains NSFW language and graphic images of death (via John Holowach at TrueHigh): In the video, starting at the 3:50 mark, one member of this group starts preparing what clearly looks like an RPG launcher, as well as some individuals with AK-47s. The launcher then reappears at the 4:06 mark as the man wielding it sets up a shot for down the street. In 2007 Baghdad, this would be a clear threat to US and Iraqi Army ground forces; in fact, it’s difficult to imagine any other purpose for an RPG launcher at that time and place. That’s exactly the kind of threat that US airborne forces were tasked to detect and destroy, which is why the gunships targeted and shot all of the members of the group. Another accusation is that US forces fired on and killed rescue workers attempting to carry one of the journalists out of the area. However, the video clearly shows that the vehicle in question bore no markings of a rescue vehicle at all, and the men who ran out of the van to grab the wounded man wore no uniforms identifying themselves as such. Under any rules of engagement, and especially in a terrorist hot zone like Baghdad in 2007, that vehicle would properly be seen as support for the terrorists that had just been engaged and a legitimate target for US forces. While they didn’t grab weapons before getting shot, the truth is that the gunships didn’t give them the chance to try, either — which is exactly what they’re trained to do. They don’t need to wait until someone gets hold of the RPG launcher and fires it at the gunship or at the reinforcements that had already begun to approach the scene. The gunships acted to protect the approaching patrol, which is again the very reason we had them in the air over Baghdad. War correspondents take huge risks to bring news of a war to readers far away. What this shows is just how risky it is to embed with terrorists, especially when their enemy controls the air. War is not the same thing as law enforcement; the US forces had no responsibility for identifying each member of the group and determining their mens rea. Legitimate rescue operations would have included markings on the vehicle and on uniforms to let hostile forces know to hold fire, and in the absence of that, the hostile forces have every reason to consider the second support group as a legitimate target as well. It’s heartbreaking for the families of these journalists, but this isn’t “collateral murder” — it’s war.
Wall Street Journal
June 23, 2010
Reports are circulating that Wikileaks.org is poised to publish a classified U.S. military video of a May 2009 U.S. air strike on the Afghan village of Granai in which as many as 140 civilians, including many women and children, may have perished. In April, the website—an online repository of leaked information—posted a U.S. military video of a 2007 Baghdad firefight in which two Reuters cameramen and as many as 10 others were killed. It has already been watched by several million viewers.
Both videos were evidently leaked by a 22-year-old disaffected Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, who was detained by the military in May after having admitted in a private online conversation to providing them, along with a massive trove of 260,000 diplomatic cables, to Wikileaks.
Such videos bring wide attention to horrendous incidents of war. Did Wikileaks perform a public service by releasing them?
The benefits of maximum openness are indisputable. Our democracy rests on informed consent, with emphasis on the word informed. The electorate relies upon the free flow of information to make considered choices about policies and the men and women who conduct them. In decisions about war and peace, the public’s interest in information is at its zenith. The video of the Iraq firefight brings horrifically before our eyes the reality of war in ways that make us confront the basic questions of why and how we fight.
But there is another side to the coin. The display of videotapes in which our forces make mistakes, or do even worse, has costs that should not be denied. For one thing, the leaked Iraq video, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has remarked, provides the public a view of warfare « as seen through a soda straw. » Wikileaks, itself a highly secretive operation run by Australian journalist/activist Julian Assange, actually posted two videos: a full-length version of the firefight, and a shorter version edited into nothing less than a propaganda film with the caption « collateral murder. »
Neither drew attention to what U.S. ground forces found when they came upon the grisly scene following the helicopter gunfire: namely, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs). Wikileaks’s caption noted that « some of the men appeared to have been armed » but also added, insouciantly, that « the behavior of everyone appeared to be relaxed. »
But it is precisely the presence of weapons, including RPGs, that goes a long distance toward explaining why cameramen for Reuters—pointing television cameras around corners in a battle zone—were readily mistaken by our gunships for insurgents. The video makes plain that in this incident, as in almost all military encounters in both Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers are up against forces that do not wear uniforms—a violation of international law precisely because it places innocent civilians in jeopardy.
Responsibility for civilian deaths in such encounters rests with those who violate the rules of war.
The Wikileaks videos also do not reveal the hundreds upon hundreds of cases in which American forces refrain from attacking targets precisely because civilians are in harm’s way. That is today an iron rule in Afghanistan, and one for which our soldiers are themselves paying a price in increased casualties. Yet even with the greatest care, armed conflict cannot be sanitized. In almost every war America has ever fought, things on occasion go badly awry. In World War II, instances in which Allied forces massacred captured enemy soldiers were not unheard of. While such cases were a blemish on our military honor, broadcasting the facts to the world and thereby stiffening enemy morale would have been unthinkable in the midst of the great global conflagration.
Although our current struggle does not compare to World War II, there can be no doubt that the dissemination of military videos—far more potent in their impact than written dispatches—can have a profound affect upon our soldiers, inflaming opinion against them in the battlefield and placing their lives at risk. Such videos also undermine the larger counterinsurgency mission of winning hearts and minds. That is why the military keeps them classified. And that is why our laws allow for the punishment of those who violate their oaths and leak secret information, as Spc. Manning is alleged to have done.
Our country depends upon openness for its vitality. But it also often depends upon secrecy for its security. The two imperatives are always in tension. Wikileaks has brought the tension to the fore.
Gabriel Schoenfeld is a Senior Fellow on leave at Hudson Institute.
Voir par ailleurs:
The Jawa report
April 05, 2010
I’ve uploaded a moving image created by Ryno which clearly shows weapons being carried by the so-called « civilians » who were killed along with the news that we have photos of rifles and grenades at the scene.
We’ve added important info to the new post linked above, including the fact that an RPG was found at the scene. Click here for more recent updates. ——————-
Contrary to all of the « context » given by Wiki Leak which try to lead the viewer into thinking the US Military « murdered » several Iraqis including two who worked for Reuters, the video clearly runs contrary to the narrative. I’ve embedded the Wiki Leak video below. Just ignore all the propaganda they write before and after the video and watch it. A crowd of men surround at least two armed insurgents. The voices indicate that a Bradley and some Humvees are headed in the direction and that a recent engagement has taken place. So, the helicopter pilot and ground controllers see armed men with a convoy approaching and taking fire and …. Wiki Leak has the nerve to call this murder? They’ve even embedded it on a site they call « Collateral Murder. » These people are beyond stupid, they’re evil. Worst case scenario this is a few innocents being accidentally killed in the fog of war. But the video doesn’t even appear to be worst case scenario. It appears, in fact, that the video shows armed insurgents engaging or about to engage US troops. The Reuters camera men had embedded themselves with the insurgents. This makes them enemy combatants themselves and should have been shot. Reuters has a long history of its local stringers embedding themselves with terrorist forces. Perhaps they do this because they are sympathetic, perhaps they do this to get « the story », but it matters little to those engaging insurgents. When you embed yourselves with terrorists you know the risk. You are producing propaganda for them. You have become one of them. Anything less than this understanding is purposeful naivite about « objective journalism ». In war there can be no objective journalism. You’re either with us or the enemy. If you want to stay neutral stay out of the war zone. As for those who went in to pick up the bodies? Perhaps they were innocents. I’ve no idea. But you drive your van into an active military engagement? What the hell were you thinking You are stupid. Innocent, but stupid. You’re asking to be killed. And if you brought children into the midsts of an ongoing military engagement that makes you more than stupid: it makes you criminally negligent. « It’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle, » says one of the Americans on the video. Indeed it is. People, this is war. This happens in war. It can’t be avoided. If you want to end civilian casualties then end war. Start by asking armed Islamists to put down their weapons. But you won’t do that because your real objection isn’t war, it’s America. Which is why anti-war activists around the globe never protest al-Qaeda, only America. They’re not anti-war, they’re anti-American. Again, watch it. It’s tragic, yes. War is trag
UPDATE: Ed has some more thoughts.
UPDATE II: I made some screenshots for the naysayers. Beginning at 3:36 you can clearly see two men holding weapons. This guy at 3:43 has an AK-47. You can see it more clearly as he swings it but here’s a screenshot that shows it This screenshot is at 3:35. This guy is definitely carrying a weapon. In motion it looks like it might be a rifle, but from the profile angle snapped below it looks like an RPG. A few seconds later at 3:50 he puts the weapon down. The weapon is long enough that it’s comes up well beyond his waist and it certainly has the width of an RPG. Or at least from this angle it looks that way. The person than goes behind a building, out of view. A few seconds later someone is down on the ground behind the same building. At 4:06 he starts to pick up whatever he has laid down on the ground. The one above is a bit fuzzy, but the next vidcap from 4:07 is a little clearer although the person in it has ducked behind the building. I’ll remind you that a convoy was approaching the group of individuals and this would appear to the helicopter pilots like he was scoping out the oncoming US soldiers. Remember, about 15 seconds ago the pilot saw a guy with what looks like an RPG. He ducks behind this building. Then a few seconds later he sees someone down on the ground with something that looks like it could be an RPG. Which is exactly the conclusion the pilot makes. Could that be the Reuters photojournalist with a long lens? Maybe. But from what the pilot is seeing the man seems like a threat. In war you eliminate threats. The pilot then notifies others that he sees an individual about to fire an RPG and asks fire control for authority to eliminate the threat. Which he does. Let me also sneak in a couple of other links grabbed from Hot Air (I still miss our trackbacks function). Cassey Fiano has this good point: I’ve long held the view that journalists shouldn’t even be embedded with our troops in a war zone. It endangers the journalists, and it endangers our troops Let alone embed with the enemy. Whatever happened to the good old fashioned military pool reporter? Alas, gone out with the era of the dinosaurs and when « supporting the troops » actually meant, you know, supporting the troops. Over at Political Byline: I humbly submit, that these so-called Journalists got just was coming to them Perhaps. This wouldn’t be the first time Reuters had sent off it’s « crack team » of locals to give the terrorists’ « point of view ». The American Pundit: The video demonstrates the danger of traveling to a war zone. Which is why war correspondents tend to be respected and rare. Wikileaks, hosted in Sweden, decides instead to paint the situation as a clear and straight-forward murder case. Which is both sad and pathetic. Sad, pathetic, and evil. And Free Market Military notes on the seemingly callous words used by the soldiers on the video: Frankly, I’d never hold it against anyone in taking enjoyment out of their job. You might find that callous as well. Tough. If your living this 24/7 I doubt you would spend a year without laughing and having a good time. Amen brotha! Why is it wrong for our men and women to celebrate a perceived victory over their enemies? In their minds they just saved the lives of their fellow soldiers. Celebrations seem perfectly in order
UPDATE III: You’ll have to scroll down even further for the video since I found a couple of good posts from Blackfive. First from Lauging Wolf (thanks man) and then from Uber Pig: The point is, for me to respect Wikileaks, they’ll have to stop picking sides and doing agitprop. I have zero respect for the people running Wikileaks, their sanctimonious preaching, and anyone who donates money to their organization.
Voir de même:
On closer inspection, the famous “whistleblower organization” appears in fact to be little more than a front organization. For whom or what is the question…
August 12, 2010
WikiLeaks has done it again. For the second time in less than four months, the shadowy outfit has succeeded in publishing a leak that has completely dominated the news cycle. Even news outlets and commentators that are critical of its posting of tens of thousands of U.S. military reports on the war in Afghanistan are prepared to confer upon WikiLeaks the honorific of a “whistleblower organization.” But is that what it is? In April, WikiLeaks published its first mega-scoop of 2010: the so-called “Collateral Murder” video showing a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in which two Iraqi Reuters employees were killed in Baghdad. At the time, I pointed to glaring differences between WikiLeaks’s handling of the video and the modus operandi that had characterized the “old” WikiLeaks. (See my “The Strange Career of WikiLeaks” at weeklystandard.com.) The original WikiLeaks website in fact went offline in December 2009, allegedly to make way for a funding drive. It was, as I put it, an “equal opportunity” publisher of classified materials of all sorts from a wide variety of sources. The site, as such, had no clear political orientation and it would indeed have been contrary to the nature of the project to have had any. Like its namesake Wikipedia, the “old” WikiLeaks was, in effect, merely a platform. It was not the team that maintained the platform that provided the site with its essential content, but rather the sources who uploaded material to it. The “new” WikiLeaks, by contrast, had all the trappings of a propaganda vehicle. Or, more precisely, just a propaganda stunt. When WikiLeaks published the “Collateral Murder” video, the site might indeed have been more appropriately called “WikiLeak” in the singular. For it contained barely any other leaks and none of any consequence. A site that proudly boasted about having published some 1.2 million leaked documents — namely, in its previous incarnation — had managed to post all of twelve in its new incarnation in 2010. Most of them were about Iceland. In the meanwhile, the “old” WikiLeaks archives have been restored to the new site, thus creating a greater semblance of continuity. But the remarkable penury of leaks has continued. Now, WikiLeaks has managed to chalk up exactly one more leak, and the publication of the files that the site has dubbed “The Afghan War Diary” confirms that the vocation of the “new” WikiLeaks is not unfiltered information, but rather targeted propaganda: highly targeted, since — Iceland aside — the real focus of the new site is obviously just the USA. In light of the evolution of the site in the last four months — or, more precisely, the striking lack thereof — there is reason to doubt that there even really is any WikiLeaks “organization” as such that stands behind it. It would appear rather that the WikiLeaks brand itself — complete with ubiquitous spokesperson Julian Assange and his distinctive shock of white hair — is part of the desired propaganda effect. After all, if the world’s most famous and courageous “whistleblower organization” only ever blows its whistle about American “abuses,” then what does that say about America? It is not so much the content of the leaked Afghan war reports that confirms the propagandistic vocation of the new WikiLeaks, but rather the circumstances of their publication. Given the sheer quantity of the reports and their often highly technical character, it will take months if not years for serious analysts to sift through the data sufficiently so as to come to any robust conclusions about the course of the Afghan war. This, notwithstanding the fact that WikiLeaks helpfully pre-spins the material for its readers, noting, for example, in its introduction to the reports that The material shows that cover-ups start on the ground. When reporting their own activities US Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves. But what truly gives away the game is the fact that three selected news organizations were given a substantial head start in viewing the files. This permitted the three organizations to enjoy the prestige of breaking the story and to set the terms of the debate even before the raw material had been posted online by WikiLeaks. And what, above all, gives the game away is just which three news organizations have thus been granted the privilege of being WikiLeaks “media partners,” as the site refers to them. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and over the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there has developed a well-nigh metaphysical, so to say, dismal view of America and of the logic of American military interventions and counterterror operations. No three international print media organizations have done more to propagate this dismal view than precisely Germany’s Der Spiegel, Britain’s The Guardian, and America’s own New York Times. It was, after all, none other than Der Spiegel that in January 2003, before the Iraq War had even started, published a spectacular cover story on the impending American invasion under the apodictic title “Blood for Oil.” The phrase was the Spiegel editors’ clever riff on the slogan of the German street protests opposing the first Iraq War twelve years earlier: “No Blood for Oil.” The editors did not even feel the need to add a question mark. The knowing subtitle read: “What [the intervention in] Iraq is really about.” The ostensible reasons, of course, simply could not be true. (For numerous further examples of Der Spiegel’s propagation of the dismal view, see the Der Spiegel archive of the regrettably now largely inactive German media watch blog Medienkritik.) Even independently of WikiLeaks, Der Spiegel and the Times have occasionally dabbled in content-sharing in recent years. But what the publications share, above all, is not content, but spin — typically, spin that is detrimental to America’s image and American security interests. (For just one among many examples, see my “The CIA Rendition Controversy: Is Khaled Al-Masri Lying?” in World Politics Review.) WikiLeaks may have itself decided to provide the chosen three media organizations the leaked files in advance, as the standard news accounts suggest. Or it could well be that the original source provided them to both WikiLeaks and the chosen three, thus giving some of the world’s most thoroughly establishment “old” media a unique chance to partake of the fight-the-power hipness of the new media “whistleblower organization.” But one thing, in any case, appears certain: WikiLeaks did not obtain the files via its famous online “secure submission” form. Once upon a time, the secure submission form was the centerpiece of the WikiLeaks project. It was here that anonymous sources were supposed to upload their sensitive material and to enjoy the assurance that in so doing their anonymity would be preserved. But as the blog Wikileak.org has documented, the site’s secure submission technology has been compromised for many months now. Wikileak.org is a techie blog devoted to critical examination of the WikiLeaks project. It is not affiliated with the project. On June 12, WikiLeaks demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt just how uninterested it was in preserving the security of the site. On that day — as was predicted would happen by Wikileak.org — WikiLeaks failed to renew its SSL certificate: a basic form of web security certification that can be purchased for as little as $30 per year. Already at the time of the April release of its “Collateral Murder” video, WikiLeaks claimed to have raised some $370,000 in its funding drive. Attempting to access a site with an invalid SSL certificate will typically generate a warning that secure connection to the site is not possible. Attempt, for instance, to connect to the original WikiLeaks “secure submissions” page here in either IE or Firefox and you will currently receive such a warning. It was only after Wired.com called attention to the lapsing of the WikiLeaks SSL certificate that WikiLeaks finally restored its ostensibly secure submissions form, though at a different address than previously. The Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan [English link] has, moreover, pointed to a further discrepancy between the carefully cultivated public image of WikiLeaks and the reality of the site. If the “secure submission” system was supposed to provide technical assurances of anonymity to potential leakers, it was the location of the WikiLeaks servers in Sweden that was supposed to provide them legal assurance: thanks, namely, to the robust source protection provisions in the Swedish Press Freedom Act. The current WikiLeaks submission page still promises that submissions are “protected under Swedish and Belgium [sic] press secrecy laws. But the law in question only applies to media that have been issued a “publishing license” by Swedish authorities. Sydsvenskan reports that WikiLeaks has no such license. Asked by Sydsvenskan what he thought of WikiLeaks’s promise of protection for sources under Swedish law, Anders R. Olsson, a Swedish journalist specializing in free speech issues, replied, “I think it is a bit strange that Wikileaks doesn’t seem to know the rules.” Thus, we have a “whistleblower organization” that is not in a position to provide the legal protections to sources that it promises with great fanfare and that makes no effort to maintain the secure submission environment that was supposed to be its very raison d’être. It is small wonder, then, that apart from the two blockbusters WikiLeaks has hardly published any leaks at all since its supposed re-launch. The whole edifice of the “new” WikiLeaks appears in fact to be nothing but a facade. Who or what lies behind the WikiLeaks facade? For some clues, make sure to catch part II of “The WikiLeaks Hoax,” forthcoming on Pajamas Media. John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics for such publications as The Weekly Standard, Policy Review and The Daily Caller. More of his work can be found at www.trans-int.com.
August 16, 201
In part I  of “The WikiLeaks Hoax,” I adduced a number of reasons for concluding that the much vaunted “whistleblower organization” WikiLeaks is, in fact, just a facade. This was not always the case. The original WikiLeaks website was, as I have put it, an “equal opportunity” platform for leaks of all sorts. It did not share the current site’s single-minded focus on alleged American misdeeds. The original site went offline in December 2009. Despite the new site’s common logo and “branding,” in substance, the old site has never returned. Just who or what stands behind the WikiLeaks facade is not clear. But what is clear is that WikiLeaks has a special relationship with Germany, a country that spearheaded the opposition to the Iraq war  and that — despite the avowed Atlanticism of its current chancellor — has continued to take a generally dismal view of America’s war on terror. Indeed, Germany has done much not only to malign, but even to obstruct the war on terror. (For related links, see here. ) In a recent documentary  on The Hunt for Bin Laden, Germany’s ZDF public television went so far as to insinuate that American authorities purposely allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from his mountain hideout of Tora Bora in December 2001. The special relationship of WikiLeaks with Germany is manifest in the inclusion of the German weekly Der Spiegel among the new site’s chosen three “media partners.” It is also manifest in the site’s maintenance of a special account for donations at the Berlin-based Wau-Holland Foundation. (The WikiLeaks donations pages note that  “this may be the best choice for German residents” and, furthermore , that donations to the Wau Holland account are even tax-deductible for the latter!) And it is manifest, finally, in the sketchy details that are available about the “structure” of the supposed WikiLeaks “organization.” For if the reportedly Australian-born Julian Assange is the WikiLeaks spokesperson for the rest of the world, WikiLeaks also has a special dedicated spokesperson for Germany — or “that region,” as Assange put it  in a testy comment on a September 2009 Wired exposé about the site. The German spokesperson is named Daniel Schmitt. But “Schmitt” has admitted — to Wired , as well as several German publications — that his last name is a pseudonym. In an interview  with the German daily Die Welt, Schmitt was asked who has decision-making power in WikiLeaks and how many people were at his “level in the organization.” Schmitt’s head-spinning response was as follows: Five people, I’m one of them. Though I am left out of all technical decisions. You can’t get hold of me to find out something. I don’t know anything. We are doers. None of [us] has a lot of time to discuss and to over-democratize everything. The only way to build up a reputation and trust within the organization is to collaborate: to show that one is competent. Around the inner circle, there are about 1000 experts with whom we work and whom, of course, we test in advance. Schmitt’s logorrhoea hardly inspires confidence in the reliability of his account of the “organization.” In any case, one may be permitted to wonder what exactly “1000 experts” contribute to a site that, despite its association with two publicity-generating coups, has essentially been inactive. One thousand “experts”… and WikiLeaks could not manage to renew a SSL certificate. As discussed in my “The Strange Career of WikiLeaks ,” the “old” WikiLeaks had a somewhat conflictual relationship with Germany and, in particular, with the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND. Perhaps ironically, arguably the biggest genuine scoop produced by the old site involved blowing the agency’s online cover. In November 2008, the site published a list of IP address ranges that had been assigned to the BND under a disguised domain name by the German telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom. At the time, the WikiLeaks submissions form was still functional, and it is presumably via the form that the document was uploaded to the WikiLeaks servers. The story became even bigger when it was discovered that the outed BND-linked IP addresses had been used to edit Wikipedia entries. In the most astonishing of the known edits, a presumptive BND employee added advice on how to build a “dirty bomb” to a German-language Wikipedia entry on “Nuclear Weapons Technology.” The same IP address was used to edit the German-language Wikipedia entry on the BND itself, editing out a reference to the “open secret” that the agency uses branches of the Goethe Institute in foreign countries as its “unofficial headquarters. Oddly enough, the WikiLeaks editors somewhat downplayed the significance of their scoop. The WikiLeaks “summary”  on the matter suggests that the BND contributor to the “Nuclear Weapons” entry “apparently had second thoughts” and quickly deleted the advice on “dirty bombs.” Simple consultation of the relevant Wikipedia user logs  shows, however, that this is false: the contributor had added the same passage twice and merely eliminated the redundancy. Otherwise, the WikiLeaks “summary” page tells us that the BND personnel made “a lot of standard edits.” This may well be true. But contrast this treatment to the treatment that WikiLeaks reserved for a story one year earlier on internet activity, including Wikipedia edits, traceable to U.S. military computers at the Guantánamo Bay detention center. Note that the story involved no leak whatsoever. The activity in question was traceable because — unlike the BND’s online activity — it had never in fact been hidden. The domain name associated with the IP address of the computers was jtfgtmo.southcom.mil: namely, for the “Joint Task Force Guantánamo” of the U.S. military’s Southern Command. Nonetheless, the headline on the WikiLeaks article crows, “Wikileaks busts Gitmo propaganda team .” The author of the piece happens to have been none other than Julian Assange, the future “WikiLeaks founder” who at the time was identified merely as a WikiLeaks “investigative editor.” In accusing the U.S. military of propaganda, it is clear that Assange had already discovered his own propagandistic calling. Thus, in a classic example of the incestuous self-referential nature of disinformation, the piece cites a blog post  from NY Daily News correspondent James Gordon Meek as confirmation that the “job” of one JTF member was “posting positive comments on the Internet about Gitmo.” Assange even puts the phrase in bold, as if it had some special importance. But in fact the phrase is nothing more than Meek’s notably chummy clin d’œil toward the allegations in the original WikiLeaks article. The full list of the Wikipedia edits made from the “busted” Gitmo IP address is available here . Note that the U.S. Southern Command was so rattled by being “busted” by Assange that it has continued to use the IP address. This behavior also contrasts with that of the BND, which — with the help of Deutsche Telekom — rapidly ditched its outed IP addresses after they were published on WikiLeaks Readers may judge for themselves whether the edits bear the hallmarks of a propaganda operation. Unsurprisingly, many have to do with military topics; some directly concern Guantánamo; and others are on totally unrelated subjects like South Park and Pokémon. A Wikipedia entry such as that on Michael Winterbottom’s anti-Gitmo film The Road to Guantanamo would seem to be ripe for editing by a Gitmo-based “propaganda team.” And, lo and behold, we discover that on October 29, 2007 — only weeks before being “busted” by Julian Assange — the Gitmo IP address was indeed used to edit the entry  — namely, in order to change the word “organisations” to the American-English spelling “organizations.” Perhaps the last major leak to turn up on the old WikiLeaks site was a classified German report on a German-ordered airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in which numerous civilians were killed. About two weeks later, the site went down. The new site has yet to rediscover the old site’s taste for classified German material. The pleas of financial duress notwithstanding, the fact is we do not know why the site went down. Nor do we know why it returned in such a radically altered form, with the very heart of the old WikiLeaks project, the “secure submissions” form, essentially cut out of it. In fact, we know virtually nothing about the WikiLeaks organization or even if there really is such an organization. What the world needs now are some useful leaks about WikiLeaks. Disaffected participants in the old project undoubtedly would have some tales to tell. As the current site’s motto puts it, “Courage is courageous.”
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-wikileaks-hoax-part-ii/ URLs in this post:
 spearheaded the opposition to the Iraq war: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/793/jacques-chirac-didnt-lead-iraq-war-opposition-he-followed
 a recent documentary: http://dokumentation.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/16/0,1872,8023856,00.html
 note that: http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Special:Support
 furthermore: http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Special:Support#go_wh
 The Strange Career of WikiLeaks: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/strange-career-wikileaks
 the relevant Wikipedia user logs: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spezial:Beitr%C3%A4ge/220.127.116.11
 Wikileaks busts Gitmo propaganda team: http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Wikileaks_busts_Gitmo_propaganda_team
 used to edit the entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Road_to_Guantanamo&diff=prev&oldid=16784272