Last Modified - 22 Oct 2010

from EnglishAljazeera Website

 

Al Jazeera's access to leaked documents reveals secret US military order not to investigate Iraqi torture.

It is the biggest leak of military secrets in history. Al Jazeera has details of nearly 400,000 classified US documents. They are the secret Iraq files, leaked to whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

For the past ten weeks Al Jazeera's had complete access to those files. As part of our forthcoming coverage, we reveal how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.

Our full coverage will begin on Friday, October 22, at 2100 GMT.



 



 


 

 





-   This Week in Review   -

Hard News’ Online Value, a Small But Successful Paywall, and...

The War on WikiLeaks
by Mark Coddington

October 22, 2010

from Niemanlab Website

 

Every Friday, Mark Coddington sums up the week's top stories about the future of news and the debates that grew up around them.



The value of hard news online: Perfect Market, a company that works on monetizing news online, released a study this week detailing the value of this summer’s most valuable stories.

 

 

The study included an interesting finding

The fluffy, celebrity-driven stories that generate so much traffic for news sites are actually less valuable to advertisers than relevant hard news.

 

The key to this finding, The New York Times reported, is that news stories that actually affect people are easier to sell contextual advertising around - and that kind of advertising is much more valuable than standard banner ads.

As Advertising Age pointed out, a lot of this goes back to keyword ads and particularly Google AdSense; a lot of, say, mortgage lenders and immigration lawyers are doing keyword advertising, and they want to advertise around subjects that deal with those issues. In other words, stories that actually mean something to readers are likely to mean something to advertisers too.

But the relationship isn’t quite that simple, said GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram.

 

Advertisers don’t just want to advertise on pages about serious subjects; they want to advertise on pages about serious subjects that are getting loads of pageviews - and you get those pageviews by also writing about the Lindsey Lohans of the world.

 

SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin had a few lingering questions about the study, and the Lab’s Megan Garber took the study as a cue that news organizations need to work harder on,

“making their ads contextually relevant to their content.”


The Times Co.’s paywall surprise

The New York Times Co. released its third-quarter earnings statement (your summary: print down, digital up, overall meh), and the Awl’s Choire Sicha put together a telling graph that shows how The Times has scaled down its operation while maintaining at least a small profit.

 

Digital advertising now accounts for more than a quarter of The Times’ advertising revenue, which has to be an relatively encouraging sign for the company.

Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson talked briefly and vaguely about the company’s paid-content efforts, led by The Times’ own planned paywall and the Boston Globe’s two-site plan.

 

But what made a few headlines was the fact that the company’s small Massachusetts paper, The Telegram & Gazette, actually saw its number of unique visitors increase after installing a paywall in August. Peter Kafka of All Things Digital checked the numbers out with comScore and offered a few possible reasons for the bump (maybe a few Google- or Facebook-friendly stories, or a seasonal traffic boost).

The Next Web’s Chad Catacchio pushed back against Kafka’s amazement, pointing out that the website remains free to print subscribers, which, he says, probably make up the majority of the people interested in visiting the site of a fairly small community paper like that one.

 

Catacchio called the Times Co.’s touting of the paper’s numbers a tactic to counter the skepticism about The Times’ paywall, when in reality, he said,

“this is completely apples and oranges.”


WikiLeaks vs. the world

The international leaking organization WikiLeaks has kept a relatively low profile since it dropped 92,000 pages of documents on the war in Afghanistan in July, but Spencer Ackerman wrote at Wired that WikiLeaks is getting ready to release as many as 400,000 pages of documents on the Iraq War as soon as next week, as two other Wired reporters looked at WikiLeaks’ internal conflict and the ongoing “scheduled maintenance” of its site.

 

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange responded by blasting Wired via Twitter, and Wired issued a defense.

One of the primary criticisms of WikiLeaks after their Afghanistan release was that they were putting the lives of American informants and intelligence agents at risk by revealing some of their identities.

 

But late last week, we found out about an August memo by Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledging that no U.S. intelligence sources were compromised by the July leak.

 

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald documented the numerous times government officials and others in the media asserted exactly the opposite.

Greenwald asserted that part of the reason for the government’s rhetoric is its fear of damage that could be caused by WikiLeaks future leaks, and sure enough, it’s already urging news organizations not to publish information from WikiLeaks’ Iraq documents.

 

At The Link, Nadim Kobeissi wrote an interesting account of the battle over WikiLeaks so far, characterizing it as a struggle between the free, open ethos of the web and the highly structured, hierarchical nature of the U.S. government.

“No nation has ever fought, or even imagined, a war with a nation that has no homeland and a people with no identity,” Kobeissi said.

 

Third-party plans at Yahoo and snafus at Facebook

An interesting development that didn’t get a whole lot of press this week: The Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo will soon launch Y Connect, a tool like Facebook Connect that will put widgets on sites across the web that allow users to log in and interact at the sites under their Yahoo ID.

 

PaidContent’s Joseph Tarkatoff noted that Y Connect’s success will depend largely on who it can convince to participate (The Huffington Post is in so far).

The Wall Street Journal also reported another story about social media and third parties this week that got quite a bit more play, when it revealed that many of the most popular apps on Facebook are transmitting identifying information to advertisers without users’ knowledge. Search Engine Land’s Barry Schwartz found the juxtaposition of the two stories funny, and while the tech world was abuzz, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch gave the report the “Move on, nothing to see here” treatment.
 


An unplanned jump from NPR to Fox News

Another week, another prominent member of the news media fired for foot-in-mouth remarks: NPR commentator Juan Williams lost his job for saying on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor that he gets nervous when he sees Muslims in traditional dress on airplanes.

 

Within 24 hours of being fired, though, Williams had a full-time gig (and a pay raise) at Fox News.

 

Williams has gotten into hot water with NPR before for statements he’s made on Fox News, which led some to conclude that this was more about Fox News than that particular statement.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller explained why Williams was booted (he engaged in non-fact-based punditry and expressed views he wouldn’t express on NPR as a journalist, she said), but, of course, not everybody was pleased with the decision or its rationale. (Here’s Williams’ own take on the situation, and a blow-by-blow of the whole thing from NPR.)

 

Much of the discussion was pretty politically oriented - New York’s Daily Intel has a pretty good summary of the various perspectives - but there were several who weren’t pleased with the firing along media-related lines, including the American Journalism Review’s Rem Rieder, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and the Columbia Journalism Review’s Joel Meares.

 

NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard disapproved not of the firing per se, but of the way it went down, and The New York Times’ Brian Stelter also used the episode as an object lesson in the differences between traditional and point-of-view journalism.

Two other media critics, Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News and James Rainey of the Lost Angeles Times, both criticized the firing on the grounds that NPR has imposed too strict of a standard for a journalist - and especially for someone paid to express his opinion.

 

Bunch wrote a thoughtful post on NPR retreating into the “dank temple of objectivity,” and Rainey wondered how this standard would be enforced:

“How does one distinguish between the permissible ‘fact-based analysis’ and the currently verboten ‘punditry and speculation?’”

 

Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s deal dies

With rumors swirling of a merger between Newsweek and the online aggregator The Daily Beast, we were all ready to start calling the magazine TinaWeek or NewsBeast last weekend.

 

But by Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal had reported that the talks were off. There were some conflicting reports about who broke off talks; the Beast’s Tina Brown said she got cold feet, but new Newsweek owner Sidney Harman said both parties backed off. (Turns out it was former GE exec Jack Welch, an adviser on the negotiations, who threw ice water on the thing.)

Business Insider’s Joe Pompeo gave word of continued staff shuffling, and Zeke Turner of The New York Observer reported on the frosty relations between Newsweek staffers and Harman, as well as their disappointment that Brown wouldn’t be coming to “just blow it up.”

 

The Wrap’s Dylan Stableford wondered what Newsweek’s succession plan for the 92-year-old Harman is. If Newsweek does fall apart, Slate media critic Jack Shafer said, that wouldn’t be good news for its chief competitor, Time.
 


Reading roundup

We’ve got several larger stories that would have been standalone items in a less busy week, so we’ll start with those.

  • As Gawker first reported, The Huffington Post folded its year-old Investigative Fund into the Center for Public Integrity, the deans of nonprofit investigative journalism. As Gawker pointed out, a lot of the fund’s problems likely stemmed from the fact that it was having trouble getting its nonprofit tax status because it was only able to supply stories to its own site. The Knight Foundation, which recently gave the fund $1.7 million, handed it an additional $250,000 to complete the merger.
     

  • Nielsen released a study on iPad users with several interesting findings, including that books, TV and movies are popular content on it compared with the iPhone; nearly half of tablet owners describe themselves as early adopters; and one-third of iPad owners have not downloaded an app. Also in tablet news, News Corp. delayed its iPad news aggregation app plans, and publishers might be worried about selling ads on a smaller set of tablet screens than the iPad.
     

  • From the so-depressing-but-we-can’t-stop-watching department: The Tribune Co.’s woes continue to snowball, with innovation chief Lee Abrams resigning late last week and CEO Randy Michaels set to resign late this week. Abrams issued a lengthy self-defense, and Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass defended his paper, too.
     

  • J-prof Jay Rosen proposed what he calls the “100 percent solution” - innovating in news trying to cover 100 percent of something. Paul Bradshaw liked the idea and began to build on it.
     

  • It’s not a new debate at all, but it’s an interesting rehashing nonetheless: Jeff Novich called Ground Report and citizen journalism useless tools that can never do what real journalism does. Megan Taylor and Spot.Us’ David Cohn disagreed, strongly.
     

  • Finally, former Los Angeles Times intern Michelle Minkoff wrote a great post about the data projects she worked on there and need to collaborate around news as data. As TBD’s Steve Buttry wrote,

     

    • “Each of the 5 W’s could just as easily be a field in a database… Databases give news content more lasting value, by providing context and relationships.”

 

 


 

 

 



Iraq War Logs

Secret Files Show How US Ignored Torture
by Nick Davies, Jonathan Steele and David Leigh
22 October 2010

from Guardian Website

 

Iraq, Rawa. Operation Steel Curtain
Insurgent suspects are led away by US forces.

Some of those held in Iraqi custody suffered appalling abuse, the war logs reveal.

Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian


A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organizations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

The new logs detail how:

  • US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
     

  • A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
     

  • More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death.

As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq.

 

 

 

Iraq war logs

Frago 242 - A license to torture

from Guardian Website

 

 

The log states:

"The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound… The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him."

The report named at least one perpetrator and was passed to coalition forces.

 

But the logs reveal that the coalition has a formal policy of ignoring such allegations. They record "no investigation is necessary" and simply pass reports to the same Iraqi units implicated in the violence. By contrast all allegations involving coalition forces are subject to formal inquiries. Some cases of alleged abuse by UK and US troops are also detailed in the logs.

In two Iraqi cases postmortems revealed evidence of death by torture.

 

On 27 August 2009 a US medical officer found,

"bruises and burns as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs and neck" on the body of one man claimed by police to have killed himself. On 3 December 2008 another detainee, said by police to have died of "bad kidneys", was found to have "evidence of some type of unknown surgical procedure on [his] abdomen".

A Pentagon spokesman told the New York Times this week that under its procedure, when reports of Iraqi abuse were received the US military,

"notifies the responsible government of Iraq agency or ministry for investigation and follow-up".

The logs also illustrate the readiness of US forces to unleash lethal force. In one chilling incident they detail how an Apache helicopter gunship gunned down two men in February 2007.

The suspected insurgents had been trying to surrender but a lawyer back at base told the pilots:

"You cannot surrender to an aircraft."

The Apache, callsign Crazyhorse 18, was the same unit and helicopter based at Camp Taji outside Baghdad that later that year, in July, mistakenly killed two Reuters employees and wounded two children in the streets of Baghdad.

Iraq Body Count, the London-based group that monitors civilian casualties, says it has identified around 15,000 previously unknown civilian deaths from the data contained in the leaked war logs.

Although US generals have claimed their army does not carry out body counts and British ministers still say no official statistics exist, the war logs show these claims are untrue. The field reports purport to identify all civilian and insurgent casualties, as well as numbers of coalition forces wounded and killed in action. They give a total of more than 109,000 violent deaths from all causes between 2004 and the end of 2009.

This includes 66,081 civilians, 23,984 people classed as "enemy" and 15,196 members of the Iraqi security forces. Another 3,771 dead US and allied soldiers complete the body count.

No fewer than 31,780 of these deaths are attributed to improvised roadside bombs (IEDs) planted by insurgents. The other major recorded tally is of 34,814 victims of sectarian killings, recorded as murders in the logs.

However, the US figures appear to be unreliable in respect of civilian deaths caused by their own military activities. For example, in Falluja, the site of two major urban battles in 2004, no civilian deaths are recorded. Yet Iraq Body Count monitors identified more than 1,200 civilians who died during the fighting.

Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers, plans to use material from the logs in court to try to force the UK to hold a public inquiry into the unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians.

He also plans to sue the British government over its failure to stop the abuse and torture of detainees by Iraqi forces. The coalition's formal policy of not investigating such allegations is "simply not permissible", he says.

Shiner is already pursuing a series of legal actions for former detainees allegedly killed or tortured by British forces in Iraq.

WikiLeaks says it is posting online the entire set of 400,000 Iraq field reports - in defiance of the Pentagon.

The whistleblowing activists say they have deleted all names from the documents that might result in reprisals. They were accused by the US military of possibly having "blood on their hands" over the previous Afghan release by redacting too few names. But the military recently conceded that no harm had been identified.

Condemning this fresh leak, however, the Pentagon said:

"This security breach could very well get our troops and those they are fighting with killed. Our enemies will mine this information looking for insights into how we operate, cultivate sources and react in combat situations, even the capability of our equipment."

 

 


 

 



 

WikiLeaks Prepares...

Largest Intel Leak in US History

...with Release of 400,000 Iraq War Docs

October 22, 2010

from DemocracyNow Website

 

The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks is preparing to release up to 400,000 US intelligence reports on the Iraq War. The disclosure would comprise the biggest leak in US history, far more than the 91,000 Afghanistan war logs WikiLeaks released this summer.

 

We speak to the nation’s most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971, just before he heads to London to participate in the WikiLeak press conference.

 

 


 

JUAN GONZALEZ: The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks plans to release the largest cache of classified US documents in history tomorrow. The group is expected to post up to 400,000 intelligence reports on the Iraq war. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holding a press conference in London on Saturday morning to make the announcement.

The disclosure of the documents would comprise the biggest leak in US history, far more than the 91,000 Afghanistan war logs WikiLeaks released this summer.

The US government is racing to prepare for the fallout. A team of more than a hundred analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have been combing through classified Iraq documents they think will be released.

AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks sparked condemnation from the US government when it released the 91,000 Afghan war logs in July. The White House and the Pentagon accused the website of irresponsibility. They claimed they were putting people’s lives in danger. But the Associated Press recently obtained a Pentagon letter reporting that no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leak.

Nevertheless, WikiLeaks says it’s been targeted by the US government. In the aftermath of the Afghan war logs leak, the US reportedly asked Britain, Germany, Australia and other Western governments to open criminal investigations into Julian Assange and severely restrict his international travel.

 

Most recently, WikiLeaks accused the US of targeting it with financial warfare.

 

Last week, Julian Assange said the company responsible for collecting the WikiLeaks’ donations terminated its account after the US and Australia placed the group on blacklists. Meanwhile, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning has been in prison since May, when he was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a US military helicopter killing a group of innocent Iraqis in Baghdad.

For more, we’re joined here in our New York studio by Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. He leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War in 1971. He’s flying to London tonight. He’ll take part in the WikiLeaks news conference on Saturday.

Dan Ellsberg, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about this 400,000 pages or documents that are expected to be released?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Four hundred thousand documents, allegedly. It is, of course, a leak on a scale that I couldn’t have done forty years ago without scanners and digital capability. I used the most advanced technology at that time, Xerox, and I couldn’t have done what I did ten years before that.
 


AMY GOODMAN: You xeroxed 7,000 pages?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. It took a long time, one page at a time. So I’m quite jealous of the current capabilities. But I’m glad to express my support of what WikiLeaks is doing and its sources, in particular. Whoever gave this information to WikiLeaks obviously understood that they were at risk of being where Bradley Manning is now: accused, in prison. We don’t know - I don’t know who the source was.

 

And if Bradley Manning is shown by Army, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have been the source, he’ll have my admiration and thanks for doing that. I’ve faced that kind of risk myself forty years ago, and it always seemed worthwhile to me to be willing to risk one’s life in prison, even, to help shorten a war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s what we were suffering then in Vietnam.

 

And it was really a secrecy - it’s the secrecy, the wrongful secrecy, of information like this that got us into Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq, or has kept the war going in Afghanistan. So if there’s any chance of shortening that, it’s certainly worth a person’s life.
 


JUAN GONZALEZ: And the extent of damage control that the military is apparently - the mode that it’s in, in preparation for the release of these documents, does it surprise you at all?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, they know what - they think they know what’s coming out. They’re crying alarm over this, as they always do in the case of every case of a leak. Certainly they did with the Pentagon Papers. In fact, in that case, they said that the damage to national security was so great that they had to stop the presses for the first time in our history, that the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, having heard testimony on that.

 

And the seventeen - in fact, nineteen newspapers, altogether, decided otherwise and did print the papers, in what amounted to civil disobedience against the warnings of the attorney general. In no case was there any harm discovered in that case. And as for the releases in July, with all the warnings we heard passed on by the media, quite uncritically, no damage has been reported.

 

So I think that one should take their warnings now with a lot of salt.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Well, at a Pentagon news conference in August, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced the leaking of the Afghan war logs.

DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: The battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world. Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures, will become known to our adversaries.

 

This department is conducting a thorough, aggressive investigation to determine how this leak occurred, to identify the person or persons responsible, and to assess the content of the information compromised.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Speaking at the same news conference, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused WikiLeaks of having blood on its hands.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN: Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.

 

Disagree with the war all you want, take issue with the policy, challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we’ve been given, but don’t put those who willingly go into harm’s way even further in harm’s way just to satisfy your need to make a point.
 


AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the Associated Press obtained this Pentagon letter reporting no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leaks. Dan Ellsberg?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: You know, for all that the admiral, Mullen, or for that matter Presidents Bush or Barack Obama, tell us of the good that they hoped to accomplish, we haven’t seen any evidence of that, I would say. And in terms of blood on their hands, I’m sorry to say, a lot of actual blood has been spilled, as opposed to this hypothetical possible blood, of which none has been reported, from the WikiLeaks.

Actually, the demands they’re making of the press to stay away from this story, or even readers not to read it - and they’re talking about returning the material - seems absurd on its face. Returning released material, released into cyberspace, seems rather absurd.

 

They’re obviously threatening prosecution, because they’re using the words of the charges that were first used against me, the Espionage Act, which was not intended as an Official Secrets Act, but it uses language like "returning the information," "d) and (e)."

 

I was the first person to have the experience of having those charges made. In this case, there have some credibility of prosecution, because President Barack Obama has already brought as many prosecutions for leaks to the American public as all previous presidents put together. It’s a small number: it’s three. But since he didn’t have a really law intended to do that, no other president has brought one - more than one prosecution. He’s brought three.

 

And clearly what he’s threatening here with the press, including you and even your readers, for not returning the information that they’re not authorized to receive, is a clear warning, I’d say, of prosecution, which means that I think this administration is moving toward really aggressively using the Espionage Act as an Official Secrets Act, in which case we’ll know even less than we do about the lies that prolong wars and get us into wrongful wars.
 


JUAN GONZALEZ: But what about that policy, given the fact that President Obama came into office talking about a more transparent and open government and appears to be going in the opposite direction?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, that promise has gone the way of his promise to close Guantánamo and a number of other promises. In no way, in the general defense and homeland security area, is he less opaque, more transparent, than Bush. And as I say, he’s being even more aggressive in pursuing prosecution.

One other aspect of that is that - my understanding - is that the impression he’s giving that he’s ending the war in Iraq, or that it has ended even, the war described by these 400,000 documents, is, I think, a conscious lie. I think it’s as much of a lie as Lyndon Johnson’s, when I was working for him and he underestimated for the public the scale and the duration of the war we were getting into.

 

I’ll predict, without having seen these documents - I will make a bet here, I’ll stick my neck out - that there’s no hint in those 400,000 documents, which go up into this year, that President Barack Obama intends to remove our bases from Iraq, next year or the year after or any time in his term. I’ll bet there isn’t even a contingency plan for turning over those bases to Iraqis.

 

And that means that rather than doing what he’s promised, which is to get all American troops out by the end of next year, I think there will be tens of thousands there whenever he leaves office, whether it’s in 2013 or four years after that.
 


AMY GOODMAN: And we should say you were a high-level - you were a high-level Pentagon official working for the RAND Corporation.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s right. I spent years keeping - I worked for the Pentagon and the State Department. I spent years keeping my mouth shut as presidents lied to us and kept these secrets. I shouldn’t have done that. And that’s why I admire someone even who’s accused, like Bradley Manning, if he is the source, or whoever the source was, of actually risking their own personal freedom in order to tell the truth. I think they’re being better citizens and showing their patriotism in a better way than when they keep their mouths shut.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Dan Ellsberg, can you go back to the language of 793, the law that goes after whistleblowers -

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes.
 


AMY GOODMAN: - and how it can go after journalists, as well?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: It actually can apply - the words are so broad, because they really were intended for espionage, for people who are secretly giving information to an enemy, so they weren’t designed to protect, let’s say, First Amendment or freedom of speech when it comes to giving information to the public. So they talk about wrongfully receiving or holding information that is not authorized for release or giving it to people who are not authorized to receive it. And the people who get it are subject to charge under that.

It often has been said that the AIPAC case, the case of the Israeli lobby here, people who were accused of receiving information, were for the first - who did not have clearances - who were being charged under this law. Barack Obama, by the way, dropped that case, which was brought under Bush.

 

Actually, that was not the first case. In my case, my co-defendant, Anthony Russo, was in exactly the same position. He didn’t have a clearance at that time. He was just receiving the material. He held it; he didn’t return it. At least at that time they had paper he could have returned, in principle, as did the New York Times.

But the wording of the law could apply to readers of the New York Times, which I believe is coming out with this information. They’re not authorized to receive this classified information, even though they may very well have a need, as citizens, to have it. It’s being wrongfully withheld from them, but they’re not authorized to receive.

 

Unless they return it, they are subject - now, that’s not going to happen. But the journalists, indeed, are being put on warning that they may be subject to this.
 


JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the issue of the government raising the specter of attempting to prosecute Julian Assange, when the reality is he is not doing this in the United States? He is releasing documents in another country. And -

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, they’re trying to get the other countries to prosecute him under their laws, which are, in many cases, of course, more stringent than ours.

 

Even Britain, where I’ll be going tomorrow, has an Official Secrets Act, which we don’t. We had a revolution and a war of independence and a First Amendment, which they don’t.

 

But if these prosecutions proceed and if they’re successful, if they’re carried - if they’re held up, if they’re supported by this Supreme Court, which might well not have been the case forty years ago, then we’ll have an Official Secrets Act, and the effect of - in effect.

And the effect of that will be that they won’t have to conduct investigations of leakers, after all, or who did it; they’ll just have to pull in the person whose byline is on that story, the journalist, and say,

"Who committed the crime? We’re not after you. We’re just after the person who violated this law."

And if the reporter doesn’t give the name up, they’ll go to jail, like Judith Miller for ninety days, before she did in fact cooperate. Some will go to jail, and many will not. And I think the sources, from then on, will have no basis, other than WikiLeaks, to - which protects their anonymity, to get this information out that we need.

 

So I think WikiLeaks is actually becoming more indispensable even than it was in the past.

It occurred to me that if Bob Woodward, who really gives us a lot of information in his new book, based on classified documents that he was shown in the administration - I would urge him to put those documents into WikiLeaks anonymously. Put them on the line. Let us all read the documents and form our own opinion.

 

Then we’d have something like the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan, which these documents will not be. It remains, really, to come out, the higher-level documents. And I hope people who have access to those in the White House, in the Pentagon, but - in the CIA, in the State Department, will take advantage of WikiLeaks, as a matter of fact, and give us the information we need in order to end these wars.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Now, in the last release of documents, there were 91,000 documents, but -

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Of which they’ve withheld so far one out of five, 15,000, for damage control. WikiLeaks has not yet released those. They’re working over them to redact.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Which is the point I wanted to make, released around 75,000 -

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yeah.
 


AMY GOODMAN: - that WikiLeaks is withholding documents, concerned about issues of -

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into - both in court and in the press, of - endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Has the same been done with these 400,000 documents?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes. That’s why they’re going over them now. They know what’s coming out. And they have every ability, if people are endangered - which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there’s been no damage up ’til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger. But if there was, it may well have been in those 15,000 which WikiLeaks is properly going over still.
 


JUAN GONZALEZ: So, what you’re saying is that WikiLeaks has let the Pentagon know precisely what it is about to release?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: To my understanding, they have. I’m not in the process. But I understand that they’ve said that they did make them aware of what it is and have invited them to cooperate in protecting those names. But as I say, the Pentagon, if there are such names, has preferred to make charges.
 


AMY GOODMAN: And are they releasing them with other papers, as they did last time - the New York Times, Der Spiegel and The Guardian?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes, yes. And I must say, I give credit to the Times, as I understand it, and Der Spiegel and The Guardian, who are resisting, as did the Times forty years ago, the demand or the request that they desist and that they return and that they stop serving their function: to protect the public.
 


AMY GOODMAN: So they’re doing it again on this 400,000-document leak?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: They’re doing it again, and it’s much to their credit, and I appreciate it. I’ve waited forty years for a release on this scale. I think there should have been something on the scale of the Pentagon Papers every year. How often do we need this kind of thing? We haven’t seen it. So I’m very glad that someone is taking the risk and the initiative to inform us better now.
 


JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I mean, it would seem to me - I think this is an important point to make. As a journalist who has many times not provided the subject of the articles I’m going to write a complete view of what I have, this is - it seems to me that WikiLeaks has gone to extraordinary lengths to allow the Pentagon to respond and to signal to it, look, if there’s anything in particular here that you think endangers an individual that - or an operation, let us know.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: They haven’t given a veto to the administration, as far as I’m concerned, of anything that they might raise an alarm about, but they have said,

"Bring it to our attention, and we’ll responsibly look at that."

And they are redacting names, yes.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for being with us, Dan Ellsberg. And I guess you could compliment the New York Times for something else, as well, because now they no longer say, after decades, "the man who claimed he gave us the Pentagon Papers," but they actually admit you did.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Yes, they’ve actually acknowledged at last that I was the source. They’re very reluctant to tell their sources, but since I was the one who was prosecuted, I claim special relation to them on that.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Daniel Ellsberg was a high-level official in the Pentagon and was - is the country’s most famous whistleblower. He released the Pentagon Papers. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Dan Ellsberg now heads to London. He’ll be at the WikiLeaks news conference that releases, well, what we believe is something like 400,000 documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Iraq, essentially. Iraq.
 


AMY GOODMAN: Iraq, in particular. Iraq war. This is Democracy Now!

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