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Monday, December 6, 2010

Wikileaks clash echoes 'Pentagon Papers'

Ever heard of the Pentagon Papers? That affair strongly parallels the Wikileaks matter.

When Daniel Ellsberg passed a massive cache of secret war records to the New York Times and the Washington Post, the newspapers went public with the disturbing disclosure that the American people had been deceived about the Vietnam war. There was a giant credibility gap between what they were told and what was really believed by their government.

President Richard Nixon was indignant and the newspapers were ordered to cease publication. The Supreme Court however recognized the right of the papers to publish without prior restraint. The Pentagon trove was then published in its entirety in book form.

How do the Wikileaks releases differ from the Pentagon Papers release? Under the U.S. Constitution, Wikileaks is, just as Wikileaks organizer Julian Assange says, a news organization, or member of the press. Wikileaks is publishing material that was passed to it by a leaker. Wikileaks has done nothing that the Times didn't do in the Pentagon Papers case (and isn't doing now). It makes no difference that Wikileaks does not originate in America. Dessimination in America is protected by the First Amendment.

But, there is a tremendous effort to demonize Assange and knock him out. Why? Well, of course, the 'system' people rightly perceive that Wikileaks is a threat to their political power. It's harder to lie, cover up and spin-doctor in the presence of such a media force. The other reason is that the system people think they may get away with "getting" Assange. Notice they aren't thinking about "getting" the publishers of the New York Times, the Guardian or other papers. In Nixon's day, there was no serious consideration given to "getting" the Post's Katie Graham or the Times' Punch Sulzberger.

Assange makes the info control freaks snarl and spit not solely because of his press actions, but because he's not playing their game, he's not a member of their club. And worst, he runs a not-for-profit activist press organization, which
means, in their eyes, that he's not respectable.

Assange has broken no American law, and yet it is apparent that the State Dept. is pressuring foreign governments to have him arrested on Swedish sex charges. The fact that the United States is so interested in the arrest of a person for something that allegedly occurred in Sweden gives rise to the suspicion that American agents had something to do with making the charges happen, along with prompting Interpol to issue a "red notice."

Responding to signs that Assange and Wikileaks might seek refuge in Switzerland, Donald S. Beyer Jr., the U.S. ambassador to that country, warned in the weekly magazine NZZ am Sonntag that the Swiss “should very carefully consider whether to provide shelter to someone who is on the run from the law."

Another issue was summed up in a New York Post headline that includes the words "brave new digital age." New telecommunications media, such as the internet and smartphones, are revolutionizing the world's social and political fabric. But many an old fogie is uncomfortable with this revolutionary new age. They've lost their bearings. These floundering fogies grew up in the era of newsprint and haven't got the hang of the way things are changing. Many of old politicos hand their blackberrys to their aides to handle for them.

Rupert Murdoch's pundits have been among the loudest howling for Assange's head. Murdoch might remember that he was once an aggressive Australian who was despised as not representing the "legitimate" (or system) news media.

The State Dept. has ordered its employees not to read the Wikileaks cables. This comes on the heels of the State Dept.'s official global crusade against censorship, particularly of the internet. The State Dept. will be happy to know that the Reds have barred Chinese from reading the Wikileaks cables.

Even more disgusting is the caution expressed to Columbia students that downloading of the Wikileaks files could damage their careers! I suppose the fear is that U.S. spooks are keeping track of who is reading Wikileaks and, like the old East German Stasi and others of that breed, will blackball people for having done something politically incorrect.

Cryptome is carrying a discussion of the Wikileaks affair:

Iran is waging a powerful political war, not only in Afghanistan as previously reported, but in Iraq, according to another secret cable. Iran's efforts present a very difficult politico-military problem for President Obama, who is attempting to stabilize the situations in those nations without a major loss of strategic position for the United States.

Here is the cable:


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2029

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Hill for reasons 1.5 b,d

SUBJ: Prime Minister Accuses Iran of Trying to Destabilize

¶1. (S) In a September 22 meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki told the Ambassador that Iran is intervening
increasingly boldly in the Iraqi political process in a bid
to "control the COR" (the Council of Representatives, the
Iraqi Parliament). Iran has not discarded use of military
means to attain its objectives, Maliki said, but for now it
is focusing on political means. If Iran does not succeed in
influencing the upcoming Iraqi national elections, Maliki
said, he expects to see them return to military actions.
Maliki said that the Iranian initiative was thwarted -- dealt
a "fatal blow" -- by Dawa's refusal to join the Shi,a
alliance being forged for the elections (the Iraqi National
Alliance). Iran, he said, is trying to rally the Shi'a to
counter the "Saudi project" to align the Sunni states. But
if Dawa had joined the Shi'a alliance, he said, that "could
have led to sectarian strife."

¶2. (S) Maliki said that Iran is using the Saudi efforts as
pretext to continue its intervention in Iraq. On September
21, for example, the Saudis sponsored a meeting in Amman at
which at least ten senior Iraqi Sunnis attended, including
Rafi al-Issawi. While in Washington, Maliki said, he asked
POTUS to intervene with Saudi Arabia to ask them to stop
their efforts at rallying the Sunni, in part precisely to
avoid inflaming sectarianism and to deny Iran that pretext
for similarly seeking to rally the Shi,a. Maliki's concerns
in this regard have not abated, he said. He chose not to
press this issue again with VPOTUS during his September 18
visit to Baghdad because he felt he had expressed his
concerns once and it was not necessary to continue to raise
the same issue.

¶3. (S) Turning to the Mujahedin el Khalkh (MEK), the
Ambassador urged Maliki not to take any provocative actions
prior to the elections. Maliki took this point on board, but
replied by asking what outcome the USG sees, and how long
this situation can go on. Ambassador stressed that a.) the
situation "won't go on forever," b.) the USG has sent a
"stern message" to the MEK that they must deal directly with
the GOI, not the USG, and c.) the U.S. base near the MEK camp
will eventually be closing. The USG has urged the Europeans
to take a similar stance, and is seeking greater United
Nations involvement in treating the MEK as refugees. Maliki
replied that the GOI "has to do something" so that it can say
it has started the process. Otherwise, he said, this issue
will be used against him in the elections. In Maliki's view,
"whoever wants to return to their country can do so." The
rest, he said, should be relocated away from the Iranian
border, to protect them and Iraq from Iranian pressure.
Iran, Maliki said, at one time was even contemplating a
long-range missile strike on the camp, and even today is
considering filing a case against Iraq for "harboring a
terrorist organization." The GOI must try to relocate "at
least 1,000" members before the end of the year, Maliki said,
returning to his theme that the GOI must do something prior
to the elections. Ambassador emphasized that any attempt to
forcibly remove members could lead to bloodshed and crisis,
and again urged Maliki not to do so. Maliki said he felt
most members would willingly relocate. Only the leadership
of the group objects, and they are "criminals."

¶4. (S) Comment: Maliki,s comments regarding Iranian
Q4. (S) Comment: Maliki,s comments regarding Iranian
involvement in internal Iraqi affairs are the strongest we
have heard. The Shi,a alliance INA is under considerable
pressure from the Iranians to persuade or even threaten
Maliki,s Dawa party to join the alliance, but on terms
unfavorable or unsatisfactory to either Dawa or Maliki. He
anticipates that if he pursues his non-sectarian State of Law
alliance, he will encounter not only stiff resistance from
the INA but also heavy and active opposition from the
Iranians. Regarding MEK, while it appears that the GOI will
not move immediately after Ramadan against the camp,s
residents, the eventual transfer operation will likely occur
before the end of the year. We will continue to advocate
patience, direct GOI-MEK negotiation for a peaceful transfer
and involvement of an international organization. End

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