Our friend Harrison had a family emergency, so the folks at KPFK (the Pacifica Radio outlet in Los Angles, San Diego and Santa Barbara) have asked me to fill in for him today and tomorrow from 3p - 4p PT (6p - 7p PT).
We'll be discussing, among other things, the WikiLeaks disclosures, and the extraordinary campaign against both the organization itself and its founder Julian Assange. Talk about blaming the messenger.
I wrote about it all a bit over the weekend, quoting from both legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as well as John F. Kennedy. And by way of heads up, Ellsberg will be joining me to discuss the entire situation on tomorrow's show!
KPFK is heard on air at 90.7 FM in L.A., on 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, on 93.7FM in San Diego and coast-to-coast and around the globe via KPFK.org where there are more live streaming options for ya. The call-in number is: 310-737-TALK.
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POST-SHOW UPDATE: The audio archive of today's show follows. We discussed the WikiLeaks, the attacks on the organization, JFK's 1961 thoughts on "secrecy", plus election fraud in Alaska, the "Tea Party's" assault on democracy, Obama's horrific negotiating skills and much more. It's a lively commercial-free hour that I hope you enjoy...
Some 250,000 classified cables and embassy dispatches from the State Department are being released today via WikiLeaks latest, and reportedly largest, document dump ever. Within the last hour, news reports based on those documents have begun to be published by various world media outlets that are said to have been given advanced access.
Many, if not most, covert operations deserve to be disclosed by a free press. They are often covert not only because they are illegal but because they are wildly ill-conceived and reckless. "Sensitive" and "covert" are often synonyms for "half-assed," "idiotic," and "dangerous to national security," as well as "criminal."
As well, John F. Kennedy's April 1961 speech on what he described as this nation's abhorrence of secrecy, and the necessity of a free press --- as delivered to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York a year or so before his death --- is rather astonishing, and more than a bit ironic, in light of today's leaks and, as directly, the actions of the Executive Branch and its enablers in this country --- in Congress, in the mainstream media and in the public --- over the past dark decade. JFK's remarks include these thoughts among others that must be heard or read...
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.
And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.
And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary.
Here is a five minute or so excerpt from that speech (the full 19-minute version, and complete text transcript are both posted here)...
Please read on for both a transcript of the above video excerpt, and one or two more quick, but noteworthy, thoughts on it thereafter...
Appearing on Democracy Now (video posted below) today, constitutional law attorney and Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald observed:
WikiLeaks has done an extraordinary valuable service because it has exposed what it is that war actually is; what we are actually doing in Afghanistan and Iraq on a day-to-day basis. My concern with the discussions that have been triggered, though, is that there seems to be the suggestion in many circles ... that this is some sort of extreme event, or this is some sort of aberration ... In fact it’s anything but rare. The only thing that’s rare about this ... is that we happen to be seeing it take place on video.
This is something that takes place on a virtually daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places where we invade, bomb and occupy, and the reason why there are hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq and thousands of dead in Afghanistan is because this is what happens, constantly when we are engaged in warfare ... This is what war is. This is what the United States does in these countries and that is the crucial point to note along with the point that the military fought tooth and nail to prevent this video from surfacing precisely because it would shed light on what their actual behavior is during war.
During the same remarkable Democracy Now broadcast, Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks co-founder, revealed that even before it exposed this horrific video yesterday, Wikileaks had been targeted in a counterintelligence report [PDF], which describes WikiLeaks as an "information security threat to the U.S. Army." The report discusses outing the identify of the whistleblowers in hopes of destroying them and to deter others from leaking to the website:
The report states:
Web sites such as Wikileaks.org use trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers. The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the Wikileaks.org Web site.
The key thing to remember when watching the WikiLeaks/Iraq video and reading about the Afghan massacre: THEY HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOMS!!!
UPDATE 04/07/10: Democracy Nowreported today that the "Obama administration is refusing to call for a new probe into the US military’s killing of twelve Iraqis despite the public release of video footage capturing the attack on tape."
UPDATE 04/08/10 Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise films, who interviewed witnesses one day after this massacre, told Amy Goodman that there was "no reason at all to believe...any of the people in that picture [were] armed insurgents:"
you can see two men with Kalashnikovs, but this is 2007 in Baghdad. This is the height of the civil war, when dozens of bodies a day were being picked up from the street, when sectarian militias filled the Iraqi security forces, the police and the army. Every neighborhood in Baghdad organized its own protection force. And it was legal at the time for every household to own a Kalashnikov in Iraq, and every household I ever went to did.
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The April 6, 2010 segment of Democracy Now's coverage of the WikiLeaks video follows below...
That's "one small step for freedom of speech," our friend Jesse Dyen writes to us this afternoon.
Dyen was arrested, along with a number of other freedom fighters who had the temerity to show up near Bush's "brush ranch" in Crawford, Texas, several years ago to protest against the war, only to be arrested (twice) by police enforcing an ordinance, passed by the locals after Cindy Sheehan's original stand there in the Summer of 2005, that no such protests on public lands were to be allowed.
Today, he writes to let us know that the guilty charges were overturned by an appellate court that decided [PDF] in favor of the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and other quaint old notions such as those.
See below for Dyen's missive explaining what happened back then, and in the court decision today, to the courageous arrested "Prairie Dogs" (who happened to include legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, as well as a number of other notables), and a video made from one of our favorite songs, as written by Dyen, during the original historic tipping point moment in Crawford back in the Summer of 2005…
Says She Has Been Following Recent Blockbuster Series in British Paper Concerning U.S. Nuclear Secrets Espionage, Allegations That Her Cover Company, Brewster Jennings, Was Exposed by a Former High-Ranking State Department Official as Far Back as 2001...
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson says the recent disclosures in the UK's Sunday Times concerning the sale of U.S. nuclear secrets to the foreign black market, as aided by high-ranking government officials, are "stunning."
The previously covert agent, who had worked in the agency's counter-proliferation division for years monitoring traffic in the nuclear black market under the guise of a cover company named Brewster Jennings until being outed by Bush Administration officials, was asked about the recent series of explosive stories in the British paper during an interview this morning with Florida radio host Henry Raines of American AM.
Those disclosures include allegations that Brewster Jennings' real identity as a CIA front company was outed to Turkish officials by then-Asst. Sec. of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman as early as 2001...
In an Exclusive BRAD BLOG Op-Ed, the Legendary 'Pentagon Papers' Whistleblower Calls on the Media to Perform Their First Amendment Obligations, on Congressional Leaders to Perform Their Oversight Duty, and for Insider Sources to Come Forward to the American Public...
For the second time in two weeks, the entire U.S. press has let itself be scooped by Rupert Murdoch's London Sunday Times on a dynamite story of criminal activities by corrupt U.S. officials promoting nuclear proliferation. But there is a worse journalistic sin than being scooped, and that is participating in a cover-up of information that demands urgent attention from the public, the U.S. Congress and the courts.
For the last two weeks --- one could say, for years --- the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.
Just as important, there must be pressure by the public on Congressional committee chairpersons, in particular Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Patrick Leahy. Both have been sitting for years on classified, sworn testimony by Edmonds --- as she revealed in the Times' new story on Sunday --- along with documentation, in their possession, confirming parts of her account. Pressure must be brought for them to hold public hearings to investigate her accusations of widespread criminal activities, over several administrations, that endanger national security. They should call for open testimony under oath by Edmonds --- as she has urged for five years --- and by other FBI officials she has named to them, as cited anonymously in the first Times' story.
And this is the time for those who have so far creditably leaked to the Times of London to come forward, accepting personal risks, to offer their testimony --- and new documents --- both to the Congress and to the American press. I would say to them: Don't do what I did and waste months of precious time trying to get Congressional committees to act as they should in the absence of journalistic pressure. Do your best to inform the American public directly, first, through the major American media.
But perhaps today the alternative media and the international press are a necessary precursor even to that. It shouldn't be true, but if it is, it's a measure of how far the New York Times and Washington Post have fallen from their responsibilities to the public, to their profession and to American democracy, since I gave them the Pentagon Papers in 1971. They printed them then. Would they today?
"I'd say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers," Daniel Ellsberg told us in regard to former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.
"From what I understand, from what she has to tell, it has a major difference from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and may involve impeachable offenses," Ellsberg explained. "And I don't necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn't be surprised if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive Branch may be impeached as well. And she says similar about Congress."
The BRAD BLOG spoke recently with the legendary 1970's-era whistleblower in the wake of our recent exclusive, detailing Edmonds' announcement that she was prepared to risk prosecution to expose the entirety of the still-classified information that the Bush Administration has "gagged" her from revealing for the past five years under claims of the arcane "State Secrets Privilege."
Ellsberg, the former defense analyst and one-time State Department official, knows well the plight of whistleblowers. He himself was prepared to spend his life in prison for the exposure of some 7,000 pages of classified Department of Defense documents concerning Executive Branch manipulation of facts and outright lies leading the country into an extended war in Vietnam.
Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today's American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations.
As Edmonds has also noted, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who "sat on the NSA spying story for over a year" when they "could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome."
"There will be phone calls going out to the media saying 'don't even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,'" he told us.
"I have been receiving calls from the mainstream media all day," Edmonds recounted the day after we ran the story announcing that she was prepared to violate her gag-order to disclose all of the national security-related criminal allegations she has been kept from disclosing for the past five years.
"The media called from Japan and France and Belgium and Germany and Canada and from all over the world," she told The BRAD BLOG.
"But not from here?" we asked incredulously.
"I'm getting contact from all over the world, but not from here. Isn't that disgusting?" she shot back.