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The WikiLeaks News and Views Blog for Friday, June 17

As I’ve done for over six months, I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

12:20  My new piece: One year ago first questions raised about Manning-Lamo "chat logs,"  starring Glenn Greenwald.   http://bit.ly/lEhESw

9:40  Bidding up to about $4800 for lunch with Assange in eBay auction.   Three days to go.  A lot of lettuce for leeks?

9:35  Latest from Dawn Media, which has been covering cables for that area for weeks:  Indian torture in Kashmir, claim that U.S. and even Red Cross knew about it.

8:35   Constant monitoring of Assange not really necessary?  Roy Greenslade at The Guardian. " Whether or not you like him, whether or not you agree with him, whether or not you support WikiLeaks, whether or not you believe the allegations made against him, the conditions under which he is being forced to live are disproportionately harsh."

8:30  U.S. officially responds  vs. public access to WikiLeaks docs.

8:20  For full background on Manning and Assange and more: my book The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, or Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here, both hailed by Glenn Greenwald, Dan Ellsberg, Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman.

12:05  Dylan Ratigan talks to David House  about his grand jury non-speaking appearance.

From late Thursday

Bank of America still doesn't know what WikiLeaks has on them as months pass and Reuters wonders.

A bunch of new cyber-warfare counter-reactions today, courtesy of my new Nation assistant Kevin Donohue: Obama and The Pentagon, Germany, European Union, China (to “counter our Pentagon push”).

Latest from Japan cable leaks, this time on Japan’s “tepid” response to US call for a test alert on possible Korean crisis.

 Two-parter from @WLLegal: “In court filing, govt says they won’t let Gitmo lawyers save or print #WikiLeaks docs bc they can’t prove docs genuine http://t.co/J2cBHai.” And: “Full response from gov to Gitmo lawyer’s request for access to the WL docs that everyone else can read http://t.co/qsNYgY4 .”

Mark Stephens no longer represents Assange in Swedish case—replaced by Gareth Peirce, once played by Emma Thompson in a terrific film (left), with Daniel Day-Lewis, In the Name of the Father… Also, WikiLeaks has issued statement saying it neither endorses not rejects hacking actiivties by Lulz on its behalf but pointing ou tagain they are not connected in any way.

AP covers Assange six-months-under-house-arrest story today, complete with his complaint that it is seriously hampering the work of WikiLeaks—and he displays the electronic device on his ankle. A little more bulky than one might have thought from .photos.

New NewHIve song for Bradley Manning, “Political Prisoner.”


The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, June 16

As I’ve done for over six months (with one week off recently), I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

UPDATE:  The Friday edition of this here blog.

10:25 Dylan Ratigan talks to David House about his grand jury non-speaking appearance.

10:20  Bank of America still doesn't know what WikiLeaks has on them as months pass and Reuters wonders.

4:25 A bunch of new cyber-warfare counter-reactions today, courtesy of my new Nation assistant Kevin Donohue: Obama and The Pentagon, Germany, European Union, China (to “counter our Pentagon push”).

4:20 Latest from Japan cable leaks, this time on Japan’s “tepid” response to US call for a test alert on possible Korean crisis.

3:30 Two-parter from @WLLegal: “In court filing, govt says they won’t let Gitmo lawyers save or print #WikiLeaks docs bc they can’t prove docs genuine http://t.co/J2cBHai.” And: “Full response from gov to Gitmo lawyer’s request for access to the WL docs that everyone else can read http://t.co/qsNYgY4 .”

2:10 Mark Stephens no longer represents Assange in Swedish case—replaced by Gareth Peirce, once played by Emma Thompson in a terrific film (left), with Daniel Day-Lewis, In the Name of the Father… Also, WikiLeaks has issued statement saying he either endorses not rejects hacking actiivties by Lulz on its behalf but pointing ou again they are not connected in any way.

12:45 New NewHIve song for Bradley Manning, “Political Prisoner.”

11:40 AP covers Assange six-months-under-house-arrest story today, complete with his completes that it seriously hampering the work of WikiLeaks—and he displays the electronic device on his ankle. A little more bulky than one might have thought.

10:20 Debate in Sydney “won” by WikiLeaks spokesman—declared “force for good.

10:15 Wikileaks: Top Bulgarian general exposed as US informer.

7:30 @WikiLeaks tweets: “Today we release video of Assange house arrest.” Watch it here at The Telegraph. Includes charges of spying via multiple cameras outside manor. Six months in. Also a full WikiLeaks statement on same.

7:25 CNN reports on the Lulz take down of CIA site in support of WikiLeaks.

7:20 The WikiLeaks Truck that we’ve noted a couple of times was strong presence outside grand jury meeting in Virginia yesterday—follow it @WikiLeaksTruck, complete with photos.

1:40 For full background on Manning and Assange and more: my book The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, or Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here, both hailed by Glenn Greenwald, Dan Ellsberg, Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman.

6:45 Is Lamo lying about how and why he ended up under psychiatric care just before his infamous online chats with Manning? Some new research.

12:10 Lengthy interview with WikiLeaks spokesman Hrafnsson on visit to Australia in which, among other things, he charges that the NYT and Guardian tried to “rush” the war logs releases last year, contrary to the conventional wisdom that WikiLeaks was pushing for release before full redaction. He also criticizes the papers on other scores, including turning on their “source.”

12:05 On a day with the Lulz folks apparently brought down the CIA site, Reuters reports, “Silicon Valley venture capitalists are betting big on new technologies to protect computer networks, hoping they will profit from a spate of high-profile cyber attacks on corporate and government bodies.”

12:00 As Wikileaks auctions a lunch with Assange (now up to 1200 British pounds on eBay), Mediaite columnist Frances Martel paints Assange as an increasingly destructive narcissist and “…with every publicity stunt Assange hosts to sell the caricature of himself that the media wants to buy, he risks reducing Wikileaks to a vanity project with little ideological substance and only the projection of his budding megalomania as its end goal,” Martel writes. (h/t Kevin Donohue)

From late Wednesday

David House tweeting his report on grand jury day now, @lockean—apparently a big dispute over his note taking… AP story on the David House grand jury day (see below)—reveals that he was asked solely about his friend Bradley Manning, nothing about Assange, but he still claims they are trying to link the two. He refused to answer, in any case… House could still be forced to testify if granted immunity. However, he could still refuse to talk—and then be held in contempt.

David House finally emerged from the grand jury session at courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, to reveal that he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent. He read from a statement outside:

“The Department of Justice (DoJ) is attempting to codify a task it started over 40 years ago: the political regulation of journalism. The same climate of intimidation that surrounded the Pentagon Papers trial persists to this day as the DoJ seeks to limit the freedoms of the Fourth Estate, using the pretense of alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

“The show trial that is now underway in Alexandria VA has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for regulating the media. Using Nixonian fear tactics that were honed during the Pentagon Papers investigation, the DoJ is attempting to dismantle a major media organization—WikiLeaks—and indict its editor, Julian Assange. The DoJ’s ever-widening net has now come to encompass academics, students, and journalists in the Cambridge area.

“The Administration’s goal is to force these individuals to testify against this media organization in an attempt to cast its publications and those of its media partners—the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais—as acts of espionage. The government has also violated my Fourth Amendment rights by executing a warrantless seizure on my laptop in an attempt to identify, target and ensnare Cambridge-based supporters of WikiLeaks. It is my conviction that the American people must call for a cessation of the Department of Justice’s politically motivated harassment.”

Latest Nation piece and a big one on Haiti Leaks: US military intervention after the earthquake and the backlash.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

 

Long-Awaited Memoir by Robert Jay Lifton, Key 'Witness,' Arrives—With Lessons for Today

Robert Jay Lifton has been a witness, in the broadest, most profound, meaning of that word to many of the most traumatic events or movements of the past century: Nazism, Hiroshima, the Vietnam war and veterans, political and religious cults, torture and brainwashing, nuclear weapons and first-strike, capital punishment, the Armenian genocide, the Iraq war, and so much more. He’s written dozens of books—and several articles for The Nation—but has not written a memoir, but now his book, Witness to an Extreme Century, has just been published by The Free Press.

It’s an excellent and important work, and remarkably easy to read despite the often grim subject matter. It has already received a hard-to-get rave from Kirkus Reviews, which hailed it as “a call for a moral awakening by a deeply compassionate chronicler of our times.” Witness is also a kind of love story, as Lifton chronicles the adventures he shared with his late wife Betty Jean Lifton.

Here's an excellent NPR take on the book with write-up, audio and excerpt. Lifton was also the subject of a film released last year, Robert Jay Lifton: Nazi Doctors.

I can’t claim to be unbiased on this subject. I’ve known Robert for three decades, worked for a couple of years at his research center in New York, attended numerous games at Shea Stadium between his Dodgers (he hails from Brooklyn) and my Mets, and co-authored two books with him, Hiroshima in America and Who Owns Death? (on capital punishment), and many articles.

Lifton remains fully engaged in current issues. For example, here’s a piece he recently wrote for the IHT and New York Times on Hiroshima and Fukushima, and he has a new op-ed set to be published this week. His memoir closes with assessments of the Iraq war, Bush torture policies and a critique of Obama. Lifton may have coined the term “psychic numbing,” but his own sensitivity and capacity for empathy remains undiminished.

Greg Mitchell's latest books and e-books are The Age of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

Hot New Film Asks: Is the 'New York Times' Worth Saving?

It may turn out to be one of the most acclaimed and popular documentaries of the year, but Andrew Rossi never intended to produce and direct the film, opening this Friday, Page One: Inside the New York Times.

As he tells it, Rossi was actually developing another project for HBO on Web 2.0 and social media, “and everyone kept on saying that on the road to digital future there would be several major dead bodies on the side of the road.” When a controversial (and almost laughable) article by Michael Hirshorn predicted the death of the New York Times—in just months—Rossi was filming a dinner party of web entrepreneurs and investors and, he told me this week, there “seemed to be this glee people were taking in the potential demise of the Times.”

A few weeks later, he interviewed Times media writer David Carr (left) for that project and their conversation “kept cycling back to the place of legacy media in a media future,” Rossi recalls. “David was very animated that people’s views of the future of the New York Times were misplaced,” especially since so many of the critics were, at the same time, fully aggregating material from the newspaper. Rossi concluded that even people who are investors or participants in new media “should not be cheering the demise of such an important source of news and analysis.”

Rossi switched gears, sensing (but not really knowing) that “commentary from new media was at odds with what was actually happening.” He determined “it would be very valuable to go in with an open mind and get a front row seat on what New York Times journalism is—is it wasteful or something of real value?” With a cinema verite approach he would “just capture what is going on there” right in the middle of what he calls the Gray Lady’s “collision” with the digital imperative, and let the chips fall where they may. No Jayson Blair—Judy Miller re-hash.

Carr, as it happens—as it was meant to happen—turned out to be the “star” of Rossi’s new project. In fact, in the early going he was even more of the focus, until Rossi broadened his focus to include three other key members of the Times’s media desk: editor Bruce Headlam and writers Brian Stelter and Tim Arango. (Among other things, we get to experience Stelter’s ninety-pound weight loss and Arango’s surprising decision to leave the comforts of the new Times tower for Baghdad.) But Carr still gets most of the best scenes and lines, as he critiques, even while engaging, the online world.

The highlight: After enduring, on a panel, one of Michael Wolff’s withering assaults on the demise of Times, Carr holds up a printed screen shot of Wolff’s site, Newser, full of more holes than Swiss cheese—where Carr had cut out stories from the Times featured there. Then there’s his smackdown of the editors of Vice magazine—but I don’t want to ruin it for you. His overall view is best captured by his cry, “The Times has dozens of bureaus all over the world, but now we’ll kick back—and see what Facebook turns up!”

A Place Where a Knowing Carr Goes

It may seem as if Page One opened long ago. That’s because it debuted at Sundance and then it was screened at other film fests, at conventions of journalists, and in smaller screenings for the media (and just this week for Times staffers). This has guaranteed almost continual mentions or reviews and “buzz,” but the film won’t open nationally until July 1. Carr and Stelter have embraced the film, and promoted it around the US. After screenings at the Times, Rossi says he’ll have a better idea what others at the paper, who are not in the film, think of it.

Rossi, an attorney who turned to film, is best known for his doc Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven. His wife, Kate Novack, a former media writer at Time, served as a writer and producer on Page One.

The film has been updated in various ways in just the past couple months, including mentions of the paper finally launching its paywall, and Jill Abramson named to replace Bill Keller as executive editor. Rossi thinks the latter move signals the paper will move even more aggressively into new media (after Keller, a curmudgeon in regard to social media), pointing out that Abramson, among other things, swiftly launched a personal Twitter feed.

The notoriously thin-skinned Keller had made the film possible by finally agreeing to Rossi’s plea to allow him to film on site several days a week for six to ten hours each time. Rossi had first gotten an okay from the media writers. (Keller did ask him to leave the building during two-week period when people were actually fired.)

“I always viewed this film as a play within a play,” Rossi reveals, “with stories produced by media desk that would serve as vignettes within a wider take on the fate of the New York Times in a newspaper industry so devastated by financial collapse.” So we follow Carr’s combative reporting on upheaval at the Tribune Co., which makes the Times’s problems seem tame. Then we hear Headlam’s misgivings about covering a faux media story on the last US combat troops allegedly leaving Iraq.

Outsiders also come and go in the film, including digital gurus Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Carl Bernstein, Paul Steiger of Pro Publica and Nick Denton of Gawker.

In the film The Times announces its decision to erect a paywall at their popular site, a move met by the usual derision and confident predictions of failure from the usual suspects—online media “experts” who have long claimed that readers will never pay for what they have long gotten for free. Rossi claims, on the contrary, that the site has retained 90 percent of its users, more than 150,000 have signed up for the pay feature and even print subscriptions are up because you get web access for free.

Of course, I was particularly interested in one continuing story in the film. Rossi tells me that it was mainly “luck” that he was filming extensively on the third floor at the Times on the day WikiLeaks posted its “Collateral Murder” video (depicting a US copter strike in Iraq which killed two Reuters staffers among others). We observe staffers watching the video for the first time on computers, like the rest of us. “I got goosebumps filming Stelter as he viewed it, “ Rossi says. Then editors, energized, decide how to handle it, and fret that this may usher in a new world of journalistic competition. They are already “focused on the collision of old media and new media,” Rossi recalls.”It was visually very dramatic but also a perfect metaphor for what the movie is all about—that collision.”

As Keller says, “WikiLeaks doesn’t need us.” Except, as the film shows, they do, sort of, as they form a partnership with the Times for the release of the Afghan and Iraq war logs. Then came the Times’s falling out with Julian Assange. Keller explains that people either view Assange as the messiah or think he is treasonous son of a bitch. But Keller is flat-out wrong about most people embracing that black and white break down.

I’d also argue with Rossi’s view that Keller’s now famous magazine cover piece on his dealings with Assange was “a fair story, with the exception of certain details about Assange’s physical appearance.”  (Keller, a "liberal hawk" on invading Iraq, where more than 120,000  have died, now complains about Assange not fully redacting documents that might have put a few informers in jeopardy.) Rossi also terms “fair reporting” the profile of Assange by the Times’s John Burns, which started the split.

Today, at the end of the film project, Rossi senses that the worst may be over the paper—well, at least a third round of major cuts has not yet materialized. “After we filmed that second round of layoffs, there was feeling of the apocalypse approaching,” Rossi recalls, but it hasn’t arrived. ”People are getting used to the new normal. I definitely believe there is a new sense of optimism but all the challenges remain. There has been no rebound in advertising revenue for print to suggest the print product is out of the woods, and not enough gain in online revenue to bridge the gap.”

Newspapers, he observes, are “still in a transition period, no longer in a free fall. There’s enough stability so at least we can think rationally about what positive steps can be taken. That’s what we hope Page One can be a part of.”

Here’s a link to the film’s site for background, trailer, and much more. PublicAffairs is publishing this month a tie-in book, also called Page One, edited by NPR media reporter David Folkenflik.

Greg Mitchell is the former editor of Editor & Publisher and author of twelve books. His latest books and e-books are The Age of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Wednesday, June 15

As I’ve done for over six months (with one week off recently), I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

8:15  David House now tweeting his report on grand jury day now, @lockean -- apparently a big dispute over his note taking...

7:10 AP story on the David House grand jury day (see below) -- reveals that he was asked solely about his friend Bradley Manning, nothing about Assange, but he still claims they are trying to link the two.  He refused to answer, in any case.

6:50  David House finally emerged from the grand jury session at courthouse in Alexandria, Va. to reveal that he invoked his 5th Amendment rights to remain silent.  He read from a statement outside: 

"The Department of Justice (DoJ) is attempting to codify a task it started over 40 years ago: the political regulation of journalism. The same climate of intimidation that surrounded the Pentagon Papers trial persists to this day as the DoJ seeks to limit the freedoms of the Fourth Estate, using the pretense of alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

"The show trial that is now underway in Alexandria VA has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for regulating the media. Using Nixonian fear tactics that were honed during the Pentagon Papers investigation, the DoJ is attempting to dismantle a major media organization—WikiLeaks—and indict its editor, Julian Assange. The DoJ's ever-widening net has now come to encompass academics, students, and journalists in the Cambridge area.

"The Administration's goal is to force these individuals to testify against this media organization in an attempt to cast its publications and those of its media partners — the New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais — as acts of espionage. The government has also violated my Fourth Amendment rights by executing a warrantless seizure on my laptop in an attempt to identify, target and ensnare Cambridge-based supporters of WikiLeaks.  It is my conviction that the American people must call for a cessation of the Department of Justice's politically motivated harassment."

5:05  Latest Nation piece and a big one on Haiti Leaks:  U.S. military intervention after the earthquake and the backlash.

4:15  Grand jury presumably back in session, to hear David House, he promises statement on exit, for updates:  http://t.co/l4Zl2bn

1:40  @JaneHamsher of FireDogLake is tweeting the grand jury gathering in Virginia--she helped drive David House to the courthouse.  He is not appearing until 4 pm amid protests outside.  Her latest:  "Wikileaks grand jury on break til 4pm. David House has not been questioned yet. Lynndie England finished w grand jury questioning."

12:35  Update from David House via Twitter just now on grand jury circus:  

 

@lockean  "Have not yet stood before grand jury; a phalanx of AUSA at Alexandria moved my appearance to 4pm. Statement to follow appearance."

11:40  WikiLeaks chief spokesman "treads softly" on visit to Australia.

9:55 My new piece on hot new doc on NYT "Page One" includes look at its handling of WikiLeaks.

9:35  Now AP covers eBay auction for lunch with Assange.  Aa check just now finds 8 bidders so far and 560 pounds total.

8:20  Long list of whistleblowers and  groups ask that Obama's "transparency award" be declared null and void, with long list of reasons.

8:15  Breakdown of grand jury pool in Alexandria -- vast majority work for federal government or companies with much fed business.   So will indict the proverbial "ham sandwich"? 

8:00 New AP story on protesting grand jury re-convening in Alexandria with the Manning 3.

12:05  Anonymous targets Malaysia for censoring WikiLeaks and file-sharing sites.

12:00 Today's the day for David House and two others appearances before grand jury in Virginia -- with protests planned there and in House's home of Boston (see links below and new one here).

From late Tuesday

From Forbes: Wikileaks  Asks For Anonymous Bitcoin Donations . 

 My appearance on today's Matthew Filipowicz Show talking Wikileaks.  

AFP covers re-convening of WikiLeaks grand jury in Alexandria tomorrow, appearance by David House,  protests planned.

 And from @WLLegal: Excellent NPR Pentagon Papers roundtable w/ leaker @DanielEllsberg, NYT counsel James Goodale & PP author Leslie Gelb: http://t.co/TWgwda8

 Via @Asher_Wolf at Twitter: Der Spiegel || Disingenuous Transparency: Whistleblowers Suffer More than Ever Under Obama http://t.co/OATl6dS ."

Latest on rallies planned for tomorrow around the grand jury in Alexandria, VA.

Fundraising auction—lunch with Assange. What's on menu? Should be braised leeks.

Even without long-delayed WikiLeaks release, Bank of America in hot water for fraud.

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Tuesday, June 14

As I’ve done for over six months (with one week off recently), I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

4:05 My appearance on today's Matthew Filipowicz Show talking Wikileaks.  

4:00  AFP covers re-convening of WikiLeaks grand jury in Alexandria tomorrow, appearance by David House,  protests planned.

12:35 And from @WLLegal: Excellent NPR Pentagon Papers roundtable w/ leaker @DanielEllsberg, NYT counsel James Goodale & PP author Leslie Gelb: http://t.co/TWgwda8

12:15 Via @Asher_Wolf at Twitter: Der Spiegel || Disingenuous Transparency: Whistleblowers Suffer More than Ever Under Obama http://t.co/OATl6dS ."

9:40 Even without long-delayed WikiLeaks release, Bank of America in hot water for fraud.

9:35 Latest on rallies planned for tomorrow around the grand jury in Alexandria, VA.

9:30 Somehow missed Rachel Weisz movie The Whistleblower, based on true events revolving around UN.

8:05 Fundraising auction—lunch with Assange. What's on menu? Should be braised leeks.

7:50 EFF raises concerns about safety of whistleblowers using mainstream media upload sites.

7:30 James C. Goodale's piece comparing Pentagon Papers case and today's DOJ probe of WikiLeaks getting picked up far and wide now.

12:00 Interesting story developing involving Thailand and new cables, via former Reuters ace Andrew Marshall. He is posting cables, from his base in Singapore, while writing story, and tweeting updates @zenjournalist. I interviewed Marshall a few years ago about his great work as Baghdad bureau chief. He quit Reuters not long ago to write this Thai story, though I am not sure if he feared legal problems for Reuters or they would not back him up on doing story for them (will try to find out). Go to his site here and stay tuned.

From late Monday

Ellsberg on NBC today. And on NPR.

Is Adrian Lamo talking too much and putting case against Manning in jeopardy? And what's this about hacking?

Ellsberg defends Manning again, Christian Science Monitor covers.

McClatchy with new cables: Revealing security worries about vital Saudi oil storage. Major al-Qaeda attack thwarted but big worries remain. Only god saved them?

Read non-redacted Pentagon Papers here.

Dan Ellsberg: What we need released today are the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and Afghanistan

For 40th anniversary of Pentagon Papers, my new piece (http://bit.ly/ktdGyb) on Ellsberg's prescient 2002 warnings on Iraq, the media and whistleblowers.

 

 

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For the 40th Anniversary of Pentagon Papers: When Dan Ellsberg Warned Us About Iraq

Today, to mark the fortieth anniversary of their arrival in the public eye, the Pentagon Papers are being released with much fanfare, along with some valuable commentary (such as from James C. Goodale, the former New York Times counsel) linking that with today’s prosecutions of WikiLeaks, Thomas Drake and more. Suitably, Daniel Ellsberg is getting fresh attention, and using some of his media exposure to back Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers.

I still vividly recall watching Dan on a latenight live Channel 13 talk show in New York blowing the whistle on Vietnam months before he became famous for leaking the papers and wondering, Who is that guy? A decade later, partly inspired by Ellsberg (and Karen Silkwood) I wrote one of the first books about whistleblowers.

Daniel Ellsberg appears in a new PBS documentary, focusing on his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers.A couple years after that, I finally met Dan. I was editor of Nuclear Times and he had become an antinuclear activist—he even got arrested several times at bomb sites. I actually managed the (then) very rare feat of getting him to complete a magazine article and we have remained friends since, with Dan contributing important insights for the book I would write with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America, and much else. Once, attending a Lifton gathering on Cape Cod, I saw him strip to his shorts on a beach and dive into the frigid October waters without fear—it seemed to be some kind of metaphor.

So when, in Janaury 2003, it became clear that George Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq, I naturally interviewed Dan for a special issue of Editor & Publisher (where I now served as editor), one of the few mainstream media outlets to early and often raise profound questions about the impending war. The Q&A would prove remarkably prescient about the media and Iraq, and the hazards of the war, nothing new for Dan. “This government, like in Vietnam, is lying us into a war,” he charged. “Like Vietnam, it’s a reckless, unnecessary war, where the risks greatly outweigh any possible benefits.” His comments on the need for whistleblowers to speak out, before the bombs fall, he is still repeating today.

What do you think of press coverage of the run-up to the war?

People used to ask me, at the time of the Pentagon Papers, how the press was covering Vietnam, and I would respond that I could put it two ways: they were doing badly, but better than any other institution in society—or they were doing better than any other institution in society, but badly.

Back then, the press only looked good compared to the administration’s account of itself, which was awful from beginning to end, and, compared to Congress, which only once held a real hearing on the war. Dissenters within the administration behaved badly, too. They understood the war was heading for disaster, and, without exception, including me, did not break ranks.

With Vietnam, the press accepted the government’s view until very late in the game, [to a] large extent until the Pentagon Papers came out. The public felt, “Why are we learning this stuff only now?” Many of those documents were with officials, and they knew the story. The public wondered, “Why is the story of actual government decision-making still a secret?”

I’m not sure if the press learned from Vietnam how to do better. In any case, the press as a whole is not doing it better now.

What exactly do they need to do better?

They are not doing the job that should be done on informing themselves, Congress, and the public on the decision-making process, the dissenting positions within the government, and the real considerations in the decision. Without that, Congress and the public cannot bring pressure to bear, before the bombs drop. Still, they are getting more leaks. Many in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department see this may be a reckless war and that many may die needlessly. We do know much more than we did at a comparable time with Vietnam. And, as in past, the foreign press is reporting much more adequately than the US press—and the US press, as before, is largely ignoring that.

Do editors and publishers feel, individually, that they understand the reasons we are going to war, and the consequences? And if they are basing their own understanding on what is being put out by the government, then they, and their readers, don’t understand it very well at all. I suggest that, just as in Vietnam, when the bombs start dropping, the American public will be entering this war with a very limited understanding of why we are at war and what the consequences will be in both the short and long terms.

Thirty years later, Americans are still asking why we went to war in Vietnam and stayed at war. Of course, the American presidents gave answers at that time—and we are still looking for better answers.

What differences do you see between today’s Iraqi crisis and Vietnam?

One difference with Vietnam in ’64 is: We now know we are headed to a big war with a lot of troops. But, still, the public feels it will be short and cheap, like the Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan. They expect that model. Why? Has the press failed to pursue other scenarios? The administration has mainly conveyed what its top civilian leaders seem to believe—or want us to believe—that this war can be as quick and cheap as those examples. There seems to be no military leader who has that same confidence.

It could go like that, but, as I saw in Vietnam, in war the uncertainties are extreme. To be confident of any outcome is naive or foolish. The press could step into this breach by aggressively probing for, and reporting, the views of dissenters who clearly abound in the Pentagon, CIA and State Department.

But aren’t revealing stories now appearing? And how does the average editor take advantage of that?

Thanks to the Internet and links to skeptical or analytical pieces all over the US and world, it is possible, with some work, to actually get a pretty clear picture of the real reasons for the war and the deceptiveness of the official reasons and the costs and risks of the war. They are out there, but scattered.

Why has the press had such a hard time getting at the truth, as you see it?

There is as much lying going on as in Vietnam, as in Iran-Contra, as in the Catholic Church sex scandal, as in Enron—you can’t have more lying than that, and that’s how much we have. Are American officials peculiar in this? No, worldwide, all government officials lie, as I.F. Stone said, and everything needs to be checked from other sources of information. And anything they say may be a big lie. That was true in Vietnam, and the Pentagon Papers proved that, if nothing else.

So it is irresponsible for anyone in the press to take your understanding exclusively from government accounts, from the president or secretary of defense or lower-level officials. That definitely includes backgrounders that purport to be the “real” inside story. Just as press conferences are a vehicle for lying to the public, backgrounders are a vehicle for lying to the press, convincing the press they are getting the inside story when all they are getting is a story that is sellable to the press. That doesn’t mean that everything they say is false, but that nothing is to be relied on as the actual or whole truth.

So what exactly are the lies you say the press should be examining more deeply?

The first lie is: Saddam represents the number-one danger to US security in the world. To allow the president and Rumsfeld to make that statement over and over is akin to them saying without challenge from the press that they accept the flat-earth theory. To say Saddam is the number-one danger is being made without real challenge from the press, with few exceptions. More dangerous than Al Qaeda? North Korea? Russian nukes loose in the world? An India-Pakistan nuclear war?

I’m impressed by the testimony of General Anthony Zinni, Bush’s mediator in the Middle East, who said he’d place Saddam sixth or seventh on any list of dangers we face. The question is, Are we helping our cause against threats one through five by going after number six or seven?

Two: That we are reducing the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by attacking Iraq. This is one of the most dangerous assertions since all evidence is that we are increasing the threat of such terrorism by the attack, as CIA Director [George] Tenet said in his letter to Congress. Tenet said the danger is very low that Saddam will use weapons if not attacked and fairly high if he is attacked.

Three: The reason we are singling Saddam out is that he cannot be contained or deterred, unlike other leaders in the world, and again this is largely unchallenged by the mainstream press. No one brings out the following point: This is a man who had weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gas and missiles capable of hitting Israel and ready to go in the 1991 war—which he does not now have—and he kept his finger off the button. So how unreliable is he if not on the brink of being deposed or killed?

What specific questions are not being asked or not asked often enough by the press?

One question the press is not asking: Is there a single high military man who believes this war should happen now, that it is appropriate and [the] risks worthwhile? Every indication leaking out is that most feel that it is far from certain, even unlikely, that the war will be as short and successful as the civilian bosses say. What are we gaining that is worth the chance of a disastrous outcome? The military chiefs do not agree with civilians in the Pentagon as far as we can tell. And does anyone in State or the CIA strongly favor war? Another question, about how the oil reserves play out in this—has that issue been fully explored for the American public, and have they weighed it adequately?

What about the loss of many Iraqi lives?

The lesson the government learned from Vietnam is to rely on bombing rather than troops, no matter what the cost to civilian life, and at high altitudes. Second, keep the American public in the dark as to how many foreigners we are actually killing. In this case, before we start killing Iraqi soldiers, the press needs to address, do we have the right to kill all of these people, especially civilians? Have they threatened us in a way that they deserve to be killed?

Have editors ever asked how many we killed in the Gulf War? Have you ever seen a number on that? We never really even got good figures in Vietnam. In Vietnam, early on, I was pressing for estimates of civilian casualties of bombing. Over and over, I was asking the embassy consul in Vietnam, and later [Henry] Kissinger in 1969, to undertake that: what is the range of estimates? The Bush administration does not want to answer that question now, but the press has got to get that out.

This government, like in Vietnam, is lying us into a war. Like Vietnam, it’s a reckless, unnecessary war, where the risks greatly outweigh any possible benefits. I’d make this argument to insiders: don’t do what I did. Don’t keep your mouth shut when you know people are being lied to. Tell the truth before the bombs are falling, while there’s still a chance to do something about it.

Greg Mitchell is author of So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, Pundits and the President Failed on Iraq. His two current books and e-books are The Age of WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences.

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The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Monday, June 13

As I’ve done for over six months (with one week off recently), I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

9:30  Ellsberg on NBC today. And on NPR.

7:50  Is Adrian Lamo talking too much and putting case against Manning in jeopardy?   And what's this about hacking? 

7:40 Ellsberg defends Manning again, Christian Science Monitor covers.

4:15 McClatchy with new cables:  Revealing security worries about vital Saudi oil storage.  Major al-Qaeda attack thwarted but big worries remain.  Only god saved them? 

4:05 Read non-redacted Pentagon Papers here.

4:00 Dan Ellsberg: What we need released today are the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and Afghanistan

2:35 Have not updated for a few hours due to glitch in system (for me) here, hope  this launches...

11:45 For 40th anniv of Pentagon Papers, my new piece  (http://bit.ly/ktdGyb ) on Ellsberg's prescient 2002 warnings on Iraq, the media and whistleblowers.

11:35  Marcy Wheeler with new take on collapse of case against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. http://www.thenation.com/article/161376/government-case-against-whistleb...

9:40  New Boston support group for WikiLeaks.   Note: Nation site having trouble for me with embedded links today so here it is plain:   http://t.co/BxyIUnK     Also, updated plans for protest of grand jury probe in Virginia this Wednesday:  http://t.co/E28GBIK

8:10  Twitter back-and-forth between Manning / WikiLeaks backer David House @lockean and Assange critic David Leigh  @davidleigh3 of The Guardian, relating to more attacks on Assange in the CNN doc.

7:40  Palin supporters suspected of hacking Twitter feed for company that supplied the Palin emails last Friday to msnbc.com.     Tweets hailed Palin, hit Obama, etc.   Hole in app involving Facebook blamed.

7:30  James C. Goodale, the longtime counsel for the NYT -- including in the Pentagon Papers cases-- with excellent new piece  at Daily Beast (http://t.co/9fP7Pu5)  marking 40th anniv of that and links to today.  "Just in time to spoil the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Obama Justice Department is trying to do what Richard Nixon couldn't: indict a media organization.  "A grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is under way in Alexandria, Virginia. The Justice Department has already subpoenaed the electronic records of many former WikiLeaks volunteers and at least three people have now been subpoenaed to testify in a case that could potentially criminalize forms of investigative journalism."

7:20  Yes, domain name  www.wikileaks.org is finally back!

12:05  AP on Pentagon Papers coming out (again) today.  Probably nothing new, but who knows.  Interview with Ellsberg.   His usual advice to whistleblowers: Don't wait until the bombs start falling.

12:00    Sunshine Patriots? NY Times op-ed,  The Whistle-Blowers of 1777.

From late Sunday

Don Hazen of Alternet says recent story there on 5 WikiLeaks stories overlooked was most popular one there in months....

As I noted in my review (see below), a low point of the CNN doc on WikiLeaks was Gen. Kimmit explicitly blaming Reuters photog for getting killed by trigger-happy U.S. gunners in Iraq.  And with no push back from CNN correspondent Larsen.  Tonight Larsen tweeted that he did push back in interviews with the general but it all got edited out.  As if he had no say in that.

 "The WikiLeaks Revolution is Here to Stay," it sez here.

 

My review of tonight's  CNN WikiLeaks special now posted.

Josh Gerstein of Politico on "incoherent" U.S. policy on WikiLeaks docs and lawyers of Gitmo detainees.

  Scott Horton of Harper's on the DOJ cave on Thomas Drake NSA whistleblower prosecution.

  Net serve: Major NYT piece on Net freedom.

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog—Special Weekend Edition!

As I’ve done for over six months (with one week off recently), I’m updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning all day, with new items added at the top. All times ET. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Read about my books The Age of WikiLeaks in print or as an e-book, and Bradley Manning: Truth and Consequences as e-book here and print here.

UPDATE:The Monday edition of this blog here.

*SUNDAY*

9:55 Don Hazen of Alternet says recent story there on five WikiLeaks stories overlooked was most popular one there in months…

9:40 As I noted in my review (see below), a low point of the CNN doc on WikiLeaks was Gen. Kimmit explicitly blaming Reuters photog for getting killed by trigger-happy US gunners in Iraq. And with no pushback from CNN correspondent Larsen. Tonight Larsen tweeted that he did push back in interviews with the general but it all got edited out. As if he had no say in that.

7:00 “The WikiLeaks Revolution is Here to Stay,” it sez here.

4:25 Josh Gerstein of Politico on “incoherent” US policy on WikiLeaks docs and lawyers of Gitmo detainees.

12:55 My friend and two-time book co-author Robert Jay Lifton in chat re his brand new memoir at FireDogLake salon at 5 pm today ET.

12:30 Scott Horton of Harper’s on the DOJ cave on Thomas Drake NSA whistleblower prosecution.

8:50 Net serve:Major NYT piece on Net freedom.

8:40 My review of tonight’s CNN WikiLeaks special now posted.

8:35 Stir It Up:A summary of the first weeks of Jamaica Leaks.

8:30 Times Square “I Am Bradley Manning” rally.

*SATURDAY*

11:15 Crude reply: Kevin Drum weighs in on Greenwald’s claim about US war in Libya based largely on oil (and Wash Post use of WikiLeaks cables today): “Sorta,” he says.

5:40 The best van since Morrison? We reported on (and pictured) the new “WikiLeaks Truck” that is “collecting information” in its travels—and now will be part of protest in Alexandria outside grand jury meeting place. You can follow all at its Twitter feed here.

9:55 Mystery deepens over sudden cancellation by liberal Lannan Foundation of Santa Fe for talk by (journalist and WikiLeaks backer) John Pilger and premiere of his film on war and the media.

9:00 Amnesty International—Guantánamo’s Children: The Wikileaked Testimonies

8:30 Glenn Greenwald with important new piece on “coincidence” of US attacking Libya when, as WikiLeaks cables show, Qaddafi was moving to keep more resources, and oil, for himself. This stems from major Wash Post piece today based largely on cables. “We’re in Libya to forcibly remove Qaddafi from power and replace him with a regime that we like better, i.e., one that is more accommodating to the interests of the West. That’s not even a debatable proposition at this point. What I suppose is debatable, in the most generous sense of that term, is our motive in doing this.”

8:25 Lawyers for Gitmo detainees finally allowed to read WikiLeaks docs.

8:20 Better odds than I imagined: WIkiLeaks with 20-1 shot to win Nobel prize. Well, at least they are not engaged in five wars right now.

8:15 Laughing matter: A Bradley Manning “comedy benefit.”

From late Friday

Today is first anniversary of Wired publishing lengthy excerpts from the Manning-Lamo “chat logs.” Controversy followed over what was edited out, but they remain key to prosecution’s case, no doubt, and revealing Manning’s state of mind—and political/transparency goals. Here’s one of my recent columns about them and detailed excerpt.

Three alleged “Anonymous” hackers busted in Spain.

A Wider Shade of Palin E-mails: How the Media Reported Her First Days on the National Stage

With the release of so many Sarah Palin e-mails at one time, news outlets have had to limit their initial focus to a few subjects or periods of time, with some, in addition, asking readers to help via crowdsourcing. The New York Times, like some others, concentrated on the days in August and September 2008 just before and after Palin was plucked from obscurity by Senator John McCain and installed as his running mate, which ultimately doomed his candidacy.

I thought it would be fun and revealing to go back to my reporting from the first week after the McCain choice, which shows that doubts about Palin’s experience, views and character were raised immediately by the press—and that, contrary to popular wisdom, polls showed from the start that she was no favorite of women. Also: She was far from the first to claim foreign policy chops because Alaska is close to Russia.

The following excerpts come from my book Why Obama Won, also now available for the first time as an e-book.

August 30, 2008

Since yesterday’s shocking arrival of Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate there has been the usual cable news and print blathering about the pick from those who know little about her. But what about the journalists close to home—in Alaska—who know her best and have followed her career for years?

For the past twenty-four hours, the pages and websites of the two leading papers up there have raised all sorts of issues surrounding Palin, from her ethics problems to general lack of readiness for this big step up. Right now the top story on the Anchorage Daily News web site looks at new info in what it calls “troopergate” and opens: “Alaska’s former commissioner of public safety says Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain’s pick to be vice president, personally talked him on two occasions about a state trooper who was locked in a bitter custody battle with the governor’s sister….

“She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?” said Lyda Green, the president of the State Senate, a Republican from Palin’s hometown of Wasilla. “Look at what she’s done to this state. What would she do to the nation?”

Another top Republican, John Harris, the speaker of the House, when asked about her qualifications for Veep, replied with this: “She’s old enough. She’s a U.S. citizen.”

Dermot Cole, a columnist for the Fairbanks paper, observed that he thinks highly of Palin as a person but “in no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States. “One of the strange things Friday was that so many commentators and politicians did not know how to pronounce her name and had no clue about what she has actually done in Alaska…. I may be proven wrong, but the decision announced by McCain strikes me as reckless. She is not prepared to be the next president should something happen to McCain.”

And from the editorial in the Anchorage Daily News: “It’s stunning that someone with so little national and international experience might be heartbeat away from the presidency.”

August 31, 2008

When a Fox News morning host, Steve Doocy, testified to Sarah Palin’s national security experience on Friday by saying that her state, Alaska, was so close to Russia, it drew hoots across the media and blogosphere (and even, no doubt, from a few Fox viewers). This morning, on ABC in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Cindy McCain endorsed this very view.

Asked about Palin’s national security experience, Cindy McCain could not come up with anything beyond the fact that, after all, her state is right next to Russia. “You know, the experience that she comes from is, what she has done in government—and remember that Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia.” Earlier in the interview, she said that Palin was “heavily experienced” in general, citing her going from the PTA to mayor to governor—and having a son headed for Iraq. She actually said that she started her political career at the PTA “like everybody else.”

September 1, 2008

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll released today shows that he contest between Barack Obama and John McCain—after the twin “bounces” of the past few days—remains essentially tied, with Obama leading at 49 percent to 48 percent. But what’s most intriguing are the results regarding McCain’s choice for veep, who was expected to draw more women to his side.

In fact, men seem to be more impressed with this move than women. Just now, this seems to be confirmed by a CBS poll released late this afternoon, showing Obama with a 48 percent to 40 percent lead overall—but with a wide lead among women, at 50 percent to 36 percent, which has only widened. Only 13 percent of women said they might be more likely to vote for McCain because of Palin, with 11 percent saying they are now less likely.

As for the CNN poll: “Women now appear slightly more likely to vote for Obama than they did a week ago, 53 percent now, compared to 50 percent,” reports Keating Holland, CNN’s director of pollling. Men have a slightly favorably opinion of Palin than women—41 percent vs. 36 percent. “If McCain was hoping to boost his share of the women’s vote, it didn’t work,” Holland said.

September 2, 2008

The McCain team may not have vetted Sarah Palin with boots on the ground in Alaska, but the Democrats sure did—two years ago when she ran for governor. The oppo-research, compiled in a sixty-two-page document with countless summaries or direct quotes, largely from local newspapers, covers all of the important issues you would expect to see, from her views on abortion and abstinence to tangled oil pipeline questions.

But it also gets into some quirky, if revealing, areas as well, such as Palin founding a company called “Rouge Cou”—what she called a “classy” way to say redneck—in case her political career didn’t work out a few years ago.

Politico.com obtained a copy and printed merely a handful of the hundreds of findings today. These included serious matters such as her use of the mayor’s office in political campaigns. But it also posted a PDF of the entire document which, I’d wager, few have examined.

DEATH PENALTY

Palin Said “Hang ’Em Up” When Asked About the Death Penalty. Asked about the death penalty, in extreme cases such as the murder of a child, Palin said, “My goodness, hang ’em up, yeah.” [Anchorage Daily News , 8/18/06]

RELIGION

Palin wrote a Letter to the Editor saying only, “San Francisco judges forbidding our Pledge of Allegiance? They will take the phrase ‘under God’ away from me when my cold, dead lips can no longer utter those words. God bless America.” [Juneau Empire, 6/30/02]

GAYS

Palin Opposed Expanding Hate Crimes Laws. Asked if she would support an effort to expand hate crime laws, Palin responded, “No, as I believe all heinous crime is based on hate.” [Eagle Forum questionnaire]

“Palin said she’s not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are gay, but that she supported the 1998 constitutional amendment [to ban gay marriage]…. She said she doesn’t know if people choose to be gay.” [Anchorage Daily News, 8/6/06]

TRUMPED

“Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana. And there, at J.C. Penney’s cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist. ‘We want to see Ivana,’ said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, ‘because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.’ ” [Anchorage Daily News, 4/3/96]

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