The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps

Summary:  An update about the affair Wikileaks, timely as Wikileaks prepares to release another large batch of US documents.  US government operations grind down Wikileaks and its best known member, Julian Assange.  All smoothly done.  But such success requires our disinterest and passivity.  Fortunately for our rulers, these are notable characteristics of most 21st century Americans.  Wikileaks could become the model for a 21st news media, unlike the parrots who dominate our current news media, scribes repeating whatever they’re told by the government and major corporations.  Links to previous chapters of this story appear at the end.

Results to date of the Affair Wikipedia:

  1. Sweden’s endless rape/molestation investigation (the ongoing smear)
  2. Sweden rejects Assange’s application for residency
  3. Wikileads donation site shutdown by the operator
  4. Wide circulation of a blood libel (which they now admit is wrong)
  5. Update:  complicity of the news media
  6. Update:  Stratfor’s analysis

(1)  Keeping Assange on the defensive, an accused criminal

Statement on the website of the Prosecutor-General of Sweden, 24 September 2010:

Due to the pre-trial investigation secrecy I can´t give any further information at this moment, says Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny.  The investigation continues and is relative far in progress. Some legal proceedings remain before a decision can be made in the indictment matter.  

The endless rape/molestation investigation acts as an ongoing smear appearing in every story about Wikileaks.   It’s a crime reported on August 20, involving 3 people with a simple he-said/she-said story.  Two months later the “investigation” continues.  No end in sight.  No charges, no exoneration.  Since the charges appear bogus (per the public information), this works well for Wikileaks’ enemies.

(2)  Keeping them homeless, without a secure base

Sweden rejects WikiLeaks editor’s residency request“, CNN, 19 October 2010 — Excerpt:

WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange’s application for permanent residency in Sweden has been rejected, a Swedish Migration Board official told CNN Monday. His application failed to fulfill all the requirements, Gunilla Wikstrom said. She declined to give further details, citing Swedish confidentiality laws.

… Assange faces charges of rape and molestation in Sweden, allegations that came out after the Afghanistan documents were published. It is not clear if the outstanding investigation had any bearing on his residency application.

(3)  Cut off their funding, with the usual lies denying the government’s role

WikiLeaks says funding has been blocked after government blacklisting“, Guardian, 14 October 2010 — Excerpt:

Moneybookers, a British-registered internet payment company that collects WikiLeaks donations, emailed the organisation to say it had closed down its account because it had been put on an official US watchlist and on an Australian government blacklist. … Moneybookers moved against WikiLeaks on 13 August, according to the correspondence, less than a week after the Pentagon made public threats of reprisals against the organisation. Moneybookers wrote to Assange: “Following an audit of your account by our security department, we must advise that your account has been closed … to comply with money laundering or other investigations conducted by government authorities.”

When Assange emailed to ask what the problem was, he says he was told in response by Daniel Stromberg, the Moneybookers e-commerce manager for the Nordic region: “When I did my regular overview of my customers, I noticed that something was wrong with your account and I emailed our risk and legal department to solve this issue.  “Below I have copied the answer I received from them: ‘Hi Daniel, you can inform him that initially his account was suspended due to being accessed from a blacklisted IP address. However, following recent publicity and the subsequently addition of the WikiLeaks entity to blacklists in Australia and watchlists in the USA, we have terminated the business relationship.'”

… Moneybookers, which is registered in the UK but controlled by the Bahrain-based group Investcorp, would not make anyone available to explain the decision. Its public relations firm, 77PR, said: “We have never had any request, inquiry or correspondence from any authority regarding this former customer.” Asked how this could be reconciled with the references in the correspondence to a blacklist, it said: “We stick with our original statement.”

Wikileads donation site shutdown by the operator“, CNN, 16 October 2010 — Excerpt:

According to e-mails provided to CNN by Assange, Moneybookers informed WikiLeaks of its decision in August, shortly after the Pentagon demanded WikiLeaks return all of the military documents and remove them from its website. WikiLeaks refused to do so and is expected to release hundreds of thousands of additional Pentagon papers later this month.

The first e-mail from Moneybookers that notified WikiLeaks of its decision indicated one of the potential grounds for termination was “to comply with money laundering or other investigations conducted by government authorities, agencies or commissions.”  When Assange asked for a further explanation, he received another e-mail from the company saying the account was initially suspended “due to being accessed from a blacklisted IP address. However following recent publicity and the subsequently addition of the WikiLeaks entity to blacklists in Australia and watch lists in the USA, we have terminated the business relationship.”

Moneybookers refused to discuss the specifics of its decision, but in a statement denied it had been asked by the United States to terminate the WikiLeaks account.  “We simply assess risk like any other financial institution,” said the statement. “We can assure you that we have never had any direct request, inquiry or correspondence from any governmental authority regarding this former customer.”

(4)  Wide circulation of a blood libel (which they now admit is wrong)

A basic technique of propaganda consists of circulating a hot smear.  No matter if it’s later proven wrong; corrections seldom catch up with the lie.  As we see in this Transcript of remarks by Admiral Mullen at a press conference on 29 July 2010 — Excerpt:

I certainly share {SecDef’s} concerns about the recklessness with which classified documents were both leaked and then posted online.  As I said earlier this week, I am appalled by this behavior, and, frankly, outraged that anyone in their right mind would think it valuable to make public even one sensitive report, let alone tens of thousands of them, about a war that is being waged.  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.  

Other government officials made similar claims, such as Senator Levin (D-MI, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee) on CNN, DoD Press Secretary Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  This blood libel was uncritically repeated by the news media and exaggerated by a thousand analysts and bloggers, such as Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, Liz Cheney (video here), Newt Gingrich (video here), and Paul Rieckhoff (Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America).  (This history is from Glenn Greenwald)

The damage done, the government can announce the truth — relying on our torpor and amnesia.  As in this letter from SecDef Gates to Senator Mullen.  Excerpt:

Our initial review indicates most of the information contained in these documents relates to tactical military operations.  The initial assessment in no way discounts the risk to national security; however, the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure.

… The documents do contain the names of cooperative Afghan nationals and the Department takes very seriously the Taliban threats recently discussed in the press.  We assess this risk as likely to cause significant harm or damage to the national security interests of the United States and are examining mitigation options.

More from CNN:  “But a senior NATO official in Kabul told CNN that there has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection or to be moved because of the leak.”  If there was evidence that Wikileaks contributed to the death of an American or ally, the military would certainly let us know.

(5)  Update:  complicity of the news media

The news media, so often today the government’s faithful helper, dutifully reports the charges without a trace of skepticism:  “WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety“, John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya, New York Times, 23 October 2005 — “Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, faces a variety of challenges after his most brazen disclosure yet: posting 391,832 secret Pentagon documents on the Iraq war.”

Glenn Greenberg comments:

“Richard Nixon and his plumbers could have only dreamed about being able to dispatch journalists to dutifully smear whistle-blowers in this manner. … Burns didn’t even bother to break into Assange’s psychiatrist’s office {as Nixon’s men did with Daniel Ellsberg} to smear the whistle-blower as a psychologically ill, America-hating subversive and paranoid narcissist.  He just passed on snide rumors and accusations from disgruntled associates and — presto — the Nixonian smear job is complete. ” 

(6)  Update:  Stratfor’s analysis

WikiLeaks and the Culture of Classification“, Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 28 October 2010 — Excerpt:

For the most part, the reports contained raw information and not vetted, processed intelligence. The documents also did not contain information that was the result of intelligence-collection operations, and therefore did not reveal sensitive intelligence sources and methods. Although the WikiLeaks material is often compared to the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers, there really is very little similarity. The Pentagon Papers consisted of a top secret-level study completed for the U.S. secretary of defense and not raw, low-level battlefield reports.

… Frankly, combatants who have been intensely watching U.S. and coalition forces and engaging them in combat for the better part of a decade are not very likely to learn much from dated American after-action reports. The insurgents and sectarian groups in Iraq own the human terrain; they know who U.S. troops are meeting with, when they meet them and where. There is very little that this level of reporting is going to reveal to them that they could not already have learned via observation. Remember, these reports do not deal with highly classified human-intelligence or technical-intelligence operations.

… Furthermore, while much of this material may have been somewhat sensitive at the time it was reported, most of that sensitivity has been lost over time, and many of the documents, like the two reports referenced above, no longer need to be classified.

Other posts about this story

  1. Sad news about the CIA – Delusional assumption about America savvy.
  2. The full story of the rape charges against Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a possible covert op.
  3. Update to the Wikeleaks rape story, and why it’s important – If a covert op, it’s working
  4. New and strange developments in the prosecution of Julian Assange (Wikileaks) – New but not more enlightening.
  5. Endgame for the affair Assange: a big win for the government, 27 September 2010

Other posts about Wikileaks

  1. A major leak of government secrets – read all about it!, 9 February 2010
  2. About the Wikileaks footage of possible war crimes, 7 April 2010
  3. Afghanistan war logs: Shattering the illusion of a bloodless victory, 28 July 2010

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