Wikileaks vs war propagandists

US military authorities announced the laying of charges against Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old military intelligence analyst, on July 6. Manning was accused of leaking classified US military information through the whistle-blower web site Wikileaks.

Bradley Manning

The most notorious of the leaks ascribed to Manning is best known as the “Collateral Murder” video, summarised by the UK Guardian as “A secret video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a fire-fight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency. Manning is currently detained in Kuwait under US military investigation, facing a possible 50 years for presenting a glimpse of the reality of the US occupation.

Pentagon in pursuit

Wikileaks describes itself as an “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking. Its founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, has been on the move giving interviews and raising funds, while US authorities try to track him down. According to the Daily Beast web site, Pentagon investigators are seeking to interview Assange in relation to the Manning case.

The Pentagon would love to shut down Wikileaks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required mass disinformation campaigns to achieve their initial support. The fabrications to make the case for the invasion of Iraq were barely challenged in the mass media until the massacre had begun. The “Collateral Murder” video was politically damaging, and there are strong rumours of more damaging material to come, including another video of a massacre in Afghanistan, in addition to the 92,000 documents that Wikileaks gave to several US newspapers in July.

Among the leaks allegedly provided by Manning was a 2008 US counter-intelligence document noting that the effectiveness of Wikileaks is based on confidence in the protection of the anonymity of sources. The document proposed operations to undermine that confidence, recommending “the identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistle-blowers to deter people from using it. Thus far, the enemies of Wikileaks have failed to discredit the security of Wikileaks systems. The case against Manning was not triggered by any weakness in the Wikileaks infrastructure but by the betrayal of a hacker confidante who snitched on Manning.

Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and a developer of the famous Tor anonymity software, standing in for Assange, presented a keynote in defence of Wikileaks at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York in July. The speech promoted Wikileaks and encouraged civil disobedience as a democratic weapon against US foreign policy. Assange had decided against attending in order to avoid detention in the wake of the Manning arrest. After the conclusion of his presentation, Appelbaum dramatically managed to avoid federal authorities seeking to interview him by quietly slipping out a back door while a hoodie-wearing double with full entourage marched out the main entrance.

Fighting censorship

Wikileaks has been an instrument for defending democratic rights in Australia and a thorn in the side of the Australian government attempts to impose a mandatory blacklist-based censorship regime. The leaked secret blacklist was published, and its content demolished the proponents claims that the filter was exclusively targeting child abuse material.

A successful defence of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks would be victory for democracy and a defeat for the never-ending efforts by the rulers of the world to promote their war agendas by manipulating the media and presenting their pro-war narrative unchallenged.

Further information on the campaign to release Manning is at the Bradley Manning Support Network website.

Information on Wikileaks is at WikiLeaks.