STEVE LENDMAN on the WikiLeaks War Diaries

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Partnered with NATO, America’s military/industrial/media collaborators misportray US wars as humanitarian, hiding their imperial purpose – state terrorism against millions, showing an utter disregard for the law, truth, humanity or justice.

CALLING ITSELF “THE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OF THE PEOPLE, ” WikiLeaks is “a multi-juristidictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive material to communicate to the public” that has a right and need to know – to then use responsibly for better government in a free and open society, absent in today’s America run by warlords, criminal politicians, and corporate bosses, spurning the rule of law for their own gain. PHOTO: (Left) Julian Assange, somewhere, sometime, in 2007.

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 28, 2010
WikiLeaks “Afghan War Diaries” – by Stephen Lendman  [print_link] SEE ALSO RELATED ARTICLE BY NEW YORKER ON JULIAN ASSANGE: ON A MISSION FOR TOTAL TRANSPARENCY
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On July 26, WikiLeaks published “The Afghan War Diaries,” its modern day Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents eroding support for the Vietnam War, The New York Times saying they “demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance” – what Julian Assange has done on Afghanistan, revealing Bush and Obama administration lies and duplicity about their illegal war of aggression, America’s longest. More on that below. PHOTO (Above): Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ brave leader.
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Releasing over 75,000 of nearly 92,000 reports, they represent a small fraction of millions of US files uploaded to WikiLeaks databases, more to be regularly released, “high quality material,” according to Assange.
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They’re chronologically listed in over 100 categories, covering the period January 2004 – December 2009, describing lethal US military actions, including numbers internally killed, wounded, or detained by geographical location, units involved, and major weapons used.
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Since the Pentagon Papers, they comprise the “most significant (comprehensive) archive about the reality of war,” with no resolution or opposition in Congress, providing “a comprehensive understanding of the war (and) modern warfare in general.”
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Accounts come mainly from soldiers and intelligence officers, but also from US embassies and other sources revealing corruption and criminality across Afghanistan, including coverups, collusion, distortion, and duplicity – a sordid story needing telling to shock a comatose public to action, and revive a badly needed anti-war movement.
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As expected, the White House reacted sharply and deceptively, National Security Advisor James Jones saying:
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“The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk and threaten our national security,” ignoring the war’s illegality; its duplicitous, mindless, shameless destructiveness; a brutal quagmire; waged under false pretenses; and its shocking human costs on both sides; Afghan civilians mostly, but also NATO casualties, including deaths, mutilations, disabling injuries, PTSD, suicides, deadly toxins exposure, and proper care at home denied.
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In several Nation magazine articles, Joshua Kors highlighted how US soldiers are treated, his April 26, 2010 article titled, “Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon is Cheating Wounded Vets,” mistreating them, misdiagnosing their needs to deny care and disability pay, providing substandard care, abandoning them when no longer needed, the major media not reporting it, how they’re now sanitizing WikiLeaks revelations, downplaying their importance, omitting important truths – about illegal wars and crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Bush and Obama administrations culpable.
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America’s Lawlessness
The Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 grants Congress only the power to declare war, appropriate funding, and “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the” nation.
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The UN Charter is also explicit, explaining under what circumstances violence and coercion (by one state against another) are permitted. Articles 2(3) and 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use, and Article 51 allows the “right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member….until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”  In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible. Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any unilateral threat or use of force not specifically allowed under Article 51 or authorized by the Security Council.  Three important General Assembly resolutions concur, unconditionally prohibiting “non-consensual military intervention”:
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  1. the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;
  2. the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and
  3. the 1974 Definition of Aggression – “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations….”
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Under Bush and Obama, Washington violated these laws by attacking and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, two nations posing no threat to America, willful aggression, what the Nuremberg Tribunal’s Justice Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime,” enforceable under the Constitution’s “supremacy clause” (Article VI, clause 2), under which international laws and treaties automatically become US ones.
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Then since October 2001, US forces (including CIA operatives) committed appalling crimes of war and against humanity, in violation of the four Geneva Conventions, the US War Crimes Act, the UN Torture Convention, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles, US Army Field Manual 27-10, and other US and international laws – using weapons of mass destruction to massacre millions (mainly civilians), cause vast devastation and destruction, and continue oppressive occupations illegally.
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WikiLeaks documented the evidence, lifting the fog of war, revealing its true face, the human carnage, shocking atrocities, rampaging death squads against civilians, murdering women and children wantonly, torturing randomly arrested victims, operating freely under a media blackout.
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Partnered with NATO, America’s military/industrial/media collaborators misportray US wars as humanitarian, hiding their imperial purpose – state terrorism against millions, showing an utter disregard for the law, truth, humanity or justice.
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Even now after WikiLeaks revelations, media reports focus largely on their legality, political impact in November, and how congressional Democrats and the Obama administration may be harmed. They say nothing about nine years of duplicitous lies, shocking war crimes, no accountability, and two illegal wars, demanding they end, their grotesque harm stopped, and hundreds of billions for war profiteers used for homeland needs to revive a sick economy, harming millions as a result.
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Undaunted, the White House vowed to keep fighting, continue America’s longest war, its occupation and violence in Iraq, defying popular sentiment against them, discounted for imperial gain and expediency – what the media won’t explain.
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WikiLeaks Reports
Civilians are willfully targeted, those killed or wounded called insurgents, the numbers affected downplayed and misreported, embedded journalists an echo chamber for Pentagon/NATO lies and distortion.
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Reports cover most Army units, not Special Forces, top-secret European ones, and other International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) except in combined operations, including assassinations and killing of civilians, including women and children, the media calling them militants or saying nothing at all.
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Downplaying the revelations, The New York Times described “an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war,” portraying a bleaker picture than reported, yet collaborating with the White House to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing, its usual practice for sensitive materials to keep readers misinformed, an article like this one impossible to clear its censors.
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Der Spiegel published an interview with Julian Assange on his motivation for publishing. He said it eclipses everything released so far about the war and modern warfare, shockingly detailed to influence public opinion and political decision-makers – by “shin(ing) light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war,” in hopes the mood will shift to end it.
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“Reform can only come (when) injustice is exposed. To oppose an unjust plan before it reaches implementation is to stop injustice.” America’s most dangerous men wage wars, not whistleblowers who expose them, their motives, false promises and crimes. Asked why he established WikiLeaks, he said:

“We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time (and) do something….meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work,” more than ever vitally needed.

Headlining “Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation,” London Guardian writers Nick Davies and David Leigh discussed numerous incidents of tens or “hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops,” covert units hunting leaders for “kill or capture,” the “steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on NATO,” and the paper’s full war logs investigation, exposing real war, not a sanitized version omitting the human toll, vast destruction, corruption and drug-dealing, collusion and deceit, key unreported incidents happening daily, an “unvarnished picture,” lifting the fog of war.
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The Guardian said “Washington fears it may have lost even more highly sensitive material, including an archive of tens of thousands of cable messages sent by US embassies around the world, reflecting arms deals, trade talks, secret meetings, and uncensored opinions of other governments.”
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Interviewed on Democracy Now, Daniel Ellsberg was “very impressed,” calling the release the first “in 39 or 40 years, since I first gave the Pentagon Papers to the Senate,” saying he hopes it will inspire others to come forward and reveal what they know despite the considerable risk.
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The documents were released in advance to the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and New York Times, revealing “a contemporaneous catalogue of conflict,” classified secret, encyclopedic but incomplete, in total presenting a very disturbing picture, including many accounts of coalitions forces willfully targeting civilians, killing or injuring them, unreported until now.
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Other reports cover hundreds of border clashes between Afghan and Pakistani troops, armies supposedly allies, Special Forces killing Taliban, Al Queda leaders, and civilians, mindless slaughter on both sides, and numerous incidents of lethal friendly fire, taking NATO, American and Afghan forces lives – the main concern then concealing the evidence, weapons used, and crimes committed, embedded journalists saying nothing, including about regular demonstrations against America’s presence and the corrupted Kabul government, Hamid Karzai a US stooge.
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The documents also discuss Pakistan’s ISI (its Inter-Services Intelligence) linkage ‘to some of the war’s most notorious commanders,” sending 1,000 motorbikes to warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani for suicide attacks in Khost and Logar provinces. In addition, Islamabad’s involvement “in a sensational range of plots, from attempting to assassinate President Hamid Karzai to poisoning the beer supply of western troops.”
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Even the White House admits that elements of Pakistan’s army are linked to Afghan militants, endangering US troops by providing them safe havens.
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As revealed, “this is not an Afghanistan that either the US or Britain” are about to turn over to the Kabul government. “Quite the contrary. After nine years of warfare (a Guardian editorial wanting it indefinitely extended), the chaos threatens to overwhelm. A war fought ostensibly for the hearts and minds of Afghans cannot be won like this.”
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Neither can one fought for imperial gain, Afghan and American hearts and minds be damned. The first casualty also – the truth, WikiLeaks courageously exposing it to arouse a groundswell of public outrage and opposition, demanding the (Iraq and Afghan) wars end, and wasted billions diverted to homeland needs, people ones, including economic development creating jobs and futures, not handed to war profiteers and Wall Street bandits.

A Final Comment
In his 1995 book, “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,” former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said “we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why” about a war that shouldn’t have been fought and couldn’t be won, what he told Lyndon Johnson privately, what the public never knew and few know now.
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It’s no less true about Iraq and Afghanistan, General Stanley McChystal not sacked for deriding his superiors but for losing an unwinnable war, his Chief of Operations, Major General Bill Mayville saying: “It’s not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win,” an assessment McChrystal and others know, what major media accounts won’t report, what WikiLeaks hopes to change by inspiring a crescendo of antiwar sentiment, what can’t come a moment too soon.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them. Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

BONUS FEATURE

July 30, 2010

Damage Control: Downplaying the WikiLeaks Revelations

By Stephen Lendman
When truths are too disturbing to conceal, downplay them, change the subject, and blame others, not responsible Washington officials and key allies, culpable politicians and media misinformation masters suppressing and misreporting the facts, their well-oiled spin machine counterattacking WikiLeaks – revelations too sensitive to explain, a potential game-changer otherwise, so pundits and reporters duck them.
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Above all, WikiLeaks “Afghan War Diaries” are a powerful indictment of wars, their true face, the mindless daily slaughter and destruction too disturbing to reveal, for Julian Assange:
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“the vast sweep of abuses, everyday squalor and carnage of war….one sort of kill after another every day going on and on and on….one damn thing after another….(endless) small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, allied forces….(many) thousands” of war crimes needing exposure, accountability, and prosecutions.
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The “Diaries” document them, suppressed by the major media, choosing embedded complicity and Pentagon handouts over real journalism, WikiLeaks “high quality material” and solid analysis their antidote, so far not enough to stop Congress.
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One day after their release, following the Senate’s passage days earlier on top of $130 billion already approved this year, the House overwhelmingly passed a $60 billion supplemental spending bill, including $37 billion for America’s wars, mostly for 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. Obama tripled the force since taking office, now around 100,000 and increasing by about 2,000 a month, their numbers exceeded by private military and other contractors, making the annual cost per US soldier $1 million and rising, reason enough to end both wars and bring them home.
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Yet more escalation is planned, breaking candidate Obama’s October 27, 2007 pledge saying:
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“I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home, We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank,” perhaps an insolvent one under FDIC receivership.
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A day after the WikiLeaks release, he ignored old promises, evaded indictable war crimes evidence and a deepening unwinnable quagmire, urging the House authorize more supplemental funding, then engaged in contradictory, deceitful damage control saying:
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“While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate about Afghanistan. Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall.”
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Instead of withdrawing as earlier promised, he plans escalation, the same Vietnam misjudgment, force levels there reaching 540,000 in December 1969, yet not enough to win, resulting in drawdowns, withdrawal and defeat, now repeating in Afghanistan, then Iraq no matter each country’s troop level. Mindless of history, Obama added:
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“We’ve substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a new strategy that can work and put in place a team, including one of our finest generals, to execute that plan. Now we have to see that strategy through,” no matter its illegality and futility, what he and Pentagon brass know but won’t say, what Congress and the media won’t address, supporting a killing machine in violation of US and international law.
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Deceitful Media Misinformation
Released in advance to the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and New York Times, the “paper of record” collaborated with White House officials to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing. Its Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, confirmed that he and two reporters (Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt) “did in fact (tell them) what we had,” Obama officials “prais(ing) us for the way we handled it, giving them a chance to discuss it, and for handling the information with care. And for being responsible.”
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Responding to readers, Times editor Bill Keller (PHOTO, Left) wrote:
“The administration, while strongly condemning (the release), did not suggest (we not) write about them. On the contrary, in our discussions….while challenging some of (our) conclusions….thanked us for handling the documents with care (read sanitizing disturbing truths), and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message.”
In addition, he concealed daily war crimes, including mass civilian deaths, many willfully committed. Also, Task Force 373, death squad assassins killing suspected insurgents, cold-blooded murder The Times suppresses, collaborating with imperial lawlessness.
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Instead, it focused on “Pakistan’s Double Game,” a July 27 editorial “confirm(ing) a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years,” saying “If Mr. Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan,” The Times, of course, supporting the Afghan and Iraq wars.
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For many decades, it’s suppressed disturbing truths, functioning like a propaganda ministry, masquerading as real news, commentary and analysis – why WikiLeaks gave the Guardian and Der Spiepel its documents for more accurate reporting if three papers, not one, had them.
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A wise decision given The Times history of supporting privilege, backing corporate interests, knowingly ignoring CIA efforts to topple elected governments, letting the Agency use its correspondents as covert assets, turning a blind eye to electoral fraud, and promoting imperial wars.
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In the run-up to attacking Iraq, its star reporter, Judith Miller, bylined daily Pentagon handouts, scamming the public as a complicit Bush administration agent, a weapon of mass destruction against truth and real journalism by transmitting lies, deceit and agitprop, standard New York Times fare.
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For months in 2004, it also concealed the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program, delaying its report until after the November election, and in 2000 endorsed Bush v. Gore, the first time in US history that the High Court ignored electoral fraud, annulled the popular vote (and final Electoral College count), installing its own preferred candidate over the winner.
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The Wall Street Journal is unapologetic about supporting corporate interests, and under Rupert Murdoch the lunatic fringe, neocon extremism, and imperial wars, its July 29 editorial titled “WikiLeaks ‘Bastards’ ” an example, saying:
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Julian Assange loves “crushing bastards.” We wonder if the ‘bastards’ he has in mind include the dozens of Afghan civilians named in the document dump as US military informants. Their lives, as well as those of their entire families, are now at terrible risk of Taliban reprisal.”
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In fact, the Journal ignores Assange’s “bastards” – imperial warlords reigning death and destruction daily in Iraq and Afghanistan, unmentioned in Journal reports, op-eds or editorials, focusing instead on supporting the troops and “humanitarian” wars bringing “democracy” to beleaguered people, the kind that slaughters and enslaves them.
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The editorial calls publishing disturbing truths “troubling,” though revealing “no big lies about the war (but) no small ones either.” Exposing details about “the military’s methods, sources, tactics and protocols of communication” harms national security.” In fact, what harms it is America’s presence, lawlessness and imperial agenda.
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In a July 27 Journal op-ed, Bret Stephens calls civilian deaths, Special Forces teams targeting insurgents, and Pakistan aiding the Taliban “not exactly” news. “Still, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is, given the Pentagon Papers-style treatment now being accorded” the WikiLeaks release. “We’ll see about that,” so he focuses instead on a former Khmer Rouge prison commandant’s conviction for his role in the 1970s Cambodian killing fields, hardly worth discussing over 40 years too late.
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Journal writers Siobhan Gorman and Jay Solomon also dodged the story, diverting attention to “Suspicion (and unproved allegations) of Iranian ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda,” alleging Tehran provided them arms, like earlier false claims about Iraq, the writers saying some accusations “stretch credulity,” yet they reported them anyway.
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On July 27, the Washington Post headlined “Wikileaks’ release of classified field reports on Afghan war reveals not much,” saying:
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The voluminous release “hardly merits the hype (nor) does it provide evidence for war crimes prosecutions – though in making that assertion, Wikileaks’ founder revealed his….antiwar agenda,” one supported by most Americans and majorities worldwide.
Saying the archives “add detail and texture,” the Post downplayed their importance, calling them old news, insignificant, unreliable, unconfirmed, not reflecting current policy – the kind escalating killing by a tripled force level and expanded war into Pakistan, its carnage and daily Iraq violence suppressed, the grim facts too disturbing to reveal, multiplied manyfold in Afghanistan.
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On his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh mocked WikiLeaks saying, “In the old days, the definition of winning a war was killing people.”
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Fox News on-air host/commentator Greg Gutfeld headlined, “WikiLeaks’ Crusade Against the US Military,” saying its documents are “pure bullpoop times 12. The fact is, their goal is to ‘expose’ only the people they hate – meaning the US military – and get famous for it. (What) Julian thinks is ‘unethical behavior’ is only unethical if you’re an idiot….and if you disagree with me, you’re a racist homophobe who eats oil-soaked pelicans.” PHOTO (Left) Gutfeld’s scumbag credentials are impeccable. Right after graduating college he interned at The American Spectator, as an assistant to R. Emmett Tyrrell.
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Fox News calls itself “fair and balanced,” saying “we report, you decide.” Its above comments show otherwise – why Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) calls Fox “the most biased name in news,” its “extraordinary right-wing tilt” not reality or honest journalism, sadly lacking throughout the major media, cable and broadcast “news” looking more like Fox, racing to the bottom for ratings and profits, delivering a propaganda, junk food news and entertainment diet, their viewers misinformed and cheated.
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Overall, the major media downplayed the WikiLeaks story, CNN like others saying:
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“American officials from the president on down” minimized the disclosures, Pentagon officials finding no high classification level disclosures. Senator John Kerry said the leaks shouldn’t be overstated. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed they won’t affect congressional support for the war.
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Trying to rebrand it, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton highlighted “the new counterinsurgency strategy implemented earlier this year, (a policy) to turn things around,” and a July 25 White House email told reporters “Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three month policy review and a change in strategy,” in fact, the same one escalated with more troops, more attacks, and more killings.
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Others called the documents old news the way Pentagon Papers bombshells were dismissed, the Los Angeles Times saying WikiLeaks reports revealed few, just material “put(ting) the Obama administration on the defensive about its Afghanistan policy (that) may deepen doubts in Congress about prospects for turning around the faltering war effort.”
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Not easily with major media support, complicit with Pentagon warlords, criminal politicians, and corporate bosses burying the story, calling it unimportant and moving on, backing the war effort by misreporting or silence.
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As a result, antiwar sentiment must challenge official policy, enlisting others to resist and back efforts to revive a sick economy, lift living standards, save social benefits, and the remnants of democratic freedoms, fast eroding in America by design, the prospect too horrific to accept, making bad governance essential to change.
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If not now, when? If not us, who? If that’s not incentive enough, what is?
—S.L.
4 comments on “STEVE LENDMAN on the WikiLeaks War Diaries
  1. Thank you for such a comprehensive treatment of a very important topic. I hope that many people read it.

  2. The wikileaks fiasco for the Obama administration and the Pentagon will help to confirm for the rest of the world the true nature of US foreign policy but probably accomplish little in the way of true changes in direction. We live in a country were the robbing at gunpoint of another—Iraq—under false pretenses, with the consequent death of more than a million people, barely registers and where the offshore drillers and other exploiters of the Gulf of Mexico are already getting ready for more “business as usual.” NOTHING will begin to change until Americans massively show their contempt for this ruling class in the streets, and it will not be pretty.

  3. The truth shall make us free—no doubt about that. But when? Obviously only when we use it to liberate ourselves, which mots of the people in America still choose NOT to to do!

  4. I read the NYTimes for decades until I finally discerned that its coverage was subtly but consistently misleading, and insidious to boot. I cancelled my sub and now read Internet blogs like this and am much better off mentally for doing so. Keep up your great work. I will ass this article to friends!

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