Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Should Release the Garani Massacre Video to the American Public Immediately

by Ellsberg.Net on June 17, 2010

From today’s Democracy Now with Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: Are you calling for Wikileaks to post the [Garani massacre] videotape online?

ELLSBERG: I’d call for President Obama to post that videotape online. Let’s see whether it confirms what his officials and the Bush officials said about it earlier, or what the truth is. Has he seen it himself? He certainly should. He has access to it. And if he does, what excuse would he have for not revealing it? So why is he waiting for Wikileaks to use its sources to decrypt that, when he can just easily release it, as he should have some time ago?

It raises the same questions—and I hope they’ll be addressed this time, as they were not addressed, for the [Iraq] Apache helicopter assault that you just saw. Namely, who was it who decided that this was not suitable for Freedom of Information Act release, that it deserved classification on national security grounds? Was that appealed upwards when Reuters was applying for that? Did President Obama himself take a position on that? And if not, who below him? What were the criteria that led to denying this to the public? And how do they stand up when we actually see the results? Is anybody going to be held accountable for wrongly withholding evidence of war crimes in this case and the refusal to prosecute them or hold anyone accountable?

More seriously, two members of that same company of the Apache assault—Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, I think their names—who did an absolutely admirable move, stimulated by Assange’s release and perhaps Bradley Manning’s release of this videotape–they expressed remorse to the Iraqi people for their participation in the activities of this company. Ethan McCord was the very man—I don’t know if you showed him just now—who actually got the two wounded children, ran off and got the two wounded children from the vehicle, and saved their lives. And both of them expressed great remorse for what they’d done and made the statement, from their experience, that this sort of massacre was an everyday occurrence. Now that’s what requires a real investigation. Is that being done? The same will be true of Garani.

And finally, for the press to look at, what were they reporting at the time? What was the government saying about these two massacres? How does it stand up when we relook at the facts? And what is the media to make of their own inability to penetrate behind those facts and leave it to Wikileaks? Question: would any mainstream media have released either of those videos if it had been handed to them by Bradley Manning or whoever the leaker was? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s something they should look at.

What are the rules of engagement that permitted these two massacres? And how many other massacres are they generating? The fact is, for nine years now, we’ve been hearing military estimates of how many militants are being killed, as opposed to civilians, with allegedly the civilians being a much smaller proportion. People on the ground, the local people, give absolutely reversed figures, enormous figures for civilians. We claim that we don’t have the ability to go into those denied areas, despite our wonderful progress in the areas. We’re not able to get in there to determine the facts, in many cases. Well, we now know that videos exist that give results very different from what the military were claiming, and could have done so all along. So this is a wonderful opportunity, at last, to judge the honesty or dishonesty of the military figures and get a real sense of how many civilians we’ve actually killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ellsberg starts at 26:00: