Edited transcript of today’s Democracy Now interview with Daniel Ellsberg
ELLSBERG: The conditions under which Manning is being held clearly violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment—even for someone being punished, having been convicted. Here we have someone who has not yet been tried, not yet convicted, being held in isolation, solitary confinement, for something over 9 months. This is something that is likely to drive a person mad, and may be the intent of what’s going on here.
The Wikileaks revelations that Manning is charged with having revealed, having to do with Iraq, show that in fact the US military in which Manning was a part, turns over suspect to the Iraqis with the knowledge that they will be and are being tortured. Turning these suspects over, with that knowledge, is a clear violation of our own laws and of international law. It makes us as much culpable for the torture as if we were doing it ourselves. Continue Reading
Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures
WASHINGTON – December 7 – The following statement was released today, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, David MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Craig Murray, Coleen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson; all are associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.
WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments. Continue Reading
On the eve of the biggest leak of classified documents in US history, Daniel Ellsberg appeared on Democracy Now. Daniel is on his way to London to participate in a press conference with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday to announce the release.
At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.
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“Ellsberg was critical of George W. Bush’s administration for what he regards as its disdain for transparency, but also blames the Obama White House for continuing the cloaked practices in the war on terror. He’s heartened by the recent cache of documents released by WikiLeaks on the Afghan war, though he thinks newspapers are more credible places to publish than the Internet. But he applauds the site for offering a clearer look at what the U.S. government is up to: ‘There should be a Pentagon Papers out ever year,’ he says.”
1. The official U.S. “order of battle” estimates of the Taliban in Afghanistan, detailing its size, organization and geographic breakdown — in short, the total of our opponents in this war. If possible, a comparison of the estimate in December 2009 (when President Obama decided on a troop increase and new strategy) and the estimate in June or July 2010 (after six or seven months of the new strategy). We would probably see that our increased presence and activities have strengthened the Taliban, as has happened over the past three years.
2. Memos from the administration’s decision-making process between July and December 2009 on the new strategy for Afghanistan, presenting internal critiques of the McChrystal-Petraeus strategy and troop requests — similar to the November 2009 cables from Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry that were leaked in January. In particular, memos by Vice President Biden, national security adviser Jim Jones and others; responses to the critiques; and responses to the responses. This paperwork would probably show that, like Eikenberry, other high-level internal critics of escalation made a stronger and more realistic case than its advocates, warranting congressional reexamination of the president’s policy.
3. The draft revision, known as a “memo to holders,” of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran from November 2007. This has been held up for the past several months, apparently because it is consistent with the judgment of that NIE that Iran has not made a decision to produce nuclear weapons. In particular, the contribution to that memo by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), since the INR has had the best track record on such matters. Plus, estimates by the INR and others of the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran later this summer. Such disclosures could arrest momentum toward a foreseeably disastrous U.S.-supported attack, as the same finding did in 2007.
4. The 28 or more pages on the foreknowledge or involvement of foreign governments (particularly Saudi Arabia) that were redacted from the congressional investigation of 9/11, over the protest of then-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.).
On each of these matters, congressional investigation is called for. The chance of this would be greatly strengthened by leaks from insiders. Subsequent hearings could elicit testimony from the insiders who provided the information (whose identities could be made known to congressional investigators) and others who, while not willing to take on the personal risks of leaking, would be ready to testify honestly under oath if requested or subpoenaed by Congress. Leaks are essential to this process.
Ellsberg was interviewed by USA Today on the Wikileaks documents here:
Even Daniel Ellsberg said releasing the documents to anyone with a computer connection raised questions beyond those that faced him when he turned over most of the Pentagon Papers to congressional committees and then The NewYork Times in 1971.
“I had read all of those, of course, and I did make the judgment that there was nothing in there that was going to harm national security or individuals,” Ellsberg, now 79, said in a telephone interview from Mexico. He was there to attend a screening of a documentary about himself called The Most Dangerous Man in America. “With a vast amount of information like this, it’s hard to imagine that there was a very considered decision in releasing all of it.”
Assange’s judgment would be “tested,” he said.
On balance, though, Ellsberg said he supported the decision to put the documents in the public realm.
“To think that all the risks are only on the side of releasing it would be mistaken,” he said. “Continued secrecy does put a lot of American and Afghan lives at risk.”
Daniel Ellsberg was interview for CNN’s Afghanistan blog here:
I think what the Pentagon Papers showed with 7,000 pages was that there was a lack of any good reason for doing what we were doing,” Ellsberg told CNN. “My strong expectation is these 92,000 pages will not convey any good reason for the dying and killing and the enormous money we’re spending over there in a time we cannot afford it. . . .
They’d be well-advised to postpone that vote until Congress has time to digest the gist of this story and hold hearings of the kind they never held on Afghanistan in nine years, and really challenge the administration to give any basis on why we’d do better than the Soviets in their 10 years, or the United States in the last nine years.
ELLSBERG: There hasn’t been an unauthorized disclosure of this magnitude since the Pentagon Papers 39 years ago. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.
There should have been the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and a lot of other places. And I wish there had been Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan earlier than this. But better late than never, the war is still on. Congress is just being challenged now to vote $33 billion more to a war that’s cost $300 billion so far, in a war where the opponent we’re fighting is stronger than it’s ever been before. So the analogy to the war I was helping to expose is very close.
KING: How do you respond to the White House assertion that this leak puts U.S. forces in danger?
ELLSBERG: You know, the people who put U.S. forces in harm’s way—100,000 men and women in Afghanistan—are the last two administrations, but particularly this one, with a decision to escalate the war. I think it takes a lot of –I don’t know what to say—chutzpah, effrontery, for people who made the reckless, foolish, and I would say irresponsible decisions to escalate a war that I’m sure they know internally is as hopeless as these new revelations reveal it to be.
And yet, they’re preferring to send men and women into harm’s way to die and to kill civilians and others in a war that I think they perceive is endless and hopeless, rather than to face the accusations of generals that they have, these politicians have lost a war that the generals claimed is winnable. They claimed that very foolishly.
I’d say that was exactly the same as the boss I served in 1965, Lyndon Johnson. He didn’t want the General Johnson, the chief of staff of the Army, and others to resign if he didn’t give them enough of what they were asking for. I think President Obama has made the same terrible error.
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.