Julian Assange: Western Newspapers Hesitant To Publish Israel-Related Leaks
In a new, largely unreported Al Jazeera interview (with Julian Assange’s responses overdubbed in Arabic), the WikiLeaks founder reveals that he intends to release 3,700 documents pertaining to Israel.
2,700 of these documents, he said, originate from within Israel, and include “Sensitive and classified documents” on the 2006 military excursion into Lebanon (which resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 Lebanese — mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis — mostly soldiers).
The documents also contain information on Mossad assassinations, including the murder of Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai, as well as “a Lebanese military leader in Damascus by sniper bullets.”
The Peninsula , a Qatari newspaper, translated a small portion of the interview into English. When the interviewer confronted Assange about an accusation (apparently lodged by a former colleague of his) of having cut a secret deal with Israel not to publish their secret files, Assange responded:
This is not true. We have been accused as being agents of Iran and CIA by this former colleague who was working for Germany in the past and was dismissed from his job after we published American military documents related to Germany.
We were the biggest institution receiving official funding from the US but after we released a video tape about killing people in cold blood in Iraq in 2007, the funding stopped and we had to depend on individuals for finance.
The Jerusalem Post published the following on Assange’s revelation as to why we haven’t seen more Israel-related leaks:
Assange said only a small number of documents related to Israel have been published so far because newspapers in the West that had exclusive rights to publish the material were hesitant to publish sensitive information about Israel …
“The Guardian, El-Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel. Even New York Times could not publish more due to the sensitivities related to the Jewish community in the US,” [Assange] added.
It’s rather astonishing to think that the New York Times would publish sensitive information on its own country, the United States of America, but would refrain from publishing sensitive information on a foreign country, Israel. What are we to make of that?
This unfortunately will continue to be a huge problem for WikiLeaks, OpenLeaks, and other whistleblower groups. By giving the main stream media exclusive rights to the leak information — essentially the power to serve as middlemen between the documents and the discerning public — they are effectively allowing the corporate-owned media establishment to serve as ideological gatekeepers.
And as we learned from the run-up to the Iraq war, and a long string of other failures over the last decade, the establishment media most often chooses complicity over serving as a check on government power.
In the spirit of promoting true transparency, whistleblower groups should never again entrust just a few major publications in the main stream media to play such a vital role.
US Government Threatens Employees and College Students On WikiLeaks
Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow is reporting that the State Department has been warning University students about accessing or commenting on WikiLeaks documents. They recently contacted Columbia University to pass on the following message to students who may hope to one day work for the government:
From: Office of Career Services <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM
Subject: Wikileaks – Advice from an alum
We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.
The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.
Office of Career Services
Additionally, Goodman revealed that the United States Agency For International Development (USAID) issued the following memo to its thousands of employees:
“Any classified information that may have been unlawfully disclosed and released on the Wikileaks web site was not ‘declassified’ by an appopriate authority and therefore requires continued classification and protection as such from government personnel… Accessing the Wikileaks web site from any computer may be viewed as a violation of the SF-312 agreement… Any discussions concerning the legitimacy of any documents or whether or not they are classified must be conducted within controlled access areas (overseas) or within restricted areas (USAID/Washington)… The documents should not be viewed, downloaded, or stored on your USAID unclassified network computer or home computer; they should not be printed or retransmitted in any fashion.“
Sounds like the US Government believes it can put this 250k genie nicely and neatly back into the bottle. Can information that has been put in the public domain — viewed by perhaps millions, written about in the international press — still be considered classified?
The Guardian is now reporting:
The Obama administration is banning hundreds of thousands of federal employees from calling up the WikiLeaks site on government computers because the leaked material is still formally regarded as classified.
The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place.
Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected.
The move comes at a time when civil rights and other liberal groups are becoming increasingly critical, inviting parallels with the kind of bans on information imposed by China and other oppressive governments.