"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘WikiLeaks’

Obama Speeds Up Preparations For Air Strikes, No-Fly Zone, As U.S., Russia Split War-Torn Syria Into Spheres Of Influence

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm

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Oldspeak:“War #7 is imminent.  “US President Barack Obama has ordered the US Navy and Air Force to accelerate preparations for a limited air offensive against the Assad regime and the imposition of no-fly zones over Syria” The script is remarkably similar to the one used in Libya & Iraq.  Insert U.S. backed, foreign-born “revolutionaries” and clandestinely funnel financial and military support to native dissident militant groups to instigate a civil war with the regime to be changed. Play up alleged atrocities committed by the regime in media, to provide pretext for the coming invasion/coup de etat. Play up condemnations of the dictator to be removed by the “international community”. After invasion, insert military dictatorship/puppet regime obedient to U.S. interests. Divvy up “reconstruction” and resource extraction contracts among American/European corporations. Appropriation complete. The Russians held out giving their blessing long enough to ensure they’d retain control over at least a portion of their client state.”

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Obama accelerates preparations for limited air strike, no-fly zones in Syria

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U.S. Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Wikileaks Cables Show

The Truth Behind The Coming “Regime Change” In Syria

 

By DebkaFile:

US President Barack Obama has ordered the US Navy and Air Force to accelerate preparations for a limited air offensive against the Assad regime and the imposition of no-fly zones over Syria, debkafile reports. Their mission will be to knock out Assad’s central regime and military command centers so as to shake regime stability and restrict Syrian army and air force activity for subduing rebel action and wreaking violence on civilian populations.

Debkafile’s sources disclose that the US President decided on this step after hearing Russian officials stating repeatedly that “Moscow would support the departure of President Bashar al-Assad if Syrians agreed to it.”  This position was interpreted as opening up two paths of action:

1.  To go for Assad’s removal by stepping up arms supplies to the rebels and organizing their forces as a professional force able to take on the military units loyal to Assad. This process was already in evidence Friday, June 8, when for the first time a Syrian Free Army (which numbers some 600 men under arms) attacked a Syrian army battalion in Damascus. One of its targets was a bus carrying Russian specialists.

2.  To select a group of high army officers who, under the pressure of the limited air offensive, would be ready to ease Assad out of power or stage a military coup to force him and his family to accept exile.

The US operation would be modulated according to the way political and military events unfolded.
Washington is not sure how Moscow would react aside from sharp condemnations or whether Russia would accept a process of regime change in Damascus and its replacement by military rule.

Syria is being further wrenched apart as a result of US President Barack Obama’s maneuverings for winning Russian cooperation in resolving the Syrian conflict for US concessions in the nuclear controversy with Iran: As the coming DEBKA-Net-Weekly out Friday reveals, Russia is cementing its grip on Syria’s Mediterranean coast while pushing its civil war-torn heartland over to the Americans.

To spoil the Russian game, the US hopes to draw Damascus into the Syrian revolt, a goal only achievable with air force aid.

US Accelerates Preparations For ‘no-fly zone’ In Syria

By RT:

The United States may soon take on a formal role in the Syrian uprising after reports surfaced this week that suggest the White House wants an air offensive targeting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

After over a year of unrest in Syria, Israel’s Debka news agency reports that US President Barack Obama has asked the US Navy and Air Force to accelerate plans that would aid in the ousting of Assad. According to their sources, President Obama hopes that by initiating a temporary air strike in locales instrumental to the Syrian government, the US may be able to decimate Assad’s control by attacking his regime’s military command centers.

The US would call for a no-fly zone over Syria, reports Debka, then send their own personnel to strike Assad-aligned targets.

Murmurings of the latest plans out of Washington come less than two weeks after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called for the implementation of a no-fly zone. Speaking to reporters last month, Sen. Graham said that ousting Assad from control in Syria is much more crucial for America’s interests than the issue of Libya; last year the US aided in the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from Libyan rule.

“Compared to Libya, the strategic upside of taking out (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is far greater,” said Graham, who currently sits on the US Senate Committee of Armed Services. “We’ve used force to stop slaughter less strategic and egregious than this.”

Debka’s reports also come days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that, in terms of US involvement in Syria,“military action is always an option,” although he added, “We do not believe that … further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action.” Less than two weeks later, however, the White House may have already changed their stance.

According to Debka, Washington’s rumored change of heart may have something to do with reports out of Russia. Sources speaking with the news agency say that US President Obama asked for an accelerated attack on Syria’s leaders after hearing Russian officials allegedly say, “Moscow would support the departure of President Bashar al-Assad if Syrians agreed to it.”

Debka adds that, to carry out the plan, the US will equip Syrian rebels with military supplies so that they could out attack Assad’s regime on the ground after an American-led airstrikes. It is believed that Assad’s government is currently using unmanned surveillance air drones to patrol the countryside for rebel forces only to then order strikes targeted them.

 

 

 

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Wikileaks: Internal Report Indicates U.S. Department Of Homeland Security Monitoring Occupy Wall Street Protests

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Oldspeak:” ‘The internal DHS report emphasizes the need to “control protesters”, They talk about threats to ‘critical infrastructure’ and this fear that these protests are going to…make commerce difficult and people are going to start losing money. There is a kind of bottom line in analysis to what they’re talking about. There isn’t an emphasis on public safety in a way one would expect from a department that’s supposed to protect the homeland. It’s this sort of sense that they’re protecting somebody’s homeland, and they’re the folks who generally make all the money.Michael Hastings COINTELPRO lives on. New Department, same ole shit. Still more evidence that your government does not represent you. It represents those folks who ‘generally make all the money.’ The financial services, and myriad of other anational corporations who gamble with other people’s money, homes and livelihoods; they profit  handsomely as billions of others struggle with debt, poverty, hunger, sickness, homelessness and joblessness. The vast majority of Americans are de-politicized, minimally informed & apathetic, with has paved the way for replacement of often heralded democratic ideals with inverted totalitarianism. Democracy has been subverted by men with million-dollar smiles, and the unwitting masses clamoring for more divestment from their liberties. ”

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Occupy Wall Street “Counterinsurgency” Has Infiltrated Protests; Seeks To Diffuse Message

FBI To Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers As Details Emerge Of Its Spy Campaign Targeting American Activists

By Allison Kilkenny @ In These Times:

Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings last night posted a story on an internal DHS report entitled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street,” dated October of last year. The five-page report, part of five million newly leaked documents obtained by Wikileaks, sums up the history of the movement and assesses its “impact” on the financial services and government facilities.

In an interview on Citizen Radio, Hastings talked about the monitoring by DHS and also the leaked emails from Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm Hastings describes as the “shadow CIA.”

The process of combing through the huge amount of leaked documents has only just begun, but Hastings considers the revelation that the government was keeping tabs on OWS to be the biggest news so far to come out of the latest dump.

The monitoring, or spying (depending on how generous one is feeling), process included DHS scouring OWS-related Twitter feeds.

“[DHS] was following all of the social networking activity that was going on among Occupy Wall Street,” says Hastings. “Now, I’m sure this is going to be spun tomorrow as this continues to grow that, oh, it’s just benign, DHS just used open source material to do this, and that’s true, but the question is: why is a large government bureaucracy who’s mandated to protect the homeland…monitoring very closely a peaceful political protest movement? They’re not monitoring the Democratic National Committee, they’re not monitoring Young Republican meetings. They’re monitoring Occupy Wall Street.”

The report emphasizes the need to “control protesters,” terminology Hastings finds troubling, along with DHS’s assertion that OWS will likely become more violent. Hastings calls that prediction “quite a leap,” as there is no evidence so far that the overwhelmingly peaceful movement is prone to become violent.

“[The report] names all the sort of groups [DHS is] worried about, one being Anonymous, this hacktivist group, but it also names the other people in Occupy Wall Street: labor unions, student groups,” Hastings says.

One might expect to read some hand-wringing over public safety concerns in a government document, and yet the DHS document appears to be more concerned with protecting the mechanisms of the financial sector than in ensuring the safety of citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

“They talk about threats to ‘critical infrastructure’ and this fear that these protests are going to…make commerce difficult and people are going to start losing money. There is a kind of bottom line in analysis to what they’re talking about. There isn’t an emphasis on public safety in a way one would expect from a department that’s supposed to protect the homeland. It’s this sort of sense that they’re protecting somebody’s homeland, and they’re the folks who generally make all the money.”

This same business-over-people bias is present in the second major leak involving the Stratfor emails. “When you go look at the back-and-forth, it’s all about, well, we have to protect lower Manhattan so the bankers can get to work on time.”

Hastings talks about two troubling tracks: In the DHS case, the U.S. government monitoring activist groups, and in the Stratfor case, large corporations paying a private intelligence firm to monitor other activist groups.

Dow Chemicals had Stratfor analyze the activities of Bhopal activists such as the Yes Men, who famously pranked the company by impersonating a Dow Chemical executive and publicly apologizing on the BBC for the Bhopal disaster that killed 8,000 people.

The list of Stratfor’s corporate clients is an impressive one, including Dow Chemicals and Coca-Cola. Clients are willing to pay the firm $40,000 for a subscription to Stratfor’s services (and additional huge sums of money for more services,) because the company bills itself as a private CIA, privy to high-level intelligence access.

“You have the DOW Chemicals situation, you have Coca-Cola hiring Stratfor to go after animal rights activists, to sort of keep tabs on them, and then also the question is: why would Stratfor have this Department of Homeland Security document, right? And the answer to that is Stratfor’s clients, or clearly Stratfor saw a business opportunity in keeping track, and figuring out how to handle protesters. In fact, in the email record…they’re talking about different tactics in lower Manhattan about, well, the streets are narrow down there, so if they push the protesters this way, or that way, that’s a better way to catch them. They’re drilling down into the best ways to kind of protect the financial services who are some of their clients.”

On Jan. 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, fired off an excited email to his colleagues: “Text Not for Pub. We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”

The question was: who did Burton mean by “we”?

“It’s like the Big Lebowski, right? The royal We,” says Hastings.

What Burton meant by “we” was the U.S. government.

“We know that the Department of Justice had been investigating Assange, and playing this game of oftentimes not explicitly saying what they were doing, but sort of threatening they would be doing this espionage investigation. We know that they’ve interviewed people in a grand jury, and then a few weeks ago with the Bradley Manning pre-trial that they were actually trying to make this espionage case against Assange,” says Hastings. “Burton claims that there in fact a secret U.S. indictment against Assange related, essentially, to espionage. That’s pretty big news.”

Hastings is braced for all of the typically condescending and dismissive remarks to come rolling in from the beltway in the wake of these latest leaks. In fact, the derision has already begun. One editor at The Atlantic called Wikileaks “a joke,” and dismissed the Stratfor emails out of hand.

Hastings expects others to say there’s no difference between a private intelligence firm and a newspaper or news bureau.

“I think that’s totally wrong. Journalists have sources and informants, but also our mission is to share that information with the public so the citizenry can make more informed decisions. Stratfor’s mission is to gather information so it can sell it to the highest bidder so corporations can essentially make more profit and get a competitive edge on their opponents,” he says.

That kind of knee-jerk dismissiveness strikes of bad journalism, according to Hastings. While no cheerleader for Wikileaks – during the interview, Hastings admitted there’s a lot of stuff one can criticize Wikileaks about, particularly the practice of releasing large amounts of data that hasn’t been reviewed very carefully – he still finds the overall work done by the group extremely newsworthy.

“What news organization has had a bigger impact than Wikileaks? Iraq war logs, Afghan war logs, the Cablegate. These are important stories. This is news. DHS was monitoring Occupy Wall Street. That’s a story, and it’s a significant story. We’re talking about Occupy Wall Street: one of the biggest grassroots, political movements that we’ve seen in a generation and the government’s response to that.”

One of the most worrying aspects to the Stratfor story is the privatizing of yet another typically goverment-only function. Like Blackwater, here is another shadowy private agency doing the work usually done by the U.S. government, a recipe, as we’ve learned time and time again, for unaccountability and disaster.

Also, Stratfor is ripe for the revolving door effect.

“It’s a chance for people who worked in government in these various intelligence agencies to, once they leave, to have lucrative positions where they’re able to — in the same way some politicians become lobbyists to ply off their old contacts — to have these great, well-paying positions where they can use their former intelligence contacts and sell their services in the corporate world,” says Hastings.

To naysayers claiming there’s nothing wrong with former government officials capitalizing on their particular skill sets, Hastings responds, “Once you start spying on activists, and peaceful protesters, then I would say that’s very troubling.”

New WikiLeaks Cables Show US Diplomats Continue To Promote Genetically Engineered Crops Worldwide

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2011 at 11:04 am

Oldspeak:”Yet another Bush Era policy carried through to the Obama Era. Why is U.S. Gov’t  still using front groups and “philanthropic” foundations to “push foreign governments to approve  genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont”, even though GE crops have been shown to cause “infertility and have significant impact on the health of plants, animals and humans; a whole host of deleterious effects like toxic pesticides that remain present in the blood of mothers and babies,  rises in food allergies, diabetes, obesity, autism,  immune system dysfunction, asthma, cancer and heart disease, low birth-weight babies, and infant mortality? Why is this government pressuring other governments to approve consumption of “food” they know is not good for them on behalf of private corporations, who with their products have cost the U.S. hundreds of billions in potential food export revenues. Simple really. The Corporatocracy is in control. And they want to control the population of this planet. Why else would you knowingly push for the widespread use of products known to sterilize and kill people?  Public health and well being is always secondary to profit.

By Mike Ludwig @ Truthout:

Dozens of United States diplomatic cables released in the latest WikiLeaks dump on Wednesday reveal new details of the US effort to push foreign governments to approve  genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the worldwide interests of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont.

The cables further confirm previous Truthout reports on the diplomatic pressure the US has put on Spain and France, two countries with powerful anti-GE crop movements, to speed up their biotech approval process and quell anti-GE sentiment within the European Union (EU).

Several cables describe “biotechnology outreach programs” in countries across the globe, including African, Asian and South American countries where Western biotech agriculture had yet to gain a foothold. In some cables (such as this 2010 cable from Morocco) US diplomats ask the State Department for funds to send US biotech experts and trade industry representatives to target countries for discussions with high-profile politicians and agricultural officials.

Truthout recently reported on front groups supported by the US government, philanthropic foundations and companies like Monsanto that are working to introduce pro-biotechnology policy initiatives and GE crops in developing African countries, and several cables released this week confirm that American diplomats have promoted biotech agriculture to countries like TunisiaSouth Africa and Mozambique.

Cables detail US efforts to influence the biotech policies of developed countries such as Egypt and Turkey, but France continues to stand out as a high-profile target.

In a 2007 cable, the US embassy in Paris reported on a meeting among US diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-sciences. The companies were concerned about a movement of French farmers, who were vandalizing GE crop farms at the time, and suggested diplomatic angles for speeding up EU approvals of GE Crops.

In 2008 cable describing a “rancorous” debate within the French Parliament over proposed biotech legislation, Craig Stapleton, the former US ambassador to France under the Bush administration, included an update on MON-810, a Monsanto corn variety banned in France.

Stapleton wrote that French officials “expect retaliation via the World Trade Organization” for upholding the ban on MON-810 and stalling the French GE crop approval process. “There is nothing to be gained in France from delaying retaliation,” Stapleton wrote.

Tough regulations and bans on GE crops can deal hefty blows to US exports. About 94 percent of soybeans, 72 percent of corn and 73 percent of the cotton grown in the US now use GE-tolerate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, according to theUS Agriculture Department. 

2007 cable, for example, reports that the French ban on MON-810 could cost the US $30 million to $50 million in exports.

In a 2007 cable obtained by Truthout in January, Stapleton threatened “moving to retaliate” against France for banning MON-810. Several other European countries, including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, have also placed bans on MON-810 in recent years. MON-810 is engineered to excrete the Bt toxin, which kills some insect pests.

U.S. Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Wikileaks Cables Show

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2011 at 10:08 am

Syrian anti-government protesters march in Banias, Syria. The Arabic banner at center reads: "All of us would die for our country.”

Oldspeak:”While the drumbeat for “intervention” in Syria is played up in corporate media with the pretext of concerns about a “deteriorating humanitarian situation”, understand that all is not what it seems. We’ve seen this movie before. Just as in Libya, the U.S. has bankrolled the “opposition” surreptitiously, with the objective as in Libya being regime change and oil appropriation. You should also understand that this development is part of a grand plan devised long before the “Arab Spring” started to flow. “The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” While the “Grand Area” doctrine is relentlessly pursued, 1 in 5 Americans are on food stamps and/or unemployed. “Ignorance is Strength

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Syrian opposition accuses UN of ‘moment of shame’ over resolution

By Craig Whitlock @ The Washington Post:

Published: April 17 2011

The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.

The cables, provided by the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs. Some embassy officials suggested that the State Department reconsider its involvement, arguing that it could put the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Damascus at risk.

Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,” read an April 2009 cablesigned by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. “A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,” the cable said.

It is unclear whether the State Department is still funding Syrian opposition groups, but the cables indicate money was set aside at least through September 2010. While some of that money has also supported programs and dissidents inside Syria, The Washington Post is withholding certain names and program details at the request of the State Department, which said disclosure could endanger the recipients’ personal safety.

Syria, a police state, has been ruled by Assad since 2000, when he took power after his father’s death. Although the White House has condemned the killing of protesters in Syria, it has not explicitly called for his ouster.

The State Department declined to comment on the authenticity of the cables or answer questions about its funding of Barada TV.

Tamara Wittes, a deputy assistant secretary of state who oversees the democracy and human rights portfolio in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the State Department does not endorse political parties or movements.
“We back a set of principles,” she said. “There are a lot of organizations in Syria and other countries that are seeking changes from their government. That’s an agenda that we believe in and we’re going to support.”

The State Department often funds programs around the world that promote democratic ideals and human rights, but it usually draws the line at giving money to political opposition groups.

In February 2006, when relations with Damascus were at a nadir, the Bush administration announced that it would award $5 million in grants to “accelerate the work of reformers in Syria.”

But no dissidents inside Syria were willing to take the money, for fear it would lead to their arrest or execution for treason, according to a 2006 cable from the U.S. Embassy, which reported that “no bona fide opposition member will be courageous enough to accept funding.”

Around the same time, Syrian exiles in Europe founded the Movement for Justice and Development. The group, which is banned in Syria, openly advocates for Assad’s removal. U.S. cables describe its leaders as “liberal, moderate Islamists” who are former members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Barada TV

It is unclear when the group began to receive U.S. funds, but cables show U.S. officials in 2007 raised the idea of helping to start an anti-Assad satellite channel.

People involved with the group and with Barada TV, however, would not acknowledge taking money from the U.S. government.

“I’m not aware of anything like that,” Malik al-Abdeh, Barada TV’s news director, said in a brief telephone interview from London.

Abdeh said the channel receives money from “independent Syrian businessmen” whom he declined to name. He also said there was no connection between Barada TV and the Movement for Justice and Development, although he confirmed that he serves on the political group’s board. The board is chaired by his brother, Anas.

“If your purpose is to smear Barada TV, I don’t want to continue this conversation,” Malik al-Abdeh said. “That’s all I’m going to give you.”

Other dissidents said that Barada TV has a growing audience in Syria but that its viewer share is tiny compared with other independent satellite news channels such as al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic. Although Barada TV broadcasts 24 hours a day, many of its programs are reruns. Some of the mainstay shows are “Towards Change,” a panel discussion about current events, and “First Step,” a program produced by a Syrian dissident group based in the United States.

Ausama Monajed, another Syrian exile in London, said he used to work as a producer for Barada TV and as media relations director for the Movement for Justice and Development but has not been “active” in either job for about a year. He said he now devotes all his energy to the Syrian revolutionary movement, distributing videos and protest updates to journalists.

He said he “could not confirm” any U.S. government support for the satellite channel, because he was not involved with its finances. “I didn’t receive a penny myself,” he said.
Several U.S. diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. According to its Web site, the council sponsors projects in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America to promote the “fundamental elements of stable societies.”

The council’s founder and president, James Prince, is a former congressional staff member and investment adviser for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Reached by telephone, Prince acknowledged that the council administers a grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative but said that it was not “Syria-specific.”

Prince said he was “familiar with” Barada TV and the Syrian exile group in London, but he declined to comment further, saying he did not have approval from his board of directors. “We don’t really talk about anything like that,” he said.

The April 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus states that the Democracy Council received $6.3 million from the State Department to run a Syria-related program called the “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative.” That program is described as “a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” to produce, among other things, “various broadcast concepts.” Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV.

U.S. allocations

Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, said the Middle East Partnership Initiative has allocated $7.5 million for Syrian programs since 2005. A cable from the embassy in Damascus, however, pegged a much higher total — about $12 million — between 2005 and 2010.

The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.

September 2009 cable reported that Syrian agents had interrogated a number of people about “MEPI operations in particular,” a reference to the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

“It is unclear to what extent [Syrian] intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations,” the cable stated, referring to funding from the U.S. government. “What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue.”

U.S. diplomats also warned that Syrian agents may have “penetrated” the Movement for Justice and Development by intercepting its communications.

June 2009 cable listed the concerns under the heading “MJD: A Leaky Boat?” It reported that the group was “seeking to expand its base in Syria” but had been “initially lax in its security, often speaking about highly sensitive material on open lines.”

The cable cited evidence that the Syrian intelligence service was aware of the connection between the London exile group and the Democracy Council in Los Angeles. As a result, embassy officials fretted that the entire Syria assistance program had been compromised.

“Reporting in other channels suggest the Syrian [Mukhabarat] may already have penetrated the MJD and is using the MJD contacts to track U.S. democracy programming,” the cable stated. “If the [Syrian government] does know, but has chosen not to intervene openly, it raises the possibility that the [government] may be mounting a campaign to entrap democracy activists.”

 

 

WikiLeaks Cables: Shows U.S. Opposed Minimum Wage Rise, Despite Rampant Hunger & Poverty In Haiti

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 11:33 am

Oldspeak: Levi’s, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Dockers and Nautica’s public face: Fun, hip, fashionable, comfortable, sturdy, friendly fruits & Michael Jordan. Private face: ruthless, Anti-humanist, Anti-democratic, exploitative, manipulative poverty & hunger promoting, cost externalizing profit internalizing machines who operate with impunity in poor countries with the assistance of the U.S. Government. All so we can continue mindlessly consuming “cheaply” made goods, which is of course good for the “economy”. Never mind that 2 billion languish in squalor, poverty & despair. “2+2=5”. Meanwhile “Today, 16 months after the quake, only about 37% of US $4.6 billion in support pledges have actually been disbursed – a crucial issue given the dominant role that the international community plays in Haiti.” –Dan Coughlin

By Kim Ives & Dan Coughlin @ Green Left:

The United States embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi’s, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage rise for Haitian assembly zone workers.

The moves to block a wage rise for the lowest paid in the western hemisphere were revealed by secret US State Department cables obtained by Haiti Liberte and The Nation magazine.

The factory owners refused to pay $0.62 an hour, or $5 per eight-hour day, as mandated by a measure unanimously passed by Haiti’s parliament in June 2009.

The cables, provided by WikiLeaks, show that behind the scenes, factory owners were vigorously backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US embassy.

Before the rise, the minimum daily wage was $1.75 a day.

The factory owners told parliament they were willing to give workers a mere nine cent per hour pay rise — to $0.31 an hour — to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants such as Dockers and Nautica.

To resolve the impasse, the State Department urged then-Haitian president Rene Preval to intervene.

US ambassador Janet Sanderson said in a June 10, 2009 cable to Washington: “A more visible and active engagement by Preval may be critical to resolving the issue of the minimum wage and its protest ‘spin-off’ — or risk the political environment spiraling out of control.”

Two months later, Preval negotiated a deal with parliament to create a two-tiered minimum wage rise — one for the textile industry at $3.13 a day and another for all other industrial and commercial sectors at $5 a day.

The US embassy was still not pleased. Deputy chief of mission David Lindwall said the $5 a day minimum wage “did not take economic reality into account”, but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses”.

Haitian supporters of the minimum wage rise said that it was needed to keep pace with inflation and alleviate the rising cost of living.

Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. The World Food Program estimates that about 3.3 million people in Haiti, a third of the population, are food insecure.

Haiti was rocked by the “clorox” food riots of April 2008, named after hunger so painful that it felt like bleach in your stomach.

A 2008 Worker Rights Consortium study found a working-class family with one working member and two dependents needed a daily wage of at least $13.75 to meet normal living expenses.

US opposition to the minimum wage rise was revealed in 1918 cables provided by WikiLeaks.

In response to a request for a statement, the US embassy’s information officer Jon Piechowski told Haiti Liberte: “As a matter of policy, the Department of State does not comment on documents that purport to contain classified information and strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of such information.

“In Haiti, approximately 80% of the population is unemployed and 78% earns less than $1 a day — the US government is working with the Government of Haiti and international partners to help create jobs, support economic growth, promote foreign direct investment that meets [International Labor Orgainsation] labor standards in the apparel industry, and invest in agriculture and beyond.”

For a 20-month period between early February 2008 and October 2009, US embassy officials closely monitored and reported on the minimum wage issue. The cables show that the embassy fully understood how popular the measure was in Haiti.

The cables said that the new minimum wage even had support from most of the Haitian business community “based on reports that wages in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua (competitors in the garment industry) will increase also”.

But the proposal faced fierce opposition from Haiti’s tiny assembly zone elite, which Washington had long been supporting with direct financial aid and free trade deals.

In 2006, the US Congress passed the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) bill. This gave Haitian assembly zone manufacturers preferential trade incentives

Two years later, Congress passed an even more generous bill called HOPE II. USAID provided technical assistance and training programs to factories to help them expand and take advantage of the new law.

US embassy cables claimed these efforts were threatened by parliamentary demands for a wage hike to keep pace with soaring inflation and high food prices.

A June 17, 2009, confidential cable from charge d’affairs Thomas C Tighe to Washington said: “Textile industry representatives, led by the Association of Haitian Industry (ADIH), objected to the immediate ($3.25) per day wage increase in the assembly sector, saying it would devastate the industry and negatively impact the benefits of … HOPE II.”

Ironically, Tighe’s confidential cable one week earlier, said the ADIH study had found that “overall, the average salary for workers in the [garment assembly] sector is $4.33” — only 67 cents a day less than the proposed minimum wage.

Nonetheless, the study urged opposing any rise in the minimum wage because “the current salary structure promotes productivity and serves as a competitive wage in the region”.

Tighe noted, however, that the “minimum salary for workers in the Free Trade Zone on the [Haiti-Dominican Republic] border is approximately $6.00”, a dollar more than the $5 demanded.

Still, the ADIH report concluded somehow that the minimum daily being demanded would cause “the loss of 10,000 workers”, more than one third of Haiti’s 27,000 garment workers at that time.

Tighe said the ADIH and USAID “funded studies on the impact of near tripling of the minimum wage on the textile sector found that [the proposed] minimum wage would make the sector economically unviable and consequently force factories to shut down”.

Bolstered by the USAID study, factory owners lobbied heavily against the rise, the cables said.

The cables reveal how closely the US embassy monitored widespread pro-wage rise protests and openly worried about the political impact of the minimum wage battle.

United Nations troops were called in to quell student protests, sparking further demands for the end of the UN military occupation of Haiti.

On August 10, 2009, garment workers, students and other activists protested at the Industrial Park near Port-au-Prince airport. The police arrested two students, Guerchang Bastia and Patrick Joseph, on the charge of inciting the workers.

Demanding their immediate release, protesters marched to the Delmas 33 police station, where the police fired tear-gas and the throng replied with rock-throwing.

In the course of the demonstration, the windshield of Tighe’s vehicle was smashed, and he took refuge in the police station.

Due to the fierce protests of workers and students, sweatshop owners and Washington won only a partial victory in the minimum wage battle, delaying the $5 a day minimum for one year and keeping the assembly sector’s minimum wage a notch below all other sectors.

In October 2010, assembly workers’ minimum wage rose to $5 a day, while in all other sectors it went to $6.25.

The Haitian Platform for Development Alternatives said in June 2009: “Every time the minimum wage has been discussed, [the assembly industry bourgeoisie in] ADIH has cried wolf to scare the government against its passage: that raising the minimum wage would mean the certain and immediate closure of industry in Haiti and the cause of a sudden loss of jobs.

“In every case, it was a lie.”

[Abridged from www.haiti-liberte.com .]

 

 

Assange: Facebook, Yahoo, Google, ‘Most Appalling Spying Machine EVER’

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Julian Assange. Founder, Wikileaks.

Oldspeak: “Orwell’s ‘Ministry Of Love’ has a much kinder and down right irresistible face in the real world.’ Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people—their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives—all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence….Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them.’ –Julian Assange.

By Truthdig: In a recent interview with Russia Today, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had harsh words for Facebook, denouncing the company for enabling the U.S. government to keep close tabs on the behavior, relationships and personal details of its citizens. —ARK

WikiLeaks: Secret Guantanamo Files Show U.S. Disarray, Most Guantanamo Bay Prisoners Pose No Threat To U.S.

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Captive audience: Detainees are watched by military police in Guantanamo Bay

Oldspeak:” Prisoners were sexually humiliated, leashed like dogs and forced to urinate on themselvesThis prison is still open. (Thanks to U.S. Congress squabbling and Obama Administration impotence) And now we learn most of the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay were either innocent or posed little threat, according to official US documents leaked by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. One has to wonder, why were they there? This is why they hate us, it’s not because of our freedom. It’s because we’re detaining innocents from teenagers to old men in this, and a worldwide network of secret prisons indefinitely in many cases without charge and treating them like animals.”

By Carol Rosenberg and Tom Lasseter @ McClatchy Newpapers:

Faced with the worst-ever single attack by foreigners on American soil, the U.S. military set up a human intelligence laboratory at Guantanamo that used interrogation and detention practices that they largely made up as they went along.

The world may have thought the U.S. was detaining a band of international terrorists whose questioning would help the hunt for Osama Bin Laden or foil the next 9/11.

But a collection of secret Bush-era intelligence documents not meant to surface for another 20 years shows that the military’s efforts at Guantanamo often were much less effective than the government has acknowledged.

Viewed as a whole, the secret intelligence summaries help explain why in May 2009 President Barack Obama, after ordering his own review of wartime intelligence, called America’s experiment at Guantanamo “quite simply a mess.”

The documents, more than 750 individual assessments of former and current Guantanamo detainees, show an intelligence operation that was tremendously dependant on informants — both prison camp snitches repeating what they’d heard from fellow captives and self-described, at times self-aggrandizing, alleged al Qaida insiders turned government witnesses who Pentagon records show have since been released.

Intelligence analysts are at odds with each other over which informants to trust, at times drawing inferences from prisoners’ exercise habits. They order DNA tests, tether Taliban suspects to polygraphs, string together tidbits in ways that seemed to defy common sense.

Guantanamo analysts at times questioned the reliability of some information gleaned from other detainees’ interrogations.

Allegations and information from one Yemeni, no longer at Guantanamo, appears in at least 135 detainees’ files, prompting Navy Rear Adm. Dave Thomas, the prison camps commander in August 2008, to include this warning:

“Any information provided should be adequately verified through other sources before being utilized.”

The same report goes on to praise the captive as an “invaluable intelligence source” for information about al Qaida and Taliban training, operations, personnel and facilities,” and warns that he’d be at risk of retaliation if he were released into Yemeni society. He was resettled in Europe by the Obama administration.

In fact, information from just eight men showed up in forms for at least 235 Guantanamo detainees — some 30 percent of those known to have been held there.

In many cases, the detainees made direct allegations of others’ involvement in militant activities; in others, they gave contextual information used to help build the edges of a case.

While many other intelligence sources were referred to in those detainee assessment forms, including in some cases confessions by the detainees themselves, the inclusion of information from such a highly questionable group of men would seem to raise serious issues about a key piece of the “mosaic” process at Guantanamo and the decisions that followed.

The documents also show that in the earliest years of the prison camps operation, the Pentagon permitted Chinese and Russian interrogators into the camps — information from those sessions are included in some captives’ assessments — something American defense lawyers working free-of-charge for the foreign prisoners have alleged and protested for years.

There’s not a whiff in the documents that any of the work is leading the U.S. closer to capturing Bin Laden. In fact, the documents suggest a sort of mission creep beyond the post-9/11 goal of hunting down the al Qaida inner circle and sleeper cells.

The file of one captive, now living in Ireland, shows he was sent to Guantanamo so that U.S. military intelligence could gather information on the secret service of Uzbekistan. A man from Bahrain is shipped to Guantanamo in June 2002, in part, for interrogation on “personalities in the Bahraini court.”

That same month, U.S. troops in Bagram airlifted to Guantanamo a 30-something sharecropper whom Pakistani security forces scooped up along the Afghan border as he returned home from his uncle’s funeral.

The idea was that, once at Guantanamo, 8,000 miles from his home, he might be able to tell interrogators about covert travel routes through the Afghan-Pakistan mountain region. Seven months later, the Guantanamo intelligence analysts concluded that he wasn’t a risk to anyone — and had no worthwhile information. Pentagon records show they shipped him home in March 2003, after more than two years in either American or Pakistani custody.

McClatchy Newspapers obtained the documents last month from WikiLeaks on an embargoed basis to give reporters from seven news organizations — including McClatchy, The Washington Post, the Spanish newspaper El Pais, and the German magazine Der Spiegel — time to catalogue, evaluate and report on them. WikiLeaks abruptly lifted the embargo Sunday night, after the organization became aware that the documents had been leaked to other news organizations, which were about to publish stories about them.

Marked “SECRET // NOFORN,” the documents consist of more than 750 intelligence summaries, each consisting on average of between 2 to 12 pages, of the more than 500 detainees who’ve been transferred from the prison and for the 172 who still remain there. The summaries were written between 2002 and 2008. Many include photographs of the men, information about each man’s physical and mental health as well as recommendations on whether to keep them in U.S. custody, hand them over to a foreign government for imprisonment, or set them free.

They make little mention of the abuse and torture scandals that surrounded intelligence gathering — both at secret CIA detention centers abroad and at the Guantanamo camps.

Of an Australian man who came to Guantanamo in May 2002, Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood noted two years later that the captive confessed while “under extreme duress” and “in the custody of the Egyptian government” to training six of the 9/11 hijackers in martial arts. He had denied the ties by August 2004 and was repatriated five months later.

The documents make clear that intelligence agents elsewhere showed photos of Guantanamo prisoners to prized war-on-terror catches held at secret so-called CIA black-sites, out of reach of the International Red Cross. Notably the reports reflect that at times some captives faces were familiar to Abu Zubayda — whom the CIA waterboarded scores of times.

At times the efforts seem comedic. Guards plucked off ships at sea to walk the cellblocks note who has hoarded food as contraband, who makes noise during the Star Spangled Banner, who sings creepy songs like “La, La, La, La Taliban” and who is re-enacting the 9/11 attacks with origami art.

But they also hint at frightening plots.

If you believe the intelligence profiles, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed schooled four men now at Guantanamo in the summer before 9/11 in English and American style-behavior for an ancillary 9/11 attack — on U.S. military sites in Asia.

The documents also show military intelligence offering what appears to be little more than prurient gossip about the detainees.

Saudi Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 45, who made headlines just week as the first Obama administration candidate for a death penalty tribunal at Guantanamo, is cast in his risk assessment as a high-risk captive. The assessment makes no mention of that the CIA waterboarded him in a secret black-site interrogation before his transfer to military custody but includes his supposed strategy to not be distracted by women:

“Detainee is so dedicated to jihad that he reportedly received injections to promote impotence,” an analyst writes, without explanation of the source.

Elsewhere in the files, U.S. military intelligence analysts discussing the dangerousness of two Iraqi men captured in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, include this observation: One Iraqi boasted that he had an affair with the other Iraqi’s wife, in the husband’s house. Both have since been repatriated to Iraq.

And they show how they got it wrong right from the very start. On Day One, the camps commander declared the first airlift of 20 men “the worst of the worst,” handpicked hardened terrorists plucked from the battlefield and shown shackled on their knees to their world in mute, blinded submission.

Not so, according to the military’s own analysis, which has so far set free eight of the first 20 men — the first of that batch just nine months later as a nobody swept up in the war on terror.

They also show the arc of American understanding of the men who were first locked up at the crude prison camp called X-Ray. Early on in the enterprise, the U.S. military at Guantanamo profiled “The Dirty 30” _that number of men captured along the Afghan-Pakistan border near Parachinar — as Bin Laden bodyguards who had traveled in a pack from Tora Bora to escape the American forces.

But by the time Bush left office, his interagency process had freed 10 of the men. Mostt were sent to Saudi Arabia, some after concluding they were probably not part of the al Qaeda founder’s security detail.

Among those men is a convicted war criminal — Guantanamo’s lone lifer, Ali Hamza al Bahlul of Yemen — convicted not as a “Dirty 30,” but for serving as Bin Laden’s media secretary and an al Qaida filmmaker who fed the terror group’s propaganda machine.



The Empire Strikes Back

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Oldspeak: ” Whisleblowing is nothing new, but establishment reactions to it have become increasingly Gestapo-like over time.  ‘One of the biggest lessons for us all comes in the form of a wake-up call on the enormous vulnerability of our prime means of communication to swift government-instigated, summary shutdown.’ Could this Wikileaks crackdown signal the beginning of the end of net neutrality? It’s been happen incrementally, with Google, Verizon and Facebook battling behind the scenes for control of internet traffic. More an more of the cyber commons is being privatized, commodified and policed to eliminate content that allegedly violates copyrights, ‘threatens national security’ or deemed undesirable to parties unknown in other ways.  No due process, just seized and shutdown.

From Alexander Cockburn @ Truthout:

The WikiLeaks sites have vanished — though more than 1,400 mirror sites still carry the disclosures. Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the organization’s Swiss bank have shut it down, either on their own initiative or after a threat from the U.S. government or its poodles in London and Geneva. Julian Assange is in a British prison, facing a hearing on trumped-up Swedish allegations zealously posted by Interpol. The U.S. government is warning potential employees not to read the Wiki materials anywhere on the Web, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is cooking up a stew of new gag stipulations and fierce statutory penalties against any site carrying material the government deems compromising to state security. Commercial outfits like Amazon are falling over themselves to connive at the shutdowns, actual or threatened.

One of the biggest lessons for us all comes in the form of a wake-up call on the enormous vulnerability of our prime means of communication to swift government-instigated, summary shutdown.

Forty-three years ago, Ramparts magazine published its disclosures of the CIA’s capture of the National Student Association as a front organization. The magazine became the target of furious denunciation by the Liebermans and McConnells of the day. Even before publication, the CIA’s Desmond FitzGerald authorized a dirty-tricks operation against Ramparts. But at no time did the government muster the nerve to flout the First Amendment and try to shut the magazine down on grounds that it was compromising “national security” and guilty of espionage. A courtroom challenge by Ramparts’ lawyers would have been inevitable.

While visiting Britain in the early 1970s, former CIA case officer Philip Agee had a brief meeting with Tony Godwin, editor-in-chief of Penguin Books, a friend of mine. Godwin agreed to publish Agee’s expose, including the names of active CIA officers and details of their operations. Agee managed to write the book in Paris, though I warned him that the CIA certainly knew of his plans and would probably try to kill him. They bugged his typewriter and later floated disobliging rumors about his sex life and drinking habits, but no one tried to shove him into the Seine or even put him in a French prison.

Today? At the least, all of Ramparts’ electronic business operations would be closed down. Pressured by the U.S. government, Amazon would deny Penguin all access or ability to sell books. Just look at what has happened to WikiLeaks.

Britain has had its left leaker heroes. In 1963, “Spies for Peace” — a group of direct-action British anarchists and kindred radicals associated with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Bertrand Russell’s Committee of 100 — broke into a secret government bunker, Regional Seat of Government Number 6 (RSG-6) at Warren Row, near Reading, where they photographed and copied documents showing secret government preparations for rule after a nuclear war. They distributed a pamphlet, along with copies of relevant documents, to the press, stigmatizing the “small group of people who have accepted thermonuclear war as a probability, and are consciously and carefully planning for it. … They are quietly waiting for the day the bomb drops, for that will be the day they take over.”

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There was a big uproar, and then the Conservative government of the day issued a D-notice forbidding any further coverage in the press. The cops and intelligence services hunted long and hard for the Spies for Peace, and caught nary a one.

These days, would the press have been so initially swift to reprint the pamphlet? Would any website reprinting its contents have survived for 24 hours?

So far as the Internet is concerned, First Amendment protections here in the U.S. — certainly better than protections in the U.K. — appear to have no purchase or even acknowledged standing. Even before the WikiLeaks hysteria took hold, the situation was very serious. As Davey D recently reported on his Hip Hop Corner website, over the Thanksgiving holiday, Homeland Security — along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Justice Department and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center — seized more than eighty websites, including popular hip-hop sites RapGodFathers.com, dajaz1.com and Onsmash.com. These sites were accused of copyright violations. No hearing. Alive one minute, dead the next.

So here we have a public “commons” — the Internet — subject to arbitrary onslaught by the state and powerful commercial interests, and not even the shadow of constitutional protections. The situation is getting worse. The net itself is going private. As I write, Google and Facebook are locked in a struggle over which company will control the bulk of the world’s Internet traffic. Millions could find that the e-mail addresses they try to communicate with, the sites they want to visit and the ads they may want to run are all under Google’s or Facebook’s supervision and can be closed off without explanation or redress at any time.

Here in the U.S., certainly, we need a big push on First Amendment protections for the Internet: one more battlefield where the left and the libertarians can join forces. But we must do more than buttress the First Amendment. We must also challenge the corporations’ power to determine the structure of the Internet and decide who is permitted to use it.

 

The New Pentagon Papers: WikiLeaks Releases 90,000+ Secret Military Documents Painting Devastating Picture of Afghanistan War

In Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Taliban militants drove through Musa Qala, a southern Afghan town, in a Ford pickup truck, that very kind of vehicle the United States had provided the Afghan Army and police force.

Oldspeak:“HOOOO-LEEEEY SHIT. What a clusterfucking SNAFU this “war” is.  Thank christ for WikiLeaks, If we had to rely on corporate media solely, shit like this would never come to light. Thousands of civilians dead, TALBAN using U.S. equipment against the U.S. Army, U.S. Mercenaries running wild, Pakistan supporting  the insurgency. It don’t get no betta! WOW. WOWOWOWOWOW.”

From Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now:

Related Story:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/asia/26isi.html

It’s one of the biggest leaks in US military history. More than 90,000 internal records of US military actions in Afghanistan over the past six years have been published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The documents provide a devastating portrait of the war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, how a secret black ops special forces unit hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial, how Taliban attacks have soared, and how Pakistan is fueling the insurgency. We host a roundtable discussion with independent British journalist Stephen Grey; Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg; former State Department official in Afghanistan, Matthew Hoh; independent journalist Rick Rowley; and investigative historian Gareth Porter.

Guests:

Stephen Grey, independent journalist based in London. He has been reporting from Afghanistan for the past few years. He is author of Operation Snakebite: The Explosive True Story of an Afghan Desert Siege. He recently interviewed Julian Assange for Channel 4.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower.

Rick Rowley, independent journalist with Big Noise Films He just returned from a six-week trip to Afghanistan, where he was embedded with a Marine division in Marjah.

Matthew Hoh, former Marine Corps captain in Iraq and former State Department official in Afghanistan. He is the first-known US official to resign in protest over the Afghan war.

Gareth Porter, investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s one the biggest leaks in US military history. More than 90,000 internal records from US military actions in Afghanistan over the past six years have been published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The documents provide a devastating portrait of the war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, how a secret black ops special forces unit hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial, how Taliban attacks have soared, and how Pakistan is fueling the insurgency. WikiLeaks made the files available this week to the New York TimesThe Guardian of London and the German weeklyDer Spiegel, who agreed simultaneously to publish their reports on Sunday.

The documents, most of them classified as secret, give a blow-by-blow account of the war in Afghanistan between January 2004 and December of 2009. The findings include detailed reports on 144 attacks on civilians by coalition forces, ranging from the shootings of individuals to massive air strikes, resulting in hundreds of casualties; how a secret black ops special forces unit named Task Force 373 hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial. The so-called “kill or capture” list of senior Taliban and al-Qaeda figures includes more than 2,000 names and is known as JPEL, the Joint Prioritized Effects List. The files also reveal how coalition forces are increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.

The records reveal there has a been a steep rise in Taliban attacks on coalition troops and that the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles. In addition, the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation on their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.

And the files reveal NATO commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency. According to the New York Times, the records suggest Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, spoke about the files in an interview with independent journalist Stephen Grey for Channel 4 in Britain.

    JULIAN ASSANGE: We have released 91,000 reports about Afghanistan from the United States military. The reports cover the period from 2004 to 2010 in minute detail. They cover essentially all US military operations, with the exclusion of some special forces operations and the CIA. It covers each civilian kill, each military kill that has been internally reported, where it happened, and when it happened. It is the most comprehensive history of a war to have ever been published during the course of a war.

    STEPHEN GREY: And how significant is that?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent disclosure made during the course of a war, during the time where it might have some effect. The nearest equivalent is perhaps the Pentagon Papers released by Daniel Ellsberg in the ’70s. That was about 10,000 pages. But already that was about four years old by the time it was released.

    STEPHEN GREY: And how many pages in your report?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: There’s about 200,000 pages in this material. Pentagon Papers was about 10,000 pages.

    STEPHEN GREY: What can you tell us about the source of this material? How do you know it’s—how do you know it’s true?

    JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, we know from looking at, you know, the material, correlating with the public record, speaking to confidential military sources, that this material is true and accurate. As to the specific source, obviously we can’t comment.

AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The White House has condemned the publication of the files by WikiLeaks. In a statement, National Security Adviser Jim Jones said, quote, “We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security.” Jones went on to say, quote, “The documents posted by Wikileaks reportedly cover a period of time from January 2004 to December 2009. On December 1, 2009, President Obama announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan, and increased focus on al Qaeda and Taliban safe-havens in Pakistan, precisely because of the grave situation that had developed over several years,” he said.

Well, today we’re spending the hour on this unprecedented release of documents during the war with a roundtable of guests. Here in our New York studio we’re joined by Rick Rowley, independent journalist with Big Noise Films, just returned from a six-week trip to Afghanistan, where he was embedded with a Marine division in Marjah. Joining us from Washington, DC, is Matthew Hoh, former Marine Corps captain in Iraq and former State Department official in Afghanistan, the highest-level US official to resign in protest over the Afghan war. Also in DC, Gareth Porter, investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy.

But first we go to London to speak to independent journalist Stephen Grey, who has spent the past few years reporting from Afghanistan and recently interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about this massive leak. He’s author of Operation Snakebite: The Explosive True Story of an Afghan Desert Siege. And we’ll go to Daniel Ellsberg in Mexico, perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower, who leaked the secret history of the Vietnam War that many are comparing this massive document leak to, 92,000 documents.

Stephen Grey, let’s go to you first. You spent a good deal of this weekend with Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is responsible for this leak. First, talk about its significance and what he understood he was doing when he released these documents.

STEPHEN GREY: Well, I think this is part of, you know, WikiLeaks’s strategy. I mean, it’s been a—it’s a snowball that started with fairly minor disclosures into something that is, you know, absolutely game changing. I mean, I think that this leak is phenomenal. It’s almost an act of sort of cyber war journalism. I mean, this has completely compromised the US military’s secret system. It’s called SIPRNet. It’ll probably cost them a billion dollars, I think, to fix it. And this is only the beginning. I mean, if what we’re hearing is true, there are thousands and thousands of more documents to come out here. But, you know, the actual contents are also really significant. I’ve been spending the weekend as well looking through, as far as you can in a short period of time, these 90,000 documents, you know, looking at mentions of these task forces. They’re special forces task forces. I actually wrote about this Task Force 373 before.

But it’s really the extent of it. I mean, you know, I’m sure some of the other people you’ve got on today have also seen firsthand, you know, incidents like death of civilians. But it’s really in the totality of it all that it becomes shocking. It’s the fact that you’ve got absolutely everything here. OK, not the most secret stuff, but it gives an absolutely compelling portrait. I think it will take months, if not years, to really analyze it. It is—you know, the papers this morning, particularly The Guardian in London, I think have done a very good job pulling together some of its conclusions. But, you know, it is incredible to see the raw detail there, and I think it will pull together an actually—an incredible picture of war.

AMY GOODMAN: As we are broadcasting this show today, the news conference is going on in London that Julian Assange is holding, revealing all of this. I wanted to turn to Daniel Ellsberg in Mexico. You’re hearing of this release. Your response?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: I’m very impressed by the release. It is the first release in thirty-nine years or forty years, since I first gave the Pentagon Papers to the Senate, of the scale of the Pentagon Papers, and not the first as it should have been. I would—how many times in those years should there have been the release of thousands of pages showing our being lied into war in Iraq, as in Vietnam, and the nature of the war in Afghanistan? I hope there will be—I hope this will inspire, despite the charges brought against Manning under the UC, under the Universal Code of Military Justice, which is not civilian law, it’s not First Amendment law. It’s the military law, so he’s in deep water here, as I think he expected. But nevertheless, I hope people will not be deterred from realizing that they have the responsibility that, according to the reports we’ve had of what Manning said in chat logs to the informant, Adrian Lamo, that realize that there is great deception going on, that there is, in Manning’s reported words, horrific material, almost criminal, as he put it, which deserve to be in the public domain, that they will consider doing what’s been done here, and that is risking their own career and their clearance and even their liberty, maybe for life, in order to save many lives. So, whoever did this—and Manning is charged with it—it remains to be seen whether the government can prove a case against him in the particular charges, but in terms of what he’s reported to have said to Lamo, I admire very much the spirit in which he did this. He said that he felt the public needed to know this and that he was prepared to go to prison, even for life—he said that—or even to be executed. That’s the first person I’ve heard in forty years who is in the same state of mind that I was forty years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Grey, just to clarify, Dan Ellsberg is talking about Private First Class Bradley Manning, who was in Iraq, had—says he released these documents. He has now been arrested by the military. What did Julian Assange say about Bradley Manning? And this came out in his conversations with Lamo, another blogger online.

STEPHEN GREY: Yeah, I mean, like Daniel Ellsberg, he has, you know, praised what Bradley Manning has said about what he’s doing, but he has not confirmed that he’s the source. I mean, it’s one of the beauties, if you like, of this technology that Julian Assange and his colleagues at WikiLeaks have developed, is that it actually protects the source. So what Julian Assange told me was that he himself does not know who the source is. What they do is verify documents, not sources themselves. So they’re not able to actually verify that that was him. But, I mean, what was striking to me was that Bradley Manning said in his so-called confessions to this informer that he had released 265,000 documents to WikiLeaks. Now, they’ve published 95,000; they say they’ve held back 15,000. Add that up, I think there’s 110,000. So less than half of what he’s handed over has actually been published yet. So there’s—you know, if he indeed is the leak—and I suppose you can—it looks pretty likely—then there’s a lot more to come.

AMY GOODMAN: He’s been charged with passing on fifty State Department cables. We’re talking about the largest document release in US history, outside of Dan Ellsberg, the—actually, including Dan Ellsberg, in the course of a war. Ninety-two thousand pages are being released by WikiLeaks, the website, Julian Assange holding a news conference now in London. Daniel Ellsberg is on the phone with us from Mexico. Stephen Grey, who spent much of the weekend with Julian Assange, is on with us from London. We’ll be joined by others when we come back. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, he released the Pentagon Papers. WikiLeaks is being compared to that. It’s the largest release of secret documents in history. More than 92,000 records, that’s more than 200,000 pages, have now been released online. Rick Rowley is with us, just back from Afghanistan, with Big Noise Films. Gareth Porter is with us in Washington, DC. Stephen Grey, in London, just interviewed Julian Assange for Channel 4. And Matthew Hoh, highest-level government official to quit his position in Afghanistan because of the war there, also a Marine Corps captain.

Matthew Hoh, I want to go to you. You worked with Task Force 373.

MATTHEW HOH: Loosely. It’s a very integrated—with these special forces operations, I hope people aren’t getting the idea that, at least of last year, they’re off by themselves running amok. It’s a fairly well-integrated operation that spans political efforts, as well. I’ll give you an example. As a political officer, you would review the target lists to make sure you weren’t—we weren’t killing or going after anyone who was actually working with us. A lot of times what happens—the point was made that we kill the wrong people. Well, you know, sometimes we get the right guy, but he’s actually just somebody who’s been turned in by someone who’s got a grudge against him.

One of the things I hope people see from these documents is how complex the nature of war is, how difficult war actually is. And so, the question has to be asked, Is it worth it? What we’re asking our young men and women to do, is it worth putting them through this? And what benefit is it to the United States?

But the other point about the special operations raids, these capture-kill missions, if this worked, if this was a viable method, we would have won this thing back in ’04 or ’05, you know? And the other point, too, about Dan’s—Dan Ellsberg’s excellent point about the strength of the Taliban, I’m in complete agreement. If you actually go back and look at comments made by General Barno, who was the commanding general of American forces in ’04 and ’05, back then he was saying there were only 2,000 Taliban. Last summer they said it was 40,000. And I concur with Dan Ellsberg. We’ve sent 30,000 more troops into southern Afganistan, and that probably has exponentially increased the strength of the Taliban, because we see the Taliban get their support because of resistance to foreign occupation and resistance to a corrupt and unrepresentative government.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Grey, the newspapers that WikiLeaks worked with in releasing this—and it’s still all just being digested. It’s less than twenty-four hours ago. By the way, Eric Schmitt, the reporter for the New York Times, said they’ve been working with the White House now for weeks and carefully going through and redacting names and other sources that might be compromised, said the White House was fully aware of what’s in these documents. And he actually said Julian Assange has agreed to hold back a number of documents to go through that kind of redacting process before they’re released. But Stephen Grey, The Guardian write, “In many cases, the unit has set out to seize”—talking about Task Force 373—”seize targets for internment, but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture. The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path.”

STEPHEN GREY: Well, that’s right. And I’ve been looking through those same documents. I mean, they do show a lot of people are captured; it’s not just a kill operation. But on the other hand, they are systematically using methods that don’t allow you to capture. For example, there was one missile strike that they used to try and take out one person they were supposedly trying to capture, and, you know, it killed a bunch of children instead. And they tried to—you see them trying to prevent that information being released to anyone other than themselves. And it is quite shocking.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to Gareth Porter in Washington, DC. Talk more about the significance, what you think is most important to highlight here, as we go through these hundreds of thousands of pages of top-secret documents, classified documents.

GARETH PORTER: Well, again, I mean, there are very few things here that have not, in some fashion, been reported by the news media over the last—particularly over the last year or so. But there is one set of documents, in particular, that I thought were particularly insightful in terms of revealing the basic nature of the society and of the Afghan government that the United States is supporting, and that is a set of documents that show, for example, a police commander, a district police commander, who had raped a sixteen-year-old girl and who was confronted with a civilian complaining about this rape. He ordered his bodyguard, according to this report, to shoot the civilian. The bodyguard refused to do so, and then the police commander simply killed his own bodyguard in order to basically deal with the situation. This sort of laid bare the basic structure that the United States has stumbled into, or, perhaps I should say, has allowed itself to take control of, and—or tried to take control of, and I think what it shows is that this is a war that not only cannot be won, but in which the United States is on the wrong side.

And I just want to make one more point about the releases, and that is that I think that the real story here, the most important story, is WikiLeaks itself. I think what we have here is a new institution that is undoubtedly the most important antiwar institution that has been created so far and that I have no doubt is frightening the US military and intelligence establishment, as well as the Obama administration, very strongly. And I think that’s for very good reason. I think they understand that this represents a potentially powerful weapon for the future against war crimes as well as other illegal actions by the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to give, for the last few seconds, Daniel Ellsberg the last word, as we come full circle from Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, that you had released at tremendous risk to yourself, to WikiLeaks right now and this unprecedented release of top-secret documents.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, this is the closest that I’ve come to what I’ve been calling for for years, and that is for people to do not what I did, which is to wait years, until bombs were falling and until more countries have been invaded or escalation, before revealing documents to Congress and the public through the press. And now, of course, we have a way of doing that, thanks to WikiLeaks, that does bypass the press, even if they are reluctant to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there.

DANIEL ELLSBERG: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Daniel Ellsberg, for joining us. Thank you to Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films; Gareth Porter in Washington, DC; Stephen Grey in London, author of Operation Snakebite. And Matthew Hoh, thanks so much for joining us.