How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda): “What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic … After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …”
So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. … the American people should be outraged that their government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies.
Odd, isn’t it, that it takes a Pravda commentator to drive home the point that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history. Most of our own media are demanding that WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange be hunted down — with some of the more bloodthirsty politicians calling for his murder. The corporate-and-government dominated media are apprehensive over the challenge that WikiLeaks presents. Perhaps deep down they know, as Dickens put it, “There is nothing so strong … as the simple truth.”
As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary over the weekend has tried to portray Assange’s exposure of classified materials as very different from — and far less laudable than — what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.” He continues: “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”
Motivation? WikiLeaks’ reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses, and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.” Rather than simply go with the flow, Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth … because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.
There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different. Granted, mothers are not the most impartial observers. Yet, given what we have seen of Assange’s behavior, there was the ring of truth in Assange’s mother’s recent remarks in an interview with an Australian newspaper. She put it this way: “Living by what you believe in and standing up for something is a good thing. … He sees what he is doing as a good thing in the world, fighting baddies, if you like.”
That may sound a bit quixotic, but Assange and his associates appear the opposite of benighted. Still, with the Pentagon PR man Geoff Morrell and even Attorney General Eric Holder making thinly disguised threats of extrajudicial steps, Assange may be in personal danger.
The media: again, the media is key. No one has said it better than Monseñor Romero of El Salvador, who just before he was assassinated 25 years ago warned, “The corruption of the press is part of our sad reality, and it reveals the complicity of the oligarchy.” Sadly, that is also true of the media situation in America today.
The big question is not whether Americans can “handle the truth.” We believe they can. The challenge is to make the truth available to them in a straightforward way so they can draw their own conclusions — an uphill battle given the dominance of the mainstream media, most of which have mounted a hateful campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.
So far, the question of whether Americans can “handle the truth” has been an academic rather than an experience-based one, because Americans have had very little access to the truth. Now, however, with the WikiLeaks disclosures, they do. Indeed, the classified messages from the Army and the State Department released by WikiLeaks are, quite literally, “ground truth.”
How to inform American citizens? As a step in that direction, on October 23 we “Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence” (see below) presented our annual award for integrity to Julian Assange. He accepted the honor “on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.” In presenting the award, we noted that many around the world are deeply indebted to truth-tellers like WikiLeaks and its sources.
Here is a brief footnote: Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a group of former CIA colleagues and other admirers of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. (For more, please see here http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/24-8 .)
Sam did speak truth to power on Vietnam, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a truth-teller exemplifying Sam Adams’ courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences. Previous recipients include:
-Coleen Rowley of the FBI
-Katharine Gun of British Intelligence
-Sibel Edmonds of the FBI
-Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan
-Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army
-Frank Grevil, Maj., Danish Army Intelligence
-Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.)
-Julian Assange, WikiLeaks
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known. Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight; what you have whispered in locked rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.”
– Luke 12:2-3
The following former awardees and other associates have signed the above statement; some are available for interviews:
A former government analyst, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a secret government history of the Vietnam War to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. He was an admirer of Sam Adams when they were both working on Vietnam and in March 1968 disclosed to the New York Times some of Adams’ accurate analysis, helping head off reinforcement of 206,000 additional troops into South Vietnam and a widening of the war at that time to neighboring countries.
Grevil, a former Danish intelligence analyst, was imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s Prime Minister (now NATO Secretary General) disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Gun is a former British government employee who faced two years imprisonment in England for leaking a U.S. intelligence memo before the invasion of Iraq. The memo indicated that the U.S. had mounted a spying “surge” against U.N. Security Council delegations in early 2003 in an effort to win approval for an Iraq war resolution. The leaked memo — published by the British newspaper The Observer on March 2, 2003 — was big news in parts of the world, but almost ignored in the United States. The U.S. government then failed to obtain a U.N. resolution approving war, but still proceeded with the invasion.
MacMichael is a former CIA analyst. He resigned in the 1980s when he came to the conclusion that the CIA was slanting intelligence on Central America for political reasons. He is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, was fired from his job when he objected to Uzbeks being tortured to gain “intelligence” on “terrorists.” Upon receiving his Sam Adams award, Murray said, “I would rather die than let someone be tortured in an attempt to give me some increment of security.” Observers have noted that Murray was subjected to similar character assassination techniques as Julian Assange is now encountering to discredit him.
Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. She recently co-wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed titled, “WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if? Frustrated investigators might have chosen to leak information that their superiors bottled up, perhaps averting the terrorism attacks.” http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-rowley-wikileaks-20101015,0,5616717.story
Wilkerson, Col., U.S. Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who criticized what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal.” See recent interviews http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=5949
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167