Wikileaks – Drone Attacks On Assange, and White House Rewriting History

August 2, 2010

For anyone (hopefully everyone) who is interested in the implications of the Wikileaks Affair and the related plight of U.S. military whistleblower Bradley Manning (currently facing 50 years+ in jail for leaking video of a brutal U.S. airtrike against journalists in Baghdad), Arthur Silber has been providing some thoughtful postings. For Silber, Julian Assange – founder of Wikileaks – and of course, Manning himself, are bona fide heroes, a designation that readers will find hard to refute.

And back in the mainstream media, the Washington Post didn’t busy itself to get in on the ground floor of the Wikileaks Affair, and missed out on an enormous story in the process. Since then, its columnist Marc Thiessen has been spewing bile against Wikileaks, but today he’s reached a nadir. His latest piece is truly vile.

Starting with the assertion that “WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a criminal enterprise,” he moves on to argue that the website provides active support for terrorism, that it needs to be shut down immediately and “its leadership brought to justice.”

But not just “brought to justice” in cuffs and copters. Thiessen suggests, chillingly, that “the government has a wide range of options for dealing with him. It can employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets to bring Assange to justice and put his criminal syndicate out of business.”

As a fellow Wapo columnist suggests, this could amount to organizing “drone” attacks on his supposed whereabouts. But Thiessen doesn’t end there. He also suggests that if governments shelter the heroic Assange, the U.S. “can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval” – a principle that he justifies as permissible under the little known 1989 Justice Department memorandum “Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities.”

Thiessen is wallowing in the filthiest excrement of American exceptionalism in his vitriol, demanding that Assange not remain “unmolested” (and urging officials to, presumably “molest” him).

Thiessen, like the White House, has been mobilizing the discourse of “national security” to lambast Wikileaks, arguing that it is Assange who has “blood on his hands.” As the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen has put it, “Mr Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.”

But thoughtful observers will note a certain hollowness to such rhetoric. After all, it is the war which Thiessen backs and Mullen prosecutes which has spilled so much innocent blood. Assange has, if anything, allowed us to press on and hasten that war’s end. So who has the bloodier hands?

And another theme has been to blame Wikileaks for not informing the White House of its plans. Yet as Roy Greenslade notes on his Guardian blog, Assange “contacted the White House….to offer US government officials the chance to go through the documents to make sure no innocent people were identified. But the White House did not respond to the approach.”


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