News Release Archive - 2010

WikiLeaks: Beyond the Spin

Share

PRATAP CHATTERJEE
Chatterjee is a regular columnist for the Guardian and just wrote a piece titled “WikiLeaks v the imperial presidency’s poodle: Once, Harold Koh spoke truth to power. Now, as Hillary Clinton’s legal adviser, he obediently denounces the embassy cables leak.”

Chatterjee is author of Iraq, Inc: A Profitable Occupation and Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. He recently joined the Center for American Progress as a fellow.

WILLIAM BEEMAN
Author of The “Great Satan” vs. the “Mad Mullahs”: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, Beeman said today: “These dispatches represent communications in diplomatic circles. They don’t necessarily represent truth on the ground, and they frequently seem to represent posturing and the same kind of bluffing and chicanery that is the bread and butter of diplomatic negotiations. So, if the Ambassador to the UAE says ‘Iran is a nuclear danger,’ that doesn’t mean that Iran is actually a nuclear danger — only that he said so for whatever reason.

“Diplomatic assessments are only as good as the underlying information that prompts them. In many cases the underlying information is purposely misleading or inaccurate. Just because a diplomat said something doesn’t make it any more true. Much of the material relating to Iran and the Persian Gulf is the result of a concentrated propaganda campaign by the United States, spearheaded during the Bush administration, to ensure U.S. influence in the Gulf region by frightening local leaders into fearing Iran. The documents are more interesting for pointing out the ways in which nations at the top levels tried to influence each other’s opinions about world affairs.”

COLEEN ROWLEY
Rowley, 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.”

She said today: “For some reason many Americans have the attitude that more governmental secrecy means greater security. Paradoxically, people have, at the same time, been willing to sacrifice their own personal privacy. Eighty-one percent in the U.S. reportedly support the government implementation of body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports as a pre-condition of flying. A majority don’t want to ask questions about their government dropping bombs in other parts of the world. People commonly respond that they just want to be safe and don’t want to necessarily know the details of what or how their government goes about that task.

“But actually, a lot of those things make the U.S. public less safe. Information sharing means less secrecy — and is a key to more security. That was acknowledged by the 9-11 Commission; that if government agencies had done a better job sharing information and not only amongst themselves but with the public and the media, the 9-11 attacks could have been averted.

“WikiLeaks stated its motives for releasing these documents by quoting U.S. founding father James Madison who famously said: ‘Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.’ This basic philosophy of the American revolution is said to inspire WikiLeaks’ work: ‘The cables appear to be the single most significant historical archive ever released and affects basic and heartfelt issues all over the world; geopolitics and democracy; human rights and the rule of law; national resources and global trade.’

“It’s undoubtedly good that WikiLeaks and its media partners in five different countries are publishing the information in the U.S. diplomatic cables, as with the war logs released earlier. It’s important, however, to consider these cables in their proper context. Obviously the authors of these previously secret documents (State Department and military members) are usually ‘reporting’ what their departments expect or want to hear, and are not attempting to necessarily provide independent analysis that conflicts with pre-established policies. True whistleblower protection is still needed to produce more independent and less-politicized analysis.”

Background: WikiLeaks has begun releasing over 200,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, a process that may take months. See cablegate.wikileaks.org and twitter.com/wikileaks. Also, see coverage by the British Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Egyptian Parliamentary Elections

Share

McClatchy reports: “Under a cloud of intimidation and suppression, Egyptians will vote Sunday in parliamentary elections that already have been denounced as a charade aimed at prolonging the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.

“Egyptian authorities have jailed Mubarak’s opponents, blocked rallies, clamped down on independent news media and angrily rejected calls by the United States and others to allow international observers to monitor the vote.”

Dr. AIDA SEIF AL-DAWLA
Al-Dawla is a psychiatrist with the Nadeem Center for Victims of Torture, which will be monitoring human rights violations during the election via their web page as well as Twitter.
She has been profiled by Time magazine.

PHILIP RIZK
Rizk is an independent blogger and filmmaker based in Cairo. See blog and Twitter feed

JASON BROWNLEE
Brownlee is currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He is working on a book on U.S-Egyptian relations. He recently appeared on an Al-Jazeera English segment on the Egyptian elections.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Haitian Elections on Sunday “Neither Free Nor Fair”

Share

ALEX MAIN, [now in Haiti]
Policy analyst with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Main said today: “These elections were already highly problematic before the cholera epidemic began to spread. Haiti’s electoral authority — the CEP [Provisional Electoral Council] — suffers from a lack of credibility; legitimate parties have been excluded from participating in the legislative elections, and very few effective measures have been taken to ensure that Haiti’s over 1.3 million displaced people would have access to the polls. As a result of these problems, there was already a high probability that voter turnout would be very low and that the elections would be widely seen as illegitimate. Now, with an uncontrollable and fatal epidemic further complicating the lives of Haitians, it is patently obvious that the elections should be postponed and measures should be taken to correct the current flaws in the electoral process.”

NICOLAS ROSSIER
Rossier is a documentary filmmaker whose work includes “Aristide and the Endless Revolution.” He recently interviewed Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Haitian president who was ousted in 2004. Video excerpts at Grit TV

See also transcript of interview at “An Exclusive Interview With Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

EZILI DANTO
Danto is president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network. She said today: “Obama denounced the recent ‘elections’ in Burma as ‘neither free nor fair.’ The Haitian ‘elections’ are also neither free nor fair. The largest party, Fanmi Lavalas, is excluded, as it has been in every election since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004. Who will be able to vote is not clear — over 1.3 million earthquake victims are displaced, many don’t know which polling place to go to, don’t have their IDs and the country is in the middle of a cholera outbreak that the CDC says is non-Haitian and originated from South Asia. This environment will minimize the voice of most of the people while amplifying that of the Haitian oligarchy, mostly sustained by NGO and U.S. aid funds, living in the luxurious Petionville hills, who have their IDs and are not displaced.

“Another issue is that whoever is elected will have so little power. The UN, Bill Clinton and other foreigners through the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission largely run the country but are not accountable to the Haitian people.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Korean Conflict

Share

THOMAS P. KIM
Kim is executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and professor of politics and international relations at Scripps College.

JOHN FEFFER
Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus, Feffer is author of The Future of U.S.-Korean Relations. He said today: “Applying sanctions against North Korea and conducting military exercises near its border have not led to a change in North Korean behavior or progress toward denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. Instead, North Korea has unveiled its uranium enrichment facility and artillery fire has broken out near the disputed maritime boundary between north and south. As the two Koreas step up their conflict, it is vital for the United States to work with its allies as well as China and Russia to restart negotiations in northeast Asia.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Is IAEA Using Fraudulent Documents on Iran?

Share

GARETH PORTER
The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on Iran today. Last week, an article by Porter was published by Truthout.org titled “Exclusive Report: Evidence of Iran Nuclear Weapons Program May Be Fraudulent.”

He said today: “The latest IAEA report asserts that Iran has only addressed issues of ‘form’ rather than of ‘substance’ in dealing with the ‘laptop documents,’ which purport to show a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program. Indeed, the IAEA has stated this in every report for the past two years. But my recent article shows that there are substantive facts that contradict the premises of those documents, leaving little room for doubt that they are fraudulent.”

Porter is an investigative journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy. His most recent book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama-Republican Alliance on War?

Share

DAVID SWANSON
Swanson just wrote the piece “The New War Congress, An Obama-Republican War Alliance?” which states: “The [House] Armed Services Committee is likely to be a hotbed of military expansionism. Incoming Chairman McKeon wants Afghan War commander General David Petraeus to testify in December (even before he becomes chairman) on the Obama administration’s upcoming review of Afghan war policy, while the Pentagon reportedly does not want him to because there is no good news to report. While Chairman McKeon may insist on such newsworthy witnesses next year, his goal will be war expansion, pure and simple.

“In fact, McKeon is eager to update the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force to grant the president the ongoing authority to make war on nations never involved in the 9/11 attacks. This will continue to strip Congress of its war-making powers. It will similarly continue to strip Americans of rights like the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures that President Obama has tended to justify more on the basis of the original AUMF than on the alleged inherent powers of the presidency that Bush’s lawyers leaned on so heavily.”

Swanson is author of the just-released War Is A Lie. Swanson also wrote the book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union. He blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

NATO and Afghanistan

Share

NIR ROSEN
Rosen is author of the new book Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World. He said today: “Obama has set an arbitrary deadline of 2014, but his generals are doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. There is no evidence of progress on any front and every reason to believe next year in Afghanistan will be worse than this year. We mistakenly see Afghanistan through the prism of Iraq. But the ‘surge’ did not reduce violence in Iraq. It was Iraqi social and political dynamics. And none of these elements have their Afghan equivalents. And Iraq remains more violent than Afghanistan. We spend so much time thinking about what we can do in Afghanistan that we ignore the question of whether we even should do it.” [Read more…]

Terrorism Cases: Guilty Until Proven Guilty

Share

KAREN GREENBERG
Greenberg is executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University Law School. She just wrote the piece “Guilty Until Proven Guilty: Threatening the Presumption of Innocence” about Wednesday’s acquittal of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on all but one of more than 280 counts by a jury in a federal courtroom in Manhattan.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Terrorism Cases: Guilty Until Proven Guilty

Share

KAREN GREENBERG
Greenberg is executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University Law School. She just wrote the piece “Guilty Until Proven Guilty: Threatening the Presumption of Innocence” about Wednesday’s acquittal of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on all but one of more than 280 counts by a jury in a federal courtroom in Manhattan.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Federal Reserve and Unemployment

Share

MARK WEISBROT
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He said today: “While America is suffering through its worst spell of unemployment since the Great Depression, some Republicans in Congress actually want to change the law so the Fed can’t legally pursue full employment as it is supposed to do now. This is pretty crazy stuff. Meanwhile, there is backlash against the Fed for actually doing something right this time — ‘quantitative easing’ — and fears of inflation when it is actually too low. [Read more…]