News Release

Rowley, McGovern and Ellsberg — Statement on Wikileaks

The British Guardian reports: “The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks says it plans to release a secret military video of one of the deadliest U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan in which scores of children are believed to have been killed.”

In April, Wikileaks released the “Collateral Murder” video showing U.S. soldiers in Iraq killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and then shooting at people, including children, in a van attempting to rescue the wounded.

The following statement was released today by Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who was one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2002; Ray McGovern, CIA analyst for 27 years; and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers (top-secret government documents that showed a pattern of governmental deceit about the Vietnam War):

“Today, Washington is trying to shut down what it clearly regards as the most effective and dangerous purveyor of embarrassing information — Wikileaks, a self-styled global resource for whistleblowers. It is a safe bet that NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies have been instructed to do all possible to make an example of Wikileaks leader, Australian-born Julian Assange, and his colleagues. Much is at stake — for both Pentagon and freedom of the press.

“Those who own and operate the corporate media face a distasteful dilemma, both in terms of business decision and of conscience. They must choose between the easier but soulless task of transcribing government press releases, on the one hand; or, on the other, following Wikileaks into the 21st century by adapting high-tech methods to protect sources while acquiring authentic stories unadulterated by government pressure, real or perceived.

“Deference to the government seems largely responsible for the failure to explore the implications of particularly riveting reportage that gets millions of hits on the Web but has been, up to now, largely ignored by mainstream media. The best recent example of this is the gun-barrel video showing a merciless turkey-shoot of Baghdad civilians by helicopter gunship-borne U.S. soldiers on July 12, 2007. Like the humiliating and graphic but actual photos of Abu Ghraib, the publication of which Pullitzer-prize winning Seymour Hersh repeatedly defended as necessary to the story of Iraqi prisoner abuse, such raw footage is essential to people’s understanding of what is happening. Like Daniel Ellsberg’s copying of 7,000 pages of the ‘Pentagon Papers,’ such whistleblowers are a great means of exposing the lies upon which the current wars are based.

“Assange went public this week with an email announcement that Wikileaks is preparing to release a classified Pentagon video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in May 2009, which left as many as 140 civilians dead — most of them children and teenagers. He added that Wikileaks has ‘a lot of other material that exposes human rights abuses by the United States government.’

“Wikileaks has also published a secret U.S. Army report of March 2008 evaluating the threat from Wikileaks itself and possible U.S. countermeasures against it. This will undoubtedly prompt American officials to redouble efforts to find Assange and to prevent Wikileaks from posting additional information they have classified to avoid embarrassment.

“Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name, and how important it is to protect members of the now-fledgling Fifth Estate so that it can continue to provide information shunned or distorted.

“Assange ended his email with an unabashed appeal for donations for his website. ‘Please donate … and encourage all your friends to follow the example you set; after all, courage is contagious.’ His words sounded a bit like those of Edmund Burke: ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’

“For the good to associate effectively, they need to know what is going on. It’s our hope the old Fourth Estate press will recall the good and high-calling that Burke, Jefferson and other leaders of democracy have extolled through the centuries and catch some of that ‘contagious courage’.”

See on Ellsberg.net: “Daniel Ellsberg Fears WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange’s Life In Danger“; (on MSNBC) and today on Democracy Now.

Available for interviews:

RAY McGOVERN
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years.

COLEEN ROWLEY
Rowley, an FBI whistleblower, was named one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2002. She recently co-wrote the piece “Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers.”

Wired reports: “An Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking classified information to Wikileaks has still not been charged with any crime, three weeks after being arrested and put in pre-trial confinement.

“PFC Bradley Manning, 22, is being held at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and has been assigned a military defense attorney while the Army and State Department investigate claims Manning made to an ex-hacker in online chats that he disclosed classified information.”

The New York Times reports today: “Iceland’s Parliament, the Althing, voted unanimously in favor of a package of legislation aimed at making the country a haven for freedom of expression by offering legal protection to whistle-blower Web sites like WikiLeaks, which helped to craft the proposal.”

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