All sections of the US political
establishment, Democratic and
Republican, liberal and conservative
are seeking to retaliate against those
who are exposing atrocities by the US
military in Afghanistan and Iraq, and
intimidate all critics of these wars of
aggression by American imperialism.

The most strident rhetoric has come from the ultra-right.

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan,

a former FBI agent who sits on the House Intelligence

Committee, told a local radio station Monday that he

thought the death penalty would be appropriate

punishment for Manning if he is convicted on charges

of leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

Pfc. Manning, who worked at an Army intelligence facility

in Iraq, is now imprisoned at the Quantico, Virginia Marine

Corps base, awaiting trial on charges that he supplied

WikiLeaks with classified video of a US helicopter gunship

mowing down Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad neighborhood in

2007. Pentagon officials have also named Manning a “person

of interest” in the leak of 92,000 classified after-action reports

dating from 2004 to 2010 on operations in Afghanistan,

which document the killing of hundreds of Afghan civilians. …

Right-wing media pundits have called for a direct assault by

the US government on WikiLeaks. On Fox News Sunday,

commentator Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice

-president, called on the Obama administration to shut

down the Internet-based organization, presumably through

the use of the Pentagon’s cyber warfare capability.

On Tuesday, in a column in the Washington Post, former

Bush White House aide Marc A. Thiessen, now a weekly

contributor to the newspaper, said the government should

kidnap and imprison Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks.

War Crimes 265x300 US War Criminals Threaten WikiLeaks, Private Manning

“WikiLeaks is not a news organization; it is a

criminal enterprise,” Thiessen declared. “Its reason

for existence is to obtain classified national security

information and disseminate it as widely as possible

—including to the United States’ enemies.” He argued

that there is ample precedent for using the powers of

“rendition” exercised by the CIA against those engaged

in “material support for terrorism”

“Assange is a non-US citizen operating outside the

territory of the United States,” he wrote. “This means

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.”

Thiessen contended that if Iceland or Belgium refused to

extradite him, “the United States can arrest Assange on

their territory without their knowledge or approval.” Under

existing US law, he claimed, “we do not need permission

to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere

in the world.”

Liberal Democrats have chimed in with their own

proposals to target Wikileaks. According to a report

Wednesday in the New York Times, two Senate

Democrats, Charles Schumer of New York and

Diane Feinstein of California, are drafting an amendment

to the “media shield” legislation now being considered in

Congress “to make clear that the bill’s protections

extend only to traditional news-gathering activities

and not to web sites that serve as a conduit for the

mass dissemination of secret documents.”

The bill was originally drafted in response to a series of

cases in which reporters were jailed for refusing to

disclose their sources to judges, prosecutors or plaintiffs

in lawsuits. In order to avoid WikiLeaks taking advantage

of such a shield law, Schumer and Feinstein want to

specifically exclude whistleblower sites.

The Times quoted Paul J. Boyle, senior vice president

for public policy at the Newspaper Association of

America, the industry trade group, endorsing such

a policy, which would reserve this type of First Amendment

protection for “traditional news organizations subject to

American law and having editorial controls and

experience in news judgment.” In other words,

such safeguards would be reserved to the corporate-

controlled media, run by people loyal to the

American ruling elite and the capitalist state.

The major concern of those targeting WikiLeaks and

Private Manning is that the leaks of internal government

documents provide evidence to justify war crimes

prosecution of US government officials, past

and present. To save their own skins, they want

to criminalize the exposure of these atrocities,

rather than the atrocities themselves.

The language being employed in media and official

circles is dangerous and chilling. It makes clear that

nine years of uninterrupted military aggression have

provided the basis for major attacks on democratic

rights in the United States and the preparation of

more openly dictatorial forms of rule.

Launched on the basis of systematic lying, both about

the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the supposed danger of

“weapons of mass destruction,” these wars are

criminal in every sense of the word. Millions have

been killed, maimed or driven from their homes, and

more than five thousand Americans have died to

advance the interests of US imperialism in the oil

rich Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

Officials of the Bush and Obama administrations are

manifestly guilty of war crimes, ranging from launching

aggressive war—the core charge against the Nazis in

Nuremberg—to the systematic assassination of

opponents in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This last

practice, documented by WikiLeaks in the activities

of Army Task Force 373 in Afghanistan, is a full-scale

repetition of one of the principal horrors of the Vietnam

War, the CIA’s Phoenix Program, which murdered

20,000 suspected supporters of the Vietnamese

National Liberation Front.

After the Phoenix Program was exposed in the US media,

including the publication of the Pentagon Papers,

government-sponsored assassination became political

discredited and was officially outlawed—until the onset

of the “war on terror.” Now such methods are being

effectively legalized, as politicians of both parties,

backed by their media apologists, boast of their right

to “take out” opponents, using bombs, missiles or

direct hand-to-hand violence.

WikiLeaks and Private Manning are being targeted

because they have done what a cowardly and spineless

media has refused to do—tell the truth about the crimes

of American imperialism. Working people in the United

States and around the world must demand the

dropping of all threats and charges against WikiLeaks

an end to the government harassment and targeting of

whistleblowers, and the immediate release of

Private Bradley Manning.

- Patrick Martin

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