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U.S. scrambles to conceal video of Afghanistan massacre

Whistleblower fears for his life
By Jacob Flom |
June 22, 2010
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In April 2010, a video leaked from top secret military files revealed a 2007 U.S. Army helicopter assault on Baghdad where eighteen civilians were murdered, including two journalists from the news agency Reuters. The video created international uproar over the brutality of U.S. war on Iraq and infuriated the Pentagon.

The U.S. government is scrambling to catch the people responsible for releasing the video, trying to prevent further leaks. A second leaked video that is soon to be released depicts a 2009 massacre in Garani, Afghanistan, where 140 civilians were killed in the occupation’s bloodiest massacre. Most of the victims were children and teenagers.

A 22-year old army soldier, Bradley Manning, supposedly confessed to releasing the videos and other secret files to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. Since the video, called Collateral Murder was released by Wikileaks two months ago, it has been viewed by millions, fueling anger over the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Until its release, the U.S. maintained that all the victims were “insurgents.” The video had previously been security encoded and hidden in top secret files by the U.S. government, which refused to release the video for three years, until it was leaked.

Manning was an Army intelligence analyst, stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq. He cited his growing disapproval of the U.S. occupation of Iraq as motivation to put himself at risk to release the documents. Manning allegedly claimed to have released as many as 260,000 government communications that would embarrass Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and thousands of other officials for corrupt deals with foreign puppet governments. This has prompted the U.S. to step up their efforts to stop whistleblowers.

Manning was turned in by an informant in May and is being held without charge at a U.S. military base in Kuwait. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) released a statement on the incident that says, “If true, Bradley's actions are heroic and he deserves our support.”

Wikileaks Targeted by U.S.

Wikileaks, which is set to release the Garani massacre video, has been the second major target of the U.S. government as the Obama administration tries to maintain some support for the eight-year old occupation. The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, said he is planning to release video of the Garani, Afghanistan massacre “very soon” but would not give an exact date to avoid a government crackdown. Assange says he does not know who the source of the video was, but he said he will defend Bradley Manning.

Lawyers for Assange said he faces a definite threat from the U.S. government. A recent Wikileaks twitter message read: “Looks like we’re about to be attacked by everything the U.S. has.” U.S. intelligence officials have been frantically trying to locate Assange, in order to stop the release of the Garani massacre video and other documents that would expose ugly secrets of U.S. imperialism. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked Vietnam War documents in the 1970s and was a target of hit men, told Assange to keep his location a secret. "I think he would not be safe, even physically, entirely wherever he is,” Ellsberg said.

U.S. Cracks Down on Whistleblowers

“The Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks,” according to the New York Times, “In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions.”

In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center named Wikileaks a national security threat, in a secret document that was ultimately leaked to Wikileaks. In the same year, federal courts attempted to shut down the website after it released a secret set of operation instructions from the infamous Guantánamo Bay ‘detention center.’ The website easily worked around the attack, which only disabled their domain name. The U.S. government is now ramping up their efforts to stop the flow of information which is greatly damaging public support of U.S. occupations worldwide.

This month, the U.S. Senate will consider a bill dubbed “the internet kill switch” which would allow the president to seize control of the internet and shut it off completely in case of a “national cyber emergency.” This bill comes just as Wikileaks promises to release the Garani massacre video online.

The Occupation Continues

More massacres are likely, with nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, now more than in Iraq. The military is escalating war on the Afghan people, but have been unable to hold any ground to the resistance fighters, who control huge amounts of the country. The approval ratings of the occupations continue to fall, as more troops are deployed and more troops are killed. While the U.S. is unable to manufacture a positive image of the occupation, they are increasingly relying on censorship, by restricting information from leaving combat zones. Whistleblowers like Manning and Assange will continue to play an important role in defeating U.S. cover-ups. Ultimately, the occupations will not be allowed to continue. The only answer for the Afghan people is complete and immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces.

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