AMY GOODMAN: On Capitol Hill, the House has voted to approve an additional
$37 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure passed by
a vote of 308 to 114.
A hundred two Democrats joined twelve Republicans in
opposing the bill. Last year, only thirty-two Democrats voted against the
A number of Democrats voting against said they were influenced
by the revelations in the massive archive of the leaked military records
published by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Sunday.
The more than
91,000 classified military records paint a devastating picture of the war in
Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of
civilians in unreported incidents, how a black ops special forces unit hunts
down targets for assassination or detention without trial, and how Pakistan
is fueling the insurgency.
The war spending now goes to President Obama for
Obama made his first public comment on the leaks. The President
spoke at the Rose Garden after a meeting with congressional leaders to
discuss the war funding.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I also urged the House leaders to pass the necessary
funding to support our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I know much has
been written about this in recent days as a result of the substantial leak
of documents from Afghanistan covering a period from 2004 to 2009.
concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield
that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is
these documents donít reveal any issues that havenít already informed our
public debate on Afghanistan. Indeed, they point to the same challenges that
led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall.
So let me underscore what Iíve said many times: for seven years, we failed
to implement a strategy adequate to the challenge in this region, the region
from which the 9/11 attacks were waged and other attacks against the United
States and our friends and allies have been planned.
Thatís why weíve
substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater
accountability from our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a
new strategy that can work, and put in place a team, including one of our
finest generals, to execute that plan. Now we have to see that strategy
And as I told the leaders, I hope the House will act today to join the
Senate, which voted unanimously in favor of this funding, to ensure that our
troops have the resources they need and that weíre able to do whatís
necessary for our national security.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the man President Obama tapped to
head US Central Command and oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also
denounced the leaks. General James Mattis was nominated to replace General
At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, General Mattis was questioned by Arizona Republican John McCain.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: What effect does this publication of these top-secret
communications - what effect does that have on the degree of candor that
military officers and senior NCOs in the field, who are doing their best to
report, the best of their ability, what effect does this have on them?
GEN. JAMES MATTIS: Sir, I would speculate that due to the urgency of the
operations in a combat zone, it probably wonít have much, because at the
moment theyíre actually reporting, theyíre probably more eager to get the
truth up the chain of command.
That said, I just thought it was a - just an
appallingly irresponsible act to release this information. It didnít tell us
anything, that Iíve seen so far, that we werenít already aware of. Iíve seen
no big revelations. One of the newspaper headlines was that itís a - the war
is a tense and dangerous thing.
Well, if that is news, I donít know who itís
news to thatís on this planet.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: But there is also reports that certain elements of ISI are
at least cooperating to some extent with the Taliban. Is that correct?
GEN. JAMES MATTIS: Thatís correct, yes, sir.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: And could that be because theyíre hedging their bets as to
whether the United States is going to remain or not?
GEN. JAMES MATTIS: Sir, I need to get more current. However, history didnít
start at 2001, and some of those same groups we had a relationship with back
when we were fighting the Soviets.
So itís no surprise to me that there may
be some continued relationship there, but whether or not itís because
theyíre working with them, theyíre trying to infiltrate them, thereís any
number of motives, and Iím just not current enough to say why. I think,
though, that itís hard to wipe the slate clean and just start over at any
And clearly, the offensive against many of the people they
allegedly used to work with is showing theyíre no longer friends with most
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: And let me just be clear again. You said that you were
appalled at the publication of these - that the WikiLeaks - that just happened?
GEN. JAMES MATTIS: Yes, sir. I thought it was grossly irresponsible.
AMY GOODMAN: General James Mattis speaking at his confirmation hearing to
head US Central Command.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has announced itís launching a criminal
investigation into the source of the leak. Private Bradley Manning is a
person of interest in the probe. Heís the Army intelligence analyst arrested
last month on charges of leaking a military video of the helicopter gunship
attack in Baghdad that killed twelve people. He was charged this month with
downloading more than 150,000 classified diplomatic cables.
Well, today we spend the hour with the founder and editor-in-chief of
WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.
He says itís the crimes documented in the records
that should be investigated. He joined us yesterday from London for an
extended interview about leaking the Afghan war logs, the media, why he
isnít coming to the United States anytime soon, and what gives him hope.
I began by asking Julian Assange what he thought of the most important
revelations in the 91,000 documents he published on Sunday, the biggest leak
in US history.
JULIAN ASSANGE: So, everyoneís asking for a specific revelation that is the
most important - you know, a massacre of 500 people at one point in time.
to me, what is most important is the vast sweep of abuses that have occurred
during the past six years, the vast sweep of sort of the everyday squalor
and carnage of war. If we add all that up, we see that in fact most civilian
casualties occur in incidences where one, two, ten or twenty people are
killed. And they really numerically dominate the list of events, so itís, of
course, hard for us to imagine that. Itís so much material.
But that is the
way to really understand this war, is by seeing that there is one sort of
kill after another every day going on and on and on in all sorts of
AMY GOODMAN: You have said you feel there is evidence of war crimes here.
Can you talk about that? And specifically, what are the examples that you
feel are the most important?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. Yeah, well, these reports can be quite terse, so I
wouldnít want to prejudge the issue and say for sure that a war crime has
committed - been committed. But some are deeply suspicious, and there are
examples which have been not mentioned in the Western press but, as weíve
discovered, have been mentioned elsewhere that are almost surely war crimes.
As an example, in the material, thereís a Polish My Lai. Polish troops were
hit by an IED and the next day went to the closest village, which I guess
they felt had supported the IED attack, and shelled the village.
we see something like Task Force 373, a special forces assassination squad
so secretive that it changes its military code name every six months,
working its way down the JPEL, Joint Priority Effects List, kill or capture
list, usually a kill list.
And we have seen events where it has performed
secret missile strikes on a house, from within close proximity, and ended up
killing at least seven children, and a number of other incidences.
report itself about that says at the beginning that the information about
373 being involved in that event, together with the use of the HIMARS
missile system, this ground-to-ground missile attack, is to be kept secret
even from other people in the coalition of forces which equal ISAF, I-S-A-F.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel you have accomplished what you wanted to with the
release of these documents?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Not yet. Weíve made a good initial
foray: fourteen pages in
The Guardian on Monday, seventeen pages in Der Spiegel, front page of the
New York Times, together with underlying support.
But altogether, the journalistic coalition
that we put around this material to try and bring it out to the public
and get impact for it has read about 2,000 of these reports in detail.
Thereís 91,000 reports.
We really need the public, other journalists
and especially former soldiers to go through this material and say,
"Look, this connects to that," or "I was
there. Let me tell you what really happened. Let me tell you the
rest of the detail."
And over the next few days, weíll be putting
up easier- and easier-to-use search interfaces, the same ones that our
journalistic teams use to extract this data.
Already if you go to
diaries, youíll see several
different ways of browsing through this. You can look through some 200
different categories that the US military applied to these reports.
example, thereís 2,200 escalation of force events self-described by the US
You have to be careful when reading the material. Reports that are made by
military units that were involved in an attack or a counterattack are often
biased, just like we know that when a police officer is involved in a
shooting and creates the report about that shooting, the facts are likely to
be distorted or twisted.
Similarly, when a military unit is involved in
killing someone who turns out to be a civilian, we see lots of exculpatory
language or hiding of facts. And where we know an additional sort of public
record or a full investigation has occurred, as an example Kunduz, the
bombing that occurred in 2005 which especially the German press investigated
in great detail, we can go back and see the initial report that the troops
filed about what they did, and we see, instead of civilian kills, no
mentions of civilians at all. Instead of over a hundred people killed, we
just see fifty-six.
And we can see that in report after report. So the sort
of corrupt reporting starts on the ground and then moves its way up through
the Pentagon and the press relations people and is then put into a
politically sort of digestible form.
But what you donít see straightaway is
a sort of contradiction by the base material and what is put out in public,
although we are starting to see that in different events.
But because this
internal military reporting specifies where an event happened, which units
were involved and when, and were done sort of on the same day, why there is
simple cover-ups. They cannot be complex cover-ups in this material. So, by
joining together several of these reports together with the public record,
weíve been able to discover the material of the sort of civilian casualty
cover-ups or the involvement with the ISI and the Taliban that the New York
Weíve been able to bring this material out, even though any
individual report canít be strictly trusted.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange. Weíll be back with the founder of WikiLeaks in
AMY GOODMAN: We return to my interview with Julian Assange, the founder of
The New York Times says it consulted with the White House,
showed them the documents to, oh, redact whatever would endanger people,
sources on the ground. How have you - or I should say, Julian Assange, have
you communicated with the White House at this point?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, thereís quite some disingenuous messages coming out of
the White House in relation to the lead-up to publication. Our media team
didnít want to all be stepping on each otherís toes, so we selected the New
York Times to be the group that would approach the White House and try and
get what their statement was on the matter.
That said, you know, there is a
bit of a difference between how the Times and the Washington Post was
involved in this issue.
But how the American press tends to deal with
government agencies prior to publication and the standards that we have and
the standards the European press has, we donít see that an organization that
is - we donít see, in the case of a story where an organization has engaged in
some kind of abusive conduct and that story is being revealed, that it has a
right to know the story before the public, a right to know the story before
the victims, because we know that what happens in practice is that that is
just extra lead time to spin the story.
And we see some sort of pathetic
attempts by the White House to engage in a bit of spin about whether we
contacted them or not. In fact, we did contact them through the New York
Times as a coalition.
AMY GOODMAN: And they praised the New York Times.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, they praised the New York Times. I mean, you have to
understand, the New York Times is a mainstream organization, and it does
work within a particular milieu and particular constraints that appear to be
present. But we arenít totally happy about the way that the Times has sort
of defensively written. That does seem a little bit unprofessional.
an example, the New York Times stated that it chose not to link to our
website. I mean, it is just ridiculous. The public can see that and Google
it, if they want. If the New York Times, for whatever reason, wants to not
link to WikiLeaks for its own defensive politics, then it can do that, and
itís perfectly entitled to. But to deliberately say that that is being
avoided smacks of unprofessional conduct, to me.
Now, that doesnít mean itís
been approved by the editor to do that, but it does seem to be quite
pusillanimous to be engaging in that kind of defensive conduct, instead of
pursuing the real meat of the story.
AMY GOODMAN: But it is WikiLeaks that reached out to these three news
organizations - Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times - to release
simultaneously on Sunday these secret documents, is that right?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, thatís right. Our promise to our source is that we will
try and get the maximum possible impact for their material. And we could see
that this was an issue where we could actually pull together a coalition of
both influential media organizations and media organizations which have the
capacity to engage in some research.
That was a - in itself, thatís an unusual
collaboration to have brought together these four groups, have them
exchanging research data, and all agree on the same publication timeline.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, you mentioned your sources. Who are your
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, obviously, we canít say, as an organization that
specializes in source protection. We are also obligated, under the Swedish
Constitutionís right to anonymity, to not reveal our sources. Revealing our
sources is, in fact, a criminal offense in Sweden. And also, that holds for
our contractors and computer programmers.
Now, that said, we can see that
the material did come from the United States government somewhere. And
thatís obvious from some of the other material that we have put out over the
Itís one of the hopeful things about these sort of publications, is
that itís not just us exposing abuses of war, itís not just us exposing
corruption in Africa; rather, it is insiders who are men or women of good
conscience who are deciding to help expose the situation, because they want
their own organizations to be reformed.
So there are good people within the
United States government, and supportive of us and our ideals, and those
people step forward to make events like this a reality.
Now remember, we
have put in a lot of work into this, and we have had some legal and
surveillance difficulties in the past few months, but the real heroes behind
this material is, of course, our sources.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pentagon has announced it is starting a criminal
investigation to find your sources. Your response to that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes. We are concerned that the United States has not
announced that it is going to conduct criminal investigations into the large
number of previously undisclosed civilian casualty events that are revealed
by this material.
Why is it that an investigation is announced to go into
the source, before an investigation is announced to deal with the
potentially criminal conduct that is revealed by this material?
The rest of
the world is taking note. Thereís fourteen pages in Mondayís Guardian
newspaper, nearly - more than one-third of the entire paper dedicated to this
issue; seventeen pages in Der Spiegel, the most influential publication in
Germany. So, Europe is certainly taking note of the tenor that is coming out
of the White House and to concrete reactions coming out of this material.
Itís clear what the European population wants to see, and hopefully thatís
also what the US population wants to see, which is a clear response to deal
with the problems that are occurring in Afghanistan, not a clear response to
try and stifle or cover up further allegations of abuse.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, in a memo, a US government secret memo that
WikiLeaks posted in March, marked "unauthorized disclosure subject to
criminal sanctions," it concludes, quote,
"'WikiLeaks.org represents a
potential force protection, counterintelligence, OPSEC and INFOSEC threat to
the U.S. Army' - or, in plain English, a threat to Army operations and
Can you respond to this?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. This was a 2008 counterintelligence analysis of us by
the US Army. Now, some thirty-two pages - and these initial headers, you donít
need to worry about. In order for a counterintelligence agent to be writing
a report - analyst to be writing a report about anything, they have to justify
why they are writing a report with language like that, and the same with the
Now, whatís more interesting about that report is the middle. It says
that - it recommends that we be attacked by destroying our center of
gravity - that is, the trust that confidential sources have in us and the
trust that the public has in the integrity of the material that we release.
It goes on to explain examples of why we maybe should be attacked. And those
examples are examples which have embarrassed the US military, revelations of
abuses at Guantanamo Bay, abuses in Fallujah, and potentially illegal use of
small chemical weapons in Iraq.
Now, it says that one of the ways of
attacking that center of gravity is by publicly prosecuting whistleblowers.
It even uses that word, "whistleblower," not US military personnel or other
personnel who are engaging in irresponsible leaking, but rather
whistleblowers, people who are blowing the whistle on abuse.
Now, we donít
know whether the recommendations of that report were treated seriously or
were followed. Itís quite possible that the analyst who wrote that report
was not treated seriously, was viewed as politically too hard to go after us
in that way.
But it is concerning that that intelligence analyst felt that
the US Army culture was such that it was even acceptable to produce a report
like that about press criticism and how to stop it.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, what about your safety?
Daniel Ellsberg, the
most famous whistleblower in America, who released
the Pentagon Papers,
expressed concern about your safety. Can you talk specifically about what
the US government has done, in relation to the Australian government and in
other ways, in dealing with you?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. So, some months
- well, between one and two months ago,
there were concerning noises coming out of the US administration that we
were aware of from our sources there. And I was given warnings, by Sy Hersh
and other people who are connected to that world, to watch my back.
Subsequently, we have discovered that the US administration, according to a
well-placed Australian national security journalist and former diplomat,
that an approach was made to Australian intelligence by the US for them to
conduct extensive surveillance and possibly raids or detainment of our
people in Australia.
That was largely rejected, according to this reporter,
by the Australian government for political reasons. Itís quite sensitive for
the Australian government to engage in a cooperation that would lead to an
Australian citizen, especially an Australian journalist, ending up in an
overseas prison or being prosecuted in some way.
Within the United Kingdom,
of course, there is fairly extensive surveillance of political people,
people who are viewed as politically sensitive in the United Kingdom.
said, we do have extensive political and media support here. And I would be
extremely surprised to see any aggressive action by intelligence within the
UK or by overseas intelligence operating within the United Kingdom. I think
that would be unlikely to be tolerated.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian, do you feel you can come into the United States?
JULIAN ASSANGE: My legal advice is to not attend the United States, and I
cancelled three media appearances in the United States, including at the
Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas. Now, on that
same panel that I was due to speak at was Valerie Plame, the former CIA
officer, but also Scott Risen, a New York Times reporter who wrote a
AMY GOODMAN: James Risen.
- revealing some - Iím sorry, yes, James Risen, who wrote a
book revealing some details of some bungled CIA operations. He also did not
speak at that panel for legal reasons relating to protecting his sources.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress is now rushing to pass a critical war-financing bill,
reportedly as early as today, fearing disclosures could stoke antiwar
sentiment in this country, the WikiLeak exposures. Your response to this?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Congress should understand that, as a result of these
exposures and what seems to be a general shift in feeling about the war in
Afghanistan, that the population is watching intensely to what will happen.
So I would ask that those - that war bill of $60 billion worth of funding have
its proper airing.
If it doesnít, we may be pushed into a position where
this past nine years will extend possibly another nine. Maybe right now is
the moment to try and restructure this war in Afghanistan. Itís clear that
thereís no easy way out of the conflict, but it is also clear that the war
is escalating on all sides, that the number of kills going up, both civilian
and military, is unsustainable.
Something has to change, and it might as
well be now. And the funding bill can be used as that moment where change
has to happen.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, Iíd like you to respond quickly to the
responses of the administration, of the Obama administration: one, that this
is old news, that it goes until December '09, exactly when the Obama
administration changed its policy with the surge.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, so, this is a bit of rhetorical trickery by the White
House. The material goes to December 31, í09, so it's valid up to the
beginning of 2010, for a six-year period. So it does cover a sweep of the
war which hasnít yet turned around. Now, Obamaís policy change came in on
the 1st of December, so there is, in fact, an overlap. We can see some of
But looking back through the data at successive policy
changes - for example, the policy changes introduced by McChrystal - what we
donít see is a real change to how things happen on the ground. So a policy
change is just words, but what actually happens on the ground, well, we can
see it from this data. Very little happens.
The US military and the soldiers
in Afghanistan are a very, very big ship to turn around. Their interaction
with that environment and with the Taliban and with the local population has
its own dynamic that is independent to the policies that are tried - that
people try and push down from on high.
We can see that, as an example, when McChrystal tried to introduce more metrics, more measurements, of how
civilian casualties were occurring. Fields pop up in the database around
that time. But we see that troops that are causing civilian casualties
simply donít fill out that field, or they lie about whether the casualties
have occurred, or they misrepresent whether it was a civilian casualty
versus an insurgent casualty. That sort of - that culture and interaction
between Taliban and US forces and other elements operating in Afghanistan is
very difficult to change.
And so, we donít expect that the situation, as it
stands now, some seven months after this data stopped being collected, would
be that different to the previous six years, which we can see in the
material that has been released.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, the charge that WikiLeaks releasing these
documents is a threat to national security and people on the ground in
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, this is a nonsense. First of all, whenever we hear
this term, "threat to national security," what are we talking about? Itís
time people stop responding to that question, unless itís well phrased.
we mean the national security, the security of the entire nation of the
United States? It is clearly an obvious nonsense that - probably almost any
kind of information could be a threat to the national security of the United
Now, do we mean threats to a few soldiers in Afghanistan? That is a
more reasonable question and a serious one. Well, the material is seven
months old. It doesnít talk about particular movements of soldiers now or
any ongoing sort of operation thatís going to occur, so itís not of tactical
significance. But it is of significance for investigators. It is of
significance for understanding the broad sweep of what is happening in
Remember, it is this data that the US military uses internally
to monitor the situation, that it uses to develop those aggregate figures
about civilian casualties, Taliban, the ratio between killed and wounded,
the ration between killed and detained over time.
Now, all that original
reporting, unmassaged by the Pentagon press office, is available to
academics, historians and the general public to understand that war.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. I spoke to him
yesterday in London. The war funding bill passed by the House last night.
Weíll be back with Assange in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to my interview with the founder of WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange, the data that you - the documents you have
withheld, is it some 15,000? And what are you planning to do with them?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Thatís correct. Itís some 15,000 that sometimes mention the
names of informers in Afghanistan. And because of the security situation
there, we want to look at these in a bit more detail, with a bit closer
scrutiny, before we release them.
But we will release them as soon as
possible. In the rare incidences where there are people named who are
innocent informers, we will redact those names. And once the security
situation in Afghanistan improves, we will release the full text of that
AMY GOODMAN: So you have released more than 91,000 documents, and you have
15,000 more to go?
JULIAN ASSANGE: There are more than 91,000 documents in the full collection
that we shared with our media partners. We have released to the public about
76,000, and we will release another 15,000 over the coming months.
AMY GOODMAN: And those who say, particularly the Obama administration
Gibbs, the spokesperson, said President Obama was alarmed by this release.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, organizations that we expose typically are alarmed by
the material we release, that is true. Now, if we sort of dissect that,
Robert Gibbs has not read this material in detail. The people who know it
best at the moment are us and the three media organizations that we worked
with. Other people talking about this really donít know what theyíre talking
AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned the Washington Post. Did you work with them in
releasing these? Theyíre not included in those three newspapers.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, theyíre not included, although we have had a
subsequent overture from the Post. Last Monday, the Post produced some
really quite fine work by Dana Priest, looking at the growth in the US sort
of intelligence contractor industry.
Approximately 900,000 people almost now
have top-secret security clearances, according to the Post, and thereís
almost a bit of a shadow state developing, which the rest of the community
is not aware of the work of. Thatís a good sign from the Post.
But we have seen other things that are a bit disturbing. For example,
Priestís article on the CIA black sites had all the names of the countries
removed from it after a request by the White House to the editors of the
Post. Similarly, it is standard Washington Post practice, whenever Dana
Priest is to reveal a new story showing significant allegations of abuse,
say, by the CIA, to call up the press office the night before to give them
the heads-up, as a courtesy move.
That doesnít seem like independent
journalism to us. It seems to us that a journalistís relationship should be
with the public, on the one hand, and with their sources, on the other hand,
who are providing them with information to give to the public. It seems that
the Post is engaging in a sort of an unclear cooperation with the very
organizations that itís meant to be policing.
So weíre a little bit hesitant
about dealing with them.
But the recent Dana Priest article covering the extensive expanse of money
going into the top-secret industry in the United States is encouraging. So
perhaps, if thatís a sign of the movement by the Washington Post to a more
combative form of journalism, then we would be happy to work with them.
AMY GOODMAN: The total history of the Afghan war, from 2004 to 2010, that
you have released in these documents, what isnít included? For example, US
special forces, CIA?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah. Yeah, thatís an important question you raise. So it is
not everything. It is most of what the regular Army was involved in, where
they considered it important enough to report a significant action. So that
is most deaths that the US Army was involved in, except for the ones that
some units possibly didnít report at all, because they were trying to cover
Now, it doesnít include most special forces operations. It does
include some, where the regular Army was also involved in the same
operation. It doesnít include CIA operations or CIA drone attacks, except,
once again, occasionally where the regular Army was involved in that.
does include, interestingly, a number of US embassy cables that were sent to
the Marines, intelligence and others who were working in Afghanistan,
because the embassies believed that the information being revealed was
relevant to the war in Afghanistan. It does include a number of reports by
informers or reports by US intelligence on meetings with, say, governors in
Thereís quite a lot of reports about corruption within the
Afghani government, reports about drug eradication and poppy growing and so
AMY GOODMAN: Private contractors like
JULIAN ASSANGE: There are a number of references to private contractors,
yes, and some reports fed into the system, not directly by private
contractors, as far as we can tell, but by contact from private contractors
to US Army or US Marines.
AMY GOODMAN: What has come of
Bradley Manning, who has been arrested? Is it
true that you are trying to raise money for his defense? Was he the source,
as he said in his email back and forth, his chatting back and forth, of the
video from July 12th, 2007, of the US military Apache helicopter opening
fire on Iraqi civilians?
JULIAN ASSANGE: In relation to a military source, alleged military source,
Bradley Manning, who has been charged with supplying - the charges donít say
to us, but supplying to someone the helicopter video showing
the killing of
two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in July 2007, he is now being held in
Kuwait itself. A bit of a problem.
Why isnít he being held in the United
States? Is it to keep him away from effective legal representation? Is it to
keep him away from the press? Weíre not sure.
But there doesnít seem to be
any reason why he could not be transferred to the United States. We
obviously cannot say whether he is our source. We in fact specialize in not
knowing the names of our sources. But nonetheless, he is a young man being
held in dire circumstances on the allegation that he supplied this material
to the press, and we were the initial publisher of that Iraq video.
are trying to raise money for his legal representation. We have committed
$50,000 of our own funds, that if the general public could contribute or
other people could contribute, I know that his military counsel would find
that of significant value. The lawyers that we have spoken to say that his
representation will cost $200,000, assuming that itís a regular sort of
trial, it goes ahead.
People can go to
bradleymanning.org, where there is a
grassroots campaign that his friends and family and some internet activists
have become involved to try and support him.
AMY GOODMAN: And for those who say youíre an antiwar campaigner, and so,
though the documents arenít suspect, because theyíre clearly from the US
government, your motives are, what is your response?
JULIAN ASSANGE: We have clearly stated motives, but they are not antiwar
motives. We are not pacifists. We are transparency activists who understand
that transparent government tends to produce just government.
And that is
our sort of modus operandi behind our whole organization, is to get out
suppressed information into the public, where the press and the public and
our nationís politics can work on it to produce better outcomes.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you have more documents to release on Iraq?
JULIAN ASSANGE: We have an enormous backlog of documents, stemming all the
way back to January. During the past six months, we have been concentrating
on raising funds and dealing with just a few of our leaks and upgrading our
infrastructure to deal with the worldwide demand.
So that huge backlog is
something that we are just starting to get through, and this latest Afghan
leak is an example of that.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Julian Assange, I know you have to go, but what gives
you hope? You face great risk. What keeps you going?
JULIAN ASSANGE: What keeps us going is our sources.
These are the people,
presumably, who are inside these organizations, who want change. They are
both heroic figures taking much greater risks than I ever do, and they are
pushing and showing that they want change in, in fact, an extremely
AMY GOODMAN: If people want to get you information, how do they do it?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Go to
wikileaks, W-I-K-I-L-E-A-K-S. In
relation to this recent Afghan story, people should look at
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks,
speaking to us from London. The Pentagon says theyíre opening a criminal
investigation into who provided more than 91,000 Afghan war records to