Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped release a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have passed on the video to Wikileaks. Manning’s arrest and the hunt for Assange have put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, who’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers has made him perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has collaborated with Wikileaks and drafted a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.
Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower.
Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, Member of the Icelandic Parliament and co-producer of the Wikileaks video Collateral Murder.
Juan Gonzalez: We begin today’s show looking at the Obama administration’s recent crackdown on whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. Earlier this month it was revealed the website might be in possession of hundreds of thousands of classified State Department cables, as well as video of massacres committed last year by US forces in Afghanistan. Wikileaks made international headlines in April when it released a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing twelve people, including two employees of the Reuters news agency.
The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have been responsible for leaking the classified video. Manning has claimed he sent Wikileaks the video along with 260,000 classified US government records. Manning, who was based in Iraq, reportedly had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East. During an internet conversation prior to his arrest, Manning explained his actions by writing, quote, “I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are. Because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” Manning is now being held in pretrial confinement in Kuwait.
The whereabouts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is unknown. We reached Julian by email last night, but he declined to come on the program.
The arrest of Bradley Manning and the hunt for Assange has put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. The Government Accountability Project, a leading whistleblower advocacy organization, has accused President Obama of criminalizing whistleblowing to a greater extent than any other US president.
Amy Goodman: Last month, a former FBI linguist named Shamai Leibowitz was sentenced to twenty months in prison for disclosing classified documents to an unidentified blogger. The website Politico reports Leibowitz is now poised to serve a longer sentence than any other convicted leaker in US history.
In April, Thomas Drake, a National Security Agency whistleblower, was indicted on charges of disclosing classified government information and obstructing justice in an ensuing investigation. Drake had helped expose details of the Bush administration’s domestic spy program by leaking information to the Baltimore Sun and the Wall Street Journal.
The Obama administration has also targeted journalists who receive classified information. New York Times reporter James Risen has been subpoenaed to reveal the sources of part of his book State of War.
We’re now joined by three guests. Daniel Ellsberg is joining us from the University of California, Berkeley. He is perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower. In 1971, he leaked the Pentagon Papers, a 7,000-page top-secret study of US decision making in Vietnam. With us from Iceland is Birgitta Jónsdóttir. She is a member of the Icelandic Parliament. She collaborated with Wikileaks. She’s author of a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists that passed last night. And on the line with us from Brazil is Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.
We’re going to first go to the Icelandic member of Parliament, Birgitta Jónsdóttir. Can you explain the law that passed last night in the Icelandic Parliament?
Birgitta Jonsdottir: Well, first of all, the law has not been created yet. It was a proposal tasking the Icelandic government to create this legislation called the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative. So, but the interesting thing about this voting was that it was supported by the entire Parliament, including the government, so it is going to be made. And what the law focuses on is to take all the best possible legislation from around the world, including from the United States, and create a holistic, modern package, so to speak, tackling these problems that we’re facing when it comes to freedom of information, speech and expression. So we are tackling source protection and whistleblower protection and bringing into this package the best laws we could possibly find.
Juan Gonzalez: And could you talk about the aspect that may create Iceland as a liberated area for computer servers from around the world?
Birgitta Jonsdottir: Well, I think, once I filed this in—I think it was in February, it gained an incredible amount of attention from, in particular, investigative journalists from around the world and people that are trying to, for example, blog about political situations and so forth. And what people see in this is that, for example, the investigative journalist unit of media corporations could host the stories there to prevent them from being put under gag orders and so forth. Many see this as this could become sort of a safe haven for journalism, but it also tackles the problems that IP hosts have when they are put under orders not to publish or, you know, to tell the people they’re hosting the information for to get off or they get charged. So it is sort of tackling very many different areas when it comes to information, because we’re living in a world where information doesn’t have any orders anymore, just like our environment and the finance system.
Amy Goodman: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, can you tell us about Julian Assange, the Wikileaks project, that we played on Democracy Now! the videotape of the attack in New Baghdad several years ago that he acquired? You were a part of that project, which was put together, the video, released from Iceland.
Birgitta Jonsdottir: Mm-hmm. Well, it’s probably one of the most difficult projects I’ve helped with, because of the content of it. What we basically did was that we—I helped bring together the volunteers, and I co-wrote the script. And the most difficult task in that project was actually to go through every second of this video to take out the stills, and particularly when you knew who the people were that were blown apart in this hideous war crime.
And we did decide to send out to Baghdad to fact-check everything in that video before we released it, to make sure that they could not say that this was falsified in any fashion. And we sent out some of our best investigative journalists to New Baghdad, despite the fact there was—the voting was going on, and it was incredibly dangerous. Nobody had been in that area since the shooting. And then I saw on Democracy Now! a video that a journalist or a documentary filmmaker had filmed the day after.
So I think the most important element about that story is that it showed that the witnesses, the people on the ground, had all along been telling the truth. But the media usually always takes the side of the military reports. And this is, of course, an everyday occurrence in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So I think it is important that we bear that in mind.
Juan Gonzalez: And your reaction now to the news that the Pentagon is looking for Julian Assange?
Birgitta Jonsdottir: Yeah, I found that to be extremely interesting, because we also have to remember that Wikileaks is not a one-person operation. And we—those of us that work for Wikileaks in various aspects of it, we all—none of us has all the information. The same thing applies to Julian Assange. So we co-share the responsibilities.
I find this to be appalling, how they are reacting to this. And, you know, let’s bear in mind that Bradley Manning has not been charged yet. So, what are they going to charge him for? If he, in fact, has leaked this, he should be considered a hero, because he is reporting on war crimes that the rest of the world, and in particular the countries that are participating in this war, this illegal war, should know what is happening on the ground there.
Amy Goodman: Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who is in intelligence in Iraq, says he was responsible for the leaked videotape as well as hundreds of thousands of classified US government records. Was he the source of the Wikileaks video?
Birgitta Jonsdottir: I can’t really comment on that. And the only acknowledgement of what he has said is in blog—or in logs that I have not—it’s not been verified if they are true or not. So I can’t really comment on that.
Amy Goodman: We’re going to go to break. Then we’re going to come back. We’ll be joined by Daniel Ellsberg—he’s in Berkeley, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower—and Glenn Greenwald, who’s written extensively about this at Salon.com. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute. Our guest is Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the Icelandic Parliament and a co-producer of that videotape, which they have named “Collateral Murder.” Stay with us.
Amy Goodman: As we talk about the Wikileaks video that has led to, well, a kind of what’s been described as a manhunt for the founder of Wikileaks,
Julian Assange, this is a clip from the Iraq video released by Wikileaks. It is about July 2007 attack in Baghdad. This is the moment the US forces first opened fire.
US Soldier 5: There, one o’clock. Haven’t seen anything since then.
US Soldier 2: Just [expletive]. Once you get on, just open up.
US Soldier 1: I am.
US Soldier 4: I see your element, got about four Humvees, out along this—
US Soldier 2: You’re clear.
US Soldier 1: Alright, firing.
US Soldier 4: Let me know when you’ve got them.
US Soldier 2: Let’s shoot. Light ’em all up.
US Soldier 1: Come on, fire!
US Soldier 2: Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’.
US Soldier 6: Hotel, Bushmaster two-six, Bushmaster two-six, we need to move, time now!
US Soldier 2: Alright, we just engaged all eight individuals.
Amy Goodman: Minutes later, the video shows US forces watching as a van pulls up to evacuate the wounded. They again open fire, killing several more people, wounding two children inside the van.
US Soldier 1: Where’s that van at?
US Soldier 2: Right down there by the bodies.
US Soldier 1: OK, yeah.
US Soldier 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly picking up bodies and weapons.
US Soldier 1: Let me engage. Can I shoot?
US Soldier 2: Roger. Break. Crazy Horse one-eight, request permission to engage.
US Soldier 3: Picking up the wounded?
US Soldier 1: Yeah, we’re trying to get permission to engage. Come on, let us shoot!
US Soldier 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
US Soldier 1: They’re taking him.
US Soldier 2: Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
US Soldier 4: This is Bushmaster seven, go ahead.
US Soldier 2: Roger. We have a black SUV—or Bongo truck picking up the bodies. Request permission to engage.
US Soldier 4: Bushmaster seven, roger. This is Bushmaster seven, roger. Engage.
US Soldier 2: One-eight, engage. Clear.
US Soldier 1: Come on!
US Soldier 2: Clear. Clear.
US Soldier 1: We’re engaging.
US Soldier 2: Coming around. Clear.
US Soldier 1: Roger. Trying to—
US Soldier 2: Clear.
US Soldier 1: I hear ’em—I lost ’em in the dust.
US Soldier 3: I got ’em.
US Soldier 2: Should have a van in the middle of the road with about twelve to fifteen bodies.
US Soldier 1: Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha ha!
Amy Goodman: That was the videotape that was released by Wikileaks. It was classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing twelve people, including a photographer and a driver for Reuters news agency. Actually, Reuters news agency had applied under Freedom of Information Act to get this videotape. They never were able to.
Our guests are Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the the Icelandic Parliament, co-producer of what they call the videotape, “Collateral Murder”; Daniel Ellsberg with us in University of California, Berkeley, the most famous whistleblower of the United States, released the Pentagon Papers that many say helped to end the war in Vietnam; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.
Daniel Ellsberg, let’s go to you. The reports are that the Pentagon is searching for Julian Assange. They have already arrested the soldier in intelligence who says he was responsible for the release of the videotape. He’s been held for three weeks without charge. What are your comments on this case?
Daniel Ellsberg: Well, of course, I was in the position of Bradley Manning, having decided that I was in the possession of information that the public deserved to know and the Congress deserved and it had been wrongfully withheld. And at my own risk, I released it, just as Manning has done.
At the same time I was in the position of Julian Assange this week, eluding authorities while I was preparing to put out further secrets. Assange is more in the position of the New York Times and the Post and seventeen other newspapers who received classified information from me. But in my case, as I was putting it out to them, it was essential for me not to be apprehended, so that I could get those copies to them. I hope that Julian stays out long enough to give us, for example, the tape of the other massacre in Afghanistan, the Garani massacre, which allegedly killed some 140 civilians.
Juan Gonzalez: Well, Daniel Ellsberg, this whole issue of the 260,000 classified documents that include quite a bit of, apparently, cable communication between State Department officials and diplomats, what’s the potential here in terms of—you’re familiar with cable traffic between diplomats. What is the potential embarrassment that the United States faces here?
Daniel Ellsberg: Well, their potential embarrassment is foreshadowed by the leak of the cables from Lieutenant General Eikenberry, our emissary in Kabul, the ambassador to Kabul, whose cables were leaked by some patriot—and I say that with consideration here—someone who properly put out those cables showing that Eikenberry regarded the man to whom he was accredited as irredeemably corrupt, an inappropriate partner for pacification who held no promise of supporting any progress from our point of view there ever, and who was deeply involved in the drug trade, etc., etc. Since he was someone who was soon to be feted by the President personally in the Oval Office and given a tour of garden spots in Georgetown by Secretary of State Clinton, it was, of course, embarrassing to have cables from our ambassador there calling him a drug-dealing crook who had stolen the election and was totally incompetent and offered no possibility of progress.
That kind of embarrassment could appear with our relations with most of the dictatorial regimes we’ve been supporting in the Middle East for years, as in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere. Any candid assessments like that would, of course—would actually recommend the realism to us of our own officials, that they their feet on the ground, even while they’re lying to us about who it is they’re supporting and what they hope to achieve.
Amy Goodman: I wanted to go back, Daniel Ellsberg, to your reference to Garani. From the Guardian newspaper, it says that Wikileaks has this classified Pentagon video from Afghanistan alleged to show the notorious US airstrike on the village of Garani in May 2009 that killed roughly 140 civilians. While the US disputes the Afghan government’s casualty figure—it put the number at around twenty to thirty civilians—and said that twice as many militants had been killed in the strike, a military investigation concluded that US personnel made significant errors during the attacks. The Garani airstrike is believed to be one of the deadliest attacks in terms of civilian casualties of the US invasion. Are you calling for Wikileaks to post this videotape online?
Daniel Ellsberg: Well, first of all, I’d call for President Obama to post that videotape online. Let’s see whether it confirms what his officials and the Bush officials said about it earlier, or what the truth is. Has he seen it himself? He certainly should. He has access to it. And if he does, what excuse would he have for not revealing it? So why is he waiting for Wikileaks to use its sources to decrypt that, when he can just easily release it, as he should have some time ago?
It raises the same questions, and I hope they’ll be addressed this time, as they were not addressed, the same questions, for the Apache helicopter assault that you just saw. Namely, who was it who decided that this was not suitable for Freedom of Information Act release, that it deserved classification on national security grounds? Was that appealed upwards when Reuters was applying for that? Did President Obama himself take a position on that? And if not, who below him? What were the criteria that led to denying this to the public? And how do they stand up when we actually see the results? Is anybody going to be held accountable for wrongly withholding evidence of war crimes in this case and the refusal to prosecute them or hold anyone accountable?
More seriously, two members of that same company of the Apache assault—Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, I think their names—who did an absolutely admirable move, stimulated by Assange’s release and perhaps Bradley Manning’s release of this videotape, they expressed remorse to the Iraqi people for their participation in the activities of this company. Ethan McCord was the very man—I don’t know if you showed him just now—who actually got the two wounded children, ran off and got the two wounded children from the vehicle, and saved their lives. And both of them expressed great remorse for what they’d done and made the statement, from their experience, that this sort of massacre was an everyday occurrence. Now that’s what requires a real investigation. Is that being done? The same will be true of Garani.
And finally, for the press to look at, what were they reporting at the time? What was the government saying about these two massacres? How does it stand up when we relook at the facts? And what is the media to make of their own inability to penetrate behind those facts and leave it to Wikileaks? Question: would any mainstream media have released either of those videos if it had been handed to them by Bradley Manning or whoever the leaker was? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s something they should look at.
What are the rules of engagement that permitted these two massacres? And how many other massacres are they generating? The fact is, for nine years now, we’ve been hearing military estimates of how many militants are being killed, as opposed to civilians, with allegedly the civilians being a much smaller proportion. People on the ground, the local people, give absolutely reversed figures, enormous figures for civilians. We claim that we don’t have the ability to go into those denied areas, despite our wonderful progress in the areas. We’re not able to get in there to determine the facts, in many cases. Well, we now know that videos exist that give results very different from what the military were claiming, and could have done so all along. So this is a wonderful opportunity, at last, to judge the honesty or dishonesty of the military figures and get a real sense of how many civilians we’ve actually killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Juan Gonzalez: I’d like to bring in Glenn Greenwald, the political and legal blogger for Salon.com. Glenn, you’ve written extensively on the Obama administration’s reaction to leakers within the government. Could you talk about this latest development and now the record, the clear record, that’s being established by the Obama administration in this regard?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, there’s no question. I mean, even the New York Times and Newsweek, albeit a little late in the game, but better late than never, had articles within the last several weeks documenting that the Obama administration’s assault on whistleblowers is more extreme than any prior administration, including the Bush administration, which was frequently accused of trying to silence whistleblowers.
And I think, you know, the important point in this latest case is to emphasize that a lot of caution is required in terms of assuming that we actually know what took place here and that—in terms of what happened with Bradley Manning. I mean, first of all, everything that we know about what happened, or what supposedly happened, comes from a very unstable and untrustworthy source, whose name is Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker and someone who has severe mental illness. He just, right before this supposedly happened, had been involuntarily committed in a mental institution. And everything that we know comes from what he claims took place, all of which is being filtered through a single reporter who has a very long and odd history with Lamo.
But I think the more important point here is the one that Dan Ellsberg just illustrated and that you just asked about, which is, remember that in 2008 the US military, the US Army counterintelligence division, prepared a report which described Wikileaks as a threat to national security and talked about ways to destroy its ability to function. And the principal thing that they emphasized was, if they create a perception that their sources are no longer safe and they start exposing these sources and creating the perception that Wikileaks itself or associating with it is dangerous, it will dry up the willingness of people to turn over classified information and leak classified information to Wikileaks. That’s exactly what has happened here. Suddenly a twenty-two-year-old private, who supposedly has access to vast amounts of classified information, contacts someone who’s a complete stranger and over the internet, in an internet chat, confesses to crimes that could send him to prison for the rest of his life, and then suddenly there’s a Wikileaks leaker who not only released the video, but turned over a quarter of a million pages of classified diplomatic cables, and then there’s news headlines saying there’s a worldwide manhunt for Wikileaks? I mean, it’s exactly what the US military described it wanted to do in order to destroy Wikileaks. And I think a lot of caution is required here. And that report was prepared before the Apache helicopter video was publicized. Imagine how much now the military wants to destroy Wikileaks. And you combine that with the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers, and I think an extreme amount of caution is required to—before we assume that what we know what happened in this very strange and odd case.
Amy Goodman: Glenn Greenwald, can you talk about the Thomas Drake case?
Glenn Greenwald: Thomas Drake was an official, a high-ranking official at the National Security Agency, who was aware of extreme amounts of waste and corruption taking place with a variety of contracts that were between the NSA and some of the largest contractors, private contractors. And some of those contracts were to develop surveillance systems that he thought were insufficiently protective of the privacy of American citizens. And he tried to get supervisors and high-level officials within NSA and lawyers within NSA to pay attention to what it was that he had discovered. And he was basically ignored, the way that most whistleblowers within the federal government are ignored when they try to bring exposure to it using the systems within the government.
And so, he went to—allegedly went to a reporter at the Baltimore Sun and told her about what it was that was going on, and she wrote a series of articles detailing the billions and billions of dollars that basically were burned by the NSA in exchange for absolutely nothing. It was pure whistleblowing of the most noble and well-intentioned kind. There’s no indication at all that it even remotely harmed national security. And the Obama administration is now—has now obtained an indictment, the Obama DOJ did, in a way that the Bush administration never did, and is persecuting this very noble whistleblower, which is just part of an overall pattern.
Amy Goodman: In April, after the Wikileaks release of the Iraq video, we interviewed Julian Assange on Democracy Now! and asked him about the government crackdown on Wikileaks. He talked about the 2008 US Army counterintelligence report that targeted Wikileaks.
Julian Assange: That report sort of looks at different ways to destroy Wikileaks.org or fatally marginalize it. And because our primary asset is the trust that sources have in us—we have a reputation for having never had a source publicly exposed, and as far as I know, that reputation is true—it looks to see whether they can publicly expose some of our sources, prosecute US military whistleblowers—and, in fact, it uses the phrase “whistleblowers,” not people who are leaking indiscriminately—but prosecute US military whistleblowers in order to destabilize us and destroy what it calls our “center of gravity,” the trust that the public and sources have in us.
It also looks at some other methods—again, it’s careful to fine-tune the language, but says that perhaps we could be hacked into and destabilized that way, or perhaps we could be fed information that was fraudulent, and therefore our reputation for integrity could be destroyed. The report is careful on these last two to suggest that maybe other governments could do this. It seems like it’s some kind of license for their claims. They speak about how Iran has blocked us on the internet and China has blocked us on the internet and other governments of a similar type have condemned us, and it lists Israel. And it also lists the case that we had against a Swiss bank in San Francisco in February 2008, a case which we conclusively won.
But in the production of this video in Iceland, where most of the team was over the last month, we did get a number of very unusual surveillance events. So we—I personally had people filming me covertly in cafes, who, when confronted, run off so scared that they even drop their cash, and not Icelanders, outsiders, although there also was some surveillance from Iceland.
Our feeling is now that that surveillance may not have been related to this video. It may more likely have been related to leaks from the US embassy in Iceland that we released. We’re not sure of that. But there was—appears to have been a following of me on an Icelandic air flight out of Iceland to an investigative journalism conference in Norway. We’re not sure that—there are records of two State Department employees on that plane with no luggage. Our suspicion is these are probably the Diplomatic Security Service investigating a leak at the embassy.
We did have a volunteer arrested for some other reason and asked questions in Iceland about Wikileaks, but there are now two sides to this story. So our volunteer says that they asked questions about Wikileaks, and the police say that they asked questions about Wikileaks, but the police say this was because of a sticker on a laptop. Volunteer says that this wasn’t true. And at the moment, we’re unable to confirm whether the police had inside information about the video or whether the volunteer is not telling the truth.
Amy Goodman: That was Julian Assange when we interviewed him right after the Wikileaks posted the videotape from the US helicopter gunship in July 12, 2007. We spoke to him actually just a little while ago in April. When we come back from break, we’ll get response from Daniel Ellsberg, the number one whistleblower in this country. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.
Amy Goodman: Our guests on the line, Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com. We’re talking about, well, what reports are saying is a Pentagon manhunt for Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who has released videotape that is from the US military of attacks on Iraqis, and it’s said that he has hundreds of thousands of more documents and more video. Juan?
Juan Gonzalez: Yes, well, I’d like to ask Daniel Ellsberg, if he could, if you could respond to some of the caution that Glenn Greenwald was urging in terms of this story and what the possible motivation of the government might be in going after Manning and also after Julian Assange.
Daniel Ellsberg: Well, the motivation of the government, which has many, many guilty secrets to keep, to go against any leaker and anyone who proposes to put out, in an efficient way, leakers, with the possibility of really withholding their identity from the government, their interest in preventing that is—I don’t think needs any further elaboration.
Incidentally, much as they would like to discredit Assange’s ability to keep secrets, he cannot be accused of having really leaked any secrets about his sources. It was apparently or allegedly Manning himself who made that choice. Now, Manning is being denigrated in various ways as unstable or disgruntled. These are the usual charges made against any whistleblower, including me. There’s a lot of resonance about in every aspect of this situation, as far as I’m concerned. For instance, why would Manning possibly have confided in someone? Let me conjecture that the Wired magazine article about Lamo that attracted his attention may have given him the—I don’t know Manning—may have given him the feeling that he had some rapport with Lamo of a particular sort, the sort something that was revealed in that journal. We could go on speculating about that.
In my case, I told very few people what I was doing. My former wife, because I had to tell her that she would not be getting alimony; I was about to be in prison for the rest of my life. It so happens that she confided in her step, who in turn told the FBI. So there was an allergy there. I also told Randy Kehler, the Gandhian pacifist who was on his way to prison, who had inspired me to give the Pentagon Papers. I wanted him to know, just before he went to prison, that he had in fact had a useful effect, that his courage had been contagious and not without effect. So, one can have different reasons for passing that on of various kinds.
As for Lamo and what we know, it’s true, as Glenn says, that all we know so far is what Lamo has told us. But let me, in contrast to Glenn here, whom I admire greatly, by the way, totally—I read him every day, first thing—but let me throw caution to the winds here in commenting on this case. The fact is that what Lamo reports Manning is saying has a very familiar and persuasive ring to me. He reports Manning as having said that what he had read and what he was passing on were horrible—evidence of horrible machinations by the US backdoor dealings throughout the Middle East and, in many cases, as he put it, almost crimes. And let me guess that—he’s not a lawyer, but I’ll guess that what looked to him like crimes are crimes, that he was putting out. We know that he put out, or at least it’s very plausible that he put out, the videos that he claimed to Lamo. And that’s enough to go on to get them interested in pursuing both him and the other.
And so, what it comes down, to me, is—and I say throwing caution to the winds here—is that what I’ve heard so far of Assange and Manning—and I haven’t met either of them—is that they are two new heroes of mine, along with Thomas Drake. I’ve got a number of heroes, and they’ve—including Randy Kehler and, for that matter, Glenn Greenwald, who’s on this show, and a number of others. So I believe their action is exemplary. I hope others will follow it. For forty years I’ve hoped that someone would put out information on the scale that I did, but in a more timely way than I did, before I chose to do it in my time. And Manning would be the first person in forty years to have done that, if it is true that he’s put out a great raft of cables, which he regards as criminal. And I give him—I’m very gratified, if that’s the case. And I hope he’s not the last.
So, I notice that Assange has said that he is, without acknowledging Manning as his source, and perhaps not even knowing whether he’s the source, is getting funds and asked for donations to fly a defense team over to Kuwait to help Manning. And I certainly propose to add my donation to that, and I hope others will, too. I expect we can find out how to do that from the Wikileaks.org website. But it seems to me a very worthy cause to defend both Assange and his operation. And so far, I’m not aware of his having done anything, so far, that he should not have done. And on the contrary, everything he’s done puts in very great question the accountability of the people who’ve withheld that information. He has shown much better judgment than the people who have held it—withheld it up ’til now, and so has Manning.
Amy Goodman: Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange was supposed to be at an event in Las Vegas; he canceled. In New York, he canceled. Clearly, he’s very much on the run, very afraid that he will be arrested. Reports are, internationally, that there is a manhunt for him. We also would like to interview him. We’ve just played a clip of what he had to say when we last had him on. Glenn Greenwald, your final comment?
Glenn Greenwald: Well, I just want to underscore that I agree with everything Daniel Ellsberg said. If Bradley Manning did what he is reputed to have done, he is a hero. Wikileaks is probably engaged in the most important and noble acts of anybody around, and they deserve everybody’s full support and gratitude for doing something to break down the huge wall of secrecy that surrounds our government.
Amy Goodman: Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com. Dan, you wanted to get in one quick last comment?
Daniel Ellsberg: Yeah, one last thing. He’s in danger of more than arrest. Arrest is probably the major thing, even though it’s not clear what he would be arrested on. But he—I have to say that as of now, under this president, he’s under danger of kidnapping, rendition, enhanced interrogation, even death. The fact is that this president is the first in our history, in any Western country that I know of, who has claimed the right to send military forces not just to apprehend, but to kill suspected, even American citizens. Bradley Manning is probably more safe now being in custody than he would have been if he himself were eluding arrest. Assange, I would say, is in some danger. And even if it’s very small, it should be zero. It’s outrageous and humiliating to me as an American citizen to have to acknowledge that someone like that is in danger from our own government right now, as President Obama has actually announced through his chief of intelligence then, Dennis Blair. That should be investigated.
Amy Goodman: Daniel Ellsberg, I want to thank you for being with us, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, and Glenn Greenwald.