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Twelve More Hours That Shook the World
Redefining 'maximum impact'.
LONDON (Rixstep) — Julian Assange and WikiLeaks unleashed an unprecedented media bomb beginning at 21:00 22 October 2010 UTC and carrying through the night until the morning press conference at the Plaza. The world is not the same and likely never will be.
A huge number of major news organisations across the planet have been holding copies of the massive Iraq War Logs for the past two and one half months. Everybody kept to the terms of the embargo save Al Jazeera who went public thirty minutes early.
The news organisations include the Guardian, Swedish national television, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, Spiegel Online, and Le Monde.
None of these organisations were willing to help redact the files but at least honoured the terms of the 'embargo'.
CNN notably refused the documents because they didn't like the terms, instead sending Atika Shubert out to ambush Julian Assange, a trick that backfired exquisitely. Otherwise things went smoothly.
The world media were given twelve hours to start publishing information on the Iraq War Logs as a lead-up to the event. Al Jazeera television did an outstanding job of leading every half hour not with the same old same old as US news agencies are wont to do but with new stories, new angles, and a seemingly unending cavalcade of studio guests ranging from war hawks to government watchdogs. And the AJ news anchors really did their job, asking the tough questions.
Seeing guardian, nyt, der spiegel, al jazeera, le monde all breaking variations of Iraq wikileaks. Extraordinary moment in journalism
- Alan Rusbridger
By the time of the conference at the Park Plaza Riverbank twelve hours later, the InterTubes had lost balance. And it wasn't lone cowboy Jules Assange standing solo on stage this time but five of the heaviest names in the business.
- Julian Assange stage left, next to the projector screen, with a wonky microphone.
- Gavin MacFadyen from the Centre for Investigative Journalism who chaired the event.
- Award-winning Icelandic journalist and WikiLeaks globetrotter Kristinn Hrafnsson.
- Cofounder of the Iraq Body Count organisation John Sloboda.
- Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers stage right.
Julian Assange kicked things off with a short introduction, followed by Sloboda who drove home how important the documents are, followed by Hrafnsson who explained a bit about the new WikiLeaks harm minimisation process.
WikiLeaks didn't take any chances this time. Of course they're going to be accused of everything in the book by the likes of Geoff Morrell, but that doesn't matter - no one came to harm that time and by revamping the entire process, there should be even less chance this time around. Something that to laypersons might be described as 'picking mushrooms' - the only way to build secure operating systems works well here too.
Put another way: you don't look for compromising data - you look for uncompromising data; that's all you let through.
The process starts - in so many words - by not allowing anything through. Token after token is analysed and if found secure, allowed to pass. Repeat the process etc.
Preliminary studies by CNN show that the WikiLeaks method of harm minimisation is far superior to that of the Pentagon who occasionally publish FOIA documents online.
Meet Me in Stockholm
Meanwhile back in the Swedish capital Marianne 'Flash' Ny came out with a new statement, causing pundits to wonder who's pushing her buttons.
The investigation is nearing completion and only a few procedures remain before a decision is reached.
However it is not possible to determine when a decision can be made. And with respect for the secrecy code and the individuals involved, no further information can be made available.
Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny offers a brief description in the investigation:
The investigation is proceeding but there are still a few procedures before a decision is reached. It is not possible to determine when a decision can be reached. A decision might come in the near future but it can also be delayed.
Out of consideration for the investigation, it's is not possible to explain why we can't offer a prognosis for when a decision can be reached. Neither is it possible to make any further information available.
One has to wonder why she bothered posting anything at all. And add to this the fact that
Greta Garbo Anna Ardin is leaving in five weeks for the Middle East where she hopes to spread peace (yes) one wonders further what's going on.
The warmongers are going to have a tough time spinning this one, with WikiLeaks demonstrably doing a better job of harm minimisation than they do; Morrell claiming immediately WikiLeaks missed 300 names when there was no way they could have gone through the documents in that time; Lapan saying he didn't think it worth the bother to notify those 300 people anyway; Rumsfeld chastising his general to not interfere with torture, only to report it; the eight year old girl in the yellow dress who already became an icon in the movement; and so on.
The media impact - by the organisations waiting to publish and by others quickly catching up - has been massive. It might not be the absolute maximum, said Julian, but it's close.
Most significant is the revelation the US turned over 9,250 detainees to Iraqi nationals when they were fully aware of the extent of abuse going on - and this in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention, prompting the UN to now look into the matter.
At time of writing, 'Iraq War Logs' yields 7,320,000 results at Google - this in less than a day since the announcement.
The WikiLeaks website of course came back online, along with donation information, now through 4-5 different channels. A separate 'vanity domain' was set up for the Iraq War Logs. Some resources run through the Swedish portal where last night Jan Karlung and his engineers braced for a cyber attack and some through ISPs in France and other countries.
And this time it's not just WikiLeaks covering the story and the documents.
TBIJ: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Iraq War Logs
TBIJ: Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture
TBIJ: US Apache guns down surrendering insurgents
The Guardian: Iraq war logs: US turned over captives to Iraqi torture squads
The Guardian: Iraq: The war logs
The Guardian: Iraq war logs: Wikileaks' virtual memorial
The Guardian: Iraq war logs: A day in the life of the war
The Guardian: Wikileaks Iraq: data journalism maps every death
The Guardian: Iraq: the war logs - one day, 146 deaths
BBC News: Wikileaks: Iraq war logs 'reveal truth about conflict'
Spiegel Online: Iraq War Logs (in English)
Le Monde: Washington pressé de s'expliquer sur des cas de torture en Irak
OWNI: The Iraq Warlogs by Wikileaks
Huffington Post: WikiLeaks' Iraq War Logs: US Troops Abused Prisoners For Years After Abu Ghraib
Huffington Post: WikiLeaks' Iraq War Logs: Iraqi Deaths Higher Than US Count
The Indepdendent: Robert Fisk: The shaming of America
'As usual, the Arabs knew', writes Robert Fisk in the Independent. 'They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.'
Fisk details the following essential elements of the Iraq War Logs:
- Prisoners abused, raped, murdered. Mostly a case of Iraqis against Iraqis but US and UK troops also involved. And it's against international law to turn detainees over to authorities known for being abusive.
- Civilian death toll cover-up. 'We don't do body counts', said general Tommy Franks. Over 60,000 of the 109,000 deaths were civilians, many of them children tortured to death with electric drills and the like.
- Shooting insurgents trying to surrender. The high command tells Crazyhorse 18 (same call sign from 'Collateral Murder') that helicopters can't take prisoners. So the crew first tried to blow them away with missiles, then followed them into a building and unleashed thousands of rounds of ammunition.
- Private security firm abuses. Blackwater is gone - but in name only. They're still around under their new name 'Xe Services' and they're still active in Iraq, with perhaps twice as many troops as the US army.
- Al-Qaeda's use of children and 'mentally handicapped' for bombing. Doctors sell lists of patients to terrorists who strap bombs on them.
- Civilians killed at checkpoints. Nearly a thousand, each story more chilling than the last, mostly about panicky families terrified out of their minds.
- Iranian influence. Yes Iran's been active all along in Iraq.
But of course there is more, much more, to come. John Sloboda estimates it will take years to get to the bottom of it all. After all, it's the biggest leak of military information in history.
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